QUESTIONS ABOUT CREATING COMICS

by Matt Russell - Posted 1 month ago

Como Esta, my CryptoComics Compatriots. How are you doing on this fine day? I have been going through some social media questions and decided to help you all by answering some questions on what it takes to make comics or questions about us in general.

These are questions that people have asked me directly so I decided to compile some of the best questions I could find and lay them all out for you.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO CREATE A NEW COMIC?


Professional and Indy creators will have 2 very different answers.

When it comes to professional comics (by that I mean comics produced by companies such as Marvel or DC) you had better have a new comic once a month. It has to hit the Diamond Deadline or heads will roll.

This means that you have to get your comic out to the printer by the time it is announced in the catalogs for pre-order at the comic book shops. They have to know how popular it will be and how many to print.

To make this deadline you are looking at an average of 26 pages per month. A good writer will hit that in 2 days, no problem. That includes revisions.

The penciler will have to be able to work Monday through Friday at a minimum of 1 page per day also including revisions. That means about 5-7 panels per day. Think about this, each panel is a separate drawing. That means that the artist might have to draw 7 pictures each day.

As they get done with the page, they will send it to the editor to approve it. When it gets approved, off to the inker. From there the colorist, then the letterer. When it is all completed, it gets sent to the printer. Each step is allowed 1 business day per page.

You had better have a few months worth of comics before you ever even send it to the catalogs.

Sidenote, if they have a comic with 6 issues ready to go to ensure deadlines, and it doesn’t go over well with the audience during the initial introduction to the comic shops, the publisher is out a bunch of money since they have to pay on a per-page basis for 6 months of work that will never get released.

That is why it is such a gamble to publish new stories with unproven characters. It also explains why companies like DC focus so heavily on just a select few characters like Batman and Superman titles making up almost three-quarters of their ongoing titles.

Now, back to our topic, a timeline for indy comics. (I get off track so easily.)

Most people expect that indy creators have to fund the initial launch of the comic out of their own pockets. This means that they have to have a job and create comics on the side. Creating comics is their passion but it will be a while before it gets enough traction to be able to support the creative team and allow them to create comics full-time.

This is why you might see several months, even a year between issues on various platforms such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

Even master publishers such as Vivid Publishing’s DreamKeepers take a while. Volume 4 wrapped up on Indiegogo June 19, 2015. Volume 5 wrapped on November 7th, 2020. Indies take a while because they don’t have that Disney money behind them. It's just a sad fact of life.

Many creators such as Nick Stein over at Ichor Comics do everything himself while he is not deployed, yep, he serves his country in the military. This means that he has to not only do everything himself but at times learn new techniques in various fields in order to produce at such a high level.

Indies are not fast by any means.

HOW MANY REVISIONS DO YOU HAVE TO DO WHEN WRITING A COMIC BOOK?


This all depends on my editors. I will write up a quick synopsis of the comic or script. They will give me some feedback such as “you can’t do that”, “the artist wants to focus on this…”, “there is no money in this type of story” and so on.

It’s not all bad. Usually, a writer will sit in a meeting with the editor, and penciler until they know exactly where to take a story and then the synopsis is more of a formality. Then the writing begins, with less need for major revisions.

When the script is turned in to the editor, they will go over some stuff and make some notes. A word of advice about the notes; I have always been told that these notes are simply suggestions only, but in my experience, that means the editor is demanding these changes. Don’t let your pride as a writer get in the way of getting published.

I should write an entire blog post about that point; “Is it better to be right, or published?”

Anyway, the second editor (Associate Editor) will go over spelling and grammar. This editor always hates me by the end of my scripts. I tend to type like a 1 handed baboon and spell like a second-grader.

This is why I usually have to suck up to the Associate Editor. If I don’t they will murder me in my sleep. Shout out to all editors out there. You keep us from looking like fools.

HOW MANY REVISIONS DO YOU HAVE TO DO WHEN PENCILING A COMIC?

Pencil revisions are a pain. There is nothing worse than getting a page back and saying “throw it all away and start over!” It's for this reason that you should always either include or ask for thumbnail sketches.

These will save you from the inevitable revisions. They don’t have to be that well laid out. They just have to convey enough of the idea that the artist knows what you expect and can then accomplish this.

DO YOU COMPOSE THE PAGE AS A WHOLE OR DO YOU FOCUS MORE ON INDIVIDUAL PANELS?


I like to personally try to compose it as a whole first. I think about how I can get the most out of my script. Can I make it more dynamic? Can I make it better? Once I have that then I can look at the individual panels and try to give them all a uniform feel but still dynamic.

I guess the best way to answer this is to start with the whole and then look at individual pieces to help make up the whole.

Let’s ask a TRUE artist how they do it?

Our friend, Cardell Cole from Top 2 said this

“I guess you could say I focus on individual panels. Although the main intent is to get the entire page done to my satisfaction, I usually can't move on to the next panels without completing the one prior. I like to figure out exactly what I want to happen in each individual panel, which greatly influences the next.

For me, it's the best way to display the story effectively.”

Cardell is the creator/writer/artist/inker/colorist/letterer/promoter/and everything else on a fantastic book called Top 2. This creator is so hard working that just hearing what he does on a regular basis make me feel lazy. If you haven't checked it out, you are seriously missing out. Not to brag but I have every issue signed. Yep, I love this comic.



The great and talented Gerimi Burleigh answered the same question with this. (He's another creator that does it all!)

“I compose the page as a whole. I start by drawing a diagram of the page with boxes containing only panel numbers. I’ll usually draw anywhere from 3-5 diagrams, but sometimes it may climb to 10+. This is just to work out the pacing of the page.

Is there a large image that should dominate the page? Is there a sequence of actions that should be divided into small, staccato images? Within the story of that single page, what is the beginning, middle, and end? Does the page require an establishing shot with more visual real estate? A group or crowd image somewhere on the page? Smaller inset panel(s) calling attention to small but important detail. Are there transitions in time or location on the page? I prefer to use the page turn as a natural transition point, however, sometimes it’s necessary to do it in the middle of a page and I’ll try to arrange the panels so it’s clear that we’re moving the story somewhere else.

Once the pacing makes sense, THEN, I ask myself if this layout is boring and needs to be spiced up. I want the page to be visually interesting, but I will sacrifice splashy visuals for clarity in a heartbeat. All of this, I do with boxes and numbers, based on the script, before I draw a single figure.”

Gerimi is one of those creators that consistently blows my mind. His work on the storyline Morningstar is pure genius, but if you want a pure rollercoaster of a mind-twister, check out Eye of the Gods! 




WHAT KIND OF PAPER DO YOU USE WHEN DRAWING A COMIC?

These days I primarily use the iPad Pro with a Paperlike screen protector and the Apple Pencil 2. I love this setup but when I use traditional pencil and paper it has got to be the 11 X 17 bristol board.

My personal favorite is the Canson brand. The paperweight is perfect. It is rough enough to really grab the graphite from your pencil. I have purchased the much cheaper Strathmore brand. The paper is heavy enough but it is so smooth that it feels like you're trying to draw on a whiteboard.

You get what you pay for.

DO YOU READ A LOT OF COMICS IN ORDER TO GET INSPIRATION FOR YOUR COMIC?


Personally, I try to avoid comics in order to get inspiration for a comic. I don’t want to inadvertently create something too similar to another comic.

For example, I wanted to create a Batman-like character. I thought of what it would take in the real world. I was also watching a lot of movies at the time. One of my all-time favorites is 12 Angry Men.

I ended up writing a story of an “outed” superhero. He was a rich billionaire like Bruce Wayne but instead of him putting on a suit and protecting a city, he employed former Special Forces that worked in tandem to give the illusion of a single superhero.

The story was told through the eyes of eye-witnesses at the trial of our hero.

That being said, I still read a ton of comics. I love comics. I would read them all day if my wife would let me. I love the escapism of stepping into the creator’s mind and seeing their world.

IS A COMMUNITY OF ARTISTS IMPORTANT TO YOU?

I can not give this a big enough YES!!! We here at CryptoComics love being part of such a supportive community. Right there on Marketplace, we see artists of every caliber from the industry professional to the high school novice posting their artwork and creating magic.

I see artists on social media giving out challenges such as “create a water-based character” or “draw this in your style” and I love it. I love how everyone improves through these challenges. I love how artists help each other by suggesting lighting techniques, or ways to use art programs.

We love that the community picks each other up and jumps on Kickstarter (either contributing, sharing, or promoting them). We can’t say enough about this community. It is at the heart of everything we do here at CryptoComics.

WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU; STYLE OR IDEA?

Personally, I am a writer so I am required to say; ideas. This doesn’t mean that style can’t come first. I have personally seen an artist’s style and loved it so much that I switched up my writing in order to better match.

That's just my personal opinion. Let's see what others have to say about it.

I had a friend that came up with a title and a few disconnected scenes. He was very “style” oriented. He was an artist and didn’t claim any ability to write or come up with a plot. He and I worked on trade.

I did my research and forced the title to fit into his initial genre, and took his scenes and made it into a coherent story. You see, style can come first and it can still work, but idea first is much easier.

I sent this question to Xolic from TCT and he had this to say

“An idea is more important to me, anyone can come up an amazing idea and create from that making that huge possibility of a new story or many stories

Style is a creative action on someone's art, everyone's art is unique in their own way.”

I love this dude! It’s always so cool to talk to him. he has SO many amazing books in the system. Check them out. You won't be disappointed. Personal favorite is the Gorgothic Handbook


WHERE CAN I GET SOME PRACTICE AS AN INKER OR COLORIST?

I have noticed that there are a ton of really exceptional artists in various Facebook groups. I reach out to them all the time saying stuff like “I love your artwork. Can I ink it?” I usually get a yes.

We also offer quite a few tutorials here in the blog where we break down inking, penciling, setting up a page and the fundamentals of art.

Also, in our Marketplace, AntarcticPress also offers some epic books on How To. They have so many good ones from How To Draw & Fight Zombies, How to Draw Pirates, How To Draw Manga, and my personal favorite How NOT To Draw Manga!

Give them a look and see what you can create.


MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT CREATING COMIC BOOKS?

If you have any more questions, leave your questions in the comments or connect with CryptoComics. We would be happy to answer them for you. We are always willing to answer any comic-related questions as best as we can.

A special thanks to the creators that have generously contributed to this blog post and for those that have submitted their hard work and made the Marketplace what it is today. Your contributions have not gone unnoticed and we love you for it. Thank you. Please share these creators books and go in and give them a review.