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Comics 101
The latest art tips and techniques, reviews and interviews from my studio. Updated here and at World Famous Comics!

Comics 101 Archives

Comics 101 for 11/27/2003
Submitting to Image Comics and Tips for Inking

This weekend (Nov. 29th and 30th) I'm attending the Mid-Ohio-Con in Columbus, Ohio (at the Hilton hotel in the Easton Town Center). Appearing with me will be Justin from World Famous Comics, comic book artists Jan Duursema and Tom Mandrake and Star Wars prequel actresses Amy Allen (Aayla Secura) and Michonne Bourriague (Aurra Sing). I'll be signing and selling my Star Wars artwork and promoting my new Marvel Comics series, Crimson Dynamo, at the World Famous Comics booth so be sure to stop by and say hi this weekend if you're in the neighborhood.
Dear Joe,

Thanks for all of the great art and for your cool site! If you don't mind me asking you a question or two, here's something I was wondering about: I'm readying a new comic named SIEGE (action sci-fi realism) to submit to Image Comics and I am doing the writing, pencils, inks, and computer lettering and compositing. On the Image submissions website they ask for five "fully completed" pages from the book and what I'm wondering is, do they mean just any five pages, five continuous pages starting at the beginning, or just any five sequential pages anywhere in the book?

You see, the reason why I am asking about this is that the slightly unusual progression of the comic means that if they want the first five pages, I'll need to move the order of the pages around somewhat. Not a problem, but if I can avoid having to restructure anything (particularly since I like the current setup) that'd be great.

Also, I am going to need to ink the comic, and I've never done it before. What sort of equipment would you recommend to a beginner in the field who needs something as user-friendly as possible and who has a really tight pencilling style? I've heard that felt-tip pen inking supplies are good things to use and I'm interested in your opinion on that, as well.

Thank you very much for your assistance and I hope I'm not being a pain in the backside.

James Smith,
Hi James,

Thanks for dropping me a line and for enjoying my artwork (and my cool site - I'll be sure my webmaster gets some of those well deserved props).

In regards to your question about submitting to Image Comics I recommend that the five pages you plan on sending at least be sequential. Though I feel that they don't necessarily have to be from the beginning or end of the book, you should pick five pages sequentially that have a variety of scenes and storytelling motifs to them. Maybe your series of pages should contain a couple of sequences focusing both on drama and action. This way they know what to expect better from the 'rhythm' of your series.Though you may want to contact Jim Valentino or whoever the submissions editor is at Image to make sure your proposal is put together exactly how they ask for it for the best (and most professional) impression you can make. Plus it's always nice to give them a heads up before you send it so they can keep an eye out for it (and hopefully put it on the top of their pile when it arrives).

As for your inking questions, if you never inked pencil art before you may find the brush a little daunting. Even the crowquill dip pens, which are easier and much quicker to handle than a brush (though without as much of the flair of one) can be tricky to use at first also. When I first started inking years ago I just jumped into it with the Hunt's 101 and 102 crowquill pen nibs and never looked back. It took me a few months of very steady practice inking my role-playing game art assignments before I felt really confident with this tool. The brush is still tricky for me but I like it when I do have the time in my schedule and the patience to use it. The crowquill dip pen is a a faster tool for me and feels more like a pencil or pen to me since by nature I'm penciling and sketching more often than anything (and most of my full color work these days is digital as opposed to hand-painted with a brush as well).

Definitely experiment with different pen nibs but the 102 is probably one of the industry standards and the most flexible in terms of getting thick to really thin lines and doing detail without changing tips often.

And you can't have competent inks without a good bottle or decent brand of India ink. I recommend Speedball Super Black or Speedball Dense Black India Ink. Those have been my favorites so far. Stay away from Higgins Black Magic unless you like layering your inks over and over like watercolors. Higgins would be good for more of an ink wash technique since it's consistency is a lot thinner than Speedball's. Sometimes, especially in the warmer seasons the Speedball ink has a tendency to thicken up in which case dilute it with a few drops of water until you get the consistency you need and your ink flows correctly from your nib. You should also check out Pelikan and Koh-I-Noor drawing inks since I've had success with those brands.

You'll need a good brand of white-out (and not the chunky stuff you pick up with the five-finger discount at Kinko's). Check out FW's Acrylic White Ink or Pro White acrylic brand. Both of these will come in handy for you when fixing your inking mistakes or adding effects to your work.

If you want to start out even slower than with brush or dip pens then I recommend experimenting with some drawing pens. There are a variety of brands to choose from like Koh-I-Noor-Rapidographs, Sakura Pigma Microns, Penstix and Copic brand drawing pens. Using these pens can be a lot more expensive than a few brushes or inking nibs and a bottle of ink. But I do keep some of these drawing pens handy like the Microns for doing small details or straight edges and the Copics work really nice for me too. I like having those for convention sketches but I use them sometimes when inking my regular illustration work too.

Rapidographs are expensive and a little trickier to use for an amateur inker and Microns are at the other end of the spectrum, fairly inexpensive, easy to pick up and cheaper quality (not using real India ink). I recommend checking out the Copic pens then since they are somewhere in the middleground, fairly inexpensive but usually reliable. There are a number of different kinds of Copic pens and markers you can experiment with though. There are even 'brush pens' (which work really nice for those convention sketches) so check out what the Blue Line Pro website has to offer here for all of your inking needs.

Good luck with your new book and thanks for checking out my website! And have a Happy Thanksgiving everybody!


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