From pencil to ink to color: the art of creating a comic book

Clayton Barton shows us how to go from blank to full colored page in his excellent tutorial videos. Even if you are not a comic book artist, you should watch this to understand the process:

Step 1: Penciling

Step 2: Inking

Step 3: Coloring

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First character designs for issue 1: "Dark Forebodings"!

A warm welcome to artist Raffaele Ricciardi (tweet him here) as he joins us on A-Men: Dark Forebodings.

The story is set in 1934 and features P.I. Stanley Gruber, a superhero with quite a few twists.

Raffaele's first sketches for the main characters of the comic are in, and they look awesome:
Due to P.I. Stanley Gruber's unique powers, crime NEVER dies.
Due to his unique powers, crime NEVER dies. Find out more in upcoming updates.

Dolores Parker. She'll keep you warm at night, but you won't wake up in the morning.
She'll keep you warm at night, but you won't wake up in the morning.

Sometimes common sense is your biggest enemy.
Sometimes common sense is your biggest enemy.

A-Men: 'Till Death Do Us Together

A-Men logo

A world waiting to be transformed

Having harnessed the powers of various alien races, the citizens of Earth wait to be transformed into super-powered beings, one by one.

In these hopeful days, humans have attracted the wrath of the various life-forms in our universe, who fear that a super-powered human "barbaric" race might upset the balance in the cosmos. Earth is protected by the first humans who have been granted super-powers, some by design, some by accidental exposure to alien races.

As more and more people are transformed into super-beings, one question looms large: how many super-powered heroes and villains can the world support before the balance on Earth is dangerously disturbed?

Join us on a spectacular journey that starts with 12 stand alone books that explores a variety of genres and celebrates the best undiscovered comic book artists the world has to offer. Every book will introduce one or more heroes and villains.

After the first year, dangerous events will combine the characters in a desperate struggle to save their world. But is saving Earth really the best decision?

How to make a character look unique?

Have strong one word descriptions

Every character should be summed up with a few words that defines him or her. These few words create a juxtaposition within the character that lead to an original, complex character that suggests his ambitions and his challenges, hinting at a inner conflicts that the character needs to resolve, making him instantly interesting and identifiable to us.

In my creation process I usually create two main conflicting descriptions (e.g. bestial and intellectual) and two secondary conflicting descriptions (e.g. lonely and witty).

The Beast (X-men) as example:

The Beast could be summed up in two words that create the juxtaposition in his character: Bestial and Intellectual. In his many iterations, this has been perfectly achieved by making him look furry and having him wear glasses (I know this has changed over time, but I am using this version of the Beast for our example):

His secondary attributes are lonely and witty. Coloring the character blue was an inspired choice that further underlines his "different from everything else" nature that makes him so lonely. The Beast is a human, but his fur sets him apart from humanity. He is an intellectual, this sets him apart from a lot of his teammates, often puts him in conflict with them. He looks bestial, which complicates his abilities to succeed with the opposite sex, further setting him apart. All this is further accentuated by his blue color, which sets him apart even from beasts.

His amused expression further deepens the character, by defining him not as a dry intellectual, but a witty observer.

Make it unique to the character

The most important part of building a team is that characters don't share any main and secondary (1-word) descriptions. E.g. if your book features heroes and villains, those defining words cannot be "heroic" or "bad to the core". It is not a unique feature for this specific character.

In those instances where character roles overlap (e.g. Cyclops and Professor Xavier were both leadership figures in the X-men title) a qualifier will need adding that describes their unique take on leadership.

As characters grow, their appearance can change to reflect their new attributes. The Beast in our example has gone through many iterations as his character adapted to the changing times.

But these are stories for another day.

Putin described in one picture:

The greatest quote in history... "If"

After invading Greece and receiving the submission of other key city-states, Philip II of Macedon sent a message to Sparta: "If I invade Laconia you will be destroyed, never to rise again." The Spartan ephors replied with a single word: "If" (αἴκα).
Subsequently neither Philip II nor his son Alexander the Great attempted to capture the city.

The best writing advice I've ever encountered

An excerpt from the longer essay posted on litreactor by Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club:

Chuck Palahniuk
In six seconds, you’ll hate me.

But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.

From this point forward – at least for the next half year – you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.

The list should also include: Loves and Hates.

And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those, later.

Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”

Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”

Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.

Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.”

You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen was always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’d roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her ass. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”

In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.