My First Hey Arnold Comic Story

This is my very first Hey Arnold comic story, which was done for Nickelodeon Magazine back in 1996.

Even from the beginning of my relationship with Nick Mag, I had the opportunity -- and was encouraged -- to experiment with layouts... always trying to come up with an interesting way to tell the story.
Hey Arnold Comic Goldfish First Panel
It was always a huge challenge to try to tell a complete story in two pages, so it was really important to find a way to condense the storytelling. In the first panel, I wanted to establish the setting as well as really set up the emotional empathy between Arnold and the goldfish
The rest of the first page is pretty standard stuff, but on the second page there are two panels that really stand out in my memory. The first one is a wide shot of the Japanese gardens... I really wanted to contrast this scene of openness and peace with the earlier panels that were crowded and confined.

There's no panel border here, and it helps emphasize the openness…

Hey Arnold Comic Goldfish Japanese Garden
I also like to create a sense of depth wherever possible -- hence the foreground elements and the multilayered background.

The fifth panel on the second page is another one without a panel border. Again, I wanted to emphasize the new-found freedom that the fish has.

Hey Arnold Comic Goldfish Goldfish and Koi

My favorite panel in the whole story is the last one; by showing Arnold and Gerald in the reflection of the pool, I was able to keep the emphasis on the most important story point. The irony of the last panel is that as much as the goldfish wanted to be free, it was totally afraid of its new wide-open surroundings. The clever idea that Arnold comes up with is to leave the goldfish in the bowl, and let the fishbowl float around in the beautiful pond.

Hey Arnold Comic Goldfish downshot reflection

I got to do about a dozen of these comic strips over the three years that I worked on the show. Supervision by Craig Bartlett, story and art by me, coloring by Steve Lowtwait.

Here’s the whole two-pager:
Hey Arnold Comic Goldfish Page 1 Hey Arnold Comic Goldfish Page 2


chrisallison said...

Love the characters in the reflection in the last shot. Really awesome comic, Sherm! Thanks for sharing. The whole thing was a super easy, entertaining read.

Bob Flynn said...

You know, I hadn't seen this one. Thanks for posting it. Great last panel.

MJ said...

Love seeing your comic strip work. Good stuff Sherm

Dan Moynihan said...

Great visual storytelling, and very nice style to the drawing & coloring.

Sherm said...

Chris, Bob, MJ & Dan:
Thanks a lot, guys! Sure means a lot coming from talented folk like you ^_^

Anonymous said...

Sherm, I hope I'm not too late in complimenting on your work, but you seem to make any character look great when you draw them. I love the visual style of that Hey Arnold comic you drew and the really good staging and posing.

I have one of your SpongeBob comics from all the way back to 2004. If you're interested, I could scan it and send it to you.

Severin said...

Have the old Nick Mag comics ever been collected into anthologies or some other publication? There were a ton of those comics made, most of them good, and I feel like they deserve another chance at print.

Thank you for sharing! It's a lovely comic.

Paul said...

Hey, great stuff! I love seeing your comic work.

Unknown said...

Sherm... I remember watching Hey Arnold with oldest son when he was just a little kid. For the most part, the children's programming that was on back then (and now) left me cold, but I enjoyed Hey Arnold and a few of the other kids shows on Nick,(Rugrats- Thornberrys - Doug somewhat), epecially compared to what the big 3 networks were offering. Your insight into your layout process is cool as well. Thanks for the memories !

Aaron Ludwig said...

Fun stuff. Loved that show.
Thanks for the follow!

Duffs said...