My Least Favorite Trope (and this post will include spoilers for The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Matrix, Western Civilization, and—cod help me—Bulletproof Monk*.) is the thing where there’s an awesome, smart, wonderful, powerful female character who by all rights ought to be the Chosen One and the hero of the movie, who is tasked with taking care of some generally ineffectual male character who is, for reasons of wish fulfillment, actually the person the film focuses on. She mentors him, she teaches him, and she inevitably becomes his girlfriend… and he gets the job she wanted: he gets to be the Chosen One even though she’s obviously far more qualified. And all he has to do to get it and deserve it is Man Up and Take Responsibility.
And that’s it. Every god-damned time. The mere fact of naming the films above and naming the trope gives away the entire plot and character arc of every single movie.
Hey there. If you don't mind me asking, I was wondering what your process was for making a comic. I don't mean "how do you draw". Your art is awesome and I know that only comes from years of practise. I was more wondering about the process from coming up with an idea to getting comic pages out. Like for me, I try to write a script out scene by scene, first. Then design the characters. Then do thumbnails, then roughs and finally cleans. Is it much different for you? I'd love to get ur input. Thx!
I have some new followers, so reminder that everyone can find all of my blogging about how I make comics (and some friendly suggestions for how you can make comics) right here on this handy tumblr post. Hopefully that will help with the more general “how do you make comics?” asks I’ve been getting lately. :)
As for my process to go from idea »»»> complete graphic novel, usually it goes idea > outline > thumbnails/script > revised script (submitted to editor) > pencils > inks > colours (if book is coloured). This is important: everything pre-production (before I start penciling the comic), character/location design, script, thumbnails is done BEFORE I start making the final comic. It helps with the consistency of the book, and it means you’re not making stuff up on the fly.
However ………………. sometimes I make it up on the fly. ;) For a project like The Nameless City, there are so many many background characters and locations that if I’d sat down & tried to design it all before-hand, I’d be designing until 2050. So what I do ahead of time is decide on the look and style of the world, and then quickly make up characters that fit within that setting when I need to do a crowd scene. I’m only one person, not an animation studio, so, y’know, I can’t work like an animation studio. ;)
As for writing a graphic novel out scene by scene, I usually just straight ahead do the script and thumbnails, and add or subtract scenes as needed. It’s a very messy process.
Disclaimer: This is my process for making comics that will be published, but when I’m making stuff for the web or stuff I’m not being paid to do, I tend to be a lot looser, because loose is fun. I did webcomics for years before I became a professional cartoonist, and I never really did any kind of pre-production or scripting ahead of time. Working that way didn’t do those comics any favours (they are pretty rough!), but making comics was something I did for fun and scripting/thumbnailing/designing ahead of time seemed too much like work.
I actually really hate thumbnailing, because I think it’s boring. It’s the work you have to put in before you get to the fun part of actually drawing the comic page. I’d skip this part if I could, but it’s necessary, I think.
I just got a few volumes of the reprints for myself (1-3 and 5), so I’ll put up the sketch pages (which are on the inside covers of the volumes) here and translate them. I apologize if any of the spellings are off, I watched the anime a long time again when I was already somewhat proficient in Japanese, and read the manga exclusively in the original, so I am not used to the English spellings.
(top center) Fullmetal Alchemist
(top left) Initial Ed designs
(top right) Ed’s automail armor took more time to design than his face.
(center) Coat design ①
(mid right) Ed design ②. Too adult.
(in square frame) Ed’s back
(above cross) Flamel’s cross.
(bottom) Coat desing ② Almost there.
(top) Initial automail design. Too messy.
(bottom) Automail design ② Too simple.
(top left) Al design ① Already has a note saying “equivalent exchange.”
(right) equivalent exchange
(top left) Roar.
(top right) Al design ②
(Center) The all-important remote. Don’t let the bad guys have it!
(framed) Alchemist (younger brother)
(below frame) Al design ③ Getting pretty close!
(top left) The Elrick brothers’ mentor: This one!
(top right) dreads
(mid left) These are [designs] that I FAXed to my editor around the beginning of the run, to give him an idea of upcoming characters. [Izumi’s] visual appearance settled down really quick.
(mid right) The protagonist brothers’ mentor. Of the “to train the spirit, one must start with the body” mindset. She is being a housewife in some place or other. 30s-40s.
(bottom left) This is a rough from my sketchbook, from a time when I wasn’t even thinking about the series yet. I was just zoning out, doodling various female characters. Pretty sure this is the base [for this character].
Izumi’s design settled down really, really quickly. Thus, I have very few design sketches of her’s.
But that won’t do, so here’s a few initial roughs of Cornello.
← I really like his evil face.
Awesome, thanks Phil! I love seeing this development stuff that comes with the large format FMA volumes (sadly only available in Japanese). Holy snap, look at Arakawa’s original design of Al. O_o
When you first got into comics, did you feel like you were better at, or more interested in, the drawing or the writing? I want to make my own comics, but I feel like my art straggles behind my writing. How can I cause these two aspects of comic-making to come together within myself, and make the works I want to make?
Oh hey, this is something I think a lot about, actually! So when I started making comics (15 years ago this month, haha), I was really terrible at drawing. And I wanted to do, y’know, GRAPHIC NOVELS, with fairly realistically drawn characters and backgrounds and things that are hard to draw. Things that I didn’t really have the skills to draw at the time. So I’d draw my comics and the art was generally pretty terrible. But I was comfortable with writing, and that helped me keep going with making comics, because I enjoyed the storytelling aspect of them so much.
It’s hard when you feel pretty okay about your writing but your art doesn’t measure up. I kind of feel like my art still doesn’t measure up to what I want it to be (mostly right now I want it to be Hiromu Arakawa, which will never happen, no matter how much I practice), but I’m very comfortable with the writing part of comics, so I look at that as my great strength in my work. It makes up for where my art is lacking, and I work hard at writing to make the sum total of my work better than if I was just writing or just drawing.
I mean, the absolute best thing about comics (to me) is that you don’t need to be a spectacular artist to make really great, involving comics. I’m not an amazing technical artist. During my down times, I don’t draw gorgeous illustrations or do amazing paintings (I kind of dislike doing that kind of thing, to be honest). I will never be Gillian Tamaki. But I’m good at storytelling, and I’m good at interpreting emotion and drawing that on the comic page. So I work to my strengths, which is making stories about engaging characters, and laying out scenes where there is a lot of emotion running through them, and people who like my comics don’t seem to mind that my art is not as great as Gillian Tamaki or Hiromu Arakawa.
Comics aren’t just art or just writing, they’re the two combined to make something new and wonderful. They are more than the sum of their parts. So work hard to because a decent artist with a good grasp of storytelling basics (this is super important!), and work harder to become a truly excellent writer and storyteller, and you can quite possibly make great comics! It worked for me. :)
Preview and download the podcast Nerdist Writers Panel on iTunes. Read episode descriptions and customer reviews.
Bryan and I were guests on the Nerdist Writer’s Panel podcast with Ben Blacker. We talked about the creation of the show, the move to digital, and even about the Movie That Shall Not Be Named. Ben does a great job with the podcast and has had some big names on in the past, like Matthew Weiner, Damon Lindelof, and Vince Gilligan, so I was honored to be one of his guests!
Listening to this now! Full of the kind of super awesome process stuff I love hearing, but am usually too shy to ask about. *_*
Faith Erin Hicks, Raina Telgemeier & Calista Brill Discuss the World of Graphic Novels - Three of the biggest names in graphic novel publishing gather to talk about the industry, building an audience, and making books for a living
"The only reason I think it’s inaccurate to say that this is the golden age of graphic novels is that implies it isn’t going to keep getting better and better — and it is." - Calista Brill
Me, Raina & my editor Calista talk up a storm about graphic novels & other interesting things!
And focusing on Marvel and DC at the expense of the dozens of other publishers in comics, and then declaring comics a failure at San Diego Comic-Con, is incredibly myopic. It’s a mistake to think that Marvel and DC are all that mattered, that their new events or announcements dictate the future of capital-c Comics. Marvel and DC are comics, just like the other publishers, and they make some great ones when they let the creators do their own thing. But at this point? You can’t treat them like the entirety of the comics industry, or even two companies that can dictate the future of comics. They run the movies, and that’s cool, but running comics? It’s just not true any more. Image in particular outsells Marvel in the book market as far as trade paperbacks go, and that holds true in the comics market lately, too. That’s no coincidence. People enjoy Marvel and DC, but they want more than Marvel and DC.
If the announcements from the Big Two felt lackluster, but the fans still had a great time, how did comics fail? That sounds like a Marvel & DC problem. Vertical debuted Moyoco Anno’s brand new book In Clothes Called Fat at the show, a comic geared toward adult women. They sold out of Fumi Yoshinaga’s What Did You Eat Yesterday?, a romance/cooking comic. At Image, we sold out of Greg Tocchini & Rick Remender’s Low, an aquatic sci-fi tale, and Nick Dragotta & team’s Howtoons, a comic geared toward getting kids interested in the science through practical play. Boom! burned through Lumberjanes, a comic about girls at camp. These aren’t your normal comics, and people were eating them up.
The Adventures of Superhero Girl is one of my favorite comics, and one of the ones I’m proudest to have worked on. It’s by people I love and love working with. It’s the kind of book that shifts the balance of the industry and medium toward what I want comics to be.
I’ve spent a lot of time with Superhero Girl—probably more than any one person who isn’t Faith Erin Hicks or Cris Peter. I read it in black and white when it was first going up online, and then I read it again. And again. I went through every strip to pick the representative handful I could use to argue its case to my boss, and his boss, and the DH costing committee; and all of that was technically before I was its editor.
There are books I edit and then put down; ones I’m not interested in revisiting, or, more often, ones I’ve spent so much process time with that reading them feels redundant. Superhero Girl has never been one of those books. It’s a pick-me-up and a security blanket, the oh-so-readable soft matte hardcover, Adam Grano’s exuberant design (man, there is nothing about this book I don’t love), Kurt Busiek’s glowing introduction. I go back to it when I’m having a bad day, when I want to remember why I care about comics and what they can mean—to me, and as a medium.
I almost burst into tears. I spent the rest of the evening texting Faith and telling everyone I ran into that Superhero Girl had won.
I didn’t make this book. But I am so proud of having played even an incremental role in getting it out there, and I am so happy to see it get the recognition it deserves. The Eisner Awards aren’t perfect, by a long shot; how much they really mean is debatable. But sometimes? Sometimes, they get it right.
Congratulations, Faith, and thank you—more than I can properly express—for the chance to be part of one of the best comics I’ve ever read, and some of the most fun I’ve ever had on the job.