Computers and Making Comics, Part 1

Today, I’m going to talk about a tool in making comics that I haven’t really touched on yet.  That is the computer.

In today’s highly digital, Internet connected age, the computer has become one of the standard tools in making comics.  In some instances, it is the primary or even sole method of making comics.

It is not my intention to slam the computer method of making comics; I say this because I work traditionally and I have grown up as part of Generation X (I was born on the tail end of it), the first generation to grow up with personal technology like video games, home video, cable television, and (natch) computers.  In this series of blog posts, I want to give a basic overview of computers to make comics with and let you make your own decisions on whether they’re right for you.  

Some of the older professionals out there )who have worked with the traditional media like pen and brush as well as manual cutting and pasting) tend to look down on not only computers as tools but digital artists as well.  Dave Sim (Cerebus the Aardvark) even has stated that digital artists are more “computer technicians” than true artists.  Sim’s attitude is understandable; older professionals tend to be more technophobic.  They grew up in a time where personal computers were rare, hardware was expensive and digital art software were hard to find.

Their attitude is also understandable when you consider another criticism of the computer as a tool in making comics.  When you draw with pencil and ink on a sheet of bristol paper, you have a tangible item right there.  You can’t reach out and touch a digital file containing comics you draw on a computer.

Another big issue if you choose to use computers as a tool – it’s the cost.  A drawing table, paper, pencils, rulers, inks, pens, brushes, tape, etc. – that could run a few hundred dollars if you decide to go high end.  However, even the most basic set up in computer hardware and software (I’ll talk about those in the next blog posts) can run into the hundred or even thousands of dollars!  Selections may be limited if you live outside of a fair-sized city without suitable retail options for computer equipment.

I’m not done yet here.  It’s hard for me to draw a profile of the most recent equipment and its technical capabilities.  Technology is rapidly changing.  That can be a good thing as improvements in technology and higher storage capacity increase.  However, it can hurt you too.  It’s possible for the latest model you buy to become obsolete within two to three years later.  You can upgrade your existing equipment or retrofit older computer equipment, but that can only go so far.

With all that said, the computer is not a tool to be dismissed.  If you know what you’re doing and you’re comfortable with it, it’s incredibly useful to make your comics.  In the next few blog posts, I’ll talk some more about hardware and software.

Please sign up for the Sunnyville Stories mailing list if you haven’t yet.  In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing some script excerpts there on upcoming Sunnyville comics.

Also, be sure to stop over to DriveThru Comics for digital copies of Sunnyville Stories.  Copies of Sunnyville Stories Volume 1 are still for sale on Amazon, both in print and Kindle formats!  While you’re there, be sure to pick up Sunnyville Stories Volume 2 and (if you love Gothic horror) Von Herling, Vampire Hunter!  And now available is the latest installment of the saga, Sunnyville Stories Volume 3.  Get them today!

Copies of all the above titles are available to the library trade via Brodart Company and to retailers from Ingram and Baker & Taylor (via BCH Distribution).  Copies are also available direct from the publisher.  For ordering information, contact maxwestart(at)gmail(dot)com or write to:

Different Mousetrap Press LLC, 1100 19th Avenue N, #108, Unit J, Fargo ND 58102-2269 USA  

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About Max West

I am a freelance artist and the creator of Sunnyville Stories, an independent slice-of-life comics series.
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