The US, comic-strip, funnies, format or the more familiar and flexible European bandes dessinées (BD) format that I grew up with? I settled on the US comic strip style for several reasons. I had never worked in that format, and as a staunch believer that constraints are the mother of invention, I figured that working in this rigid and limited format would force me to get rid of any excess « fat » and focus on the essential.
Vous dessinez à la plume ou au pinceau ?
This is the cliched question, immortalized by Gotlib in the Rubrique-à-Brac, that all BD authors supposedly get asked. Do you draw with a pen or a brush? I had my pencil sketches. Now how would I ink them?
I don’t like using the plume (fountain pen?) and that scratchy feeling of the pen scraping the paper. I drew my last comics, 82 centuries ago, with a japanese brush and ink. I love the feeling of the brush on paper. It barely registers in the hand, and the result has a lively look. But brushes are also messy, they lose their bristles, they have to be cleaned, ink splashes around, ink bottles topple over…
Enter my 10-year-old daughter. Like me at her age, she spends most of her free time drawing, in her case amazing manga-style art. One day, she brought home a strange implement I had never seen before. A « brush pen ». Basically, it’s a felt pen, but the nib is shaped like a brush and is somewhat flexible. I tried it and instantly fell in love! It felt good on the page, and gave me a graphical look that delighted me, thanks to its ability to vary the thickness of the lines. Here’s an example of what I mean:
Unfortunately, the next day, using that same pen, which I had barely used the day before, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get those thickness variations. The pen was shot, despite my light touch. The result looked like it had been done with any old felt pen.
I didn’t want to be dependant on such an unreliable tool, so I reluctantly gave up on the Pitt, and figured I’d have to resort to a real brush.
Bristles, Buns and Ponytails
I went to the art supply store, and while I stood there, staring despairingly at the 457 different brushes on display, Pamela strolled through the store and stumbled on another brush pen, the Pentel brush pen. But this one was different. It was a cross between a real brush and a fountain pen. The tip is made of real bristles, and the barrel houses ink cartridges. A real brush, with none of the drawbacks of a real brush!
So I bought it, rushed home, and tried it, and instantly knew I had found the perfect drawing tool for Geeks In Love. If you want to know more about this marvelous invention, read this Ode to a Pentel brush pen.
For example, by then, the Geekette had lost her initial bun, and I was struggling with the way to render her ponytail. The Pentel put that problem to rest in an instant:
Next: The Making of Geeks In Love Part III: A Little Help from Technology.