I’ve been drawing Falling Rock comics a bit differently this season. For my big fifth year I knew I had to “step it up” and “bring it” unless I wanted my readers to yawn and shuffle off to some other corner of the internet.
My template for comics success is, obviously, Bill Watterson. The problem with emulating Bill Watterson’s process is that he is a genius and I am not. His methods don’t always work for me. Case in point: he rarely did much penciling. When I saw some original Calvin & Hobbes strips at the Ohio State Cartoon Library & Museum, I quickly realized how much Bill left to inking. He certainly did the foundational stuff in pencil – panels and lettering. Otherwise, he drew light circles in pencil roughly where he wanted the characters’ heads to be and got right down to the final draft.
Until this season, I tried to follow that method. I drew rough character shapes in non-photo blue pencil, leaving details to be filled in while inking. This often resulted in less than satisfactory compositions. Characters’ legs got cut off more than I wanted, and occasionally I had to white out and re-ink Ranger Dee’s head because I drew it too big for her body. The last thing I want is a balloon-headed Dee.
This season, I’m trying what I call the Richard Thompson method. Richard’s art style is much looser than Bill’s. Richard does a lot of sketching, then tracing. I’d never thought of trying that before, so I gave it a shot.
Turns out, I like it a lot. I draw, in a very sketchy way, almost every panel on copy paper. Then I trace, using non-photo blue pencil, onto my Bristol board. That gives me a pretty exact drawing, which I ink. Not including the original sketches, I draw each comic strip three times. This has helped me refine the drawings that much more; so far I’ve been happy with the results. Below is an example of two strips on copy paper.
|January 19 and 21, 2011|
Inking has become more brainless, which is fine, because I can have a movie or podcast playing and so keep up on pop culture while I make my contribution to it.