From script, to thumbnail, to sketch, to finished painting, Christopher Moeller reveals how he creates a comics page using traditional media
With Christopher Moeller.
There is no reason on Earth to still be painting comics traditionally. In an industry that demands speed, painted comics are excruciatingly slow. To make things worse, in a medium dominated by teams of pencillers, inkers, colourists and designers, painted comics are the work of one artist. Painted comics are an exercise in perversity, and yet, when they work, they can be transcendently beautiful.
I liked comics as a youngster, but lost interest in middle school. It wasn’t until attending the University of Michigan School of Art in the early 1980s that I rediscovered comics.
But it wasn’t the superheroes of my childhood that captured my attention. Instead it was the outburst of expressive and exciting painted work being done by madmen who ignored all of the reasons that one shouldn’t use a brush instead of a pencil.
There were some beautiful books about, such as Neverwhere by Richard Corben; Moonshadow by Jon J Muth; Blood: A Tale, by Kent Williams; Enemy Ace by George Pratt; Silverheels by Scott Hampton; The Psycho by Dan Brereton; and Elektra: Assassin by Bill Sienkiewicz. I loved that they were all different. Each artist’s voice was distinct, with its own rhythms and obsessions, it’s own poetry.
In my mind, comics had a distinct visual language: words, lines and flat, primary colours. Here was something new. Here was visual storytelling radically different from what had gone before, as well as from one artist to the next. Here were problems being presented (and solved) in completely unique ways. I was hooked. In the 20 years I’ve been working in the industry I’ve created well over 900 pages of painted art.
In our modern, digital age, traditionally painted comics have nothing to recommend them. And yet here you are. And here I am. Painters tend not to remain in comics very long – one or two books for most of them. It doesn’t take long for most painters to recognise the truth of what I said at the beginning: there is no reason on Earth why you should paint a comic book traditionally.
But bless every one who did, for their heroic, singular contributions. They are the reason I paint comics. Not because there are advantages that paint has to offer, but because paint is where my artistic voice finds its proper register. If yours does the same, here’s a fairly detailed look at how I do what I do, and paint a comic page.
VIDEO • FINAL IMAGE • WIPS