I think it’s time to finally post this. I actually drew it in September, but hadn’t posted it yet because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep it at flat colors or to shade it. I obviously didn’t shade it, and I probably won’t at this point, so yeah. (Even though it would really be quite easy to do, because all the Muni Metro cars are the same color, so the characters are all the same color…)
SO YES, MUNI METRO. This set of personifications was probably inevitable! Especially considering the K-Ingleside comic I posted a while back!
From left to right:
- The J-Church, who is, of course, an insufferable hipster, given its territory. He’s short because they can only ever run one-car Js due to right of way issues through Dolores Park.
- The T-Third and the K-Ingleside. They’re That Couple. You know the one. Attached at the hip, refer to themselves as “we” and never “I,” really need to get a room that’s more private than West Portal. The K is spastic and erratic and generally nuts, with a bit of an evil streak. The T is used to dealing with a lot of mayhem, so he can handle the K’s neuroses most of the time. He’s generally pretty chill in the face of everything, unless there is baseball, at which point he flips his shit too.
- The M-Ocean View, who splits a good chunk of time between college and the mall. She’s usually there to help people get where they need to go when the K has a meltdown. (At least, that’s my experience…)
- The L-Taraval is based on a Muni blogger transit fan friend of mine who lives right off Taraval. She was there when I drew this and answered a bunch of my questions about design. (ie. “If you were a streetcar, what would you wear?”)
- The N-Judah has no fucks left to give, and very often loses the ability to can, and if you need to get to Ocean Beach, you’re just going to have to deal with it. His design is based off of a very prominent Muni blogger who lives along that line. He does not have those tattoos, but he was wearing a “Back door step down!” shirt when I showed him this picture.
All of the characters are the same colors because they are, on a most basic level, personifications of identical vehicles with identical livery. These characters are meant to be the physical LRVs just as much as they are the more immaterial routes. I never make two characters the same color unless I have a very good reason. (If I were to do 1980s versions of the lines, or 1950s ones, they'd be very different colors from this drawing, but still identical color schemes to each other.)
I was trying to differentiate race with facial features. The T is supposed to be younger and black, but I clearly need more practice with his face. The M is meant to be Asian, the K is meant to be ambiguous (because this is such a very diverse neighborhood), and the J is meant to be Latino but a few generations removed and therefore out of touch (gentrified hipster, ta dah!) I really should have made the L an older Chinese lady, this is very true, but I'm not going to lie, she's based very directly on a Muni blogger I know who lives on that line and talks about it constantly, to the point where she is kind of synonymous with the L in my mind.
Many of my older characters suffer from a bad case of Same Face Syndrome, regardless of race, age, or gender. Only recently have I started to emphasize different features more, and to try and make sure everyone's face is distinct, not just their coloration or outfit. When a character can be distinguished by their clothes and color alone, it's very easy to let the face slide, especially if the emphasis in the drawing is on them making a ridiculous face, rather than a more neutral expression. So, I might be pretty good at poses, or coloring, or expressions, but precisely because I relied on those so much in the past, I have a lot of catching up to do in consistency in facial features between drawings of the same character, or uniqueness between different characters.
Within this problem is also the matter of stylization - the level of detail to put into certain features to make them distinct, but how it fits in the relatively cartoony framework of my style, as that continues to evolve as well. I'm still dancing around the line where there's enough detail to convey what I want, but not so much that it overly emphasizes something or looks out of place. I haven't found that line yet, but I'd rather approach and eventually find it from the side of not quite enough detail than from the side of going so much into caricature that it could be an offensive generalization. I'm trying to work on this not just for different races, but for different genders and ages as well.
(I also know that part of my problem here is that I tend to draw things too small to even experiment with much detail at all. This is another habit I need to break; I need to embrace drawing things bigger if I want to incorporate more subtlety.)
I really do appreciate the constructive criticism as opposed to angry finger-pointing, though.