Guest post by Alliance staffer Monica Johnson, Manager of Art & Exhibitions

I’m creating my very first web comic right now and it’s hard. But, I’ve learned a few things that might inspire all the current and future comic artists out there.

Make your own font! Traditionally, I’ve always kept my writing and my drawing separate, just like my peas and mashed potatoes. At first it was really challenging to figure out how to create and edit a comic in the most efficient and fluid way. I would write the dialogue, then storyboard the comic. Finally I inked the comic, scanned, and formatted it. But then I would want to edit the text, and that created a problem because to change the text meant redrawing, re-scanning, and re-formatting. Argh! Too much work if you ask me.

Then I made my own font! It’s the best thing that ever happened to my web comic. It’s my own handwriting and I can edit it in any writing or design program on my computer. Visit YourFonts.com to make your own!

Great Resources A great resource for web comics is Graphicly.com. Create a free account to browse a ton of comics for free and for purchase. They’re also a great resource for finding independent comic publishers and comic artists all over the world. The best part is that you can publish your own comic and make it available for anyone to view! You can even download it as a Google App.

Another great resource for comics is Drawn & Quarterly, one of the best comic publishing houses in all of North America. Started in 1991 in Montreal, Quebec, they publish comic greats like Lynda Barry and Daniel Clowes. And lastly, Rookie Magazine makes books and comics a special focus in their online publication for art and writing. They even take submissions!

A Closer Look at Comics Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art is a classic and, in my opinion, a necessary read for any serious comic artists. Written by Scott McCloud, it is a detailed look at visual iconography and the history of comics. It’s also a fascinating read for anyone interested in visual language!

Some of my favorite comic artists ­- or graphic novelists depending on your preference – are Art SpiegelmanAlison BechdelMarjane Satrapi, and Josh Neufeld. These guys are not only master illustrators, but manage to tell very personal and complex non-fiction narratives in unique ways.

I hope these tips are helpful and get the comic juices flowing this summer!

Marjane Satrapi

Art Spiegelman

Alison Bechdel

Josh Neufeld

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Apply to the 2013 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Comic Art Category!

Comic Art submissions should consist of a pictorial narrative that tells a story through use of sequential frames, with or without text. Examples include comic strips/books, storyboards, web comics, and selections from graphic novels. Images can be rendered through drawing, painting and digital art. For the 2013 Awards, please do not base characters and plots on already published comic books or published series. Students may submit up to 8 images to represent their work. Works must be more than one panel. Single panel illustrations should be submitted in the Drawing category. As with all categories, jurors look for originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal vision. Students can submit their work to the 2013 Scholastic Awards beginning September 17, 2012. To learn how to submit, visit: http://www.artandwriting.org/Awards/HowTo

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1 comment

  1. Torsten Adair

    A bit of advice.
    Just as cartoons record the voice, then animate the characters, the same is usually done with comics.

    Step One: thumbnail the page, with quick stick figures or shapes
    Step Two: add word balloons to the thumbnail
    Step Three: adjust the art to accommodate the word balloons
    Step Four: lightly design the finished page
    Step Five: Pencil, then ink, the word balloons
    Step Six: fit the artwork around the word balloons
    Step Seven: finish the artwork (coloring, inking, effects)

    Two great how-to books:
    The DC Comics series from Watson-Guptill
    Drawing Words and Writing Pictures

    (And I think it’s cool that SAWA is so open to other media like video games and comics!)

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