Paint comics

From script, to thumb­nail, to sketch, to fin­ished paint­ing, Christo­pher Moeller re­veals how he cre­ates a comics page us­ing tra­di­tional me­dia

ImagineFX - - Contents - Christo­pher has been writ­ing and paint­ing comics since 1990, and his ti­tles in­clude JLA: A League of One, Star Wars: Bat­tle of the Bounty Hunters, plus his cre­atorowned sci-fi tril­ogy Iron Em­pires. The third Iron Em­pires graphic novel, Void, is due this a

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.

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