A friend of mine who is editing a book on comics recently asked if I might contribute a couple of panels and sketchbook pages from my graphic novel Dear Julia, for consideration in his book. Happy to comply, I spent an hour or so going through these two sketchbooks that I filled with everything that became Dear Julia, from October 1993 to July 1997 (can it really be ten years?). I haven’t looked at this stuff since probably 1998, and in-between now and then I’ve become a dad twice, began and ended a marriage, moved from San Francisco to Philadelphia, had a career as a college professor, and entered the world of childrens book illustration. What I haven’t done in this time is much writing and much less writing and drawing for comics.
Looking at these sketches kind of kicked me, making me realize how much fun and crazy it is to be
involved engulfed in the lives of characters and events entirely of one’s own creation. That is, to write.
Anyway these sketchbook pages are about 8×7 inches so as you can see, the thumbnails are about the size of postage stamps. Typically my process was I’d write story and draw thumbs at the same time, then, using tracing paper and a tiny-nibbed rapidograph pen, then refine the thumbnail sketch. That would then get enlarged via photocopy to the size of the actual panel and get traced via lightbox to the illustration board with a light pencil (typically 2H for you nerds). This would sometimes be quite detailed or sometimes fairly loose. The drawing would then get redrawn in ink with a crowquill, then painted with black/grey watercolor. I still work basically the same way, though with a big fat brush now rather than a crowquill. My initial sketches are still the size of postage stamps no matter the size of the final work. I always figured my eyes or my back would give out working this way, but here I am at 39 still with 20/20 vision and strong as an ox.
You can read more about Dear Julia, here. Click on the appropriate link on the right. Hope you like.