The Inevitable Cartoonist Process Post

Process sharing among cartoonists has become somewhat demystified in the digital age. With the advent of social media, artists can easily ask or share with others the way in which their art is created.

“What pen do you use?”

“What computer program is good for drawing?”

“What kind of ink is best with a Hunt 102 pen nib?”

Before the internet, questions like these were more difficult to figure out. Sure, you could’ve written a letter to Charles Schulz or Jack Kirby and asked what eraser they used after inking, but you may not get a response – for several months, if at all.

These days a young cartoonist can type in ‘best inking brush for comics’ into google, compile the top five, and have them delivered to their doorstep in a day or two.

It’s a different world, this age of information.

Having said all that, if there are curious people out there wondering how a page from PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN evolves, here are a few examples – and yes, I work digitally using Manga Studio 5 and Adobe Photoshop. Lettering is done in Adobe Illustrator.

PRIDE 2

PRIDE 3

For more information on how to order PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, click here.

Thanks for reading,

T.J. Kirsch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing It Down & The Origins Of PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN.

Ideas for books come and go, but I’ve learned that if you don’t write them down, they’ll fly away out of your head pretty quickly. If you don’t write it down, it just doesn’t exist.

Every idea I’ve had for a comic, I first wrote down in a small, simple notebook.

My favorite place to exhibit ( and buy ) comics is the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland. I like to have something new every time I go – to be excited about showing people your new work is a great feeling. When it came time to exhibit in 2014, I wrote and illustrated a small eight page quarter-size mini comic called TURNPIKE. It featured a nameless ‘homeless guy’ and a lonely teenager named Julie. The story evolved from those few scribbled down notes into a story.

color 1

I received a lot of good feedback about that minicomic. One cartoonist I respect a great deal told me it was very good and ‘indicative of a larger story.’

That got my wheels turning in the weeks afterward, and in 2015 I put together a proposal for a graphic novel called NEVER FORGET TO REMEMBER.

rough cover

 

It connected the two main characters in TURNPIKE and expanded on some of the themes and visual elements. I included the first ten finished pages of the book, as well as a synopsis, character descriptions, character designs, and a cover mockup.

It all started as a few hastily-scribbled sentences in a notebook, and soon evolved into a real project. NBM responded favorably and the title was eventually changed to PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN.

 

pridecover

 

 

 

 

Process.

Process. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find some quick and easy explanation for how to do anything? Something as easy as ABC or 123 or do re mi. How do you make friends? Follow this easy process. How do you get someone who doesn’t even know you exist to be attracted to you? All the answers are here in this simple pamphlet. How does one face the prospect of death with dignity? Just follow these simple instructions.

I’ve never been much of one for instructions. And when it comes to my creative process, I have very little to say about it. I think the only thing that I can say that I truly believe in is that you have to sit down every day and do a little bit of work.

Everything else I prefer to remain a bit of mystery.

That being said. There were a few key stages in All Star, and I’ll show one sequence in each of these stages.

There is the idea phase, which with All Star began sometime around 2003 or 2004. That’s when I first had the idea for the book that would become All Star.

Then there was an outline, which was written sometime in 2010 (the part circled in red is our sequence).

After the outline, I drew a rough draft version of the book. This was probably the fastest part of All Star and was done mostly in 2011.

From sometime in late 2011 until late 2013 I was drawing the finished pages of All Star.

And then sometime last year.

PROCESS PROCESS PROCESS

DSCF3611It all begins here in the lab, getting cozy and scribbling equal parts jibberish and possible story plots… this is the most fragile part of the process for it often gets eclipsed by dance night, facebook lurking, and 18 hour naps but every once in a blue moon the stars align, self control conquers all and I start scripting …which looks like this:
process

This is the closest thing to a script that  A Home for Mr.Easter got ( which may explain a lot ).  It’s composed on posted notes and whatever little pieces of scrap paper were close at hand taped and nested in a 4×6 sketch book.  If you’re having trouble writing I find that this way always helps because its not as scary jotting down plot points on pieces of paper that might have ended up in the trash any way and they’re easy to move around, build onto, or just get rid of.

During this stage I tend to do what a lot of people do and script in thumbnail form, already start figuring out what the page layout is, how the frames will work together to create the pacing you want (which in this case was pretty fast ), and where dialogue and sound effects might go. In addition to these things I find it helpful to go ahead and sketch a few character designs or environments on the side whenever I get stuck… because as soon as you get stuck suddenly you remember your computer is right next to you and you could probably go update your facebook status from WORK NIGHT to I HATE WORK NIGHT  but then suddenly you get a message from your best friend ever that says GET DOWN TOWN NOW and instantly you obey….  and … um …where was I?

So after I get a pretty good idea of the rough outline I go to my OTHER sketch book filled with helpful little pages of graph paper and do my tight roughs (as seen below).  These are bigger more specific scribbles that are accompanied by dialogue… this is pretty much what my finished pencils look like later on 9×12 bristol… which would drive my teachers to murder.  But in all honesty tighter pencils will only help you out on inks in the long run. Lesson learned.

thumbnails_2 mr.easter_web