The Making of a Comic Strip

When you create a comic strip you are always on the lookout for material that can be turned into a funny idea- for instance...a dinner with friends, a menu with tiny type and a single pair of reading glasses getting passed around. Andy says, “It’s kinda like passing a joint around...” Ding, Ding, Ding... no more calls please, we have a winner! And it becomes this: 


An unfortunate encounter with one of those new phone app parking meters gets a similar treatment: 

Parking Meter.jpg

Show up at the wrong funeral home... (yes, it actually happened) and you end up with this comic:


Like the comics above, the inspiration for many of the strips are things that have actually happened to one of us or a story we’ve heard or something we’ve read or seen on tv or... well anything at all really. They are then comedically embellished for your viewing pleasure.

So how do we get from “hey, this might be funny” to a finished strip? It starts with a few notes jotted down in Andy’s notebook, or a story about something that happened that weekend or a thumbnail that John has scribbled on a random scrap of paper like the one below, inspired by a Candy Store in Great Barrington, MA. 

candy store rough998.jpg

These notes, scraps, thumbnails etc. are just a place to start- we then proceed to tweak dialogue,  argue about things like whether the number 6 is funny (it’s not), come up with new jokes, throw away others and generally try to dial up the humor to get to something we both think is funny. When we can’t agree, we resolve things in a professional manner-we wrestle for it. Greco-Roman style, best two out of three falls wins. 

You’ve probably heard the expression, “It practically writes itself!” That is an inane expression- it never happens like that. 

Once we’ve worked out a few ideas we like (or at minimum, two ideas we like) it’s time to get going on the artwork. SInce Andy’s artistic skill is limited to drizzling balsamic reduction across fresh buffalo mozzarella, the bulk of the artwork responsibility is handled by John, with the exception of the lettering and final color work which is shipped out to a sweatshop in the Philippines. No, just kidding about that... we would never take advantage of underage factory workers toiling in unsafe conditions. Besides, the comics came back with waaay too many misspellings...

When the dialogue is more or less agreed upon, it gets put into balloons in a rough pencil to make sure it fits into the 13 x 4 inch format, seen below: 

candy store rough997.jpg

At this stage the dialogue and scenes are broken up into frames, making sure that the story is clear and the joke is paid off.  The pencil is then reviewed by the Office of Standards and Practices and returned with instructions to replace any nudity and/or profanity with modest clothing and/or grawlixes accordingly (see example below)


If any reference photos are needed (as in this case) a quick Google image search provides anything we need:


Next, the pencil gets tightened up, finalizing facial expressions, gestures, background details, etc.

candy store991.jpg

Inking and lettering- still going old school with this: an assortment of markers and Japanese brush pens. Someday soon... iPad Pro and Procreate.

candy store_lineart.jpg

All inked and lettered and ready to scan...

Candy Store.jpg

After scanning, Photoshop color layers are added, url, copyright... and then... it’s done! Except, of course for posting on Facebook, website, Instagram, Twitter...

That’s pretty much it.  Until we have to start the next one. 

If you’ve read this far (God bless you) please let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

But please, keep the nudity and profanity to a minimum.

Andy and John