Sunday, March 17, 2013

Drawing, inking, and writing comic books

I've been very lax on my blog updating - I've been so busy doing the actual comics work that I've neglected the comics blog. So I'm hoping to do daily updates over the next several weeks.

First off - I swear I'm hip deep in Toaster Guy #4! Here's the cover art:

Exciting, right?? Hope the inside lives up to the cover!!

I wanted to talk a little bit about the process of creating a comic book (my process anyway), and how drawn-out (hyuk hyuck) and tedious it can be, and maybe give some advice to people wanting to try this. My process is as follows: writing a rough outline; drawing rough layouts; writing a tighter script; penciling the rough, uh, pencils; tightening the pencils; inking; scanning; shading; lettering. Then I'll color and letter the cover. After that, I lay the entire thing out in InDesign.

Now normally, you have a writer, a penciler, an inker (unless you scan the pencils or the penciler inks 'em himself), a letterer, and a colorist. I'm guessing somewhere in there is a production person who lays it all out - maybe the colorist does that part, or the letterer. Either way, you're still dealing with a good four people putting together a single comic book. In my case - and in the case of several other self-publishers I know - it's a one-man show. You might have a writer, but in my experience (writers, don't bombard me with hate), writing is easier from a labor standpoint than drawing.

Drawing a pinup (like the robot one on this post) is simple, it's fun, it's an enjoyable thing. Drawing comic book pages is a good old-fashioned pain in the ass. I wouldn't say I dislike it, but it's not always fun. Especially considering you have inking ahead of you, and shading, and lettering. In fact, I think I enjoy penciling the most, then shading, then inking, and lettering absolute least. And I'm drawing Toaster Guy here - this ain't exactly Watchmen. 

BUT - writing is the hardest part, for me, from a creative standpoint. Not coming up with an idea - those are the easiest thing in the world - but the mechanics of writing, putting together a story, making sure it makes sense. That's hard, and it's even harder because I don't enjoy the process.

So, I would say if you're a would-be comic book creator, and you know how to write (and you know this because you've shown people your stuff and they've given you honest feedback) then you're halfway there - you need to either learn to draw, or find somebody who can do that part for you, and come up with some cash.

Honestly, I think learning to draw is made out to be much more difficult than it is. Take a drawing class and maybe a design class. Buy a how-to-draw book (the classic How To Draw Comics the Marvel Way is fantastic and in fact is always sitting out on the table in my studio). Draw, over and over. Because I think artists will always be able to find work making writers' ideas come to life, whereas writers will always be looking for artists.

If you aren't sure you can write well, or draw or letter or anything else, my advice is to do it, over and over and over. You'll suck at first, and somewhere in there you'll realize "hey - I don't suck anymore." (For me this was around issue #3 of Toaster Guy.) That is a truly great feeling.

Questions? Comments??

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