An enemy who shouts “Barf” rather than barfing is not the weirdest design choice in an NES game, certainly. But it is memorable.

Drawing this comic was a struggle, because the repetition between three panels required some coloring that was tedious, and yet had to be done carefully. Have you ever tried to draw, say, a certain person’s face, across multiple panels? Then you know the first time you draw them, you have the freedom to make them look however you want. Or, more accurately, to allow them to look however they’re going to – because, for a amateur artist, it’s difficult to draw facial features with much precision. You’re like a sculptor working with clay that moves under its own power, and you’re just happy when the end result looks human. Imagine how much narrower a target it is to hit, then, to draw that same face again.

The same goes for the subtle colors in a character’s skin, the lighting, and the little details you always forget at first, like body hair.

Plenty of comics can get away with copy/pasting characters from one panel to the next, especially when they aren’t moving much (the characters, not the artists). There are a few reasons I didn’t do that. First, the raison d’être of Bit Parody is to give me practice in exactly this, and repetition builds the kind of ability I mentioned above. Second, plenty of comics are more cartoony (not an insult), with crisp line art and simple cell shading – they exist closer to the ‘symbolic’ end of Scott McCloud’s representational triangle – and so, I believe, are not hurt much by obvious copy/paste.

But mostly, there’s a story that can be told in the subtle movement from one moment to the next in these panels. Look at the two fellows on the left. Had they remained in the same pose through three panels, there’d be no story there. Instead, we get the idea that the red-shirted bad guy is so bothered by his comrade’s outburst that he’s willing to give up the advantage he had in the fight. The white-shirted Player 1 is likewise surprised enough to be taken out of the moment. Player 2, in the blue shirt, feels embarrassed on behalf of the rival gang, and looks away from the slap. Had he stayed in one position, looking forward, we would think he was surprised by the slap, or at best ambivalent. Instead, the subtle changes in each supporting character’s attitudes reinforce and amplify the joke.