Tag Archives: comic

The Making of Bantam

Someone who bought a copy of Bantam at a previous convention visited my table again at MSP Comicon this spring, and asked what I used to ink it. The short answer I gave at the convention was, “Mostly Microns, with some brushwork in a few places.” For anyone seriously interested in the making of comics, here’s a longer answer:

For me, a big part of inking is knowing the right tool for the job. I’m one of those people who switches tools depending on the task at hand. Usually when I’m working on paper, I like to use a Rapidograph for lettering, because it gives me a smooth, very dark black line. BUT, I started Bantam while traveling, so I needed tools that were easily portable. I actually drew the first couple pages on a plane, and carried them around folded inside an issue of National Geographic. So I broke from my usual routine and used a Micron (I think it was size 05) for the lettering. And since lettering should be consistent, that meant I had to use my Micron to letter the whole book. (Later, when I started on Bantam Returns, I went back to lettering with the Rapidograph since it was a new story.)

The first page here was done almost entirely with Microns. If you look closely you can see a couple different line weights. I think I had a 05 and a 02 in my purse when I was traveling with this page. There might have also been an ultrathin 005. The only part that isn’t Micron is the sky. I outlined the stars, moon and weather vane with ink and then used a black crayon to color the rest of the night sky.

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Here’s a bit of page 2. Again, you can probably tell that I used a couple different Microns to get the different line weights. Anywhere you see crosshatching or stippling in this book, that was done with a Micron. I would have used a very fine-pointed tip for the bricks, to add texture while still allowing them to recede into the background. I think I may have used a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen to fill in the black areas on Bantam’s head and gloves. At the time, I wasn’t yet accustomed to inking with a brush, but I was making an effort to practice with it.

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Here’s the page where Bantam and Little Pecker arrive at the creepy old factory. This page clearly has a mixture of brush and Micron work. Every single window is either missing or broken, and I used a fine-pointed Micron to draw all those tiny cracks. On the big, beat-up steel drum behind Bantam and Little Pecker, there are some brush marks to indicate dents, and those were done with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. The large black areas were filled in with a brush, but I think I outlined some of the details (like the barbed wire and ladder) with a Micron before using the brush.

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It’s been several years since I drew Bantam, and since then I’ve gravitated more toward brushes, and stopped using Microns altogether. But I still switch tools depending on what I think the page needs. My Lolly comic, for example, is lettered with a Rapidograph and inked mostly with a sable brush, although I also use a Carbon pen for certain things. There’s more than one right way to ink, and plenty of good tools to choose from. Most of the artists I know settle on a few favorite tools, but it’s always good to experiment and add new things to your toolkit–that’s how you figure out what works best for you.

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Matia in Color.

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My story for issue 7 of Cartozia Tales is set in Matia, the Mother Wood on the western continent. If you’ve seen my paintings and my Lolly Poppet comic, you can probably tell that I like drawing trees. Though the panels in my Cartozia stories are usually quite small (like many of my Cartozia colleagues, I’ve been laying out the pages with 4 tiers so I can fit in as much story as possible), I wanted the tree in this panel to seem huge and expansive.

It’s design is based partly on the live oaks found in the southeastern U.S. Those trees grow huge, meandering branches that can arch down to the ground, descend into the soil, and re-emerge, as if they were trunks of separate trees. This panel is too small to capture that hugeness, but I tried to simulate it by extending the branches in the foreground to the bottom corners of the panel, as if they are extending toward the viewer.

The black and white version above is how the panel will appear in print (soon)! Just for fun, I made a color version to share online. (Because I’m excited that the mew issue will be in print soon. Soon!) Order yourself a subscription at Cartozia.com and our editor will mail you ALL THE ISSUES! That means you can get actual FUN mail that isn’t ads or bills! It’s a win!

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Sand Witch

As we finish work on issue 7 of Cartozia Tales and lay the groundwork for issue 8, I’ve been looking back on the stories I’ve done for the series far. Many of the characters we create appear in more than one issue, being passed from artist to artist. Some only make brief appearances. In issue 6 I introduced a character who is NOT likely to appear again. She was only in one short flashback that took place 30 years before the main storylines, but she was such fun to write and draw that I wanted to revisit her.

The Sand Witch was Jessyn’s nasty, cruel alchemy teacher for a time, long before she had Gandria and Tierce or travelled to Upside-Town. The Sand Witch only appears in a couple panels, but her presence is felt for a whole page! She lived in the desert landscape near Urbs, on the western continent. We don’t know much about her except that she needs herbs for her work, and she likes rocks for her corns. But I wanted to do a color image of her, and thought the character and texture of her brief scene would lend themselves well to a fabric collage:

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Here’s what she looks like in black and white on the pages of Cartozia, along with a young Jessyn:

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If you want to see how she figures into the story, remember you can subscribe online at http://cartozia.com/store/.

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Career Fairy

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I drew this to critique the way art is devalued. Young artists are often scoffed at and told that they’ll starve, they’ll always be poor. When even artists repeat the refrain that art degrees are useless, there is a problem with either deeply-ingrained defeatism, or a lack of practical guidance (usually both). There are lots of interesting things you can do with arts degrees in the public and private sectors, and in multiple industries. It is not always easy, but it is rewarding. Art is everywhere, and people pay money for it. If only more parents and educators told young artists HOW to succeed in the arts, instead of discouraging them.

If you want a print of this, there are a few different options:

Order a signed print through my fancy internet store on this very website.

Cards with this design are available through my RedBubble store.

Framed, unsigned prints are available through Society6.

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Bantam Returns

In this follow-up to the original Bantam comic, Bantam and Little Pecker are invited to join the Interdisciplinary League of Good Eggs and rub elbows with the greatest heroes of Cockham City: Arnold the Super Cardinal (created by Danno Klonowski), Wonder Pea Hen, Super Tough Chick, and Water Fowl! However, Bantam doesn’t get quite the reception he expected, and isn’t pleased with his first “mission…”

This is an 8 page mini available ONLY online, but you can get the original 20-page Bantam in downloadable form on Comixology and Kindle. Printed copies are available in my web store.

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Useless Plant

Just something I did over the summer. Appeared in the online edition of the 2014 City Pages Comix Issue.

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The Miners and the Mullypaw

my comic from issue 4 of Cartozia Tales, with settings suggested by Jen Vaughn and Isaac Cates. Visit cartozia.com to read about the collaborative process.

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Shambling Tower (Cartozia)

Here’s a one-pager I did for Cartozia Tales, a series of collaborative all-ages fantasy comics I’ve been working on for the last year or so. The name “Shambling Tower” was suggested by editor Isaac Cates.

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Pretzel comics

Two silly comics about pretzels from July 2014.

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Places Warmer than Minnesota Today

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A cartoon about debt

A cartoon about debt. Drawn in Manga Studio, grey tone added in photoshop.

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Bantam comic

This is a preview of the Bantam comic I wrote and drew several years ago. It is available digitally on Comixology and Kindle. Or you can order an actual physical copy! The lovely, professionally-printed, perfect-bound edition is available in my web store, and I’ll even sign it and doodle in it if you want.

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Poison Ivy

Click to enlarge.

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Lolly Comics

Lolly Poppet is having adventures in the imaginary land of Wibblewood. Click here to follow the comics online. A new page is posted each Friday.

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