In my previous post about MANGA MUERTO (PT. 4), I talked about the cover designs. Now that I'm inking the new story, let me share some thoughts about this stage of production.
I always feel my favorite part of creating the comic book is the layout stage, where I'm actually drawing out the story in thumbnail form (very loose drawings of each comic book page, usually on 8.5" x 11", where I'm transcribing the story from my head to paper). It's at that stage where I can literally see the story played out in front of me. They drawings vary in levels of clarity, and there usually isn't any dialog, but all the characters are there and I can finally see the panel-to-panel progression of the story, page by page.
Penciling is of course the next stage, and I can't stress the importance of this part of the production. This is where I have to finalize each character's pose and expressions, and all background details need to be added in, using perspective, composition and other design tools to make each panel as clear as it need it to be.
Inking is yet another layer in creating your comic story. For me, it's in some ways the most relaxing. Now mind you, there are still many things I have to focus on, such as getting the right line weights and brush strokes, choosing the best tool for each drawing (brush, pens), choosing the best techniques for various textures (water, people, clothing, sand, etc). Inking is not, or shouldn't be, just tracing! Aesthetically, inking brings the figures, and the actual story, into focus.
Please excuse my terribly shaky camera shots, but here are two pages that have been inked:
FYI: These need to cleaned up (erasing pencil lines, some white-out to be added, etc) and then scanned, which will lead to some more digital clean-up then eventual lettering. (Also, astute EL MUERTO fans will notice the origin for Manga Muerto is different from the 'regular' Muerto story...). I get a real sense of completion when I get the pages inked, despite still only being half-way through the entire production of the final comic book story.
My style of drawing, and preference actually, is what we all refer to as 'cartoony' (I'm sure that's some aberration of the English language!). I like to create images as simplified representations. Any drawing, really, no matter how 'photo realistic', is only a representation of a real-life object. Even given the fact that I specifically meant to make this Manga Muerto story even more simplified, much more of a hybrid manga/Archie Comics aesthetic, than my usual stories.
Some cartoonist's whose work I really admire, and also take a similar approach regarding a simplified design (to varying degrees) are Gilbert Hernandez, Jason and Steve Ditko (top to bottom).
All artwork is copyright the respective artists.
What I like about Gilbert's work is the various ways in which he creates textures and patterns, solely with his inks. And these textures in turn create mood and atmosphere. Jason's page, in the middle, is rendered in pure black and white. His characters are clearly defined with only black outlines tracing the forms and parts of the figures. Placed against a black sky, they get further defined and pop off the page. Ditko's page shows a great use of black shapes defined by white contour lines, such as the man stealing from the safe. And like Gilbert, he's using stippled dots to create patterns and define space.
There are numerous other artists I could cite as great examples of working in black and white, but these three are among my favorites working today. Looking at others works shows me just how much can be done with a brush, a bottle of ink, and a blank sheet of paper. That one can use so few tools, and create a story with interesting characters and incorporate creative artistic decisions, that really keeps me working in black and white.
For anyone interested, I'm currently using a White Sable #2 brush with Dr. Ph. Martin's Black Star India Ink. Markers I use for smaller details are Copic Brush Pen and Fountain Pentel Japanese marker.