I’ve noticed a bad habit I have when making comics. Usually the first page that I draw is page number 1. Then I do pages 2 and 3. Then I do pages 4 and 5. But I don’t always finish the pages! If I leave a couple of panels unfinished with one spread, then it becomes more easy to leave a few more panels unfinished in the next spread. This creates a problem because if I can’t read my story sequentially and completely, then I can’t use my mind to clearly write/draw the next page very well. Part of the reason is that the story has a lot of rhythms that balance through each other, and if I’m missing one piece of one part, then it throws all the other parts off. Know what I mean?
So for me, it seems that I can work best when I’m going straight through the story, without skipping pages. I could possibly be okay if I skip to the next chapter. But if I have to hop a few panels or a few pages, then I can really get confused, even if I thought I knew what I was doing.
This week I’ve been going through SF #2 and making a bunch of corrections that I should have finished a long time ago. That includes small issues with the art as well as unfinished lettering. As you know, I usually don’t use computers in the process of making books. That’s because logistically it’s a lot simpler for me to go to print. Working without computers also means that I have to keep my original drawings very clean.
Fixing problems with the lettering is tough. It would be good to script everything out exactly correct before I draw the final page, but sometimes I make things up or add little touches as I go along and then my lines are off-balance. My newest and best way to fix bad lettering is to draw on the backs of receipts and paste them into the balloons. It’s the best paper I know! It’s very white, it’s opaque, it accepts the ink well, and it dries quickly. Most importantly, of course, the paper is thin so it doesn’t leave a big shadow when scanned.
I’m sure professional mangaka have a paper that’s perfect for this use, if not made for it, but I don’t know about it! For now I’m just holding onto my receipts, but I’m sure I can buy a roll of the stuff somewhere. This is the kind of receipt paper that is printed with heat. Not the stuff you print on with blue or purple ink in an old cash register. Oh and lemme say one more thing about professional mangaka – they don’t rewrite the dialogue as they draw each panel! (This is a bad habit for me, too. I’m sure this is natural for some people, but I really think I do better work when I complete a script the way I want it, and then EXECUTE.)
So after I’ve corrected all of my lettering, I can read the whole story of SF#2 (that’s been finished so far), understand the rhythm, and move forward.