Thursday, August 23, 2018

Graham Nolan: My Creative Process

Comic book artist Graham Nolan posted this to his Facebook page and I asked if I could rerun it here. He said yes. Thank you, Graham! Here are some fascinating insights into his comic book making process:


I started in on RETURN TO MONSTER ISLAND yesterday so I thought I’d share my process along the way.

When I’m working on creator owned projects I tend to work in what’s called “the Marvel method”. This was developed so that Stan could churn out more books on a monthly schedule, but it put a lot of the heavy lifting on the artist (without compensation or co-writing credits). If the writer and artist are a one man show, however, then it’s an excellent way to work because it allows for the fluidity of change at various steps along the way.

I start with a plot that I type out that basically brakes down key story points, character bits, and where I need to end up. Then I break the story down visually with loose thumbnails. I add and subtract panels as needed to make the visual narrative flow neatly and dynamically (because it’s comics, people!).

As this process is going on, I rough in basic dialogue to remind me what I want them to say. This part is heavily edited along the way because different ideas on how to turn a phrase may be thought of, or I might decide there is a great opportunity to go back and have a character’s dialogue foreshadow something to happen later.

This is really where the heavy lifting is done. The story now exists visually. Everything from here on out is polishing.



This is where everything gets tightened up and falls into place. This part I do digitally so that I can import any reference I may need or move elements around. This is still a “layout” but it has everything where I want it. Some small details still need to be refined and I will do that after it is printed out on the board in blue line. Sometimes it’s easier to add small details at full size. I don’t need tight pencils because I am inking it and I like to be able keep an organic feel by doing some drawing in the ink.

Compare the tight layout to the thumbnail and you can see I made changes that help enhance the page and storytelling.

Part 2, Inking, is here.

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