I was walking around with an artist friend at a convention a couple of years ago and he was looking for old Jack Kirby comics. He was trying to figure out what Kirby did that made his pages so exciting. A lot of artists, inspired by Kirby, would be content with trying to imitate his poses or his layouts, but my friend was digging a lot deeper than that. I admire his dedication to improving his art and allowing Kirby (or whomever) to be a bona fide inspiration instead of someone he just steals from.
In thinking about how to appoach The Cownt, I've taken the old Harvey comics I read as a kid for my inspiration. I had a vague recollection of the format they used, but I wanted to refresh my memory, so I stopped by the Source yesterday and picked up some cheap Casper issues as well as the recent Ultimate Casper Comics Collection trade paperback. I started reading them last night, trying to take the same approach that my friend took to Kirby and hoping to learn some of the techniques these guys used to make Casper so timeless. I was surprised to see how much I hadn't remembered about the series and pleased to find that former Casper editor Sid Jacobson wrote an intro to the Ultimate collection that talks about their approach to the series. I've gotten some solid notions already about how to approach The Cownt and make it really accessible for kids, yet fun for adults as well. Some of it confirms idea I already have (like giving the Cownt a nice-sized cast of supporting characters to interact with), some of it reinforces things I'd thought about, but hadn't decided to make into Rules yet (like not having any narration boxes), and some of it was just plain new (like having one main story per issue, but dividing it into easily digestible chapters, and having characters speak their thoughts aloud instead of using thought balloons).