Friday, February 24, 2012

Interlude: drawing fast

When I first started reading comic books, I didn't give much thought to creative teams. I did notice a certain consistency month to month, and began to recognize the work of certain creative teams. Justice League of America became a favorite title, and I appreciated the work of Don Heck and Brett Breeding (both under-rated in the grander scheme of things).

Back then creative teams would stick around for a whole bunch of issues, on account of speed and professionalism. Dick Dillen drew the same title for years without missing a beat. Jack Kirby produced long runs on several titles, some of the finest work of the medium.

Speed was achieved by having artists focus on layouts, rather than tight pencils, which the inkers would have the responsibility of cleaning up. This resulted in more of a creative synergy, and solid storytelling, not pretty pictures, was the goal. Nowadays, pencillers labour over pages obsessively, rendering every little detail and even shading in black areas (as if the inker isn't smart enough to figure it out). While artists used to produced two pencilled pages a day, the standard today is one page every two days.

Of course, it's argued that the results are so mind-blowingly amazing that the time and effort is justified. I much prefer the old days, where masters knew how to suggest, rather than draw every little detail needlessly, and comics didn't treat themselves as high ART.

My approach is this: rather than produce a tight pencilled page, I prefer to whip up a rough layout, and finalize the piece at the inking stage. Of course inking from roughs requires a little courage, since there's no 'safety net' of every line spelled out. That being said, the process produces interesting results (I often change my mind or add details at the inking stage that I hadn't considered when pencilling), and helps me draw two inked pages a day.

I've started off this blog with an example of a recent page. I hope it illustrates my point.

Next week: a spooky new webcomic

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