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The Comic making process

Updated on October 20, 2012
The Golden Age
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The Silver Age
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The Bronze Age | Source

The Comic Book Process

This hub is a general process for how to make your own comic book can be as simple or as an involved process as you want it to be.

There are more topics in development on my main Hubpage that you can take a look at. But for any comic book either made at home with a ballpoint pen and notebook paper by yourself, or in a consortium of several creators in a digital environment the process is essentially the same. Some steps can be cut out or consolidated by the multi-tasking ability of creative members, but again still the same.

Since the dawn of comic books starting with "The Yellow Kid" comic strips in 1895 when word balloons were first starting to be used, through the golden age of comics in the 30's-50's, through the silver age of the 50's-60's, and into the bronze age of the 70's-80's, comics have been a completely manual process.

Usually it would take a large team of creators to make a single comic book. In the advent of our modern age of comics, this process has simplified considerably allowing much more work to be done by less people.

So for the last 80-90 years the comic making process has been basically the same. Only in the last 10 or so years has the advancement and modernization of this process been streamlined to the point that it is possible for a single creator to do the whole comic building process on their own.

The basic steps to make a comic book are as follows:

Plotting & Script Writing

The beginning of the process generally starts with the ideas inside of a creator's head being put down on paper, or typed on a computer screen. I have seen writers break this into phases where they first write a general plot describing the story without dialog telling what events will happen and where the story will go.

Then the plot is developed into a script. The script will contain dialogue and captions that flesh out the story. General panel layouts with artwork descriptions and guidance to help the penciller develop the artwork for the comic pages. This creative process has several different methods that are used that I will explain in the writing hub in my Making Indie Comics 101.

Page layouts and Penciling

The script is then sent to a Penciler to start creating comic pages. The Penciller then creates rough page layouts showing panel by panel showng how the story progresses. Then the penciler will finalize the artwork enough for an Inker to translate the Penciller's intentions with the artwork.

Sometimes these panel breakdowns are done by one artist and the final pencils by another. Predominantly pencilling is still done manually on artboards, but is increasingly done digitally.

Lettering

Either before or after inking the pencilled pages they must be lettered for the reader. A Letterer will choose which artwork areas to cover with dialogue balloons and make panels read correctly visually for the reader.

The advantage of lettering before inking is that the inker can save time by not inking the areas under the dialogue bubbles, captions and sound effects. Manual lettering has become a lost art, and most pages are now lettered digitally.

Inking

After pencilling and either before or after lettering the pages are then inked. Inking is required so that the artwork can be reproduced easily. NO... INKING IS NOT TRACING! It is an Inker's interpretation of a Penciller's artwork.

Sometimes the job is easy with tighter pencil pages that the Inker does not need to spot blacks (or shadows), but most times it is a difficult process of interpreting what the finished artwork should look like.

Inking spawned out of the necessity to keep Pencillers moving on creating more pages at a rapid pace. That and pencil artwork cannot be easily reproduced, black and white images are much easier to scan and print.

Coloring

Once Inking is complete, then the inked pages are sent to a Colorist to either color or grayscale them. Today coloring is done on the computer.

The first part of coloring is separating the color areas known as flatting. Once the areas on the page are flatted then the individual areas can be selected to manipulate the area for adding base colors, shadows or highlights. Ink linework can also be selected to additionally color or highlight to provide more depth to panel imagery.

Prepress and Printing

After the pages are complete then they are assembled into a combined file format acceptable for printing. This can be done with a page formatting software such as Adobe InDesign or Quark.

Whatever the software is, the outcome will need to be the appropriate high resolution format for printing. Some publishers will take individual page files and others may require a compiled pdf format file.

Publishing in electronic format is similar to hard copy printing, however the file resolution is lower for smaller file size which is easier for file loading and downloading. Additionally electronic publishing is done in RGB instead of CMYK which is for print.

Find out more at Making Indie Comics 101

These descriptions of the stages of comic book creation are by no means a be-all end-all set of rules that need to be followed. Different creators have different methods for how to make their books, but they all need to go through the motions of the above steps. However they may short cut, there is still always the basic creative step taken.

Be on the lookout for future hubs in which I will go in depth for each part of the comic book making process. Click on the links below to go to other Making Indie Comics 101 hubpages.

Thanks for your support!

Your Friend and Fan,

Mike Rickaby

CE Publishing Group

© 2011 Comic Enterprise Publishing Group


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    • CEPubdude profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael Rickaby 

      5 years ago from Centennial, Colorado

      Thanks Geekdom, Yeah I have Hulk #102 which is the reprinting of the Hulk origin. Can't remember if he was grey or not. Cover is green though. Now I'll have to check and see...

    • Geekdom profile image

      Geekdom 

      5 years ago

      The comic book process is so interesting. I remember reading that the Hulk was originally going to be grey but the printers back then could not make the color consistently so they switched it with green. Anyway, tangent land, thanks for talking about the process.

    • uncorrectedvision profile image

      uncorrectedvision 

      7 years ago from Indiana

      Hey message me your email and I will connect you to my brother he is the real artist.

    • CEPubdude profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael Rickaby 

      7 years ago from Centennial, Colorado

      Hey UCV,

      Great stories! Its kindof strange. I never thought about making comic books until I was around 27. I was always an avid comic collector since I was 7, my brother had a stack of comics about 2 feet tall that I would read through and eventually inherited when he went to college (what a deal!). Actually I probably would have been illiterate without comics. It is the most natural way for kids to learn to read. Look at pictures, want to know what's going on, read what they say, when the word bubbles don't make sense read the captions. Actually I should write a hub about that.

      Well anyhow I was always active with art, just not comics till I was at a garage sale of a Marvel comic inker in Orlando and bought a bunch of his comic pages. A light turned on in my head and life has never been the same since. I was soo busy with my drafting day job I had forgotten my roots in artwork. Oh well, better late than never.

      I spoke to Don Perlin and he moonlighted from his day job as a policeman around the age of 25ish for Charlton comics and then Marvel. He ended up as a Marvel art director and is truly an amazing artist. So I always have hope....

      If you want to see my portfolio here's the link.

      http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryDetail.asp?GCat...

    • uncorrectedvision profile image

      uncorrectedvision 

      7 years ago from Indiana

      When we were kids, maybe 12 and 16, my brother and I would draw our own comics. Every rainy summer afternoon, in Indiana there are plenty of those, we would bring out scrap paper, pencils, pens, erasers, rulers and crayons. While sitting at the card table we set up on the big front porch we spent hours drawing and writing. Other kids would join in if only briefly but, it seemed, like we never stopped until the rain did.

      Today I still write for pleasure and he is an artist finally starting up his own little comic book company. Great hub.

    • CEPubdude profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael Rickaby 

      7 years ago from Centennial, Colorado

      Thanks Rorshak! I hope to be posting much more (and in more detail) for each subject I can about comic creation. I guess I'm still a 40ish year old kid making comics...

    • profile image

      rorshak sobchak 

      7 years ago

      How neat! I used to design comics when I was a kid I thought it was so fun. Great Hub I really enjoyed it. Keep up the great work. :)

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