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How John Porcellino makes his comics One of my...

Sep 04, 2012

How John Porcellino makes his comics

One of my favorite cartoonists, Mr. John Porcellino, has a trilogy of blog posts up about his process of making comics.

In part one and two he lays out his materials, and in part three he talks more about the process of actually creating the comics.

I was struck by how tight he tries to get the originals before he scans them into the computer — he fixes most of his inking mistakes pre-digital.

The other thing that has always fascinated me is how writing leads his process, and how much subtraction the stories go through:

I almost always draw my comics from a well-considered script. The script usually contains just text— descriptions, narration, and dialogue. Sometimes I’ll throw in little drawings, but it’s mostly just text. In the first draft I typically throw in everything that comes to mind, and the writing process for me is editing all that down into a more streamlined, rhythmic story. The vast majority of the time and energy I spend on an issue of King-Cat is on the writing part of it. Some stories come out just fine the first time around, but many need extensive revising and editing. The Perfect Example storyline, for instance, took ten years of work (off and on) before it felt ready for me to start drawing. That’s an extreme example, but it just goes to show you, you can’t force things. When it comes time to actually sit down and draw the comic it usually goes pretty quick, because the script is so precise.

So it follows that most of the comics come from his notebooks, which he uses to stage the material until it’s time to do a new issue of King-Cat:

Basically, I keep little notebooks around that I fill up with ideas:  memories, turns of phrase, poems, lists, dialogue… Lists…help me keep track of how close I am to having enough material for a new issue, and they’re constantly being updated, edited, and reformulated.

It makes me think of David Shrigley, who says, “I usually write a list of things to draw – a big, long list. If I want to make 50 works there are 50 things to draw.”

If you think about it, a script is sort of just a list of things to make happen.

Related reading in the NYTimes this Sunday: “Our Longing For Lists

(via Kevin H)

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