My Mini Comic Book Process for Young And The Dead: No Zombies Allowed
As I am ramping up to to launch this new website, I am simultaneously scripting out the story for issue two of my comic, Young and the Dead: No Zombies Allowed. I am also prepping files for a print-on-demand version and a digital version of issue one. “What is Young and the Dead,” you say? Well, Young and the Dead is comic book project I conceived as a mini comic for the Art & Story Podcast’s Mini Comics Dump Truck, an event where visual storytellers are given the task of producing their own mini comic. Once completed, the mini comics are then traded among the group’s members at the end of a six month period. Unfortunately, Art & Story ended their podcast run and I am unaware of any other plans for another Mini Comics Dump Truck. However, the story must go on, and I thought this new blog would be a great place to re-familiarize everyone with the project by providing some insight into the process behind making the mini comic.
Because of the nature of mini comics, I had set out to do something quick and simple. I always wanted to do a Zombie story but didn’t know if I could add anything to this already over-saturated genre. Mini comics are typical created with the guerrilla attitude, “Just get the thing done and out there.” I figured I didn’t have anything to lose. Then a funny thing happened… As I began brainstorming, basically just throwing around ideas, I realized that maybe there is a worthwhile story I can tell.
For me this story was first and foremost about the characters. So before I even put pen to paper on a script, I set forth to develop the characters.
With the character designs complete, I moved on to plotting the story and developing a script. During this process, characters may change or evolve, and new characters may be developed to fit the narrative. I usually draft a pretty tight outline with all of the scenes and dialogue in place, however the script is continuously being reworked, often up until the moment I do the final lettering.
Now that I have some idea of the story, I do my thumbnails: small, quick and simple drawings that I use to plan out my pages and story flow.
Using the thumbnails as a visual reference, I begin drawing the pages in pencil. I use a Koh-I-Noor drafting lead holder with Prismacolor non-photo blue drafting leads which can be easily eliminated later in Photoshop, allowing only the black ink to show up and allowing me to skip the erasing stage.
Once the page is penciled, I go over the page in ink. My pencils are typical very straight forward and I add a lot of the detail in the inking stage. For this comic I used a Winsor Newton Series 7 brush number 3, Black Magic ink, and various Micron pens for the straight lines and panel borders.
Here is a sampling of my finished pencil and ink pages.
After the pages are inked, the remainder of the work will be completed digitally. I scan the pages into Abobe Photoshop for coloring, or gray tones in this case. I recently purchased a Brother MFC-6490CW Printer, which prints and scans up to 11×17”. This is awesome because my old method involved scanning the art board in two separate sections and splicing them together in Photoshop. I would recommend this printer to any comic artist, if for no other reason than the large scanning area. Costco Online frequently has this printer on sale and for much less than what I paid for it. I think at the time of this posting you can get it for about $100 after rebates.
Now that the pages are scanned into the computer, I start laying down solid flat colors in various shades of gray. Once the image is “flatted,” I select each flat shape and digitally airbrush some highlights and shadows in gray.
The orientation and placement of the pages can get confusing, so it helps to create a dummy or mock-up of the book. Here I have folded 8.5×11” sheets of paper like a book and numbered the pages 1-22, plus title pages, etc. Now I can unfold the sheets and use the individual pages as guides to show me how to organize the actual pages for printing.
Now I bring my fully toned art into Abobe Illustrator, where I organize my pages into the order they will be printed. Then I do all of the lettering, sound effects, and graphic design of the book.
Finally, it’s time to print out the pages. I’m printing twenty books at a time, so I make stacks of each page in groups of twenty in a line in the order of how they will be collated for each individual comic. Then I just go down the line and stack the pages one on top of the other.
Because the pages in my book are full bleed and the printed image will run off the edge of the page, I need to cut off the extra edges of the page with a paper cutter.
Now I score the books by folding them in half. It helps to line them up against the edge of something. I just use the edge of my paper cutter. I do this for the interior pag
es and the cover of the mini.
Next, I staple the pages together with a long arm stapler that you can purchase at most office supply stores.
That Extra Touch
For me, presentation is everything, You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so I wanted to do a little something extra for this book. I designed a book jacket that, when in place, would look like zombie hands were closing in on our heroes. Die cutting is expensive and since I am limiting this special edition of the comic to 150 copies, I decided to cut the shapes of the hands out by hand with an Xacto knife.
To finish every thing off, I designed bands resembling caution tape that would hold everything together as well as provide a nice unwrapping experience for the reader.
And that’s how I create a mini comic.
If you are interested in purchasing the artist edition of Young and the Dead: No Zombies Allowed, you can do so here at my online store