Category Archives: Craft of comic creating

All the talk about making comics: writing, penciling, inking, coloring, lettering, and editing!

02Aug/22
the entrance of a school

Do I Need to Go to School for Comics?

This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions from people who are looking to start in comics. If you’re looking to draw o write comics, then you probably want to know if you need to get “qualified”. For most people, the obvious equivalent of this would go to school or getting a degree in comics. 

The simple answer is – No! 

However, you will need some level of training or self education if you do not decide to go to school. There are advantages to both paths.

In this post, we’ll go over the advantages and disadvantages of going to school for comics and some alternatives. 

 

Advantages of Going To School

Some schools do offer classes, or a degree path specifically focused on comics. Other than those programs, you can find creative writing or visual art programs at most universities or community colleges.

Learn The Rules For Your Tools

The biggest advantage of the school path is that you get context around the skills you develop. You get the history of different creative skills and how they developed. This allows you to know the rules for what makes objectively engaging art and how to break those rules to make art more impactful.

Applicable Skill Development

Schooling also provides a training path for practice and development. The assigned classwork and curriculum will challenge you in new ways and incentivise you to create a lot of writing or illustrations. This is a great way to find the encouragement to create.

Day Job Credibility

Something that new comic creators need to be aware of is that you will probably need a day job. Comics are not the most lucrative trade. Of course, the goal is to make comics your full-time job, but starting out, you will probably need another source of income to cover your needs. 

Having a degree gives you a tool to get a day job that you can still find fulfilling. Plenty of our creators have day jobs in graphic design, copywriting, or art education. Having a creative day job is a great way to keep your creative juices flowing all day long.

 

Disadvantages of Going to School for Comics

There are, of course, downsides to going to school.

Cost of Admission

College tuition prices seem to go up every year if you live in a country where those are a thing. Especially for private art schools that offer degrees tailored for comics. That makes it impossible to recommend the college path to everyone in good faith. 

At the top, we mentioned community colleges do also offer classes. These are usually the typically creative writing or visual art degree path, but sometimes you see specific comics class. Community College could be a good low-cost alternative.

Time Investment

Degrees take time to earn. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from creating comics with your free time, but your degree path will lock you in for 2 to 4 years. If you want to get straight into making comics or have a family to provide for, then you may not have the required time to go through the program.

You could look at night programs. These will allow you to create or work during the day and then attend courses at night or even online at your own pace. 

Availability

Not every state has a school that offers programs for comics. You can probably find one for creative writing or illustration, but if that’s not what you are interested in, you may not do as well as you would in a program that aligns with your interests. Not everyone can fly to a new state or country to go to school, and that’s valid. 

Online programs can bridge some of that gap now that those are more common. Another option would be to seek a more seasoned creator out, either locally or online, and ask for some of their time on a call or otherwise to learn from them. 

 

Alternatives

So what are some alternatives to going to school for comics? There’s actually quite a lot. 

Some of the most pursued options are:

  • Self-Education
  • Mentorship
  • Translating Adjacent Work

Self-Education

If the cost, time, or availability of school are prohibitive, then you can always educate yourself. There are tons of outstanding books and resources out there to teach yourself how to make comics. We try our best with our podcasts and craft series. The secret is that books on how to make comics rarely cost much. The same books they use in school, you can just buy for yourself

Mentorship

There are a lot of comic creators in the world. A lot of them have some sort of online presence, go through the convention circuit, or they may even live down the road from you. You could always ask politely if they can teach you a thing or two. Sometimes they’ll stick with you to guide you along, other times they’ll just give you a few pearls and send you on your way. Either way, you’re more knowledgeable about making comics. 

Adjacent Work

Here’s a secret: You don’t have to learn how to make comics to make comics. You just have to be a fan of the medium and know what comics are. Words on art in panels on pages. If you have experience writing any other form of fiction or drawing anything else, you can translate that to comics. However, you’ll need some practice to get the idea of sequential art down. 

There are plenty of people who just stumbled into making comics after illustrating cartoons or writing commercials. 

12Jul/22

How to Write A Script for A Comic (DC Style)

Writing with a pen on a note book

A question that perhaps should be asked more often is “How do I write a script for my comic?” A lot of people get a great idea for a comic and sit down at their keyboard only to realize that they don’t know how to write a comic. So if you Googled this and stumbled across this post, good on you. You’re ahead of the game.

The secret to comic scripting is that you can do it any way you want to. Whatever works best for you and your artist, is the right way. If that’s half coherent notes on a napkin then so be it.

However, if you want more guidance, there are two more structured schools of thought when it comics to writing a comic script.

  • DC Style (Full Script)
  • Marvel Style (Page Summary)

I’ll do a post for both styles.

Today’s post is about the style that I prefer to write in. Full Script, or DC Style.

Is It DC Style or Full Script?

The detectives among you would have already noticed that I used two names interchangeably. DC Style and Full Script. Full Script is the more formal name and it’s more descriptive.

The two different schools of thought became more popular with different editors at the big two. Full Scripting was more popular at DC for a time. Page Summary was more popular at Marvel for a while. Thus, they took on new names for a time.

It’s Full Script Now

The idea of the different styles being defined by DC or Marvel has become outdated. Not only do they share so much of the market with other publishers now, but also editors are less picky. If the script gets turned in on time and meets their standard of quality, that’s what they care about.

So for the most part, we’ll be referring to this style as Full Script.

What Does It Look Like?

Full Script looks how it sounds. Before you turn anything over to your artist or managing editor, you have the entire script written on the page.

That means that each page is labeled and broken up into panels. Each panel has a full description of the background and the action taking place. All the characters have their dialogue written out and attached to the panel it should be in. Every sound effect is listed and defined for the letterer and artist to collaborate on.

I’ll attach a picture of Wolf Hunter’s script since that was how I wrote the book.

Comic Book Full Script

 

How Do I Do It?

So no you know what it looks like. How do you put it into action and write your first script for a comic book?

Step-by-Step

  1. Start with your page header. It should look something like Page 1. Put that as the very first line. Remember, comics are typically 22 pages, but with today’s technology feel free to go hog wild and be as long or short as the story needs to be. You can always break it up into issues later.
  2. The second line will contain the panel header. Panel 1. That’s it. For an action comic, you can expect a page to be 4 to 7 panels. If it’s a more methodical literary piece, anywhere between 5 and 8 panels.
  3. Then underneath that header, begin to write the description of what’s in that panel. Tell us everything that you imagine happening in that panel. “James Willard exits a town car in front of a large hotel.” With practice, you’ll learn what details are important and what is not. Also, ask your artist how much detail they need.
  4. After that write out all your character’s dialogue that should go in that panel. Do each character as a separate line. And try to keep each dialogue bubble contained to a sentence. This will make it easier to read for your creative teammates, and also for the reader. Any sound effects also go in this section.
  5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 until you finish a page and then do it all over again until you finish your book.

 

 

Pros

 

Clear Communication With Your Artist

Media ComparisonThe idea book is scripted out by the time it gets to your artist. It is much easier for them to visualize what you had imagined for each scene. It also gives them more context to use if they want to offer changes. It makes the experience feel more collaborative since everyone has the same amount of information as to what the end product will be.

 

Dialogue Leads Action

Having the dialogue written first allows the characters to come alive as written and use that to lead the actions in the illustration. It prevents the problem of having to rewrite dialogue and possibly change the flow or outcome of a scene based on illustrations that came as a result of your intention being unclear in a summary.

Great For Slower Character Dramas or Suspense

This style of scripting gives you room to set up large changes or reveals. You can purposefully place small details throughout the script to be paid off later. As stated in the point above, dialogue can shine through in this format. If you write strong characters and want to use their voices to tell personal stories, this format could suit you.

Cons

Time Invested

This format is much more time-intensive than writing in Page Summary. Make sure to cut out and protect your writing time to make sure you can complete your script.

Can Feel Overbearing (Easy to Get Attached To Your Writing)

Your artist may want more freedom with their illustration. Don’t get too attached to every single detail you write out. Remember, comics are collaborative.

While writing Wolf Hunter, AJ made tons of changes to panel layout and certain panel elements. I used this format as a way to give him context so that he knew what was important and where I wanted to go. All of his changes got us there in a way that was more visually appealing. I didn’t quash his feedback by saying, “that’s not in the script.”

Easy to Get Wordy

It can be all too easy to get wordy in with this method. Either your dialogue runs on too long, or you stuff too much detail into one panel description. Keep your internal editor on the lookout. If you feel like you’ve written too much, you have. Don’t be afraid to cut something or get feedback and ask if it’s really necessary.

Final Words

I hope this post gave you the information you need to write your first comic book script. If have any more questions or feel like I missed something, leave a comment. I hope to catch you very soon.

Until then,
Make Mine Silverline

 

14Jun/22

How Do I Get Better At Making Comics?

How Do I Get Better At Making Comics?

Hi there Silverline Fam!

Last week we talked about what the craft of comics is (link). In the end, I teased about how you get better at the art of making comics. This week is going to be a bit more in-depth about how you get better at making comics. I’ll try to make this comprehensive but without going overboard. Don’t want to be dozing off or crossing your eyes halfway through. We’ll go over both free and paid routes to improve your craft.


Is There A School For Comics?

Almost surprisingly, the answer is yes! There are colleges and universities specifically for comic books are the different art forms used to make them. As far as attending an art university that specifically has degree programs or a course path for comics, some things need to be considered.

Art Schools and Speciality Schools are typically more expensive than a traditional universities.
They may also not have the same accreditation.
The degree they offer will be hyper-specific to comics or that art form.

That’s not to say that they don’t offer good information or that they won’t set you up for a career in comics. It just means you may need to be more conscious about managing your finances and student loans. You will also need to figure out how to leverage that knowledge for your day job. Starting full-time in comics happens to almost no one, so you will need to see how you can apply those skills to a different day job in the meantime. I know a lot of comic creators who work in marketing, copywriting, graphic design, education, or eSales because there is some carryover in the skill sets.

That all being said, you will probably receive the most focused education on comics available. It is likely that your instructors will have years of experience working in comics or may still be working in comics. If your educators are good, you will be receiving all the best wisdom and guidance their experience has taught them. They will also serve as professional connections that could get your work. Working comic creators and publishers are also aware of these schools and will sometimes recruit from them.


Can I Learn Comics At A State Or Community College?

If the cost of specialty is too prohibitive or there just isn’t any in your area, you can learn how to make comics through another school. If you’re pretty sure that college is the path for you, but not a specialty school, you can still take a major that sets you up for working in comics or even take electives that will improve your art or writing.

Degree programs in creative writing, English, or art are pretty common. A state or community college will likely offer one or all of these programs in your area. Some colleges do also offer Art for Comic Books as an elective the community college in my home city does.

While these programs may not be specifically tuned for making comics, the basic tenets of good writing and good art still apply. The adjustments you would need to make as a creator will either be to tune your dialogue for comics or to get used to creating sequential art.


Are There Online Courses For Comics?

Absolutely! There are plenty of online courses for those looking to pay for some sort of education but don’t want to begin a new college career. These courses can usually be completed in several weeks, and do in-depth on illustrating or writing for comic books. This means that the knowledge you pick up here will directly apply to comics without much adjusting. There are also courses for just writing or art if you are looking for a broader field of study that is still applicable. Some great courses exist out there and can be found at:

Lynda through LinkedIn
Masterclass.com (I recommend Neil Gaimen’s course)
Skillshare.com
udemy.com



How Do I Learn To Make Comics For Free?

If the money is something that is not feasible for you, or you just prefer self-study, there are free alternatives.

The first option is the most important method of improvement for anyone regardless of education. That is PRACTICE. You get better by doing. That’s a universal truth. You develop a taste by reading comics, and by creating comics you bring yourself more in line with your taste. You will never truly be as good as your taste, but you never get closer without practice. Of course, that also means you can’t get discouraged with your practice.

The second thing to look at is free resources online. Hey, that’s us (link). Free articles from professionals in the industry are a great way to ingest the knowledge they have to offer. These resources are typically more common among writers, but artists may have similar articles on their websites or deviant art page. Sometimes these are more general FAQs but they could also be a step-by-step “how do you do this?” type subject. Another type of free resource is Youtube videos. A lot of artists and letterers have free videos or series that go into the process of what they do or how to use a particular piece of software. If you are a visual learner and want to see how an artist does their type of illustration, this is a great path to go down.

 

Are There People To Help Me Make Comics?

In more ways than you probably think! A lot of comic artists or writers typically don’t take on mentees, but some do. You can also look to your peers. Once you start making comics, you can also lean on your editor and the rest of your team.

Sometimes comic pros will have a public email that they receive questions at. These are usually listed in their Instagram or Twitter bio, or on their website. They may not be looking to become your full-time mentor, but they may be more than willing to spend a couple of hours answering your questions on craft or practice. Just remember to be kind and respectful.

If you have peers in your area, or online that also write or create art, they can also be a resource. Practice is best paired with FEEDBACK. This could be a writing group, art collective, a constructive criticism messaging group or subreddit, etc. Make sure these are people you trust to help you elevate your work. Also, make sure you’re honest with yourself and know that you can take feedback without getting defensive. Be aware that sometimes you will receive bad feedback that you need to disregard. If you can do all that and can follow feedback earnestly, you will find your work might sometimes exceed your taste.

Lastly, is your editor. This relationship is something that will go into more depth later, as it is a more advanced subject. Once your craft is already at a point where you are getting comics work, you will likely be working with a project manager. If not in the title, at least someone that fills that role. This is the person who will help elevate your craft on this particular project. All the advice I gave earlier, applies doubly so to this particular dynamic.


I hope that all helps you find a path to help you get better at making comics. Whether through school, self-study or working with others, there are plenty of ways to learn how you can improve.


Who Are Silverline Comics

A bunch of nerds trying to give you some dope reads and take you on fun adventures through comics. If you want to catch up on what we have going on, follow our socials. If you want to hang out with us, check out our live shows on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday.

Make Mine Silverline!

07Jun/22

What Is The Craft Of Comics?

Hey There Silverline Family!

Today is a cheeky post. We’re talking about the craft of making comics. We’ll be talking a little bit about what all is involved in making a comic, and then giving a start on how to improve that craft. We’ll probably do an entry down the lie on how to grow that craft in detail, so this will just be the first step once you know what it is.

First of all . . .

What is Craft?

Well, craft is all sorts of things. To boil it down a craft, or someone’s craft is their skilled profession, hobby, or pursuit. Some people are skilled carpenters and are said to be craftsmen. Others pursue an art form as a craft, either professionally or for pleasure (ideally both). That art is said to be their craft.

What is the Craft of Making Comics?

Other than a sick blog series we run, the craft of making comics is almost another umbrella group. Making a comic involves several art forms. This includes writing, different forms of illustration and pencil/pen art, color, and editing. I do include editing as an art because the editor needs to have a solid working skill or understanding of all the other involved art forms.

Some people are auteurs and can do all the above themselves and will either publish independently or get a special contract with a publisher to do so but in most cases, multiple people work on one comic book or series in different aspects. So in most cases, there are no true comic craftsmen, but rather several individuals skilled in other crafts that come together to make a well-crafted comic.

You might ask if the real craft of making comics then is teamwork and friendship? If you want to be sappy about it, yes. Practically, the craft of making comics is an umbrella term for all the skills involved. I am a writer, but understand the value of good art. I know that for my books to be well crafted, I need a good artist.

What Is My Craft?

Your craft is largely going to be dependent on what you are skilled in, or are willing to learn, and what you already like doing. It can be a relief knowing that if you want to get into making comics, you don’t need to do it all. You just need to find someone like-minded with a craft that fits the needs of your book. If you’re a writer, you need an artist. If you’re an artist, you need a writer.

If you haven’t drawn or written something seriously, and you don’t know what your craft style is. Try to create something in any of the following crafts.

  • Writing
  • Penciling
  • Inking
  • Coloring
  • Lettering

If you have questions about any of those. Click around in our Craft Series. You might find something that sounds exciting. Experiment with art, kids! All your friends are doing it. You might just find something you can get good at and that you love.

How Do I Get Better At My Comic Craft?

You’re going to hate me for this one, but “just do it” (As commanded by Shia Lebouf). The reasoning is pretty simple. The more you do something, the more efficient you become at it. Whether that’s figuring out how to do it properly or quickly, you get better at getting it done. If you read comics (why would you want to make comics if you don’t read them?), you already have a taste in comics that has grown with each comic you read. The more efficiently you do something, the more efficiently you do it to your taste. So the more comics you read and the more you perform that craft, the better you get.

Now, there is much more you can do to get better at making comics. That’s a subject for a different blog post though.

Who Are Silverline Comics

A bunch of nerds trying to give you some dope reads and take you on fun adventures through comics. If you want to catch up on what we have going on, follow our socials. If you want to hang out with us, check out our live shows on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday.


Make Mine Silverline!


31May/22

The Craft of Creating Comics with Dean Zachary

Hey there, Silver Fam! For this week I talked with Dean Zachary and asked him a bunch of questions about his time working in comics and how he creates comics as an artist. I hope you enjoy this conversation and get some insight to help with your comic creation journey.

 

1. You have a breadth of experience working in comics. If you had to say one invention or development had the biggest impact on how comics are created, what would you say it is and why?

The sophistication of technology has improved to such an extent in the past 30 years that a creator can now, pencil, ink, color, and even letter an independent comic on an iPad Pro. This Incredible advantage allows for an unprecedented amount of creative control. Similarly, the “distribution system” used to be a Political Networking Bottleneck where Editorial Gatekeepers determined who saw your work. Today, you can operate in a worldwide marketplace with limitless possibilities.

2. As an artist, you’ve also worked on comics that are entirely you’re idea, comics that other writers have created, and comics that are licensed properties. Are there any differences in how you approach creating the artwork? Why or Why not?

The advantages of Creator-Owned properties include more control, and if the property is successful, a more substantial reward, especially if the Creator wears multiple hats of Writing/Pencils/Inks and so on. The disadvantage is commercial exposure. “How do you get your Name/Title Out There to the Widest Possible audience?” When starting from scratch, that’s the biggest hurdle. We here at Silverline work on answering that age-old question on a daily basis.

Regarding Licensed Properties, the advantage is that you may already have a built-in fan base, like if you’re drawing/writing an X-Men title for example. The disadvantage is, that the majority of the Creative Control resides with Editors, Writers, and License Owners.

3. How important are references or samples for your art? Are you constantly checking a reference on another screen, are they just nice to have available if needed, or are there some pages or illustrations where you don’t even check a reference?

My attention to reference obviously depends on the subject matter. If, for example, I’m drawing a cover for Wolf Hunter, I would reference any WWII aircraft, military vehicles, weapons, uniforms, and settings comprehensively. This approach adds legitimacy to the comic book in a Real World setting. For a more fantasy-oriented subject, I enjoy exaggerating reality to fit my “vision” which helps to make a more memorable impression on the reader. The “Zachary Realism” then makes my work more unique, making me less of a Human Camera and more of a Visionary, sharing what I see with others in a more unique style or brand.

4. One thing you’ve said a couple of times on the Silverline live shows is, “don’t calculate.” Something that gets brought up is people creating something just because they think it will say, not because they are actually passionate about it. If you could expand on that, what sort of advice would you give new creators as they embark on this journey of creation?

Creativity Beyond Calculation. This concept is one of my favorite subjects in the Comic Creation world. While keeping in mind that at its core, one could argue that Comic Books are a Commercial Art venture, and creators ultimately want to sell their work. We at least want to sell enough copies to do the work full-time. That being said, Calculation to Sell is the Death Knell of creators. In essence, the creator begins second-guessing his own instincts in favor of some incredible sales numbers an Indy Book is doing online, prompting the temptation to “copy that” so I’ll succeed too. This is a huge mistake, in my opinion. Trust your instincts. If you like it, in a Worldwide Marketplace, there are likely enough other people that will like it as well. Your genuine Internal Enthusiasm, Instincts, and Creative Fire will be so evident that the concept will shine much brighter than a calculated copy of someone else’s success. Trust your own creative instincts, regardless of what’s selling. Be True to Yourself when you create. This brings not only freedom but more gratification once you’ve shared the creation with the world.


5. What are some projects that you have coming and where can people see your work? Anything you’d like to shout out?

People can see my work on many Silverline Covers, including Cat & Mouse, Wolf Hunter, BEAH, Beyond the Stars, Obsoletes, the upcoming Capetown, and classics like Krey and Switchblade. I’m also writing and drawing Silverblade, a Victorian Fantasy that explains why Silver affects Monsters featuring Knights fighting supernaturally powered Cultists. For my past work with Malibu, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and others, my work can be found on sites like Comic Art Fans, Comic Vine, and, of course, Silverline Comics. Here’s a link

01Mar/22

Craft: Roland Mann – Filling Multiple Roles in Comics

Hey there Silverline Family,

We hope you are all safe and well out there. Especially if you’re a reader in Europe, please take care and we hope that you’re safe. If you’re elsewhere around the world remember to take a break from the doomscrolling and take care of your mental health. We hope our comics and content can give you nice reprieve to relax and be entertained. 

This week we have another Craft Interview. This time with the big cheese, Roland Mann. You might know Roland from a lot of things. He’s the EIC and founder here at Silver, he’s written several comics such as Cat & Mouse, and Trumps. Previously, he was an editor at Marvel and Malibu. He’s also an educator who teaches a course about writing comics, so he may have been your instructor at some point. So listen up class!

This week we talk about working in comics are the multiple duties one might have to fulfill at once. When you’re breaking in and especially if you choose a career in the indies, you may find yourself wearing multiple hats. (I’m a writer, editor, and online content guy, and all I got was this dang shirt.) It’s not uncommon for the team you’re working with to ask you to cover multiple roles to make sure the business of comics gets done for your comic. If you’re a purely independent creator, you get the worst end of it. Finance, marketing, partnerships, and creative all get handled by you. Chances are you might also need to freelance on other comics at the same time make ends meet. 

I hope you enjoy this interview where Roland gives us insight into how he creates and how he covers the multiple duties he needs to do. 

 

Craft: Roland Mann – Filling Multiple Roles in Comics

 

TK: It’s my understanding that Trumps has been rattling around in your mindpalace for a while now. How long do you typically let an idea sit before you develop it, or progress to writing. Is it more of waiting for the right moment for the time, or do you fully develop the idea and then store it until you are able to execute it?

RM: Your understanding is correct. The Trumps concept was born in the late 90s. As I’ve said other places, my family plays a lot of cards, and the idea of the four suits as four kingdoms at war struck me during one such evening while playing Pinocle with my parents. I jotted down the idea quickly, then fleshed the idea out during my next writing session. I don’t generally let ideas sit for too long because I feel like I have to go where my brain is taking me right then. If I wait a month, I might forget where I was headed. But the other reason is that I think WITH my writing. I write and rewrite and revise as part of the “thinking” process.

TK: If an idea is coming together, either in development, or once actual writing or illustration has begun and you feel like it’s not doing the story justice, how do you pivot? Do you just truck through and then hit it again in revisions or do you pursue another idea that you feel the team is better suited for? Any examples?

RM: No, I won’t truck through. I have done that before, but that’s the reason I won’t do it now. Revising or fixing something that isn’t working is far easier—in my opinion—to fix before it is finished than to finish and then try to fix. I think if it’s finished, it’s more difficult to get your mind away from THAT idea. If I stop right then and address the problem, then I can play the “what if” game. What if my character does A? What if my character does B? What if my character does C? and so on. I’ll try to figure out the place in the story the problem is, then see what decision the character can make in a different way—and not just ONE way, what are all sorts of possibilities. Now, I will add this, I try VERY hard to do all that BEFORE an artist gets it. In my view, it’s far easier for me to make the changes at a story level, than for the artist to have to make changes in the art, which could potentially mean a lot of different pages requiring changes. That’s not fair to the artist, and it also signals to the artist that you don’t really know what you’re doing as a writer.

The best example from my own writing, I can’t go into a lot of details because it’s from something unpublished. (how’s THAT for a plug?) But I have a novel that’s now complete, but I was stuck for a time (I don’t believe in writer’s block) on a pivotal decision that a character made. I’d moved passed that point, but it just wasn’t working. So I backtracked to the decision, played out several “what if” scenarios, picked one that I thought worked the best…and went from there. And wouldn’t you know it, the remainder of the novel came fairly easily!

TK: In addition to writer, you also serve as an editor, and several other business titles (but that’s getting too deep in the sausage). Many comic creators will probably find themselves wearing multiple hats, especially in the indies. How do you balance working on your own work and working on the other roles you fill. Is there any special considerations when it comes to budgeting time developing your titles versus helping other creators create their titles.

RM: OMG, that’s a tough one. The truth is that I really do love to see new creators enter the team of the published. There’s not a lot of money in comics, but there’s a lot of emotional rewards. For instance, I’m very excited that our next kickstarter includes WOLF HUNTER, written by our own Tim TK (who supplied these questions and I feel like I’m addressing all the answers to him!). And while it won’t be his first publication, it will be his first published comic book. I like that because I know how “I” feel when I see my work in printed form, and it excites me to know that Tim will get that exact feeling when he holds the printed copies of WOLF HUNTER #1 in his hands! As far as how I budget the time…I wish I could tell you that I have a big spreadsheet (like I used to have as editor at Marvel and Malibu) that has the timelines for every project and every title we’re doing…but the truth of the matter is that because we’re so small press, the timelines for every creator on every title is so different. Someone like Aaron Humphres can really produce pages quickly as his “day job” allows him greater flexibility to create more pages. On the other hand, someone like Dean Zachery can’t do that because his day job requires more time from him that keeps him from drawing the thing he wants to draw. ALL of us want to be more like Aaron, of course, but we can only do what we can do. So my personal decisions on helping other creators budget their titles depends greatly on what the team as a whole can do.

Hope that makes sense.

TK: How does also being a writer influence the kind of feedback you, or how does also being an editor influence how you react to feedback? How you do find the path to encourage a creator to really improve their original idea without getting behind the steering wheel too much yourself?

RM: That’s also a tough one. An editor’s job, or even someone just offering feedback is not to make the writer’s story THEIR story. It’s to try to figure out what the writer is trying to tell and help guide them on that path. Now, there are some things, obviously, that the writers don’t necessarily see because they are so close to the story that the editor can see, and that the writer sometimes thinks the editor is butting in.
One example of this I can think of is the upcoming KNIGHT RISE. Mackenzie had sent me a really nice outline of the story she wanted to tell…the problem with the story is that it wasn’t “A” story, but it was two stories. We swapped a few emails and suddenly she was like “Whoa! Cool! Yeah, I see that”—and she went off to the races with it (And I know readers are really going to love it!)

Another example that comes to mind is with WOLF HUNTER. I remember your summary and the initial second issue was very claustrophobic because it was all inside the train AND it was a lot of talking heads. My recollection is that you knew the story front and back, knew what you were trying to accomplish, but didn’t realize the second issue was like that because it was surrounded with action on either side. So you simply (I say “simply” –ha) rearranged some of the stuff, added a bigger action sequence and made stronger use of noir-style narration  to make it work. 
And I think that leads me to the part of the answer that can be tough: An editor has to think about more than the story. Yeah, you want to make sure all the elements of story are there, but you also have to take into consideration the audience. The editor is really the first audience member, but they come at it with a writer’s eye. Not only that, an un-emotionally-invested writer’s eye. An editor can look at a story and say “hey dude, there’s no action here,” or “hey, there’s nothing at stake for your protagonist here,” or “why do we care about this?” because they see that when they read it. They can then offer up suggestions to the writer not in an attempt to write the story for them, but in an attempt to get the writer thinking about the problem and figuring out how to address it. I always try to offer suggestions to writers when I’m editing, and I try to offer up at least two suggestions which take the character or story in completely opposite directions in order to get the writer to look at all the possibilities. Often what happens is they come up with something that isn’t quite as extreme as my suggestions, something in the middle of the two polar opposites I suggest…and it works.

TK: How would you say your workload has shifted compared to when you got into comics. I would assume you have more responsibilities, but technology has also advanced. Do you find that some tasks are generally more efficient, either as a writer or editor, and has that made your creative life easier or harder, or has it simply made room for more work to fill your day?

RM: The big difference is that when I got into comics, that was what I did full time for a little more than a decade. Now, my primary responsibility is as a college professor. Comics are my night gig. I’m very fortunate in that my boss encourages me to stay involved in comics. A near exact quote from her is something to the effect of “I want you to keep doing that because it keeps you relevant.” Which is really funny, but when you think about it, is also very real. The department can continue to say “the guy who teaches comics is also a comic maker today,” instead of “he used to make comics a bunch of years ago.”

But there are indeed a lot of things that are easier today than they were when I got started in the late 80s thanks to technology. Some of the more obvious things might be the ability to instantly receive the art from the artist as soon as they are done. We no longer have to wait on the mail to hopefully deliver the original art in undamaged condition. We can work with folks internationally a whole lot easier for the same reason.

I can also communicate with creators a lot easier than back then when my options were phone (not always convenient), mail (super slow), or fax (whaaaaa?). I can send you an email and you can get me a pretty quick response when you get to it.
But I DO think that technology has caused me to have a serious case of over commitment. When I was employed as an editor full time, I edited an average of about 6-7 titles a month. Silverline is not remotely close to monthly, but we’ve got 22 projects…YES, TWENTY TWO!!!…in various stages of development. While I try to keep up with where they are all, sometimes things fall through the cracks (that’s why I’m getting some help from Dante Barry on that soon!), not because I care more about one over the other, but simply because I’m looking one way and miss the one in the other direction! Lol

01Feb/22

Craft : Jose Fuentes

Hey Silverline Fam,

Every Week I have the pleasure to hang out with Jose Fuentes on A Silverline Show on Tuesday. I figured it was about time I got down in the dirt with him and asked him about his craft as an inker. Jose is an all-around talented artist and comics professional, but he takes pride in his inks and has some of the best grit I’ve seen in a person. In this week’s issue of craft, we talk about his use of alternate inking techniques and the work ethic he brings to the page. I hope you all can find some bits of inspiration from the answers Jose gave. I certainly did!

TK: In some of our previous conversations you had talked about applying ink in not just traditional drawn lines, but by flicking or smearing some of the ink. Getting a sort of special effect on the panel. How often do you attempt to do that sort of application or do you have to balance more towards digital inking now?

JF: There are several techniques you can use to give the impression of texture in a flat/2d drawing. Smearing and flicking are just a couple options. I try to use different inking techniques to give that effect on every piece or page if it calls for it. You don’t want to “overwork” a page. You have to be mindful to not overwork the penciler’s work with ink. There is definitely a balance that you have to keep in mind. I try and do the same with any digital inks that I am working on. There are a lot of different digital brushes you can buy/download to help give you the same effects that I try and use traditionally

TK: As a follow-up, how much do you prefer working physically or digitally? What are some of the pros and cons of either?

JF: I prefer to ink traditionally. I like the feel of the crow quill on the paper and trying new techniques. I didn’t use to. I hated to have ink or pencil graphite on my hands, but I have learned to appreciate the process. I don’t get the same feeling from digital, but I have embraced the challenge of trying to achieve the same techniques digitally.

TK: You have also said that you haven’t worked that day if your hands don’t have ink on them. Obviously, that may not be the case if you’re working digitally that day, but do you think that same work ethic, that sense of “really getting into your work” applies?

JF: So the phrase was said to me by Jan Duursema. Then she taught us to [use] various techniques that I still used today. I took everything she taught me to heart and adapted the phrase as more of a motto for my life. Taking this motto into my digital work gives it a bit of a twist. No, I’m not physically getting dirty, but I used it to motivate me to try my best [and use] many digital tricks to make my digital inks look like physical inks

TK: Would you think that mindset is ingrained in you and you apply that to your craft or is that something that came out of specifically your comic craft?

JF: I feel that this developed through the course of my education. I was more laid back in my own personal training, mostly because I was working to take care of my family so I put my art on the warmer. Schooling was a huge eye-opener for me. I learned that I can actually work in comics. I knew I could draw but I never really had much confidence in my career as an artist. My wife is super supportive and has pushed me to reach for my dream job. And now I work on comics full time!

TK: One last thing, what are you currently working on and where can people follow you or see some of your work?

JF: I am currently working on digital inks for Silverline Comics Obsoletes book. Digital colors for a six-page story for Peter Clinton that will be in the Voyage: Melting Pot, and I have a digital coloring job for a book that has been put on the backburner. I’m also lined up to do traditional inks on a book for Jay Cornwell, a local artist in my area.

31Aug/21

Craft: Tommy Florimonte – The Life of A Printer

Hey Silverline Fam! Craft is morphing, growing, evolving if you will. We have gone from Machop to Machoke. Craft will now take the form of a targeted interview with some open ended questions. Ideally with this new format, we should be able to speed up the rate at which we can collect insight from your favorite creators as well as really provide new depth to conversations about creating comics. We want to really be a font of information for creators seeking help or just for people wanting to know how the sausage is made.

This first entry in the format is from premier sausage making Tommy Florimonte. In addition to being a great artist and inker, Tommy also is 1/2 of the leadership at KA-BLAM, a digital printer specializing in comics, manga, and other visial formats. If you want to know how the physical comic gets made. He has the answers. 

Making the Donuts

1. Most people could probably guess that printing is the process of putting a comic book to print, but, in a broad sense, what are the general steps that make up that process for a digital printer?

The way we set it up, there’s really no different than what you’d do for most traditional printers. Most everything is done digitally nowadays. With us and also with them, if you’re going to do it right the first time, you MUST prep your files, which we all call the “Pre-Press” work. Either way of printing, you need to set the files upright. We make it simple. All you have to do is provide all files at a specific size depending on the final size book you want. And we give you a template to go by. We’ve got a tech page going over all the sizes and formats.

2. What does an average day in the office look like for you?

After teleporting in, it’s time to make the donuts. There’s an entire list of things that need doing before the first book gets printed. Most days begin with prepping the presses, filling all the paper trays, straightening up a bit to be ready to run orders, download files and answer all the overnight messages. Then it’s all about prepping files, printing and packing orders all day while stopping to answer more messages, fill the paper trays again (and again), adding toner, staple & glue. We do try to eat and sometimes even get to use the restroom when needed. It’s a long day, but we get to see a lot of really cool comics.

3. How does digital printing differ from previous forms of the printing process?

Other than checking that the files/pages are “Print Ready”, which there are quite a few steps that you go through, in today’s modern printing world, much of the same steps have to be completed. But overly simplified, the “WAY” the jobs are printed differ. With Traditional presses, you have this long-drawn-out beginning process of setting up the pages on these “plates” before the first drop on ink hits any paper. The major expense of printing traditionally is setting up the printers to print. So the more you print after setup, the price doesn’t go up as much.

Now think of the digital presses much more like a HUGE home printer. You select a file and press PRINT. Then a “Print Server” takes control, does all the magic getting the pages in order, and digitally sends that info to the printer… Page by page. Because of this ease of use, the cost to print one page doesn’t go down when you print the next page. The price is all per page. It’s the same process, the same expense per page printed. But it also means you don’t have to print huge print runs. The cost of one book cost the same as 100 times one book. Unlike Tradition printing, you have to print 100s… 1000s of copies to take advantage when you spent all that time, that expense of setting up the press.

4. As a printer, what is your biggest pet peeve with clients/customers?

For me, it’s small things that drive me nuts, but it is also super funny: Page counts. I don’t know why, but sometimes you just can’t get across that a saddle-stitched book, a stapled book, can only come in four-page increments. Sometimes people just don’t understand that folding a sheet of paper in half gives you a four-page pamphlet/book: 4, 8, 12, 16, etc pages… You get it. We get all the time someone asks for a 22 page stapled book. We tell them it’s going to have to be 24 pages so we’ll need two extra pages to fill out the book. “But I only have 22 pages! I want a 22-page book!! Just print that as-is will you!!!” You see where I’m going with this. Oh- And that’s not even getting into explaining the covers don’t count towards interior pages.

5. Has being a printer changed the way you think as a comic creator, or vice-versa?

I LOVE that anybody can make a comic using Ka-Blam. Just knowing that we’re providing a service that allows EVERYBODY, young and old, beginner to a long time Pro, that wants to make a comic can jump in with our system that an easy entry process that’s also cost-effective. We work very hard every day to make our comics look and feel like traditionally printed comics. We mean it when we say we’re a comics printer run by comic creators. We love comics.

10Aug/21

Craft: Tim T.K. – Pitch Your Heart Out

Hey there Silverline Family! We’ll be doing something a little different today. I’m having to rethink the way contributors are tapped for blog content, so today, I’ll be contributing! Currently, I’m resting a toe that’s been twice split open at my kickboxing gym, so I’ll be working through the painkillers to talk about something I feel interestingly qualified to speak about. Pitches!

Pitch Your Heart Out


According to my job description, I am the Associate Editor at Silverline. This means that I am sometimes tapped to review story and art submissions then cast my vote for what I think would be good comic material. I have also written, and successfully pitched a couple of comic series. This means that I know what editors are looking for in a pitch document, but I am also sympathetic to the artist feeling like creating a good pitch is selling or watering down their creative vision.

To be honest, my Achilles heel when it comes to writing pitches is condensing the material, but that’s another article. Today I want to talk about how a tight, marketable pitch does not diminish the artistic quality. If anything, the creator can use this as an opportunity to enhance and focus the heart of their art. Not to mention that art needs to be sold for the artist to eat, and for it to be sold, it must be pitched.

A good pitch is short. A few sentences, maybe a paragraph. They can be long sentences, sure, but certainly not a full-page (unless it is explicitly asked for!) Think of the phrase “elevator pitch.” How long is an elevator ride? A half-minute, maybe? Your submission does not exist in a vacuum. However many half-minutes are in a day, that’s how many pitches an editor has to get through. You have to hook them fast and with conviction. This does not lend the format to breaking down the whole plot. That’s because it’s not the plot that sells the work, it’s the heart.

If you look at how film scripts are marketed, you’d learn about something called a “log-line.” This tool is universally applicable. It teaches you how to focus your vision into a small package. This is the tool I use to base my pitches out of.

First: one line on the setting. Second: who’s your protagonist. Third: What’s Unique about them. Fourth: What’s their external/internal struggle and what do they learn in order to overcome it.

At glance, you can convey the whole heart of the work. As an editor, I learn the cool factors of the setting and the protagonist. I can see the motifs explored throughout the creative process. Most importantly, I know the important struggle, how relatable the conflict is, and what themes the work expresses.

As a creator, you should be passionate and protective of your work. It should come from a place that moves you and do things you think are cool. A good pitch allows you to focus all that information so that it is easy to understand how important the work truly is. Creating a pitch can also help you, the creator, as you continue the process. In creating a pitch, summary, log-line, whatever, you ground the elements that the work revolves around. It is something to look back to if you ever get lost in the story.

All this to say, you’re not selling out by making your work appear marketable. If anything you’re helping yourself enhance its artistic qualities. So, go ahead, pitch your heart out.

03Aug/21

Throwback Issue: Craft -Roland Mann

Hey there, hi there, ho there, Silverline Family! Due to some unforeseen scheduling issues, we missed last week’s post, but that’s alright. That just meant that our Kickstarter spotlight was on the front page for a little bit longer. That was well enough because we got fully funded in the 11th Hour. You guys are amazing! Check your inboxes for surveys and your mailboxes for comics in the weeks to come!

Anyway, this week is another throwback. The writer of both newly released comics, Roland Mann, actually gave us a craft article over a year ago. I figure with two new books on the way, nows is a good time to look back and see what he has to saw about adaptations coming into comics. Click below to open the full article!