Comics: Smaller Parts, To the Mouth of the Source, Orangedirt
Making comics since year of: At least since around 4th grade, sooo... 1989-ish. But I would say that I actually started self-publishing them as zines around 1995, and really started to take them seriously around 1998.
Art education/schools attended: School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Pencils: Non-photo blue. I've heard that there are mechanical blue pencils, but I have yet to find them. Well, actually, I haven't really looked, but they sound wonderful. My friend Ezra supposedly uses them.
Inks: As in brush and ink? No, not really.
Brushes: Brush pens sometimes, just to fill in large areas, or to sometimes get a rougher edge on something, but never really brushes.
Pens: I only use Alvin Penstix No. 3015-EF 0.5 mm. I discovered them quite by accident when cleaning out lockers at my school. At first Pearl Paints was the only place that carried them in Chicago, but they were always out of stock and refused to order them for me or tell me when they would be getting more in stock, so I ended up ordering them online from Dick Blick. Then a Blick store opened up downtown, and they always have them, so that's where I go now.
Paper: Vellum bristol cause it has a bit of a tooth, and I've found that the smooth kind will smudge a little with the pens I use. No particular brand, just whatever fits my budget.
Lettering: This is always on a case-by-case basis. I love to use cursive when I can, which is an influence from my Grandma Benjamin, whose birthday cards to me are so beautifully handwritten. Large blocks of text, like say for the liners of a CD are pretty awful to do cause I get hand cramps, but otherwise I feel that I have a pretty clean style. Sometimes I use different fonts, or just upper and lower case, to differentiate between characters' word balloons. I used to worry a lot about whether it was clean enough, or too sloppy, but after seeing some of Chris Ware's huge original pages in a gallery I realized that his hand was a little shakey, too, but that it still came out looking nice. Now I don't really worry about it at all.
Color: Color is something I'm still getting used to. I've always just sort of worked in b&w, but the more illustration and freelance work I do the more I have to dabble with color, because that's what people always want, so it's definitely something I know that I need to work on. It's very difficult to color my work on a computer because of all the detail and my hatching technique. Also, I often leave lines with little breaks in them, so whenever I try to fill in areas with color on the computer they leak out into other areas. It takes a lot of time, but the end result is always worth it.
Layout/ Composition: This is all very intuitive, so I'm not too sure what to say. I guess that lately I'm very drawn to symmetricality, so that's something that I'm very consciously playing with. Also, I'm extremely influenced by the Chicago Imagists/Hairy Who movement, and have subsequently inherited their horror vacui, which is a kind of fear of empty spaces. Basically, I'm always filling in every little area. Sometimes drawing a sparse panel is very difficult for me. Artists like Jordan Crane amaze me with their sparse yet affective panels.
Convention Sketches (when different from illustrations done in the studio): I don't do too many sketches for comics, because I feel like it bloats the process of making them, although I do fill up my sketchbooks with non-comics related material rather quickly. Probably about one sketchbook every two months. I think I'm around like, seventy-five or so right now. Sometimes though sketches for a comic are a must, so in that case I usually just do a quick one that's really bad, that gives me all the details and dimensions I need. I really don't like redrawing something, because usually I get it the way I want it the first time.
Tool timeline, starting from when you began drawing in any serious way until the present, and what spurred the changes: I started out using a ball point pen and standard copy paper, then made the traditional evolutionary leaps that many seem to make to those V5 pens and Microns. But I'm very hard on my materials, so I would always begin to have problems, like the V5 would start getting leaky, or the Micron's tip would get bent. The Alvin Penstix seem to take my abuse rather well, but still I go through them pretty quickly so I have to buy them in bulk.
What tools you'd never use, and why: I'm not a big fan of computer graphics in comics. Like light spots and making things gleam. It's really quite like cheating, because if you look at the actual line work on a lot of the new superhero comics they're very badly drawn. It's just all the fancy computer magic that make the kids go ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh.’
And lastly, any advice you'd like to give: When you're just getting started it's more important to make as much work as possible than to worry about whether that work is good or not. What I mean is, all the stuff like style and storytelling will figure itself out in time. The more you just do it the more quickly and easier it will come. Experience, more than anything else, is going to make you better -- not what pens or paper or other materials you're using. And when you're finished with it don't put it in your desk, put it out. It's important to get feedback, and to see your comic as a finished product. Put it somewhere like Quimby's Comics to sell. It'll make you feel good, y'know.
I haven't been able to find non-photo colored pencil lead, either. I've seen turquoise, but it's not the same, especially when you pencil as, um, forcefully as I do. Plus the lead always breaks... I put a pencil sharpener (old school variety) on my desk and just resharpen constantly.
Ezra told me he uses the blue lead. Maybe he's fibbing.
My husband loves the non photo blue mechanical pencil lead, but they don't make it anymore. Believe me, he went to every art store he could find and asked everyone. Hopefully someone will get smart and make them again. If anyone out there knows where to find them, buy them all because they are like gold.
I'm not sure if it's non-photo blue, but I got mechanical 0.5 lead from Staedler. "Mars micro color" is the name.
Great idea with blog like this.
I think it's intended as non-repro blue. Whether it actually works?
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