After you binge Stranger Things on Netflix, life can be like:
Stranger Things wrote, in its own words, a love letter to the 80s (a time we're very fond of here at VillainPaper). We could spend the better part of this article gushing about how masterfully the Duffer brothers retrofitted our childhood with a postmodern affirmation of our now-squandered adolescent imagination. In youth, everything is possible - especially the supernatural, including a Demogorgon from an alternate dimension.
What does our swooning over Stranger Things have to do with comics, you ask? Well, now that season two has been announced, we're all eagerly anticipating what the next chapter will unearth, and we've been daydreaming about the formerly quiet little town of Hawkins, Indiana; how can you not? There is no shame in watching the first season for a second or third time, it's almost required given the contours of the parallel universe that was just dropped into our living rooms.
We know there's only ONE thing that can compliment the ode to 80's childhood that is Stranger Things. We don't just want a comic book ... we NEED a comic book, dripping with black ink, soaked in muted colors, and filled with Stranger stories, just like the ones we read with flashlights in the darkness of our rooms after bedtime.
Here is the only way we can imagine Stranger Things in comic form.
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Classic Rock & Reeboks
Something Stranger Things does really well is lead you believe it was filmed with the greatest technology the 80s had to offer. While it wasn't quite a grainy VHS tape, it had all the wrinkles; the intro music's pseudo 8-bit trance, the masterful falling-in block lettering, and the anamorphic lens flare all took you convincingly back in time. In comic form, this would be evocatively achieved with plenty of genuine imitation 80s comics staples.
The early to mid-80s had a limited color palette, and viable computer graphics programs had not been released yet. Coloring comics was actually done at the printer to inked artwork pages. Three rubylith overlays representing CMY (Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow) were stacked up on top of each other, over every artwork page.
Printer color separators (skilled craftsman aptly called these "Separators") would cut and screen to get the desired hue. They used 25, 50, and 75 percent screens, which were dot patterns on sticky acetate. These screens were then cut and stuck on the three rubylith overlays.
This added up to only 128 possible colors, and more colors added up to more time and money. Comic publishers often didn't pay to have proofs made, so coloring was usually trial and error.
Having the right color is well chronicled with classics like The Incredible Hulk, which has gone through several shades of green.
This color shifting early on was because of the at-print guessing, then the expanding color pallet. Finally, the publishers suffered from a healthy obsession to make a character's color just right.
Some of the most iconic 80s cover art had a minimalist title block, which will be stolen like any good artist from the Netflix series title graphic. Other comic elements like the comics code authority seal of approval will be sure to make a cameo ... assuming the comic isn't too scary, of course.
Whereas many of today's comics are frankly over produced, computer-enhanced (in some cases generated) works, Stranger Things the comic needs to have the same "rough" quality as the Netflix series. That means we need handwritten lettering in the hand-drawn speech bubbles, masterfully drawn and inked lines, bold shading, hatch marks, and economical page coloring. Think a slightly less refined but colorized version of Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead" series!
Forget the gloss and overproduction of today's comics, let's put Stranger Things on the gritty paper stock common in the 80s. In keeping with the times, of course, the comic version of Stranger Things also needs to be offered digitally, but it can still look like it was on loan from the 80s. This skeuomorphic effect could be pulled off by scanning the printed pages to not wipe away the page whitespace.
Play with the Upside Down
At first, we were convinced there had to be several issues dedicated to the upside down. Then something more three dimensional came to mind once we started breathing through our noses again. What if, what if... the under-side of the page was sparingly used to peer into the upside down? Yeah that has to happen.
Biding Our Time
Like any geek, we here at VillainPaper would fall all over ourselves to be able to feature an instant-hit nostalgia classic like Stranger Things.
Barring that, we have plenty of vintage comics to satisfy every Stranger Things fan! A couple recommended series titles:
An anthology comics series from the 1950s and 60s, explore otherwordly environments, alien life forms, and alternate universes. We're sure you'll find more than a few passing similarities to the Upside Down, and maybe even a Demogorgon or two!
The witching hour is the weirdest time of the day, so why not a comic devoted entirely to the strange side of life? One of our founders has a pretty wild theory about the Upside Down actually being a future world created by Will Byers, and maybe this series will give you inspiration for some even stranger interpretations of Stranger Things.