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.


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.


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.


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.