Recently during an Ask Me Anything session I did on Reddit, I was asked about the creative process and how I come up with ideas for the comic. I gave what I thought was a brief, but incomplete, answer that I wish to expand on here.
The first step in the process is the idea, and I get ideas from everywhere. Sometimes I might see a news article that gets me thinking, while other times it might be an interaction I’ve had with someone. When it doesn’t come from there, it might come from a brainstorming session where I try to think of funny situations or topics that I’d like to talk about.
I use a note taking app on my phone to jot down ideas. For example, opening up the app right now I see a few things I’ve written:
“Jesus says to love your enemies, but how many wars have we had?”
“Encouraging words from the bible.”
“Winston tells KKK members how to be taken more seriously by having better costumes.”
“God not allowed in schools.”
“Christian changes the radio station at the gym to christian rock station.”
They’re not all good ideas, but that’s how the process begins. It’s simple thoughts and ideas that I get that I flesh out later. And I’m constantly adding things to the list even if they seem absurd at the time.
When it’s time to do a comic, I go through the list and see if anything jumps out at me. If not, I might try to think up something on the spot, but more often than not, I go with the one that I think I’ll be able to develop quickly.
Once I have the idea, I flesh out the “story” in a notebook. I decide on how many panels I think I’ll need, figure out the characters I’m going to use, and begin writing the dialog. Punchlines are always the hardest thing to write, and I find myself obsessing over those too much. I have a bad habit of re-writing a punchline just before posting only to find out that I spelled something incorrectly. Haste does make waste sometimes.
If I write a lot of dialog, I’ll go into the app I use to layout the comic called Strip Design (it’s on the iPad) and type it all in first. I do this because I want to see how much space is left for the drawing.
Once that’s done, I go into my drawing app, called Sketch Club (also on the iPad) and begin the artwork. I like this app because it simulates how I used to draw with pen and paper. It uses layers and so I create a bottom layer where I do a very loose sketch to figure out placement, expressions and poses. Then I create another layer where I tighten things up with “ink”. Finally, I’ll add additional layers for the colors and shadows and whatnot. Each panel is its own drawing so for a four panel comic, I’ll have four individual drawings.
When the drawing is all finished, I import them into Strip Design, add the comic titles and social media badges and it’s finished. At this point, if I’ve given myself enough time, I’ll let the comic sit for a day so I can come back and evaluate it with s fresh perspective. If I need to tweak the wording or the punchline I can do it, if not, it’s time to upload and start thinking about the next one.
And that’s pretty much it.
If I could give a word of advice to any young creators out there it would be, don’t obsess over the technical details of doing this kind of work. When I was young, I would drive myself crazy because I learned that an artist was using this brand of pen over another or this kind of ink over another, and I mistakenly thought that success lay in the particulars (like pens, brushes and types of paper).
It doesn’t matter what pen, paper, brush, app, computer, stylus you use; it’s the end result that matters. If you’re into writing and drawing, WRITE AND DRAW DAMMIT and don’t worry about the details that get in the way of that.
Anyway, that’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed and I give you all a hearty Oink to send you off!