Process: Drawing a One Page Comic for Big Planet Comics
Big Planet Comics, for those unfamiliar, is a fantastic group of comic book stores in the Washington, DC area. Jared Smith, owner of the Vienna, VA location, contacted me about drawing a comic for them to use in an ad. I always love to see process posts about how a colorized page made its way from doodles to finality so here goes my attempt.
First, Jared emailed his script which included who the characters were, what was to appear in each panel, and full dialogue.
The concept of the strip is that a guy notices an attractive girl in a comic book store. He imagines them together in different comic book motifs and in the end is embarrassed when she is reading a book that he has never heard of. This meant I got to draw in different styles. Panel 2 is Archie. Panel 3 is Batman-like. Panel 4 is Sgt. Rock. Panel 5 is crime noir.
I began with thumbnailing the story in pencil on cheap, 8.5 x 11 copy paper. I always use this method. It’s completely disposable and I don’t have to worry about “ruining” a sketchbook or having to balance an open sketchbook on my drawing table when it comes time to do final pencils. I did a second set of thumbnails (shown above) before scanning and sending off to Jared for approval.
Approved! I can start penciling on bristol board. I use a 2H pencil because it erases easy and my pencils are usually pretty loose so I don’t need a dark lead. I rule out lines with a T-square and my Ames Lettering Guide to put the lettering on first and then draw the characters in the remaining space. Once the page is penciled, onto the inks.
For this strip, I did the panel borders, lettering, and certain aspects of the artwork with 0.7, 0.5, and 0.3 technical pens. I typically used a Windsor-Newton Series 7 brush and india ink to ink my comics, but on my recent work at Rare Words, I’ve been using a brush pen and have enjoyed the quickness it brings to the process. Once inks are done and dried, I erase the pencils.
Notice that changed my mind in panel 3 of how I wanted the composition. In the thumbnails, the superheroes were set back so I brought them closer and positioned them side-by-side to mimic replicate the Archie and Sgt. Rock panels.
Now, we leave my studio and go downstairs to the scanner. Once the page is scanned, I work in Photoshop to add colors. Full disclosure: I hate coloring! I don’t know why, but I do. If I ever do a story that calls for full color and is more than 6 pages, I’m hiring someone!
A few hours later, the page is finished. The last panel is left blank for Big Planet to include an ad there.
Big thanks to Jared for the opportunity. I’m happy to be able to give back to a store that I believe in and has always supported my work through the years. If you find yourself in the Washington, DC area, be sure to look up the closest Big Planet Comics location.