With the recent global box office success of Marvel’s Avengers taking in a whopping $1.8 billion in ticket sales and DC’s Dark Knight Rises with just over $1 billion there is no doubt the public’s fascination with superheroes and their comic book origins has hit an all time high. This has lead to artists eager to tap into working within the field but are left wondering exactly what does it take to break into the comic book industry?
Creating a comic book:
Legendary comic author, artist and inker Walt Simonson has been in the industry
for over 40 years having worked on Thor, X-Men, Avengers, X-Factor, Hulk, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and a number of others. He is probably best known for his work on Thor, a comic he wrote and drew in the 1980s. He has also taught at New York City’s School of Visual Arts.
Simonson describes his art process deftly, “I like to try to create a balance between the words and pictures in a comic. I work to keep both as fluid as I can.”
“First, I create a summary of the story I’m working on. The summary might be anywhere from one to three pages long for a 20 page comic book.”
“Next, I thumbnail the story, each page of thumbnails contains simple sketched panels, establishing my compositions and my visual storytelling.
“After finishing the script based on my thumbnails, I send the layouts, and my script, off to a letterer. He follows my script and letters all the words on all the pages. The letterer also adds the panel borders and balloon borders in ink.”
“Once I have the pages back, I carefully pencil all of the art. When that’s done, I ink everything with India ink, using various pens and brushes. My editor will then have it colored and sent out for printing as a comic book.”
Christopher Sotomayor founder and CEO of Sotocolor Graphics, has been a digital colorist within the comic industry for over 16 years. He has worked on Spiderman, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Avengers as well as several graphic novels.
Sotomayor teaches color theory in an online program called Comic Experience. He breaks down the coloring process of comics simply and effectively, “After a writer provides a script detailing what happens in each comic, the art process begins. A penciller is tasked with drawing out everything that the writer has put in the script in order to tell their particular story. The pencil-drawn art then goes to the next phase, and the inker is called upon to refine what the penciller has drawn so that it can be cleanly reproduced for the printed page. This is all done with black ink, leaving the art in a very carefully reworked black & white state. The pages of artwork (there are usually 20 pages in a standard comic) are then scanned and sent to the Colorist, whose job it is to color the artwork, providing volume and ‘life’ to each drawing.”
Both veterans of the industry agree that up and coming artists should never stop studying their craft. Sotomayor adds, “Art, your knowledge and application of it, is constantly evolving. If you want to make it your livelihood, learn to evolve with it. Treat yourself as a business, and take your reputation seriously. “