Sizing pages can be a real hassle especially if you plan on printing your projects later. (Which you always should at the outset because it’s better to have print-quality files and never do anything with them than to have that one perfect piece and realize it’ll look like crap in print.) Yes I’m doing comics on the web but printing a tangible book of those comics is important for a number of reasons. I don’t want to get into the whole print vs. web debate but you shouldn’t close yourself off from potential revenue streams. Web-exclusive materials are harder to seek a profit from and a big part of the whole online revolution of the last few years isn’t so much that you’re using the web instead of print to make money, it’s that you’re managing the printing of your work yourself and distributing it online as well. It’s more indie vs. corporate in those regards. But I’m not here to take sides in that discussion. Today I’m going to talk to you about sizing your comics for the web while considering print.
Spike has gone on record as saying printers work for you and you should make your comic whatever size you feel comfortable with. I can agree with that on a certain level but irregularly-sized books will probably cost you more to print in the long run. For those just starting out you may want to consider what sizes are common to print at. If you’re looking at Comixpress or Ka-Blam! for an initial run you can snag templates off their sites. I wouldn’t recommend working at those sizes originally, though. Drawing actual size can be a little confining when trying to work in detail and most professionals work 1/3rd or so larger then shrink their art down to tighten things up. On my current project I’m working roughly 7″ x 11″ which is about the same size Bryan Lee O’Malley draws Scott Pilgrim at. I’m sure he has his own reasons for working at that size. I’m doing it because I can get 2 pages from one sheet of 14″ x 11″ bristol board, (Which is nice if you plan on doing 2-page spreads with full page bleeds. I know such a thing could conceivably work on the web in a McCloudian Infinite Canvas way, but for practicality’s sake I’m avoiding them now.) I can do full-size pencils and sketches on regular typing paper which means I can rework things as much as I want on other sheets affordably before inking, and I can scan pages in on a regular consumer scanner. (This last part is important if you’ve seen this tutorial behind Copper.)
Speaking of O’Malley, I’ve been looking to some of his pre-production work on Flickr for ideas on laying out pages. The thumbnails I’ve used on the prologue have become hard to read when going back to them when I’m no longer in the manic writing zone you get into when working on a piece. I want something that makes sense when I have to look back on it but doesn’t require too much detail. Something like this seems like a bit much for work only I’d see. This is closer to how I’ve been doing it but at a size that’s mostly squiggles. I may attempt something closer to this only using a Sharpie and a #2 pencil or something so I’m not tempted to spend a long time rendering them. Still trying to work out a way to script dialogue I’m comfortable with. It’s interesting I think of action conceptually and have to work at drawing it but I like to visualize dialogue and writing it out in script form takes all the fun out of it for me. Maybe I’m wired funny, I dunno.