I was at the MoCCA Arts Festival all day Saturday, and it was pretty great for a number of reasons. The Table Talk I participated in, along with Brendan Leach and Josh Bayer, was very well attended. We had a very in-depth discussion about our processes which went on for over an hour and fifteen minutes, and as far as I could tell, most of the audience stuck around, despite the fact that they were standing the whole time and we were talking about nibs and what kind of ink we like using.
I recorded the talk on my MP3 recorder, but haven’t had a chance to listen back and see if the audio is usable yet. If it is, I will post it later this week as an Ink Panthers Show PRO-T.I.P.S.
For the purposes of the talk, we each took photos of our work in various stages of completion and walked through how we make a comics page. My pics are below.
I started off explaining how I’m knee-deep in the middle of making a new graphic novel. I don’t write a script or thumbnail the book beforehand, though I do keep a rough outline of the general plot-points of the story, which I continually add to or delete from, as the thing evolves. I’ve actually found the best method for me to keep my thoughts in order is to maintain a couple of different Notes files on my iPhone.
When I reach a given scene in the story, I’ll think about it more deeply, and will write out some dialogue on scrap paper, like this:
The above dialogue happened to actually be before the page I took photos of, but it’s pretty much how my scripts look. Then I’ll do a rough pass on “pencils”:
My pencils are very, very loose, and highly subject to change as I work on a page. I realized during the course of the discussion that the reason for this might be just because I’m used to using blue-line pencils, and they pretty much suck for drawing detailed drawings anyway, so I just taught myself to do the majority of the rendering in ink out of necessity.
Here are the panels all drawn in:
Then I put in the word balloons:
And begin drawing. I start with the figures first. At some point I realize I’ve messed up with how I initially drew the word balloons:
I clean things up on the page. I talked about how my approach these days is to try and get the pages looking as close to finished as possible, using white-out or rubber-cementing new pictures over mistakes. I am trying to do use Photoshop as little as I can. We talked a lot about that, and I hope I made it clear that for me it’s just a personal preference. For me, a big part of making comics is just to satisfy my own needs to draw a certain amount at a certain standard on a weekly basis, and in the past when I was working with Photoshop more, I felt like I was taking more shortcuts. I’d spend less time on the drawing, knowing I could spruce it all up later digitally. One unfortunate thing about the MoCCA talk is that both Josh and Brendan don’t really use Photoshop a lot either, so there wasn’t anyone there really representing the digital approach to making comics, which of course is entirely valid.
Here is the page “cleaned up”
I hang my pages on the wall next to my drawing table as I work, so I am able to see how it builds. I can see the page spreads, and it’s easy to find earlier pages for reference. I can’t fit the whole book on the wall, so I just keep up the sections that I’m currently putting together.
And here’s the stack, so far:
Another exciting thing that came out of MoCCA, was that I had a chance to talk with Secret Acres about when this book might be published. We’re looking at it coming out roughly a year from now, which means I actually have deadlines and due-dates to start thinking about, which should be excellent motivation to push me through the home stretch on this thing.