Monday, February 18, 2013

Giordano on Getting it Done

I was talking about inking and my inking hero, Dick Giordano, this morning.

One more thing about Giordano. A possibly apocryphal story-

Dick's suggestion for curing slowness as an inker went something like this: Divide a page into tiers of horizontal panels. Usually there are 3 or 4 on a page. Decide how much time each tier should take. In Dick's case, he figured each tier should take him about an hour. So, he set a timer for an hour and got to work.

Dick would watch the timer as he inked. If it looked like he wasn’t going to make it, Dick would start spotting more blacks. Whatever it took, Dick would finish that tier in the hour and move on. He said, in his experience, the pages where he had to spot more blacks were usually better.

I know some will scream that Dick was saying you should hack it out. I think he was dispensing practical advice. Whether he ever actually did that hour per tier and black it out trick, the story gets at something very important to young artists: the work can't be too precious.

Get it done. Make it bold. Make it readable.

The inker's main job is the same as every other job in the making of a comic: tell the story. It's not about making perfect, precious lines. It's about telling a story clearly and efficiently. Be a storyteller! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dressing for the Hat

This came up at one of my regular online hangouts the other day. To what extent does one try to match your hat to the rest of your outfit, or even vice versa?

I do try to match my outfits, but I also keep it simple. I try to break things down to either earthy tones (browns, greens, silverbelly, etc.) or grey tones (including blacks). That's about it. Sometimes it starts with the shirt. Sometimes the pants. Sometimes I just really want to wear a certain hat, and it goes from there.

I've gone so far now as to have two different watches (one silver and one gold/brown) and different overcoats (one brown and one black. I've also been buying dress shoes in both palettes. In fact, I've been on something of a used shoe-buying binge. I kind of fell in love with Allen Edmonds shoes when I stopped into their store in Chicago. I can't afford to drop $300 or more on a new pair, but I have been able to find some deals on eBay. The sizing is challenging, but I've had decent luck. I wear custom orthotics, and I have them in various thicknesses, so I can kind of fit a shoe to my foot, based on the orthotic I insert. The orthotic is also nice because it gives me a buffer between my foot and the used insole.

With the influx of nice shoes, I often find myself leaving the house in a very nice, vintage fedora and a pair of very nice, pre-owned shoes. What's in between isn't very fancy, but I figure the extremities earn me some slack there.

Back to work. More poor-writer fashion advice another day.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

My Current Process, In Five Steps

I get asked from time to time how I go about tackling a monthly comic book script. I wrote down the steps I currently go through the other day for a friend, so I figured I'd share here. This is just the way I do it... this month. It changes from time to time. One is always hoping there's some magic formula that will make it easier... better. For now, this seems to work for me, except for the times when it doesn't.


Step One- I make tons of notes on what the issue is about, what the arc is about (if there is one) and what happens. These are sometimes hand-written. Sometimes not. This assumes I have already handed in some kind of outline for the arc I'm working on. That outline is sometimes quite brief. On occasion, it's not much more than a paragraph's worth of solicitation copy.

Step Two- I build a 22 page document and write a paragraph at the top of each page. Just saying what's going to happen page by page. This lets me know how the pacing is working out. I try to be very mindful to keep things loose… I don't want seven panels on every page. I also don't want four. I try to keep it at a five panel norm, with a few big shots or splashes thrown in.

Step Three- I go through the script and write dialogue. I can already see what's going to happen on each page. Now I start to build the conversations and narrations. I try to make this pass good, but not too good. I will have another shot at this. A couple of shots, in fact.

Step Four- I go through again, writing the art direction now. At this point, I break the action (and the dialogue I've just written) into panels. I write everything I think the artist may need to know. I also read and tweak the dialogue again.

Step Five- A final pass. I re-work dialogue, format things properly, bold words for emphasis, get rid of my notes at the top of each page, count the pages to make sure I haven't gone over or under, etc. One last chance to make it as good as I can.