Page 5!

Here we get a good look at some physical endurance challenges for Nightstik. Note that Nightstik elects to skip the heat test.

This is the part were I ruminate a bit on the arcane and mystical process of producing a comic book.

Some pages come together really fast. I get an idea of how to tell the story and the images just pour out of me creating the page. This is a rare occurrence. When I have a full script, much of the work is done for me. Writers are really underappreciated in the comic business, but it really does start with a great script. Issue one and now issue 4, are written by me, so my process is quite different than my process on issues 2 and 3.

Sometimes, I write a brief plot synopsis, but mainly, I get out my sketch book and begin drawing out the story I imagined in my head. I often re-write as I go. The dialogue and number of panels are improvised. From these sketches, I either scan or just re-draw them in Manga Studio. I like to get the dialogue on the page pretty early in the process because the dialogue often clues me in on how to pose the characters or what actions they should be performing. Case in point, the last panel. Originally, I had this sketched out as a three-panel page rather than a four-panel page. Although technically, that last panel is really an inset. The dialogue, with some assists from Stephen Prescott, suggested more actions than a single panel should have. A common mistake in comic book writing is to have too many actions happening in a single panel. By action, I mean two things. One the physical activity of the characters (i.e. fighting, drinking, etc.) and what we in the theater biz refer to as dramatic action (i.e. what the character wants).

It is not uncommon to see two-page spreads where the characters are seemingly locked in combat while reciting speeches that rival Shakespeare in length and complexity.

So I try to imagine each panel as a unit of action. For example, panel one contains two “beats.” Nightstik flips the bird, and Arnold gives him a thumbs up. The second panel is a joke. Arnold provides the set-up and Nightstik provides the punchline.

The third panel contains a set-up, build, and then a punchline. Originally, all of the dialogue contained in two panels was in a single panel. The result was a lot of talking and not much “movement.” By taking the last two beats and placing them in their own panel, it created more movement in the story.

I then begin to finish the drawings in the panels, playing with angles, shading, etc.

And then comes the editing process…

It is often hard for me to spot my errors because I spend so much of my time zeroed in on one particular part of a page. Getting an extra set of eyes on it is quite crucial.

The most common error once a page is “finished” is that of tangents. Tangents are areas where objects that are not connected begin to connect or line up. Corners are especially troublesome. The corner of a building may run right into the bend of an arm creating an angle. The challenge of all two-dimensional artists is to create the illusion of depth. The enemy of depth for the 2-D artist is tangents. Overlapping objects creates depth. Tangents flatten everything. For example, Arnold’s flamethrower overlaps the building at a different angle creating depth. Some of the word balloons get a little close to straight lines creating tangents.

To many, this may sound picky. However, it is worth looking at the little things to create a professional looking product.


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