#MakeComics: Tools of the Trade

The comic book industry isn’t an easy one to break into, nor is it an easy one to stay and make a successful career in. As part of #MakeComics week, Comicosity reached out to creators working in the industry today for wisdom about what tools, thought processes, and methodologies they use to make comics. Some are software and equipment and some are mental exercises to survive the grueling schedules required to make comics. To gain this information, we posed a question to creators that we have seen asked a thousand times online, and these “pro tips” are priceless for would-be pros and pros alike. The question we posed:

What tool do you use to make comics that you can’t live without?

Steve Lieber

Artist of Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Whiteout
Website: http://www.stevelieber.com/

It used to be Winsor & Newton, Series 7 brushes. These days it’s my Cintiq 21UX.

Whiteout by Steve Lieber

Whiteout by Steve Lieber

Van Jensen

Writer of The Flash, Green Lantern Corps, The Leg
Website: https://twitter.com/van_jensen

I created a story template based on Christopher Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots, adapted with my own notes, and I use it as a guide to help build and structure everything I write. I could get by without my laptop, but I’d be at sea without the template.

Tyler James

Writer of The Red Ten, Epic, Tears of the Dragon – publisher of ComixTribe
Website: http://www.comixtribe.com/

Paper, Google Docs and Photoshop are probably my top three.

Jay Faerber

Writer of Copperhead, Secret Identities, Near Death, Generation X
Website: http://www.jayfaerber.com/

For me, it’s my MacBook Air. I write everything on it. And because it’s so light and portable, I can write anywhere. I prefer to write at my desk in my home office, of course. But I’ve written scripts in hotel rooms before. Or in the guest bedroom at a relative’s house on Thanksgiving Day. Seriously!

Jeff Parker

Writer of Aquaman, Batman ’66, Convergence: Shazam, Meteor Men, Justice League United
Website: http://www.parkerspace.com/

My ability to type – I wish I could thank my 10th grade typing teacher for making me learn on an old iron typewriter. Everything seems easy after that. And of course I do it on a laptop computer.

Mark Waid

Writer of Daredevil, Archie, The Flash, Empire – publisher of Thrillbent
Website: http://thrillbent.com/

​Microsoft Word. Not that I necessarily recommend it–it’s just that I can’t figure out how to write anything of length using any other tool, not after 30 years and 2000 scripts. If I had to go back to pen and paper or learn some other scripting program, I’d be at sea.

Cliff Chiang

Artist of Wonder Woman, Human Target, Green Arrow/Black Canary
Website: http://www.cliffchiang.com/

These days I rely heavily on my Cintiq, Photoshop (Kyle Webster makes the best brushes), inkjet printer, and fountain pens. But if push came to shove, I could go back to pencil and paper tomorrow. You learn to be adaptable with your tools, or end up being one of those poor souls hoarding vintage pen nibs.

Patrick Zircher

Artist of Green Arrow, Futures End, Shadowman, Captain America
Website: https://twitter.com/patrickzircher

What I really can’t live without is managing layout & composition. I live for that part of the process and to work from another person’s breakdowns or layouts would be too confining. I’m a big film buff and am forever reading books on composition, cinematography, etc. I love applying those techniques and ideas to the comic page.

Shadowman by Patrick Zircher

Shadowman by Patrick Zircher

Paul Tobin

Writer of Colder, I Am The Cat, Plants vs. Zombies
Website: http://www.paultobin.net/

I think the most important tool for me is that not everything needs to be done immediately, just like you can’t run full speed for a marathon of distance. Set a good pace, and keep consistent. You’ll do better than feeling like you have to CRUSH a day’s worth of work, because that will drag you down.

Colleen Coover

Artist of Bandette
Website: http://www.colleencoover.net/

So much of my work is done digitally now, I don’t think I could ever comfortably go back to working strictly on paper. Manga Studio is my most indispensable graphics application, more so than Photoshop, for sure. And it would be very difficult to give up my Wacom Cintiq tablet!

Chris Eliopoulos

Artist for Cow Boy, Ordinary People w/ Brad Meltzer – letterer for Marvel (and more)
Website: http://chriseliopoulos.com/

Just a pencil, brush, ink and paper. I tend to work digitally now, but that’s just a tool that makes it much more convenient when dealing with electronic publishing and the tight deadlines, but it’s not the tools. I can’t live without the time and dedication to the craft.

Royden Lepp

Writer/artist of Rust
Website: http://roydenlepp.blogspot.ca/

My Cintiq. I embraced the total digital workflow a few years ago and never looked back. I bought my first Cintiq used on ebay and it completely changed my process. It sped everything up but it also caused me to approach sketching looser. Every drawing was one delete press away from not existing and that made it kind of inconsequential. I wasn’t wasting paper or creating stacks of edits. I was able to truly explore each drawing with as many layers as it took to get it right. I love my Wacom Cintiq. Today I have both a 24HD touch as well as a 1st generation Companion.

Rust by Royden Lepp

Rust by Royden Lepp

Joëlle Jones

Writer/artist of Lady Killer, Helheim
Website: http://www.joellejones.com/

I couldn’t get by without the brush I use for inking. It’s a Windsor Newton series 7 and it is my best friend.

Steve Orlando

Writer of Midnighter, Undertow
Website: http://thesteveorlando.blogspot.ca/

Coffee! (Hi Fabian!)! I do not have a classic process like some people do. I tend to mill around the house rambling about an idea problem until I work it out, but I don’t have complicated ideagraphs like a lot of people. So really, I just need space, my office, and the fuel to push information and research through my brain at an alarming rate until something congeals.

Dan Abnett

Writer of Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians 3000, Hypernaturals
Website: http://theprimaryclone.blogspot.ca/

Pages (Mac) and Final Draft. And a notebook and pen. ALWAYS carry a notebook. Most of the best ideas strike when you’re NOT at your desk

Jeremy Whitley

Writer of Princeless, My Little Pony
Website: https://about.me/jeremywhitley

Notebooks. I keep tiny notebooks all over the place. Whenever I have a moment where I solve an issue mentally or think of a thing that would make an awesome comic, I write it down. Sometimes I use them, sometimes I don’t. But the act of writing them down makes them that much easier to remember.

Bill Crabtree

Colourist of The Sixth Gun
Website: https://twitter.com/crabtree_bill

I’m sure others will mention Photoshop, Wacom tablet etc, so I’ll be more specific to my methodology. I see a lot of colorists using the color picker tools in Photoshop, personally I would advise against this. I recommend using the CMYK sliders to make your colors, even when working in RGB. It’s important that as a colorist, you understand the individual components of the colors you’re using, this goves you greater control.

Leila del Duca

Artist of Shutter
Website: http://leiladelduca.com/

My Raphael Kolinsky sable size 2 brushes. Usually purchased from the absolutely wonderful folks from the Italian Art Store online.

Shutter by Leila del Duca

Shutter by Leila del Duca

David Liss

Writer of The Spider, Black Panther: Man Without Fear, Sherlock Holmes
Website: http://davidliss.com/

Scrivener. I wrote my first series of scripts with a traditional word processor, and making changes, implementing edits, and moving panels or scenes could involve a lot of time-consuming busywork. Scrivener is a relatively inexpensive bit of software, so there’s no excuse for not investing. Admittedly, figuring out how to optimize it for comics scripting can take two or three hours, but once you set up a usable template, it makes the process so much more organic. My biggest creative problem in writing comics is that it’s hard to get into a narrative flow for me the way I can do in my promise writing. The staccato nature of wring in panels gets in the way of fluid storytelling. Working with Scrivener is the best way I’ve found to work around some of those issues.

Robert Venditti

Writer of Green Lantern, The Flash, X-O Manowar, The Homeland Directive, The Surrogates
Website: http://www.robertvenditti.com/

My MacBook. It took me years to go portable–up until about three years ago, I used a desktop exclusively–but using a laptop has made me much more productive. It’s great to be able to travel or go to conventions and not come home to a mountain of work waiting for me.

Erika Moen

Writer/artist of Oh Joy Sex Toy
Website: http://www.erikamoen.com/http://www.patreon.com/erikamoen

My Cintique and the programs Photoshop PS and Manga Studio.

Mark Millar

Writer of Kick-Ass, Civil War, Chrononauts, MPH
Website: http://www.millarworld.tv/

I’m quite OCD so I need to be sitting in my special chair if possible, but always ALWAYS have to use a black sharpie (fine point) and a Ryman’s blank refill pad. I’ve tried working with the 200 page one but I can’t do it. It has to be 100 pages. If the pad and the pen are wrong I’m kind of stuck, as mental as that sounds.

Jimmy Palmiotti

Writer of Harley Quinn, Starfire, The Big Con Job, All-Star Western
Website: http://paperfilms.com/

The tool most used is always your brain. Travel. Read anything not comics for a change. Study people and history and be a great listener because there are a million stories out there waiting for you to grab them and make them yours.

Paul Cornell

Writer of Doctor Who, Captain Britain MI:13, Action Comics, Saucer Country
Website: http://www.paulcornell.com/

A script format. I use one Jeanine Schaefer created at Marvel, but it doesn’t actually matter which, just find one you’re happy with, that makes the order of what information has to be supplied to create a comic feel intuitive to you.

Andy Lanning

Writer of Guardians of the Galaxy, Hypernaturals – Inker
Website: https://twitter.com/andylanning

Beyond the obvious like pencils, pens, paper, laptop. The one thing I could not do without is the internet. If you’d asked me this question fifteen or twenty years ago, I would have said your local library as this was the only place I could go to research things; other writers, artists, places, people, everything. Now, all of that is a mouse click away and it has made both drawing and writing comic much easier and quicker for me. I now produce two documents when writing: a script and a reference doc to accompany it full of visual reference to illustrate, inform and inspire the artist.

Dan Jurgens

Writer/artist of Superman, Booster Gold, New 52: Futures End
Website: http://danjurgens.com/

Ideas. It’s all about ideas, whether they’re visual, say a cover I want to draw, or the concept behind a three issue arc I’m writing. That original thought, that elusive gem of an idea is everything.

Booster Gold by Dan Jurgens

Booster Gold by Dan Jurgens

Ivan Brandon

Writer of Drifter, Men of War, Viking, The Cross Bronx
Twitter: http://ivanbrandon.com/

Whiskey. No, really- I’m not sure this is essential for everyone, but I try to go out and immerse myself in strange experiences. Meeting weird people in weird places… that really more than anything inspires me to tell stories. I couldn’t do this if I spent my whole life on the couch. (I spend plenty of time on the couch)

Kate Leth

Writer/artist of Kate or Die, Bravest Warriors, Fraggle Rock
Website: http://kateordiecomics.com/

I bought at Cintiq at the end of last year as a gift to myself. I travel so much and don’t always have access to a scanner, so I thought it might be useful. Within two weeks I had completely switched over to drawing digitally and now it’s the only way I work. I love it.

Kathryn Immonen

Writer of Journey Into Mystery, Russian Olive to Red King, Moving Pictures
Website: http://immonen.ca/

I rely equally on my Samsung Ativ Book 9 and an unlimited supply of lined paper.

Sam Humphries

Writer of Avengers A.I., Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: The Black Vortex, Our Love Is Real
Website: http://samhumphries.com/

Sleep. Do not neglect your sleep. Sleep helps everything.

Benjamin Dewey

Artist of The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw, I Am The Cat
Website: http://tragedyseries.tumblr.com/

It’s an abstract idea but the quality of clear self-assesment is necessary. If you have that as a bit of brain software, you (I) can make clear determinations that may run counter to deeply unconscious impulses/patterns but better serve the story, look at the work of others with pure appreciation devoid of destructive jealousy and take earnest, solicited criticism to heart. My mentor, Steve Lieber is a model in this regard. He is always improving, trying new tools, mining the rich history of older artist’s work, advocating for talented newcomers and is rigorously honest with himself about his strengths and weaknesses. I try to do the same.

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw by Benjamin Dewey

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw by Benjamin Dewey

Jeremy Holt

Writer of Southern Dog, Art Monster, After Houdini
Website: https://clumpoftrees.wordpress.com/

The tools in my belt that I use to make comics has evolved over the years. I started outlining and scripting longhand in spiral notebooks, so starting out I couldn’t live without a good pen and lots of paper. However, in order to speed up my process, I transitioned to an entirely digital setup, so now I can’t live without my MacBook Air.

As for process, one of the most effective things that’ll sharpen your tools is to read/listen to as much process talk as you can. When I started out this stuff was scarce. Now, there are tons of insightful podcasts and many interviews with creators that reveal their process that you should expose yourself to. When it came to formatting scripts, I spent a lot of time looking for samples from some of my favorite writers, and eventually created my own that was an amalgamation of Jason Aaron and Joshua Dysart’s script format. I’ve since tweaked it many times as it’s an ongoing work-in-progress. There’s no one definitive way to create, so be open to adapting your tools and methods.

Jeff Lemire

Writer/artist of Sweet Tooth, All-New Hawkeye, Bloodshot Reborn, Underwater Welder, Trillium
Website: http://jefflemire.blogspot.ca/

For me the best tool is still a sketchbook. It’s where you can experiment, generate ideas and develop them. Sketchbooks don;t need to be filled with finished drawings or nice pin-ups. They should be a document of your imagination. Free to try things and fail. Turn over ideas.

The other tool that has become essential to me over the last year is Meditation. I practice Transcendental Meditation twice a day and it keeps my clear-headed, energetic and focused and helps me to juggle so many projects.

Ron Marz

Writer of Green Lantern, Witchblade, Artifacts, Magdalena
Website: http://ronmarz.com/

I guess the practical answer is my laptop, simply because I need a way to type up my scripts. But the more honest answer is my imagination. My job is to make up things. My job is to think of things. Typing it up into a script is just a delivery method. The real work goes on in my head. I’m blessed with an active imagination. If I didn’t have that, I’d have some other job … likely one I wouldn’t enjoy.

Joe Caramagna

Writer of Further Travels of Wyatt Earp, Avengers Assemble, Ultimate Spider-Man Web Warriors – letterer for Marvel
Website: http://www.squareheadentertainment.com/

The obvious answer would be my iMac since I use it to do my work. But the tool I can’t live without is actually my iPad. I carry it around with me everywhere. It allows me to write and research outside of my office so that I don’t feel cooped up all day and night, and as a father of three, it allows me to keep working when I’m waiting for the kids to get out of school or basketball practice. I wrote most of the Rocket Raccoon Free Comic Book Day book at my son’s hockey practice.

Mikki Kendall

Writer of Swords of Sorrow: Miss Fury/Lady Rawhide
Website: http://mikkikendall.com/

Music or other background noise is really important to my writing process. I can’t write in total silence, but I also can’t write in a super noisy environment so I have a lot of playlists and TV shows that I tend to put on depending on what I’m writing. Home improvement and restaurant TV are really good for writing fiction, they tend to be unobtrusive, but also engaging enough that they aren’t annoying to me. And they have the added benefit of being boring to my kids so they don’t camp out and talk to me while I’m working. I need a little bubble of near solitude to be an effective writer.

Alison Sampson

Artist of Genesis, Creepy, Shadows (In The Dark)
Website: http://www.alisonsampsonart.tumblr.com

I draw with a 0.3mm H pencil and always need to tape my paper down. There are other things I like very much- my carbon pen, tippex, but the pencil and tape are things I have to have. My layouts are mostly about composition, I always pencil the figures first, and I try to think about what people will actually see.

Genesis by Alison Sampson

Genesis by Alison Sampson

Greg Rucka

Writer of Stumptown, Lazarus, Gotham Central, Batwoman, Queen & Country
Website: http://www.gregrucka.com/wp/

I’m a fan of the program Scrivener, especially when I’m working in a form that requires managing multiple pieces of information at once. It’s become pretty essential to me for works like LAZARUS, where I’m balancing world-building and a large cast. But, genuinely? I start most of my comics these days working on a book template, simply a grid that shows me the 32 pages of the comic, including the covers and the inside front and back. Almost every comic begins with those few sheets of paper, a couple of sharpened pencils, and a good eraser.

Corinna Bechko

Writer of The Invisible Republic, Star Wars Legacy, Once Upon A Time: Out of the Past
Website: http://thefrogbag.blogspot.ca/

I guess I could write comics without coffee, but I don’t know that I’d want to. My MacBook Air is pretty helpful too.

Jim Zub

Writer of Skullkickers, Wayward, Figment
Website: http://www.jimzub.com/

Having my files available on the cloud (in my case thanks to Google Drive) has been invaluable. I used to juggle multiple drafts and file versions of working documents but now all my writing is backed up safely and stays current. I can work from anywhere – home, office, on the road – and it’s always the current version of a script. Ridiculously convenient.

Michael Moreci

Writer of Roche Limit, Hoax Hunters, The Burning Fields
Website: https://twitter.com/michaelmoreci

My kids. Nothing motivates me more.

Chip Zdarsky

Writer/Artist of Howard the Duck, Jughead, Sex Criminals
Website: http://stevetastic.com/chip/

Since I started on SEX CRIMINALS, I’ve found Manga Studio to be irreplaceable. That combined with a Cintiq has made my life a million times easier.

Natalie Nourigat

Writer/artist of Tally Marks, A Boy & A Girl, Over The Surface
Website: http://natalienourigat.com/

For my digital comics, Manga Studio 5 and a good Wacom tablet have been essential. For drawing in my sketchbooks, I love the Platinum “Carbon Pen”, the Pentel “Pocket Brush Pen”, and the Pentel “Aquash Water Brush Pen”. (I fill the Aquash pen with water and 5-ish drops of black India ink to turn it into a nice gray wash I can use to paint shadows in my sketchbooks!)

A Boy And A Girl by Natalie Nourigat

A Boy And A Girl by Natalie Nourigat

Peter Hogan

Writer of Resident Alien, Durham Red, Terra Obscura
Website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Hogan

I write on a laptop, which gives me the freedom to move from room to room, or to go somewhere else entirely. I do a lot of my work in coffee bars. Other than that, I walk a lot, and think things through while I’m doing it – and for that I rely a lot on a pen and notebook. If you don’t write stuff down when you think of it, it’ll vanish – and sometimes it vanishes forever. This applies to artists too!

J. Torres

Writer of Teen Titans GO!, True Patriot, Power Lunch
Website: https://twitter.com/jtorrescomics

My laptop. It’s my whole office. In terms of work, I write on it, communicate with it, and do everything from promoting my books to doing my banking on it. Technically, I can do all these things on my iPad or phone but I still can’t live without my MacBook.

Kyle Higgins

Writer of C.O.W.L., Nightwing, Batman Eternal
Website: https://twitter.com/kyledhiggins

Noise canceling headphones and a notebook. Although, the notebook is more for cracking an idea more so than actual writing, but the noise canceling headphones are invaluable for keeping me focused on the task in front of me. In a weird way, they’re like blinders. They keep me tethered to the computer and literally facing forward… and depending on what music I’m listening to, I can get into the zone much quicker than without them.

Marc Guggenheim

Writer of Squadron Sinister, Halcyon – producer of Arrow
Website: https://twitter.com/mguggenheim

I’ve been writing comics for ten years now and my main tool hasn’t really changed: I use Microsoft Word. When I started writing, I created a template which formats the script the way I like it and mapped the shortcuts to mimic the same shortcuts I use in FinalDraft (a screenplay-specific bit of software I use for TV and movies). That way, if I want a character format, for example, I hit the same keystroke I use for a character element in FinalDraft. That way, I don’t have to rewire my muscle memory when I switch between projects.

Joshua Williamson

Writer of Nailbiter, Birthright
Website: http://bbcinnercircle.blogspot.ca/

The laptop and my notebooks. Those are the primary two things. Regular spiral notebooks. I have stacks of them around my house. And my laptop. I mostly just use Word. And my noise cancelling headphones.

My office? This is important because I need to work alone and without interruptions. I’ve tried to work in a studio and there were too many distractions. I enjoy the privacy that comes from having my own office.

Chandra Free

Writer/artist of The God Machine, Fraggle Rock
Website: http://spookychan.com/

One of the tools that I find essential to the writing process is Google Docs. It’s great for scripting and sharing with collaborators without any fuss of sending a single document back and forth and saving a new revision each time. In Google Docs it’s already online for people to make notes, and on top of that it documents your and your collaborators changes.

Another tool that I find I can’t live without for the art aspect is photoshop. It’s perfect for all of my coloring on my comic pages. Hard to imagine working without it since it’s such a big part of my work. I’m also looking to also working on all my pages 100% digitally in photoshop to cut down on time and paper!

Francois Vigneault

Writer/artist of Titan
Website: http://francois-vigneault.com/

I recently switched to drawing with a Wacom tablet and Manga Studio and I am pretty impressed with how it has sped things up for me, drawing-wise. That said I lived without it for years and I could probably go back to a brush pen and some paper if need be!


Titan by Francois Vigneault

Cullen Bunn

Writer of The Sixth Gun, Sinestro, Magneto, Harrow County
Website: http://www.cullenbunn.com/

There are so many! I’ll start with the basics: a cheap notebook, a good notebook, and a reliable computer with good word processing software. I write a lot of my outlines and first draft scripts in longhand, and I use cheap disposable notebooks for that. I grab them in bulk during “back to school” sales and the like. I don’t intend to keep them. Once I’ve transcribed their contents, they get destroyed. On the other hand, my good notebooks (I use Moleskine journals) are books that I keep forever. I use them for brainstorming and planning and tracking ideas that spring to mind at odd times. As for the computer, that’s pretty simple. I use Microsoft Word for the majority of my scripts.

Other tools I can’t live without include index cards (for outlining and organizing scenes), good pens, to-do list software to keep me on track (I use Todoist), Evernote for compiling research, Dropbox and Google Drive for file sharing, and a small cooking timer. The cooking timer is used to keep me focused on a task. I turn the timer to 30 minutes and write. While the timer is ticking, I work on nothing else. I don’t check e-mail or Twitter. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish in 30 minutes of focused work.

Alex de Campi

Writer of Grindhouse: Doors Open After Midnight, Valentine
Website: http://www.alexdecampi.com/

For lettering, I can’t live without my ancient Wacom and my copy of Illustrator. Other than that, I can pretty much live without everything… most of my outline/development work is done in a paper notebook anyway, as paper notebooks don’t let you alt-tab to twitter every 15 minutes.

Erica Schultz

Writer of M3, Swords of Sorrow: Masquerade/Kato
Website: http://www.m3comic.com/

In terms of programs, I use Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, as well as my Wacom tablet when doing the art and design side of comic books. For writing, I just use MS Word.

In terms of methods, I write everything down, whether it’s on paper, on my laptop, or in my phone. It sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many times thoughts come in and out of my head never to return. I put it all in a folder, and when I have a free moment, or I hit a roadblock on something, I’ll go to the folder and take a look at all the bits and bobs of ideas and see if any one of them sparks.

Adam P. Knave

Writer of Amelia Cole, Artful Daggers, Never Ending
Website: http://www.adampknave.com/

For me it’s a process thing: I can’t make comics without a good plot breakdown done before scripting. I need to know the lay of the land – what big events fall roughly where, what small events are happening – the pacing of an issue. The feel and shape of the pages are needed for me to make a story work in whatever page limit I have that week.

Kieron Gillen

Writer of Phonogram, The Wicked + The Divine, Young Avengers, Darth Vader
Website: http://gillen.cream.org/wordpress_html/

My crushing fear of death. Big motivator.

Sophie Campbell

Artist of Jem And The Holograms, Glory, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Website: https://twitter.com/mooncalfe1

Lots of naps.


Jem And The Holograms by Sophie Campbell

Peter Bagge

Writer/artist of Neat Stuff, Hate, Reset
Website: http://www.peterbagge.com/

I can’t imagine working without the basics: paper, pencil, pen, brush. Of course, if I drew digitally I wouldn’t need any of that stuff, but I don’t want to work that way.

Matt Hawkins

Writer of The Tithe, Aphrodite IX, Think Tank, The Test. President/COO Top Cow
Website: http://www.topcow.com/

My favorite tool is research. That’s all encompassing but you need to think big and small when you write. Authenticity matters to me, so I spend a lot of time learning about the characters and the worlds they inhabit. The research is the fun part for me. Write what you want to know!

Duffy Boudreau

Writer of BlackAcre, Halo
Website: https://twitter.com/duffyboudreau

Always outline. You can adjust it as you script, but outlining saves an incredible amount of time and energy. Don’t skip this step.

Jacob Semahn

Writer of Goners
Website: https://twitter.com/saxonjacob

Tools for writing are important. I find—and maybe this is because I am completely lazy—that the slightest hiccup or distraction can cause me to lose my train of thought or enthusiasm. For me, a solid workspace setup is necessary to help cultivate a writing environment that is conducive.

The tools I use to write, edit and proof my comics are:

1) Aeron Chair – A pricey office chair, but I bought it greatly discounted at an office liquidator. This piece of “furniture” is the most used in my house. Therefore I justified the cost with that idea in mind. I need this to get through a long day of writing.

2) Notebooks – I have notebooks to jot ideas and plot threads into. I keep it in my back pocket at all times.

3) Pen – I like the way the Uni-ball Signo Dx UM-151 Gel Ink Pens write.

4) Laptop – Any will do. I’ve been an Apple guy for over a decade, so I’ve stuck with them. It really doesn’t matter who you have though…and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

5) Clamshell Laptop Stand – I clamshell my laptop so I have more desk space to work with. I have a pretty small, but quaint desk.

6) Bluetooth Keyboard and Trackpad – This is pretty standard if you clamshell, obvi.

7) External Monitor – I got a Dell UltraSharp U2412M 24 inch. I color profiled it so I can see correct colors when I get artwork back. Plus, a screen this big really helps have two documents on the screen at once. It just wasn’t cutting it on my 15 inch.

8) White Board – This is nothing crazy. A 24”x36” white board that I use to play with scenes, structure, and plot. I can’t do this on a keyboard. It’s weird but I need to HAND write it out for me to go about something thoughtfully. When I write on a keyboard, I’m inclined to hit delete without a second thought.

9) A Box of Tissues – For those days when you feel like you’re a shit writer.

Ed Luce

Writer/artist of Wuvable Oaf
Website: http://wuvableoaf.com/

This is going to sound a bit weird, but: My partner, Mark. Clearly he’s more than a tool…he’s my life. But I’d be absolutely nowhere without his tireless patience and efforts. To piggyback the last question, there’s no way you can do comics alone. He’s my manager, my sounding board, my test market, my therapist. And he makes a mean booth babe.

Wuvable Oaf by Ed Luce

Wuvable Oaf by Ed Luce

Farel Dalrymple

Writer/artist of The Wrenchies, It Will All Hurt
Website: http://fareldalrymple.com/

I guess faber casteel pitt pens are my standby but really I could make a comic with a cheap ballpoint pen on scrap paper and be relatively happy about it.

Marissa Louise

Website: http://marissalouise.com/

My hands and eyes. In art school we used to joke that if we reached the point of poverty that we couldn’t even afford pencils we’d cut open our arms to draw with our blood. Gnarly, I know, but I was pretty dramatic at 20. Fortunately, I currently have access to a computer, cintiq 18xs & photoshop cc.

Kelly Fitzpatrick

Website: https://twitter.com/wastedwings

I use 2 tools. Macbook pro retina and an intuos 5 tablet. I also couldn’t live without music and my google hangout crew. Ok ok. I know I didn’t pick one, but those are the 2 technical tools and the 2 mental tools I use to get by. 🙂

Damon Gentry

Writer of Sabretooth Swordsman
Website: http://invademyprivacy.com/

I am pretty reliant on using Photoshop when I do coloring or lettering, other than that I think I’m pretty flexible. I’ll write a script in vaguely legible blood smears on the wall if I have to.

Ian MacEwan

Website: https://twitter.com/ianmacewan

My kneaded eraser, probably. My layouts are real messy, and I make a lot of marks in order to find my line and end up having to “silly putty” them into shape.

Lucy Bellwood

Writer/artist of Baggywrinkles, Grand Adventure
Website: http://lucybellwood.com/

I may be a stickler for traditional media, but using Manga Studio for rough layouts and lettering guides has been a godsend this past year. A lot of what I’ve learned in the past couple years has been geared towards being a more efficient cartoonist, and knowing when technology can help speed up my process without dulling the traditional media skills I’ve spent so much time honing is a boon.


Baggywrinkles by Lucy Bellwood

Declan Shalvey

Artist of Injection, Moon Knight
Website: http://dshalv.tumblr.com/

I need a brush of SOME kind. The line I get from a brush leaves so much to experimentation and i find that endlessly interesting/challenging. Also, working on paper is a process that forces me to keep pushing myself and take chances with experimenting. It achieves an aesthetic that is very important to me.

Tim Seeley

Writer/artist of Hack/Slash, Revival, Grayson, Batman Eternal
Website: http://timseeleyart.blogspot.ca/

My computer is pretty necessary for my writing and artwork scanning. But generally speaking, I can make do without much of anything fancy.

J.T. Yost

Writer/artist of Digestate, publisher of Birdcage Bottom Books
Website: http://www.birdcagebottombooks.com/

Probably non-repro blue pencils. I’m not one of those artists who can just go straight to inks with little or no sketching underneath.

Nancy Collins

Writer of Vampirella
Website: https://twitter.com/nancycollins

I do everything on my laptop. I write, edit, stay in contact with my editors, publishers, and artists, and do my research with it. Without a laptop or internet-enabled computer of some kind I’d be unable to work.

Ron Randall

Writer/artist of Trekker
Website: http://ronrandall.com/blog/

This probably sounds glib, but I’m sincere: it’s the brain. This job is not about being able to draw super well with this tool or that technique. It’s about storytelling. That’s the job, that’s the challenge that never gets old. And that requires you to think about the story and solve the puzzle over and over again of how to choose which moments to depict, and how to do so clearly and compellingly. Everything else is just craft. The storytelling is where the imagination and unique, personal vision really shines.

Trekker by Ron Randall

Trekker by Ron Randall

Brian Churilla

Writer/artist of Secret Life of D.B. Cooper, Hellbreak, Big Trouble In Little China
Website: http://www.brianchurilla.com/

I hate to say it, but I’d have a hard time without my Cintiq and Manga Studio. It’s made comic making much easier and faster in many respects.

Nic Klein

Artist of Drifter, Dancer
Website: https://nicklein.wordpress.com/

My hands. My eyes.

Bryce Carlson

Writer of HIT, Managing Editor at BOOM! Studios
Website: http://www.boom-studios.com

Besides a computer, which is necessary for anyone focused on writing, there are three tools that are essential for my personal process. One is a notebook (preferably accompanied by a Pilot Razor Point pen) for notes, thoughts, observations, journaling, whatever. Two is a car for thinking — I have most of my greatest thoughts and breakthroughs while driving). And three is a recording device (typically my phone) to record the epiphanies that transpire while I drive.

Ryan Ferrier

Writer of D4VE, Tiger Lawyer, Sons of Anarchy, Letterer
Website: http://rferrier.tumblr.com/

Good ol’ fashioned pen and paper. I’m an outline fiend, and don’t start scripting until I know (usually) exactly what’s going to happen on each page, so my process is quite heavy on outlines and breakdowns, and pages of notes and thoughts before that. I think, for me, getting away from the computer and just writing on paper—the actual, tangible, tactile act of writing something, as opposed to pressing buttons on a keyboard—helps my brain focus.

Paul Allor

Writer of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Strange Nation, Orc Girl
Website: http://clockwork.govtcomics.com/comics/clockwork-volume-1/

Water. Stay hydrated, kids.