From concept to comic

In the next few days, I’ll be posting the splash page — in progress — so you can see what I’m doing, and what my thought process was in creating the splash.

Before I start getting into specifics, though, I thought it would make sense to begin at the beginning and explain what I am doing, where I am in the process, and where I plan to go. 

The basic idea for a Crimebuster revival has been with me for a decade now, but my first efforts at creating my own comic came in 2014. I learned a lot from that effort, which I will go into detail about at a later date, but one of the big takeaways was that the creative process I had adopted just wasn’t working for me. I was trying to completely finish each page before moving on to the next. The result was stultifying, with every roadblock feeling as though it was holding up all future progress. Every line was a bottleneck.

So this time around, I decided to use a classic comic book production line system. Of course, traditionally there are different people handling each step in the production line, but even though I am doing it all myself, I thought it would encourage work flow to do each layer of work entirely before moving on to the next. Plot the whole thing, lay the entire issue out, do breakdowns for the whole issue, do finished line work for the whole thing, then inking, then effects and word balloons, etc. 

I began plotting the story for The Crimebusters #120 at the beginning of 2018. By March, I was ready to begin the basic layouts, which consisted of thumbnails for all 28 pages, as well as basic notes on dialogue. I discovered I couldn’t lay out a page well unless I had an idea of how much and what dialogue was taking place during each scene, so this process was much slower than anticipated.

Original pencil thumbnail for Page 3

Still, after a few starts and stops, I finally completed the thumbnails at the beginning of October, 2018. I then set up my comic making program – Clip Studio Paint – and began the process of taking those thumbnails and actually laying out each page. First, I created each page, then laid out the panel structure. Working a little more than one page per day, I finished this process by the end of October. 

Next, I did detailed breakdowns for each panel on each page, taking the small thumbnails and rendering them full size — sketching out where the characters would be, the poses, the camera angles, etc. This took up up through Thanksgiving. 

 The breakdowns for the two-page spread on pages 8-9. 

Now I am in the process of doing the line work, using a pen and brush over the pencil sketches, tightening the work. I have so far completed four pages of line work, with 25 more to go. Since I will be on vacation for two weeks over the holidays, I anticipate this will take me until roughly the end of January to finish.

Once that is done, I have scheduled the inking for February, with dialogue re-writes, sound effects, special effects, and general editing scheduled for March. Assuming all goes as planned, I expect to have the first issue of The Crimebusters finished for the beginning of April, at which point I will head to Kickstarter, with the plan of getting the issue printed some time in May for distribution in June. 

It’s a long process, but so far, I have found that doing one job at a time has greatly improved my work flow, and the quality of the work. I am also learning a lot, and expect that the next issue will go much faster and smoother. I hope eventually to get to the point where I can do an issue every 4 months, though 6 may be more realistic.

So that’s where I am at! Next time, I will share the first draft of the first page of the series so you can see how things are coming along, what the (unfinished) art looks like, and get a feel for the flavor of the title. I will also explain some of the creative decisions on the splash page which would have felt very familiar to Golden Age readers. 

See you then!