Wonderful Wizard of Oz #2 is in stores today. Go grab your copy!
This has been a very interesting ride so far, and we've got along time yet to go. I've been drawing monthly comics for the last 8 years and I this project is a big first. Despite how fun it can be to draw Spidey, Wolverine, or any other classic comic, the thrill always seems to simmer down. Don't get me wrong, drawing comics is always fun. But sometimes you may think a project will be the perfect one, and something always seems to change your mind. We all have specific tastes. Sometimes my tastes don't mix with the style of story I work on. Sometimes my skills weren't ready to achieve the goals of the project. Oz has changed all that. I'm almost done with issue 5, and I've not gotten bored, frustrated, or stuck at all. Every page feels like the first day a job you've always wanted. It really doest go to show that unless you find the thing out there that fits who you are, it won't meet your expectations no matter how cool it seems.
The best thing about being a few years away from the 10 year mark in comics is the comfort in the process. The first 4 or 5 years I spent hours trying to figure out the process of getting to a final page. Now the process is like walking, it just comes natural. It was hard road getting here, but it was worth it. Here are a few things that I've learned over the years and you'll see them at work on these examples.
1. The thumbnail is your friend. I layout an entire of issue before I start penciling. If you take your time and really think about the page in the thumbnail stage, the rest of the work will run very smooth. I like to keep things simple...no breaking into the gutters. Keep it clean and tell the story inside the box. This lets the reader stay focused and it really lets me focus on telling a story and not creating a puzzle of drawings.
2. If you are an all around illustrator who pencils and inks, then this is a biggie. Keep your pencils loose. Go in and start to hammer out details, but don't over do it. I like to keep the energy flowing around the page and never try to pretend that my pencil is a brush or pen. It's not. Building a line with a pencil tends to deaden the line. I just "jot" down the information. I don't want to spent too much time on the page. Too much time equals too much thought and then I start to second guess myself. I tend to push things far. If I think about them too much, I will scale back and get boring.
3. Inking is fun. I leave things loose in the pencil stage so that I can still make creative choices while inking. I'm not a technical person. I hate rulers and I loathe repeating myself. When I used to try and pencil tight, inking felt suicidal. Why would I choose to be an artist for a living and spend the majority of my workday doing non creative things. Every stage needs to feel like things are being creative, not just redone. Inking has become very fun for me and I look forward to that part of the process.
If you notice these two examples, my process has allowed me to move from the thumbnail to final with very little change. Once you have your own process down you'll start to trust yourself more and know what you'll be capable off in the later steps. Drawing should be fun. Find a process that keeps it fun for you. For me, illustrating comics isn't about the finished, printed product. I rarely even look at that stage. It's about he ride to get there. I barely remember my graduation fro highschool, but I sure as hell remember the four years I spent getting there.