Comics: Street Angel, Outfitters, Handy Dandy Suicide Guide, anthologies – True Porn 1 and 2, Orchid 2, Meathaus 8, Typewriter, Porn Hounds, Project: Superior, Project: Romantic, SPX 2005
Making comics since year of: 1999
Art education/schools attended: Indiana University of Pennsylvania (BFA, graphic design/painting)
Pencils: I use a lead holder (I prefer how these feel compared with a mechanical pencil) and usually HB lead (or whatever I have handy 2H, 2B). Sometimes I use non-repro blue lead (not often though). I don’t care much about lead. I want something that isn’t too soft (to minimize smudging) and isn’t too hard (so I don’t make impressions in the paper).
Inks: For brushes I use Dr. Martin’s Tech Ink. I order big bottles of this stuff from some place in Tampa. I’ve never used Dr. Martin’s Black Star hi-carb ink, but I hear that stuff is pretty good. One of my friends prefers it to the Tech Ink. For pen nibs I use Higgins Engrossing ink. It’s a little thinner than the Dr. Martin’s and flows pretty well from a Hunt 102 nib.
Brushes: My favorite brushes are Raphael 8404s. I’ve tried other sable brushes including the much-heralded Windsor-Newton series 7s, and nothing I’ve tried compares to the snap and quality of the Raphael 8404s. I have a few sizes, but mostly use a size 4 for everything. A tip for using a brush, load the tuft with ink, then lightly drag the brush on a napkin, paper towel, or piece of scrap paper or cardboard. As you drag the brush, twirl it slightly and pull it away from the paper. You should have a sharp point on a brush loaded with ink.
Pens: Mostly a Hunt102. I’ll use rapidographs for panel borders sometimes. I’ve also tried lots of various pen nibs with varying results. The 102 is pretty good for lines of varying weight, cross hatching, whatever.
Paper: Strathmore Bristol Smooth. This is sold in pads of 20 sheets or so. It’s cheap paper but its surface works well with pen and brush. The thing I look for in paper is a smooth surface (hot press, plate finish). Surface is really a matter of taste so it’s a good idea to try a variety of papers and see what works.
Lettering: Speedball C-6 nib, Hunt 102, Hunt 107, Microns; I also use an Ames lettering guide.
Color: I tend to color very little. When I do, I usually color on the computer (Photoshop). Occasionally I’ll use a cheap watercolor set, color pencils, or scanned samples of something (for texture or color).
Layout/ Composition: I often do thumbnails directly on script pages or whatever is handy – scraps of paper, notebook, sketchbook. I don’t always do page breakdowns, but I should. I tend to work on layouts much smaller than they will be drawn or printed.
Convention Sketches (when different from illustrations done in the studio): I suck hard at convention sketching.
Tool timeline, starting from when you began drawing in any serious way until the present, and what spurred the changes: I used to use cheap nylon brushes for inking. I did this for a few years. I can’t remember what prompted the upgrade to sable brushes, but this started around Street Angel 3. I don’t remember when I started using pen nibs either. But a funny story about nibs. Hunt102s are really cheaply made. As a result like 1 out of 3 are garbage. I didn’t know this when I started monkeying with them. So I bought a 102 because I read that’s what someone used (Todd McFarlane?). I couldn’t use it. It kept snagging on the paper and ink would just splatter everywhere. I was frustrated and just gave up on pens for a couple years and only used brushes. Now I like pens a lot. So don’t get frustrated if a nib doesn’t agree with you. It also helps to have paper with a smooth surface. If the paper has a rough surface, fibers can get caught in the nib and then horrible things happen. I think I went back to pens after seeing work by Sammy Harkham, Anders Nelson, and Dave Cooper and falling in love with their pen lines.
What tools you'd never use, and why: Regular Higgins ink is terrible. Very inconsistent.
And lastly, any advice you'd like to give: Don’t get too hung up on tools. There’s no Holy Grail drawing tool that will make a bad drawing look good. Use whatever is handy, whatever you can afford, or whatever you just like to draw with.
October 31, 2006
Disclaimer: There is no absolute one way to draw comics, and probably every individual person is going to do things their own way. I've met people who pencil with ballpoint pens, and their work looks beautiful at the end of the day. But then I've also met people who have only ever tried Microns and don't even try different brands of pens to see what the difference is. So half to be helpful, half to satisfy my own curiosity, here's a blog about stuff people use to make comics. I'm putting up one survey every weekday until I run out.