These are some sketches from pages 37 and 38. As mentioned previously, the final version of these won’t be published until the entire book has been cleared for publication by the DoD. This will give those who are interested some idea of the artwork, however.
These will be facing pages in the final text, and they are meant to be read together. This scene is the mission brief, which provides a lot of exposition and explanation for what is actually happening for those who may not be familiar with such operations — i.e. most readers. When I initially wrote the book, there was a big long block of text explaining what is about to happen in considerable detail, but the more I looked at it, the more it seemed like a dull interlude that broke up the flow of the work. Instead, and in keeping with the fact that this is a comic, I divided the speech bubbles into a number of smaller comic panels, which will contain little sketches and text that explain the gist of it while being more visually interesting and engaging. Both pages will end up being four panels, not nine as in the initial sketch of page 37, so that they can be read left to right across both pages.
This is more or less what every comic page looks like when I start out. I use a separate layer in Corel Painter to sketch out the biggest shapes, as well as trace over any backgrounds from previous panels that I want to copy, and generally get all of the parts of the page arrayed how I want them. Then I fill in the details in a very rough manner and darken the lines that wound up where I wanted them. I’m not that precise an artist, so being able to just scribble away at lines until I’ve got one that looks pretty good liberates me from having to make it perfect the first time. Many cartoonists use actual pencils for this, but pencils don’t have control+z. Later, I will use another layer to ink over the lines that I previously darkened, making them black. This becomes the basis for the final artwork. Once that’s done, I use the watercolor brush tool to add in the color and shadows. Finally, I type in the text that I previously wrote for the panels and draw speech bubbles around it in yet another layer.
Anyway, thanks for your patience. Next week, while I’m working on inking these two panels, I’ll have the start of a comic that I sketched on paper while I was watching Portlandia on Netflix. It’s one of a collection of shorter comics that will go into my NEXT book, along with an artistically improved version of the 50+ page “Best Iraqi Ever” comic that I sketched while I was on vacation this spring.