Thinkin’ bout inkin’


by

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Manuele Fior - 5000 kilometres per second

Hey there, True Believers, welcome to Comics Comics Sunday edition. For those of you still following along, we’ve been talking about romance comics and also naturalism in comics. So, hopefully that all set the table for you, dear reader, and you will appreciate this week’s post before we get back into studying ye olde American romance comics during the coming weeks.

Manuele Fior’s 5000 Kilometres per Second was one of the most interesting comics that I found at last year’s Angouleme festival. I don’t know much about Mr. Fior and I think I’ll let him stay mysterious to me for awhile. Feel free to google him. Personally, I like to think of him as one of the artists whom I “discovered” while in France. I had never heard of him, no one had told me to check him out, he was completely off my radar. I searched and searched at Angouleme to try and find some artists that didn’t subscribe to what I call the dominant “Canniffer” style of European comics. It took days. I swear. There are so many books (they call them albums) to look through at Angouleme that it can be depressing when they all start to look alike. I’d search all day and not really find anything I really liked. I swear. Then one day I found Brecht Evens. The next day I found Bastien Vives. And on the last day I found Manuele Fior. These three artists – for my own personal taste – provided an oasis of sorts. They all felt, feel, current and conversant in a living language whereas many of their peers seem occupied with speaking in an older, distant language. Simply put, they aren’t “Canniffers” or “Blutchies” or “Girs” and I found that interesting. Still do.

Manuele Fior’s 5000 Kilometres per Second is also in French (at least the edition I found is – maybe it was published first in Italian?) so I couldn’t really read it. But that didn’t stop me from deciphering the images and the story and stringing it all together for a quite enjoyable read. Having said that, I don’t know if I could explain it other than a love story. A very beautifully drawn love story. Also, I don’t really have anything insightful to say about his work. I just want to spread the word.

The other reason I’m writing about Mr. Fior this week is that I think his “naturalistic” approach to comics is something that I could use talk about how one’s choice of media is important. Fior uses watercolor for this book, not pen and ink. So that means he is composing directly in color, not in black and white first and then adding color. Also he is creating lights and darks with tone not with hatching lines. Watercolor is also a very immediate and direct medium where it it is difficult to go back and correct one’s mistakes. All of these things influence the feel of the story and how one “reads” the characters.

The choice of media got me thinking about how reproducing full color original art has been a fairly recent development in comics. For the most of its history comics has had to be drawn in black & white and in ink. The stat camera that all printers in the old days could not reproduce pencil lines because they were too faint. So those pencil lines had to be “inked,” or made darker somehow so that the camera could see it. Cartoonists would draw it pencil first, ink the lines and then color it all on a separate layer. So the assembly line process makes sense in this way, right? And you can see how composing in black and white has become the norm, right? And you can see how cartoonists have had to figure out a way of rendering with a pen or how to ink lines with a brush, right? It was a necessary part of the craft. So, maybe, if you follow me, you can see how a “mannerist” style sets in and refers to older styles of drawing. All those little hatching and shading lines are a result of composing in black and white for inking. Composing in pencil only would mean one could use the side of the pencil to create subtle gradients. Do you see many pencil drawings with mannered hatching lines? No. You see them in etchings; in pen drawings. When a brush is used then a “wash” approach is possible, but, again the stat camera couldn’t pick that up the wash’s subtle gradients without a halftone screen to turn it all into dots. So, really, if you were inking with a brush you were still limited to using the brush to create lines, not tone. Think about it, most cartoonists are drawing with a pen because that’s how it’s been done; how it had to be done.

Funny how now that pencil lines can be reproduced with scanners that we see more cartoonists drawing in pencil. Inking is going the way of the Dodo because now the colorists add all the gradients and tone that the inker used to create. Colorists are sort of the new inkers, no? Also funny how it seems like those artists who draw in pencil and digitally ink and color their work are using less mannered, hatching lines.

Stay with me, True Believer, I’m almost at the payoff. Thinking about all this stuff made me wonder why most cartoonists are still only composing in black and white. How many painters do you know who only paint in black and white? I know, I know, lots of folks do black and white comics because it’s cheaper to print black and white comics than color comics. But we all have color computer monitors, right? Webcomics are here to stay, right? Well, maybe we should all get with this “color thing,” eh? Seems to me that only composing comics in black and white (where everything has a black line around it) is still the norm when composing comics. Even if the artist, the penciller, is inking and coloring the comic his or herself that still reinforces this assembly line attitude that has dominated comics. It’s a choice, sure, but I think sometimes we don’t really look at why comics still demands these antiquated methods. Is it tradition or just simply a preference to create works that “look like comics”? Just askin’.

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46 Responses to “Thinkin’ bout inkin’”
  1. patrick ford says:

    Drawing with a pen and ink predated letter press printing by centuries, and drawing with a pencil or charcoal goes back 1000’s of years.
    The Woodring project points this out. A pen line is medium.
    The only negative aspect of comic book inking is it was often not done by the artist who penciled the art.

    • Thanks, Mr. Ford, I’m aware of that – I skipped that part cuz we all are aware of that – the pen line has been around for centuries – comics didn’t invent “inking mannerisms”, sure, but what if comics in the early days didn’t have to be “inked” drawings? Beyond being a choice, I mean. What if there could have been pencil comics 60 years ago? Or full color originals that were reproduced ?(I’m sure there were both somewhere – but I mean across the board) What would have developed? I think there is some sort of adherence to the way things had to be done in the past because of the technology. That’s what I’m trying to get at.

      Do you know anything about that story how Stan Lee tried to reproduce pencils so he wouldn’t have to pay inkers?

  2. gabby schulz says:

    i agree with what you say here frank, and am excited that someone is pointing this stuff out about the form, function & history of cartooning process. i personally started drawing before computers, in the xerox & zipatone era, & i now find myself in a new futuristic, tech-heavy art utopia where my many years of xacto-blade craft-honing are suddenly about as useful as a carousel full of portfolio slides. so i find myself wondering a lot about why exactly i still stick with penciling & inking on paper, when i could get just make manga studio draw all my ovoid shapes for me.

    but i persist in the Old Ways for a pretty simple reason which you left out of your post: economics. for all the savings of time & effort that digital luxuries offer today’s cartoonists, many of us still can’t afford the privilege. powermacs, cintiq tablets, external hard drives, drawing programs, large-format scanners, php-programming web geeks — all these things cost a lot of money. and printing full-color is still way more expensive than b@w — something to consider when i’m sitting down at the start of a 200-page graphic novel that i hope one day to actually publish.

    so i still draw with paper, mostly, not out of a stubborn old-fashionedness, but because i’m fuckin’ broke. (although i do use photoshop, because who the hell ever heard of a printer getting PAPER files anymore?)

    if a publisher handed me a fat advance and told me they’d love to print my next book in full color, i’d bust out the watercolors and/or invest in a cintiq. but as it stands it’d feel like using color would just make me nervous. b&w’s still more of a sure thing artistically, for us poors.

    and yes this is a cry for help!

  3. brynocki C says:

    inspiration through limitation

  4. iestyn says:

    The other thing to think about is that the history of comics has always meant that pencillers and writers are the ‘heroes’ of comics creators. People haven’t thought about colourists that they want to emulate much. It’s like people wanting to be the vocalist or lead guitarist, but not the drummer or bassist.

    But the other thing about it is that when considering compisition – if you learn to balance a page’s compisition in black and white, to then start considering colour is to turn your skills to something much more complex and using a whole set of different skills.

    I guess I’m trying to say that colour is so new that there are few, if any, ‘star turns’, whereas anyone can name their favourite penciller/inker joint team combo and therefore has spent a lot of time learning to balance and control a page through this language. Most people would have to learn completely new skills and rethink their whole approach by taking on a much more complex and demanding set of problems. All while probably fitting this in in their ‘spare time’ – not encouraging to move away from your comfort zone.

  5. Jesse McManus says:

    what about fumetti?? what about kurt schwitters??
    does it matter so much, what tip touches? be it metal, felt, hair or bloodied stump?
    there could to be more collage comics….done right. …..”collage drawings”
    they could settle the “tip-touching” argument with a jar of rubber cement.

    these things shan’t impede the storytelling aspects that separate comics from other mediums
    i thought you loved history, dude. are you hating on cartoonists nodding to their forebearers?

  6. Lastworthy says:

    Re:Color
    For the comic I’ve been working on the last couple months I’ve been doing it as uninked pencils photographed with my phone, then edited in Photoshop. 
    I started doing it as single color so it’d be easier to print, but switched to full color in the last month. I figure it’s already pretty unreasonable to expect anyone to care/publish my bullshit artwork, and doubly so if I’m not even using all the artillery at my disposal. At this point I just want better looking work.

    @ G. Schultz
    Digital probably isn’t as expensive as you think, provided you’re willing to settle for second-tier hardware.Cintiqs are great, but I got my intuos3 six years ago for 1/4-1/8 the cost and it still works perfect. Realistically it’s more than I could spare again at this point either, but a tablet+Photoshop is basically unlimited drawing supplies and will save you money in the long run.  

  7. Its still easier for me to think in black and white. I can doodle on the train in black and white. Most of us learned to draw in black and white– old masters drew even though they had access to oil paints.

    Color personally just represents a dimensional leap in my abilities that I am not confident of. I also second the economic consideration. I know webcomics are the future but most of my comics right now are printed out and distributed on good old computer paper using good old stolen print queues from school or people I know at work which means black and white. I also offer a third minor consideration which is that I hate spending time in front of a computer and treasure my drawing time as time I get to actually do something physical (which doesn’t rule out working in watercolor or guache, I know).

    But I DO think color will be increasingly the future. At my school many of the students are working in brilliant colors and I think it will just take time. I don’t expect all the old dinosaurs out there to give up their cross hatching, and many of the dinosaurs are beautiful, but I think give it 10 or 15 years and all the hot new artists will speak (digital) color as their native language in cartooning.

  8. patrick ford says:

    Frank, The question is so complex depending on the artist, and the publisher he’s working for there is no one answer.
    Haven’t DC and Marvel been publishing “painted” comics by guys like Ales Ross for 20 years? There have also been a fair number of comics published from pencils as you know.
    I mentioned Woodring because of the giant pen story.
    Woodring paints very well, but he also uses a traditional B&W pen approach.
    My guess is it’s because he likes the look, the same would go for Crumb, Gilbert, Jaimie, etc.
    For me if something is in pencil, ink, or colour makes no difference. In fact if one artist isn’t in control of the finished art, I prefer B&W to something which has been coloured.
    Would people go for the idea of Woodring coloured by Dave Stewart?
    I’ve heard that story about Lee, but never anything solid.

  9. PS another random thought-
    Black and white might be easier to understand as a graphic by the reader– even the most “naturalist” of Frank’s artists are still operating in a certain realm of abstraction as cartoonists so that their work can be read. Fully rendered naturalism tends to interfere with reading comics sequentially.

  10. John Platt says:

    Inspired by all of the great new videos on P. Craig Russell’s website (which show him drawing in colored ink, BTW), I’ve been re-reading his old Opera comics (the three volumes put out by NBM). They show a surprising difference in reproduction technology (and resulting drawing techniques) that were used during the 15 years the stories were originally produced. From poorly photographed watercolors to very nice (yet early) computer coloring, and one story reproduced directly from PCR’s pencils, the books present an illuminating look at how comics have benefited from technology in the last few decades. (Oh yeah, and the stories are great, too!)

  11. Tom Hart says:

    Another forgotten reason for drawing in LINE is that for some (many?) artists, CONTOUR (and form and shadow) is a quicker way to draw. It’s about economy again, but economy of creation, not reproduction. Cartoonists have to make a lot lot lot of drawings, and boiling things down to a series of lines is often (not always, and not for everyone) an efficient way to do this.

  12. patrick ford says:

    BTW: To define Frank’s hypothetical gets complicated. Does everything stay the same except that full colour half-tone reproduction is inexpensive? The progression is still Sunday funnies leading to Superman, with Hearst, Leibowitz, Donenfeld, Goodman still the publishers?
    Early comic books as we know reprinted comic strips, and the first comic strip artists were fans of comic strips. The “look” had already been established by Foster, Raymond, Caniff, and many others.
    If inexpensive full process colour had been the norm since the birth of the comics, the publishers would have dictated that look if it was commercial, and that’s what people would have grown up looking at.
    Maybe it wouldn’t have been until the early “art comics” like RAW where we would have seen B&W comic art as a diversion from the norm.

  13. Great comments so far – I know that my post is a little all over the place – I just winged my riff and left alot of stuff out. We all understand that drawing is drawing – that we all learned in black and white – yet once you get into “drawing with color” it’s a whole’nother ballgame.

  14. Hi Frank,

    for me, it’s about the blending of typography and line. The more they look like they come from the same voice, the more they will provide a seamless and hopefully profound reading experience. I think the best comics are those that show stuff with words and write stuff with images (what the author actually wants to say stays invisible inbetween). So yeah, black line art is mostly about staying close to writing. That said, it’s not a law by any means. I’m working with colour right now and I try to achieve that coherence in other, livelier ways.

    Best,

    Jimmy

  15. Daniel C. Parmenter says:

    The “shooting from pencils” concept has always fascinated me. I recall that an issue of Marvel’s seventies “John Carter Warlord of Mars” book was shot from Gil Kane’s (I think?) pencils due to some sort of scheduling delay. It looked pretty good as I recall, though I don’t have it handy at the moment.

    The Marvel/DC artist who (IMO) benefited most from not being inked was Gene Colan. I don’t recall the exact time-line, but Eclipse shot from pencils on “Ragamuffins” (written by Don McGregor) with soft Euro-style coloring and DC tried it on “Nathaniel Dusk” (also written by McGregor) with flat coloring on nice white (Baxter?) paper. The latter looked pretty bad and DC’s next “Dusk” miniseries had the soft colors and superior pencil line reproduction. This was all pre-digital. whatever else one can say about digital technology and comics, it’s been very good for things like reproduction of pencil art. For example, presumably Colan’s recent Captain America work was “shot from pencils”, but I’m guessing that it was actually quite a bit more involved than that with various tweaking and contrast adjustments etc.

  16. Black and white turns to color if you stare at it long enough.

    When I see a print of Albrecht Durer’s, or a drawing of NIck Blinko’s, or G. Panters new minicomic, Bernie Wrightson, whatever great BW artist, I think: there is an attempt to create something like color through texture….or replace color with texture.
    (Although I remember reading that Durer- era prints would be colored by hand to be sold in the marketplace.)

    Opting for an archaic process makes sense to me. I don’t want to learn how its done in 2010. I want to learn how it was done in 1810 or 1410.
    I totally agree with this post. I think technology can be freedom, and it would probably be sensible to create work with a color printing or bust attitude for the web.
    unfortunately I am an atavistic dunce stuck in 1994.
    I hate the internet.
    I can’t post on these blogs.
    BLUG

  17. cbren says:

    I like color drawings made on 80’s computers like http://zxspectrum48.i-demo.pl/zxgallery.html . So color for me is basically an 80’s thing. Seconding 1810 or 1410 or 1630 like Monsu Desiderio which is actually in color now that I think about it. So color is a 17th century thing and I’m with pelican saying that we should go back to the 1400’s, when computers drew in black and white.

  18. Nate says:

    It’s easy to imagine that as time goes on many of the surface elements we see in comics (the cross hatching, feathering, etc.) will become stylistic tics, their origins in the printing method either forgotten or invoked nostalgically or ironically in the way that Ben-Day dots are used today.
    It’s funny, that book on Vince Colletta points out that much of the invective hurled at his art should really be hurled at the production process which rendered his subtle line-work scratchy or invisible. Guys like Sinnot and Royer used thicker strokes, and showed up better, or so this line of reasoning goes.
    Anyway, I’m glad Frank is making these connections between the material and historical elements of comics production to their aesthetics. This is a rich vein, well worth tapping.

  19. J. Overby says:

    Totally agree, Nate. I wrote a less articulate (than Frank’s) post about this same idea on my art fag blog a little while ago. A big part of it is that the stylistic tics are so comfortable. Problem is, I and most of we grew up with those tics and they’re hard to shake, they’ve formed our aesthetics to a certain degree. There’s something appealing about the history of comics that is more related to the atmosphere surrounding it than how “good” or “right” it is. I get so much out of Oyvind Fahlstrom’s comics-related collages because they distill all of these cool marks and visual objects to an essence. Kirby minus plot.

    The economics of making multiple objects in color is a big part of it, too, for sure. It’s so much easier to go the DIY B&W route (and that’s its own subculture, tics and all, too) if you’re printing multiple objects on your own. It’s fine to make drawings and comics available on the web, but it’s much more satisfying (again, to those of us who grew up with the culture of print) to make books that can sit on a shelf.

  20. cbren says:

    Ok, I thought about it some more and I returned with some stuff actually on-topic to say because I think the post is really thought-provoking but there are parts that are confusing.

    I like the language of “composing in color” vs. “composing in black and white”, but it’s confusing to say this because comics have been composed in color for a long time, as you acknowledge—it’s just that the artist would have to do most of that composing in their head since the comics were reproduced through the four color process and because it still had to be line art, no gradients. I think that there is some further issues here that are being overlooked, since not all of the line art has to be in black—different parts of the art can be in different hues, like some of Basil Wolverton’s horror/sci fi comics that combine black and white line art with glaring color line art, against color backgrounds.

    Similarly, you’re talking about the ability with modern scanners and so forth to reproduce more nuance in the gradation of tones and so on, as well as being able to reproduce artwork that was drawn in full color rather than the color plates being separated etc. There are new possiblities opened up by this technology. But you could explore these possiblities just as well with monochrome art—for example, I draw the comic I am working on now in a two color process with both layers drawn in black, but I use lots of grey and lots of gradients, and I splash around with lots of water and pro white and basically act like I’m painting, and it’s the technology allows me to do this. As far as color goes, I am still composing in the old fashioned way—put together first in my head before I see the plates combined in full color—but there is something new here, and that’s that I can freely use grey tones and approach it like a painting, even though it’s still all in black (and grey) and white.

    Everything you’re saying still applies, since it’s still a big leap beyond composing in monochrome with washes and gradients, to composing in full color, all the colors on one piece of paper… it just seems like both things are equally novel and equally interesting path for comics, free use of full color and free use of gradients, and I wanted to parse them out.

    • Well said. Both things are equally novel. Still, it’s just that most cartoonists – unlike say Taylor Mckimens – compose in black and white first and even if they are thinking about the color which is added later and generally on a separate layer. When I compose with an airbrush the color goes down FIRST and then the line art after.

  21. patrick ford says:

    It probably isn’t possible to quantify how many comic book artists aren’t comfortable with colour.
    I’ve always thought it was odd that Jamie Hernandez doesn’t colour at least the covers of his own work.
    Weird that Richard Corben has done a large number of pages over the past 10 years, but no longer colours his own work.
    There are comics artists who have shown themselves to be exceptional in dealing with colour.
    The first two that come to mind both are by way of Playboy Magazine and full process colour.
    Jack Cole’s full colour painted cartoons, and Harvey Kurtzman’s Trump magazine, and later Little Annie Fannie.
    Then there is Jack Kirby
    http://www.paulgravett.com/articles/132_kirby/panzers.jpg
    http://kirbymuseum.org/gallery2/d/14728-2/Galactic-Head_300.jpg

  22. Rob Clough says:

    Frank,

    Have you ever read Ragamuffins or Nathaniel Dusk? These are McGregor/Colan collaborations, and they were shot directly from his pencils with color–no inks at all. Considering the way that Colan’s work had been butchered by so many inkers over the years, McGregor went out of his way to have this done. The first Nathaniel Dusk series was horribly botched, but the second one looks great. Ragamuffins (from Eclipse) is a really weird slice-of-life series about childhood in the 1950s, but Colan can really draw kids. They’re worth a look.

  23. hi frank,
    manuele fior is italian, but he lives in oslo. oterwise he spend much time in italy. he is considered one of the best new italian comic artists, if not the best now.
    there are two other important books: Rosso Oltremare and La signorina Else.
    Manuele Fior’s 5000 Kilometres per Second is out just now in italy. Unfortunally many of the italian artists need to publish in French before and also after some months (maybe some years) their books will publish in italy. is strange but the italian situation is a little complicated, and that is why many italian artits go to live in paris (see Igort or Gipi for example).

  24. iestyn says:

    Thinking about artists that are working with colour – Trains are mint is a comic where colour comes first, then line. And it is totally about observation but stylised.

  25. Chris Lanier says:

    It’s going to be a long time that people want to make comics “look like comics,” even though that “look” is an artifact of outdated printing technologies/industrial relations. Look at all the digital drawing and painting apps and programs that replicate “technologically obsolete” analog textures of mark-making (watercolor, pastel, oilpaint, airbrush, etc etc). You have to make a mark somehow, and it’s hard to to think of what a purely digital “mark” would look like — outside of approaches that really lean on highlighting the integrity of the pixel as a unit of color.

    (One thing that might affect mark-making through digital means, that is completely divorced from any properties of texture, is that it encourages an energetic looseness of line — because if you screw up the line, you can always just undo it)

    I think you can also make a distinction between “technologies of reproduction” and “technologies of representation.” The fact that so many artists have been creating work within the parameters of the established industrial/technical processes means that a lot of visual problem-solving has been done within those parameters by now. So that while I may not need to make hatch lines to get a reproducible gradation, I have at my disposal an enormous visual library of pictures whose authors have solved the problem of gradation through hatching. So why abandon all that pictorial problem-solving, just because the means or reproduction no longer require it (especially if the new means of reproduction don’t actively militate against it).

    The black-outline approach of traditional comics may be functionally obsolete (or at least unnecessary) as a mode of reproduction, but as a mode of representation, it really does dovetail with how comics drawing often functions — the way comics move you from panel to panel, not having you linger on images, but absorbing them as ideograms, symbols that hover between pictures and writing. The black outlines help the pictures to be absorbed more quickly, making figures that function almost like fonts.

    Lastly — color reproduction is far less a barrier not only with webcomics, but in print as well. Print-on-demand services like lulu.com allow you to “publish” in color, without having to pay a printer upfront for a minimum number of copies. I’ve made some color mock-ups of books through Lulu (the art was scanned pencil lines, with coloring in photoshop), and they cost approx. $15 a pop for 50 pages. Not competitive with pamphlet comics yet, but for a full-color art book, that’s a really low threshold.

    • “The black-outline approach of traditional comics may be functionally obsolete (or at least unnecessary) as a mode of reproduction, but as a mode of representation, it really does dovetail with how comics drawing often functions — the way comics move you from panel to panel, not having you linger on images, but absorbing them as ideograms, symbols that hover between pictures and writing. The black outlines help the pictures to be absorbed more quickly, making figures that function almost like fonts.”

      I liked this bit alot. Thanks.

  26. patrick ford says:

    Going on a tangent.
    Part of what Frank said (if I remember) was pen and ink technique is still found, even though pencil or paint is now a possibility.
    Part of this is guys like Charles Burns (brush) and Jamie (pen) like the look of comics style inking. Pen and brush technique can have a lush beauty.
    There was a recent time when you had young artists using technical pens with inflexible tips imitating the thick to thin brush and pen ink line. Since they couldn’t snap those lines in properly with an inflexible tool they would more or less “sculpt” the lines,building up the thin pen line in areas along it’s length to get the thick to thin look.

  27. “Composed in colour” comics aren’t that unusual in Europe, or even in the UK where painted comics go back to Frank Hampson in the 50s, with a line running through the Embleton brothers, Don Lawrence and Martin Asbury through to Simon Bisley, Colin MacNeil and others in the 1990s. Digital printing seems, if anything, to have brought British comics more into line with American ones with the line art coming first and then being coloured on computer, but you’ve still got John M Burns doing painted work in 2000AD.

    But your main point is true – comics artists are still composing for letterpress printing, which has been obsolete since the 90s, and sticking to established comic art styles. The cartoonists who drew for Punch, children’s book illustrators, and others who were restricted by the same technology came up with different stylistic solutions.

    Speaking as a webcartoonist, I still draw line art, partly because it’s an approach I’m used to, partly because I want to be able to print it cheaply, but mostly for the sake of momentum – my comic is a serial, and I want a quick, direct technique so I can press on with telling the story. I do take some advantage of the digital medium though – I draw it with a red pen.

  28. Nate says:

    “it really does dovetail with how comics drawing often functions — the way comics move you from panel to panel, not having you linger on images, but absorbing them as ideograms, symbols that hover between pictures and writing. The black outlines help the pictures to be absorbed more quickly, making figures that function almost like fonts”
    Agreed. But there’s a chicken-egg thing happening here. Is this reading experience unique to the outline, or is it that our habits of reading (or drawing) make it seem easy to absorb compared to other modes of representation?

  29. Dash Shaw says:

    It’s been hard for me to keep up with all of the comments on this site, but I feel like it’s less about “limiting” yourself to B&W and more about cartoonists asking themselves if this story should be in B&W. I remember reading once (I’m paraphrasing here and I apologize for it) Spiegelman was telling Jeff Smith he should finish coloring Bone because “Maus is a B&W story– Bone is a color story” or something like that. It doesn’t have to be a big painted comic or anything. Sometimes I’ll pick up a B&W comic and think “this story feels like it should be green & white” or “this story feels like it should be red & white.” But obviously the cartoonist thought otherwise, if they thought about it. They can do whatever they want– Paint em, print all their comics with non-repro blue ink if they want.

  30. K Sheldon says:

    I would guess that the reason many webcomics are line-based is because that is seen as a faster way to draw. Often webcomics are one creator working solo, or they have one artist and one writer as a team. If the lines are readable, then the artist can move onto the next page instead of stopping to fill in colors and shades.

    But yes, removing the lines from the workflow and composing the page in loose watercolor might be equally efficient and ought to be added to artists’ mental arsenals of approaches.

  31. Briany Najar says:

    tradition has mass — it has gravity.
    whatever medium or form artists use, most of them will rely on one tradition or another, at least as a spring-board.

    some musicians still compose for the piano.
    the 12 note octave still reigns in western music, despite our current ability to produce the infinite intermediary pitches.

    why aren’t there more artforms?
    could we have one each?

  32. brecht evens says:

    Aesthetically, it makes sense to limit the amount of colors you use, because then it’s easier to make a beautiful composition, to make strong graphical decisions, without getting lost in naturalistic color or light effects. The limitation gives you oversight. Every extra color used heightens the risk of ending up with a muddy soup.