Monday, September 29, 2008

How to Make a Comic

When you make the decision to do a comic, you don't think much past the actual sitting down and doing the artwork. Sure, that part is tough and taxing, but what about when the art's done? What if you want a little more than just photocopies en masse ? How do you get your baby into some semblance of print form?

M, our friend Pas, my best friend Bean and I are going to the Small Press Expo on Friday. A few weeks ago, when I was slogging through the first few pages of the comic, M suggested that I try to have it printed in time to bring it to SPX.

Until then, I was just doing it because I always wanted to - I wanted to get better at my art, and fulfil one of my little dreams of actually completing a comic. When M suggested it, I realized that I have an interesting opportunity to get to know the indie industry better, and maybe share a bit of what I've done. Isn't that why I'm going? Because I adore independant comics, and want to see the makers and shakers? Maybe, in a small way, I can be a part of that. And maybe I can go to some of the bookstores that support local work and sell a few..... maybe.

So I've been knocking myself out over the past week and a half, burning through page after page, and I managed to get them all done by Friday the 26th - one week before the SPX.
First step - go to Kinkos in Providence and scan the pages. I venture out in the rain on Saturday morning, thinking that I'll drop them off, they'll scan them in an hour or so, and it'll cost maybe $15-20.

Costs $45 to scan 14 pages and put them on a disc! Are you kidding me? And that was with a $20 discount that the punky cashier girl gave me, I think, because she thought I was a student. Wearing my favorite goofy T-shirt probably encouraged that thought.

And I got to Kinkos at 11am, and they said come back at 4pm. I begged them to get it done earlier, and they said 2pm. So I drive home, slog around for a bit, make a rum cake for my friend Net's birthday, and then drive back to pick them up. Bleah.

So they're scanned. But then, M and I open up the images at home, and you can see all the lines from my non-photo blue pencil marks, which I thought weren't supposed to show up. That's why it's non-photo blue, isn't it? But there they are, I can see them, even though M says I'm being crazy. So I spend some hours going through and carefully erasing all the little lines I can find, until my wrist is killing me. Sleep.

Next day: Sunday. We go to our friends Net and Fonz's house with the scrubbed files, ready for layout. They're awesome graphic designers, and they very, very kindly offered to lay the comic out for printing on their weekend. I humbly give them rum cake and my babysitting services as payment, because lord knows I couldn't afford them. (Their kid is adorable and the easiest kid I've ever babysit in my sea of previous childcare, so it's more than a pleasure).

So Fonz (nicknamed so as he does look like Henry Winkler) opens the files I've edited, and I can see all these little stupid lines that I missed in my fatigue. But at this point, I just push it down and let it go (and once again, M gets annoyed with me because I'm acting crazy).

Fonz and Net spend 2-3 hours laying out everything, making dummy copies, and talking to the third member of this team effort: my father-in-law. Father-in-law is a print broker, meaning he arranges for businesses to have their documents/reports/etc. printed. So while my friends lay it out, M's dad gives them specifics of what he needs, and arranges to have it printed on the press and ready by Thursday. At the moment, I haven't been quoted a cost, so although I'm not counting on it, I may not have to pay for the printing.

(Makes you wonder, doesn't it - I'm awfully lucky to have these people around that just happen to be able to help with this project of mine)

Everything gets done, laid out beautiful in a mini-comic layout. Which I wasn't necessarily thinking of during the art process. I was thinking of a full-size comic. But then it was suggested that a small comic would be cool too. And when it was laid out, and sample copies were printed, I liked it. The text is small, but still legible. So we're doing that.

M is nice enough to drive to his father's house to drop off the disk with the completed comic on it. And now it's just a matter of waiting. We're leaving Friday at around 3pm, so we're crossing our fingers it can be done in time.

And last night, I just vegged out and watched a chick flick, then read my book in bed. Awesome to just do nothing. It won't last though; I'm thinking of waiting a week to start American, Eh? No.2, and this week doing some ink and brush illustrations of some of my Japan pictures.

And I think some strategy is in order when I start No. 2:

-Barely press down on the blue non-photo pencil, because scanners pick up everything
-make sure I have a spare $50 so I can scan my pages
-leave some good time to go through and edit every page, and indulge my perfectionism to its fullest
-kiss my friends' asses so they'll help me with layout next time, along with my father-in-law ( :-).


Mark said...

Kick some tail!!!!
It looks great.

Jen said...

wow!!!! good job and good luck with it! i'd love to see it someday.

ZB said...

I can't help but be a cheerleader...I'm willing to do so if it helps! :)

Go you! Can't wait to see it!