A Lack of Color

When I started Uptown Girl all those years ago, I was inspired by the simple look of many independent cartoonists, like James Kochalka and John Porcellino who did amazing comics with simple black and white drawings.  Simple and beautiful.  The early years of Uptown Girl were done by someone who was trying to figure out how to be a cartoonist.  I never stopped being inspired by others though, and looked at what others were doing.  I really dug the textured art of Stan Sakai and Robert Crumb so I’d thrown in a little crosshatching here and there.  Not enough to change the look of the comic, and I didn’t do it enough to get good at it.

After I realized that I would probably be doing Uptown Girl for a while, I wanted to draw better than what I was putting out.  I was also meeting a lot of other local cartoonists and was inspired by what Kevin Cannon was doing.  Amazing.  Cartoony and complex.  But doing a comic each month along with having a growing family, I knew I wouldn’t be able to make a comic each month with the way I wanted to start drawing so the monthly series ended in 2007 to make way for original graphic novels.

Suddenly I was in a position I hadn’t anticipated.  I had hit the reset button on Uptown Girl and her world.  It was exciting.  Over the past 6 years I had crafted a world and learned so much about drawing and comics and I was about to use all of that to create the comic stories I knew I was capable of doing.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the new look of Uptown Girl stories.  I always liked the way Uptown Girl looked in color, but I knew that wouldn’t be likely.  Not only from a cost angle, but also in the interest of time.  I was really tempted to do grayscale, as I really liked what Kerry Callen and Ryan Dow were doing.  Ultimately I settled on heavily textured art which is what I use today.

There are some cartoonists like Alex Robinson who create awesome comics with high contrasting black and white artwork, along with very textured objects, like clothing for example.  I wish I could draw like that.  I feel the need to clutter up the background with fences and bookcases, or if I am feeling lazy, color the whole background black.  Stan Sakai, who I mentioned earlier has a complete understand of the comics medium and sees so confident and comfortable with every panel he draws.

Anyway, this has been something that’s been on my mind lately, and I started to think about how I approach a drawing when I think about how the finished art will look.

Here are three rushed drawings:

I wanted to show what my drawings look like in the simplest form.  This is what a panel looks like when I start the inking process.  The steps that would come next depend on what the finished drawing will look like, be it color, grayscaled or textured.

If a drawing is going to be printed in black and white, then I will add textures and shadows, like this:

I added grooves in the wooden bookshelf and window, shadows of objects and a little texture to the couch.

The next panel I approached it as if it were grayscaled and added very little texture to it, specifically Ruby’s hair.

I really like the way this looks.  I wish I was better at this because I’d like to do more of this.

The last panel would be the color panel, and I didn’t add anything to it.

As you can (hopefully) tell, I spent about four minutes on coloring this.  Luckily Ben Mudek does the colors of the actual books.  I would also draw different things when I am doing comics in color, like windows and doorframes in the background.

I would like to do more with grayscaling, but I really dig the way the comics look.



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