Friday 14 August 2015

The Portable Cartoonist

This month, I've started making some headway in drawing the fourth issue of Killjoy.

My usual drawing process requires a little preparation before I actually make the first marks on paper - that is, clearing space on my cluttered desk before setting up my drawing board (I use a Reeves' Art and Craft Workstation, A2 size, which is effective and inexpensive) and preparing whatever drawing materials I plan to use. As a result, I've only tended to make 'finished' work during occasional, preplanned sessions on free days or evenings.

As I intend to make single issues of Killjoy a little longer from now on, I'm making use of smaller pockets of free time - lunch breaks, idle café visits, &c. - in the production of comics. To this end, I'm drawing a number of strips in a sketchbook (Daler Rowney Ebony, spiral-bound), with a brush pen (a Kuretake No. 13 filled with Platinum Carbon ink).

Redrawing panels in Manchester's new Chapter One bookshop & café
Some of the benefits of the brush pen are its speed, convenience, and looseness; the last characteristic might be considered a disadvantage in some circumstances, but it helps in remedying the increasing fussiness I've developed in drawing a project that was intended to be freer. (I received some justified criticism of this tendency at last year's Thought Bubble Festival.) Watercolour brushes loaded with Indian ink are always more versatile and precise - especially for controlled wet/dry effects - but I can't just pull them out of my bag and get to work on any available surface during a few stray minutes. (I also think the coffee shop scenes in Jeffrey Brown's comics might've inspired a certain fondness for the idea of café-drawing.)

I must admit to a little former preciousness in respect of art materials - that sketchbooks and pens might not be 'proper' tools for 'serious' drawing, even though I've always theoretically agreed with Derek Kirk Kim's opposite opinion. However, I've become increasingly aware that brush pens are regularly used to brilliant effect by cartoonists whose work I could never hope to match: Frederik Peeters uses the Pentel Pocket Brush to draw his beautiful comics, and Blutch apparently keeps multiple brush pens to hand - and Kaz once told me that he began drawing Underworld with a brush pen in his sketchbook after a move that left him pressed for time. And, of course, to be a tools snob makes one a tool.

The only concerning disadvantage with this method is that bending over a horizontal sketchbook is painfully niggling a trigger point in my back. I'll probably draw about one-third or half of the issue in this manner, before moving back to a static, posture-friendly setup in a month or two.