How I Make Comics

I probably do comics wrong, but this is how I make me comics. I start with the idea or how many pages it will be. For "War Face" I knew before I started the script it was going to be an 8 page book, I figured the conflict would be between Davey and Sephy but it featured all four Cinema kids. I decided I wanted someone to get a minor injury but I knew I didn't have time to resolve that in 8 super tiny pages. I wanted this story to be understandable by anyone who who knew nothing about the Cinema world but i also wanted there to be character development. I know in Cinema-land that when Sephy first transfers into the same school as Alpha, Davey and Smyth that Davey was always apprehensive and aggressive to Sephy but changes. I decided to make this story part of his trusting her more and liking her as a person (there no Sephy/Davey romance). i figured on a gender based conflict where in the end it's not about being girly or not, it's really about being capable despite appearances.  With the story and bigger picture figured out i wrote my script :D

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I start with my script which is a series of really small thumbnails with the dialogue written next to  the thumbnail. Since this book is going to be physically small I had to remember from this stage not to have too many panels on a page and not too much dialogue in every panel. I differentiate characters based on their head shape or size in the thumbnail and the dialogue on the side is a great reminder of who is supposed to be in every panel.  There's rough posing for everyone so I know the staging I'm intending for the page from the get go generally. 

These are from Cinema cpt 1, I neer took a photo of my working thumbs for War Face

These are from Cinema cpt 1, I neer took a photo of my working thumbs for War Face

I redraw the thumbnails larger with dialogue in the panels, sometimes over lines and things if I've written it too big. I take this time to edit and change lines and improve on  poses in the panels. During this stage I decide on costumes, hair styles and details like that. I try to have certain types of things for every character in Cinema to wear that reflect on their personality and their familial wealth, more or less. Davey is the poorest of the four, he and his mother live in a small apartment and a lot of his clothes are from thrift stores and good will, so his stuff is usually slightly oversized or looks a little weird. Like his sweater/shirt, i don't know but i liked it for him. If this were in color the vertical hatching would be medium or light grey and the white part would be light grey or white; the shorts are dark blue, probably a bit faded. Alpha and Smyth are middle class, so their clothes are from Sears and JC Penny's and maybe nice things from Macy's. Alpha's shirt is actually a three color striped shirt of yellow, orange and brown, dark blue overalls. Smyth and his brother are wearing baseball tees, the team is something along the lines of the Orioles  but the colors are probably more like and darker blues. Smyth's tee is light blue and the under shirt is a darker blue and his jeans are a slightly faded medium blue. Sephy ( Miss Kennedy) is rich, her clothes are from Macy's, Bergdorfs, Nordstrom and high end boutiques. Her shirt is either black or dark blue and from some fancy fashion designer, and the skort is medium-light blue. 

Page layouts

Page layouts

With outfits and layouts decided I pencil and pretty much immediately ink the layout since i've figured out everything else. With this comic having 2 pages to a sheet I have the spread being the spread on the book so I have less work in matching pages with the sheet sides for later on.

beginning sketches and layouts

beginning sketches and layouts

I rough in bodies and dialogue bubbles now. I settle on what the script is and what everyone says then I work around that. I ink over my hand lettering and the bubbles, for this comic I used rapidograph pens, I wish I had used a thicker pen but I still like how these look. I had to take my time so I wouldn't have pen flicks on the page. I wish I had put in rough rules to follow, my letters are level, they're not always the same height that's my fault entirely.

With the dialogue said and done I revise my pencils and put vague sketches of the background in. I change poses as necessary to make things more expressive.

refined but still lose. Dialogue is now inked, faces are sometimes still lose because I'm not sure on the expressions I want

refined but still lose. Dialogue is now inked, faces are sometimes still lose because I'm not sure on the expressions I want

beginning inks, key figures and if I know what shading I want that goes in now. 

beginning inks, key figures and if I know what shading I want that goes in now. 

I ink the book, generally principle figured and details. I fret about ruining the book and this is a good time to get burnt out on working on one thing for a week. I start hating the book even though I think it looks good, it becomes a chore and my enthusiasm drops. This can be seen in the art work which sucks but sometimes I have to work through not wanting to work because I still want to see it finished. 

With all of the figures inked now it's time for shading if this is a black and white line art book, like this one. With my other books, this is when markers are pulled out and figures are colored and backgrounds are addressed, being sketched in and inked at the same time more or less. I'm really bored at this stage and look forward to working on something else. This is why it was really nice to do three books at once, they were each at different stages, or had different 'rules' for what they were to look like so it was nice to switch from one to the next even if they were both being colored.

The final version of what the page looks like before scanning

The final version of what the page looks like before scanning

Somehow the book is done! Yeah! Now to kill an eraser on it cleaning up pencils. If the book is colored with markers this happens before the coloring stage, but with War Face being all black and white I could put off cleaning it up until now. This is also the stage when I go back over things I skipped and didn't realize I skipped coloring/inking.

Scan and re-prettify everything, the end of this fucking tunnel is nigh and shit.

Open InDesign and hate everything forever as I try to figure out which way everything needs to go. I have my dummy book but still, getting it in the right order and printing it correctly is still a dick. And test prints will happen and happen and happen as I make sure it's all going the right direction. 

Oh shit, I have it together? Fuck yes! Now to print however many I'm going to print the first time, which is dependent on costs.

Oh lookie, a sheaf of books, time to fold and staple then cut the pages apart. During the InDesign layout stage making sure that there was enough dead-air above the pages is important so I'm not cutting off any art. It was also important in the initial layout stage so that I wouldn't have to worry about it now.

The final books after they'd been cut and stapled

The final books after they'd been cut and stapled

Oh, i now have a stack of books all pretty to give away. Sweet! Time to start leaving them places and giving them to friends and maybe mailing them to family. Hmm..this book is clean, they get copies, I guess.

Finally, I can watch a DVD without the guilt I should be working on something. Two days later I'm feeling bored and guilty, I should be working on another book... Let's do the journal comic for a week now...