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illustrating a comics page

The Origin of the Amazing Spider-Foo. A parody comic. Script by Crhymes. Art by Tone.

Here’s a one-page comic I recently illustrated called the ‘The Origin of The Amazing Spider-Foo’. It’s a Spider-Man parody written by Crhymes; a writer, comedian, and musician based out of San Diego.

From Script to Rough Layout

Originally conceived of as a one-page 12 inch by 12 inch record insert, Crhyme’s script was a brillliant parody of Stan Lee’s verbose Marvel Comics stories.

Here’s the script:

My first task was to break the text up in to individual panels. I was originally thinking a 9 panel grid, but couldn’t squeeze all of the text in, so I added a tenth introduction panel on top. I even started thinking about color at this stage. Here’s an early rough that was meant just for me.

I refined my roughs and sent them over to Crhymes. (I sent them without color, since I wasn’t sure yet what my color plan was.)

At this point, Crhymes had some much-needed suggestions to help make my drawings more convincing, including the addition of palm trees, making Spidey-Foo’s sandals more accurate, and adding tattoos to Pedro Parker’s arms and neck. Crhymes also wanted Spider-Foo to break the panel borders in the last panel.

Changes are welcome at this rough stage because they’re easy to make before inks and color are added.

Pushing and Refining the Poses

At this time I also decided to push the poses in the piece, especially in panels 1 and 2. (The poses of those two panels in the roughs just looked too similar to me.) Pedro Parker also looked too relaxed in panel 3, so I changed up that pose as well.

Here’s a few rough drawings I made while working on the piece.

Digitally Inking the Comics Page

Inking went slowly for me, though you wouldn’t know it from the timelapse below.

If only I could work that fast.

I originally estimated the page would take me about 6 – 8 hours, but each panel took about 3 hours including rough drawing, inks, lettering, and colors.

A lot of that time was spent trying things that didn’t work out, like those early rough colors, or some of the unused poses, for instance. And a lot of undos. Undo. Undo. Undo. Making comics is hard.

Here’s the final inks.

Coloring the Comics Page

I finished the colors, (done on a separate layer from the inks and pencils, as you can see above), choosing not to show Spider-Foo in full-color until the final couple of panels.

I sent the final artwork to Crhymes. He had a few edits to the text, which was no problem since the lettering was a well-crafted font I purchased from PixelSagas.

Leading up to San Diego ComicCon, Crhymes started posting a panel a day to his Instagram. Crhymes is wild, ambitious, and smart. It’s my guess that he has a lot of stories in him, and not just Spider-Man parodies.

I’m grateful he took a chance on this fairly untested comics-maker.

Go buy a shirt from him, or a print of the comic, while he works on his next project.

scarecrow timelapse

 

here’s a timelapse of the making of yesterday’s scarecrow strip

i’ve also added the webcomics plugin so that you can easily read all of the past ‘steps’ strips. (i don’t know why i call the strips featuring little guy ‘steps’ but i think it works.

this plug in lets me keep the latest strip at the top of the blog and gives you an easy way to navigate them. the double arrow takes you back to the first ‘steps’ strip, the single arrow lets you increment back to the previous strip, and the little infinity symbol takes you to a random strip.

take it for a spin and let me know what you think.

the couch cushion timelapse

 

 

here’s the timelapse of the couch cushion strip from a few days ago

the process usually goes like this:

i see a moment in real life that i think will work for the strip: in this case it was watching little guy move the cushion so he could sit down on the couch

(and right now i’m focusing on those moments that dont require any dialogue, right now i’m more interested in telling these little stories without dialogue, so i’ve passed on some great moments that have dialogue. maybe that will change in the future)

then i’ll need to puzzle out how this moment will break down in to 4 frames – i have to select my 4 moments which usually takes some trial and error with some really bad drawings, just diagrams really, in the sketchbook that help me quickly find those 4 moments

then i take a photo of the sketches and cut and paste those moments into the frames of the page

since i had already done a couch strip, i decided to recycle the background from that previous strip not only for continuity, but also because i am very lazy

from there i need to do the actual drawings (which in this case were pretty dismal, though they hopefully worked)

select my colors

go back in and fix little guy’s smile on the last panel (it looked a little creepy the first go-round)

and that was about it

when i write it all out like this it makes the process feel a little mechanical, but for me the magic lies in recognizing the moment when it occurs, and enjoying the finished strip when i’m done

timelapse of the easter strip

color was really important in this strip (i mean, color is always important for me, and i kind of sweat it when coloring the strip, but color was especially important to the storytelling of this particular strip)

i don’t think this strip could have worked in black and white (and some of my past strips absolutely could have, but i like color…and now i’m not even sure of what my original point was.

anyway, hope you enjoy seeing the strip come together at high speeds, it always seems a minor miracle to me when a strip is finished

search timelapse

here’s the screen capture of me working on the ‘search’ strip from a few days ago

i also reorganized the ‘comics’ menu item so it is just finished strips now. no process videos or sketches making it easier to scroll through past strips without all that junk in the way

so if the sketches, videos, and various other asides that appear between strips aren’t in your wheelhouse, you can just bookmark the comics page and see the most recent strips

 

 

 

 

zipper comic timelapse

it is hard to wear a zipper sweater and carry him because he likes to zip up the zipper and catch my neck skin in it

i don’t know if that came across  in the strip or not

not only were the drawings difficult for me on this one, but so was the ‘timing’ of the strip – trying to figure out which moments to show so that the reader understands whats going on and the punchline  is effective

 

 

 

putting together the pepper strip timelapse

 

 

what’s great about this timelapse is it shows how nothing came easy on this one

and when i saw little guy trying to grind pepper with the pepper shaker at the restaurant i thought i had it made

but then i realized i needed to show all of the other times he saw me using a pepper grinder

and none of the drawings came easy

the staging of that last panel was especially difficult. and the drawing was pretty bad. I’m not even sure it is clear what is going on.

even the colors of the strip were dificult. i worried that there would be too many colors in the last panel so i decided to go monotone throughout.

i decided on yellow just because i thought it would be funny to color in the yolks in panel 3.

my first attempt at yellow looked like pee. so i made it bolder.

i’m not sure i agree with that decision.

ultimately i still think the idea was good, but the execution lacked on almost every level.

i think ive mentioned before i have no idea what im doing

snowball time lapse

here’s the timelapse of me drawing the snowball comic strip

this is an interesting one to look at because the strip went through so many changes after i stopped recording

i decided to run it vertically

having no expression on the little guy in the last panel felt most right for the ‘punchline’

but even more interesting (to me i guess) was the decision to change the first panel

the close up of little guy packing a snowball seemed to ruin the ‘rhythm’ of the piece

that panel seemed too ‘big’ – too ‘loud’ for the next three panels

for some reason, it seems like the strip works better the smaller the changes between the panels

smaller the changes between panel the more power the final panel seems to have for me

i wonder why that is…