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 breaking in and surviving the world of comics. We posed a question to them 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 is your workspace set up like?
Writer of Harley Quinn, Starfire, The Big Con Job, All-Star Western
Like most , except with a ton of comics and artwork around. I have two desks, one with a computer the other holding everything else. Nothing glamorous except a wall to ceiling window. I like the light.
Artist of Genesis, Creepy, Shadows (In The Dark)
Plain as possible- daylight, a flat table, office chair set fairly high, imac, phone (gets things done quickest when its needed), set square, frogtape, fountain pen. A3 printer under the desk to print guidelines for pencilling and bluelines to ink (I don’t need to be sent paper by companies). Birds, squirrels, cats and whatever (it IS a whatever here in South London) in the garden.
Fred Van Lente
Writer of Archer & Armstrong, Conan, Incredible Hercules
Pretty straightforward. I’m lucky to have my own office in my house. Desk with a laptop, filing cabinet on my left, books all around. A window I can stare out of to my right. Pretty straight forward.
Writer of Thunderbolts, Skullkickers, Wayward, Figment
I have a small office/studio space in my house with a desktop computer and Wacom Cintiq along with an 11” x 17” scanner/printer. The majority of my work is writing now, but having art tools and appropriate hardware and software is useful for prepping scans, making art edits, graphic design on my creator-owned books, and personal art projects from time to time. I have lots of trade paperbacks and art reference books on hand but, if I’m honest with myself, the majority of the time I use digital ref more than physical books.
I have a Surface Pro 2 as my laptop/portable solution (and also for Skype/Google Hangouts while I’m working on my desktop machine). Having the Wacom touchscreen is great for art edits on the road, though Photoshop gets a bit cramped so it’s not a perfect desktop replacement.
Writer of Southern Dog, Art Monster, After Houdini
It’s fairly neat and minimal. I have a home office with enough space for a desk and a nice leather club chair with an ottoman to lounge in. I will sit at my desk to write, but will print out scripts and will kick my feet up in the club chair to edit.
Writer/artist of Lady Killer, Helheim, Mockingbird
A mess. I work in a converted walk-in closet off my living room. I used to have studio spaces but I just moved to a new city and for the moment it will have to do.
Writer of Transformers, Toil & Trouble
I’ve just moved so my workspace is an iPad on a large, red, tanker desk in a room with tons of natural light. It’s awesome. I also have a surprising number of pictures of women flexing their biceps a la Rosie the Riveter. Not sure how that happened, but they’re inspiring.
By the way, I love working on my iPad because it allows my writing to be portable. If I need to head to a library or wait in a waiting room, I can still work without transferring a lot of files.
Writer of Phonogram, The Wicked + The Divine, Young Avengers, Darth Vader
Joking aside, very messy.
I actually have an office, but I do the majority of my creative writing away from it. There’s just too many distractions there. Most of my writing is done on the living room table. Occasionally, it’s in a nearby cafe, ideally one without Internet access.
Colourist of Bitch Planet, DC Bombshells, Black Hood
Writer/artist of Multiple Warheads, King City, Prophet, Island
I draw in coffee shops a lot and when I’m at home it’s mostly just a board propped up against the desk my computer is on.
I like having coffee in a really dumb mug. I have one that says “Creative-I-Tea”
Writer/artist of Nightwing, Hack/Slash, Revival, Grayson, Batman Eternal
I work in a studio with several other artists. Personally, I find spending too much time alone detrimental to my mental health. I have an adjustable Variedesk so I can sit part of the day and stand the other. I have a drafting table directly behind my ‘writing desk,’ so I can switch from discipline to discipline when necessary. I’d like to say I keep my space clutter free but I’m surrounded by comics, action figures, prints, original art, and beer bottles.
Writer of Black Science, Tokyo Ghost, Deadly Class, Uncanny X-Force
My old animation desk behind me, my current computer station in front of me, over to the right is vast library of the things that have inspired me to become a troglodyte typing machine.
Writer of A-Force, Jem And The Holograms, Heart In A Box
Not adequate! I’m moving from NYC to Portland this year though, so I hope I can upgrade to something that works better. Right now I move like a nomad from desk to couch to bed and back again, my laptop constantly in hand. I’d never spend all my time at a desk as I find it too restrictive, but I’d love to spend more time there.
Writer/artist of Rust
I used to work in my home office but I was in there a lot. Once I moved to digital then I became a bit more mobile. I currently work from my living room couch. My cintiq is mounted on an ergo arm attached to my fireplace mantel. It swings in front of me or out of the way. So when my wife and I are relaxing after my son goes to bed I can continue working on my book.
Valentine De Landro
Artist of Bitch Planet, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Adventures of Superman
I think — from what I’ve seen from others — my workspace is fairly common. Like most artists I work between traditional drafting and digital work on a Wacom (I’ve got a Cintiq). I also picked up the iPad Pro earlier this year, it’s really starting to integrate into my workflow. I had a long debate with my friends about the best portable drawing tablet. But it comes down to comfort level and need.
Writer of Bandette, Colder, I Am The Cat, Plants vs. Zombies
As a writer, I can free-roam pretty well. So I work from a simple desk at home. And then there are cafés (I’m at a café right now) and there’s a club I write at, and if the weather is good there’s a park. I like to move around, because that stimulates my mind. If I stay in one place for hours, my focus breaks apart.
Writer/artist of I Hate Fairyland, Rocket Raccoon, countless Marvel variant covers
I rent an office space outside of my house. It helps keep me focus work normal hours. It’s made up of: Drawing table, cintiq and iMac, a GOOD chair, one wall of cork boards for ref, and tons and ton of books.
Writer of Resident Alien, Durham Red, Terra Obscura
Extremely variable ! I don’t have an office, or any kind of permanent workspace. When my first son was born I got myself a laptop, because I realized I’d probably have to move from room to room a lot, and that proved to be the case. These days I’ve trained myself to write pretty much anywhere, and I spend a lot of time in coffee bars – which is actually where I prefer to go, though it’s not always possible. If I’m working at home, it’s sometimes hard to avoid getting sucked into domestic chores, and time can just evaporate. But even an hour in a different location can be incredibly productive.
Alex de Campi
Writer of No Mercy, Grindhouse: Doors Open After Midnight, Valentine
Oh, I can (and do) work anywhere. Finished No Mercy #10 in a coffeeshop in Philadelphia. I do my best writing in bed, though. I tend to draft my stories in a paper notebook and then once I have a good outline for the issue, transfer it to my laptop.
Writer of Sons of Anarchy, Cluster, Sheltered, Comeback
I work in a basement office that doubles as storage. I’ve got a PC tower with a dual monitor set up — a necessity for me, as I also do a lot of lettering work. I’m surrounded always by stacks of books.
It’s really a no frills set up. During the winter, I need to bring in a space heater just to survive. But, you know, it gets the job done.
We’re moving in a week and my new set up will be in the bedroom of our new house, which I’ve had to do before and am not crazy about. I’ll probably switch to writing on my laptop more at that point. Typing away at the kitchen table while my kid is at school and wife at work.
Artist of Titans, The Flash, Nightwing
Controlled chaos. OK, just chaos. I’m not a neat freak in any sense of the word. I work on a flat desk with a TV and my iPad at the ready!
Writer of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Strange Nation, Orc Girl
I’m a writer, so… just a desk in my apartment with a computer on it. Two monitors, for when I letter.
Artist of Jem And The Holograms covers, Princeless Anthology
I’ve got a 22” Cintiq that I do the majority of my work on, and I actually just purchased an Ergotron arm to go with it, which has changed my life. I’m able to use the arm to set it down lower than my desk for comfortable viewing/drawing angles when I’m sitting, but when my back starts to feel weird from being in a chair for extended periods of time, I can actually lift it up for a comfortable standing height. I alternate between sitting and standing 50/50 these days, which has made my back feel SO much better. I’ve also got 2 desks pushed up right next to each other so I can have a dedicated work space for traditional mediums (I tend to work at 11×14 with brush and ink so I need a little bit of room) without having to push all my electronics to the side. This helps me smoothly go from analog to digital, which is usually how I work.
Writer/artist of Titan
I currently do 95% of my work on my laptop, using Adobe Creative Suite and Manga Studio. I draw with a relatively inexpensive Wacom Intuos tablet… the kind without a screen. I have a giant old drafting table in my bedroom that’s honestly larger than I need, but I like it still. I’ll usually hang my pages up somewhere in my studio to look at as I work. For the past year I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Portland, Oregon and Montréal, Québec, so I’ve definitely been adapting to a more portable setup… I’ll work in cafes, my apartment, other people’s studios, etc. The flexibility is really liberating.
Writer of The Tomorrows, Mayday, The Fiction
It’s just an iMac. When I’m mobile a macbook pro. I use google drive. Honestly, I don’t fetishize my setup, I like to think I could write anywhere!
Writer of Green Lanterns, Star-Lord, Weirdworld
A standing/sitting desk wallpapered in post it notes.
Artist of Paper Girls, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow/Black Canary
These days I pencil digitally and ink traditionally on blueline printouts, so I have a computer desk with a Cintiq and a secondary monitor, and a drafting table. I share the studio with two other comics artists, so we can share things like our printer/scanner, the paper cutter, etc. Bookshelves are behind me, along with some inspirational art. I keep a nice framed Xerox of a Batman Year One page on the wall in front of my drafting table as a reminder that A) I should do more with less and B) I ain’t shit.
Writer of Princeless, My Little Pony
The worst. Very poorly put together. I would advise going somewhere away from distractions. My house is way too full of things to pull me away from making comics, so I spend a lot of time at coffee shops etc.
Writer of Narcopolis: Continuum
I recently got my new home office set up which is my dream workspace. The walls are covered with comic art by Jim Lee, Gil Kane, Kevin Eastman, Dan Parent, and other greats. There are bookshelves of sci-fi novels and comic trades on either side of the electric piano plus my acoustic guitar hanging on the wall. Resting on the windowsill is a turntable and below that, a bench full of vinyl and art books. Honestly it’s hard to get any work done in there. Before I had the office, my workspace was anywhere I was and had access to a laptop or notepad. Trains, subways, park benches, coffee shops, hotel rooms. The more random the place, that’s where I get most of my writing done.
Writer/artist of Mind MGMT, Dept. H, Ninjak, Revolver
Big drawing table – with a side room with desk for writing. I share a studio space with a couple other creators (Marie Enger and Brian Hurtt) so we have rooms and a library area with thousands of comics — and doors when you need peace and quiet to think and write.
Sean E. Williams
Co-founder of Comicker Digital, Writer of Fairest, Artful Daggers
I have a standing desk (a discontinued IKEA model) that’s fairly cluttered with papers (con accounting I still need to do, bills that need to be paid, etc.) and toys (a Nendoroid Windwaker Link, a Hotwheels Millennium Falcon), a laptop that’s plugged into a monitor that functions as my desktop computer (with a wireless mouse) along with several backup hard drives, a corkboard with our Comicker weekly schedule on it (in the form of index cards and push-pins), as well as a vertical keyboard for when I’m writing prose – I can’t recommend it enough.
For when I’m working on the road, I have the above-mentioned laptop and/or my iPad and a wireless keyboard. I really prefer travelling with the latter, but depending on deadlines, sometimes the laptop has to come along. I also have a StandStand for when I have a writing deadline on the road – it makes writing in a hotel room SO much easier, since you never know what the chair situation is going to be like, and comfort is key for long stretches of writing.
Writer/artist of Wuvable Oaf
In my studio, I have a long desk (about eight feet) that houses a stack of inspirational/reference books, my Cintiq, a large format printer (so I can print mini-comics as I draw) and a record player. Essentially, everything I could possibly need for a comfortable ten hour work day, within arm’s reach!
Artist of Jem And The Holograms, Glory, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I have two desks, one for traditional art media, and one for my computer. My traditional art desk is a dirty mess of brushes, pens, ink, markers, eraser shavings, and knick knacks that were presents from friends. My computer desk is sparse by comparison, it’s just my laptop, a plant, and a box of kleenex.
Writer of HIT, Managing Editor at BOOM! Studios
I have a detached studio in my backyard that is completely dedicated to me and my work. I keep it pretty simple: desk, computer, speakers, couch, original art on the walls, shelves crammed with books, and a half empty bottle of whiskey. It’s a bit more cluttered than usual right now so there’s also boxes of Star Wars memorabilia, baseball cards, and other random pieces of sentimental significance. It has a window that looks out onto a lemon tree that at any time plays host to squirrels, birds, and spiders. Great little place out of the house to stare out and get inspired.
Writer/artist of Neat Stuff, Hate, Reset
I like a tight space with lots of natural light, and where everything is a wheely-chair push away.
Writer of The Sixth Gun, Sinestro, Uncanny X-Men, Harrow County
I have a very messy desk, a dual-screen computer display setup (which is essential for me when it comes to comparing outlines to scripts and scripts to artwork), and shelves and shelves full of inspirational reading.
Artist of Lazarus, Gotham Central, Daredevil
My workspace is fairly simple and small. The dining room of my house has been turned into my studio. I have a single long desk/drawing table that I made myself, with several rolling carts/cabinets that I store underneath it with all my art supplies. I have my computer set up there with a Wacom Tablet, which I use for all of the digital work I do. I then have a drawing board that I bring over when I’m working with pen and ink on paper. Other than the computer and art supplies, I have lots and lots and lots of books. Some of them stay on my desk in front of me at all times – books by and about my favorite artists, which I pull out for inspiration when I am stuck. The rest are just different reference and art books. Finally, I have a few pieces of original art that I own that I have on the walls, again for inspiration.
Writer of Further Travels of Wyatt Earp, Avengers Assemble, Ultimate Spider-Man Web Warriors – letterer for Marvel
It’s scattered. I don’t keep a clean work space at all, haha. Which is pretty strange since I’m fairly organized. I have a dry/erase board on the wall above my desk with that week’s deadlines written on it, and they’re numbered according to priority. Then on my desk next to my keyboard, I have a notepad with a list of that day’s tasks, numbered according to priority. And then I have little trinkets, Marvel Tsum Tsums, Pop figures, my kids’ drawings, comics, bills, random sheets of paper scattered all over the place. It’s a mess. But at least I have my priorities straight!
Colourist of Semiautomagic, Escape From New York
One screen for reference. Cintiq for coloring. Cute onion time so I stay on task. A bowl of fruit for eating. A couple of reference heads for lighting problems. I have a chair for my cat to sit in while I work.
Writer of The Fuse, The Coldest City, Umbral
A right old mess.
I was interviewed on The Setup(https://usesthis.com/interviews/antony.johnston/) a while back about my working tools, and aside from newer models of computer, phone, etc., not much has changed in the years since.
Writer/artist of Baggywrinkles, Grand Adventure
I have flat surfaces that I perpetually cover in drifts of scrap paper, work-in-progress, Kuretake brush pens in various states of disrepair, paint trays, and tea mugs. I have slanted surfaces that I try to perpetually cover in the same items, but they tend to fall off. My laptop is generally somewhere on there, as is my Cintiq (a 13HD at my studio desk, a 12WX at my home desk). I run Manga Studio 5EX and Photoshop CS5. I have as much art up as I can cram on my walls without posing a fire hazard.
Writer of The Skeptics, Power Rangers: Pink, Barbie, Magdalena
I need my laptop, something to drink, a snack on hand so I don’t distract myself from work by playing in the kitchen (I love to cook), music (everything I write has a playlist.) I keep a stack of books beside me with works that do some of my favorite things in the comics medium – everything from Watchmen to Fun Home to Midnighter – and when I’m stuck on a page, I flip through to remember what moved me. Though I admittedly have done some of my best work stuck on long flights with no Wi-Fi.
Writer of Vampirella, Sunglasses After Dark
( Laughs until the tears come.) Oh. You’re serious? It’s basically my dining room table, with a 3+ year old laptop attached to an ailing USB driven cooler that seems to suck up every stray hair that falls off my head, a relatively young printer/scanner, and a ever-growing drift of papers. I have a really good mesh-back pneumatic executive’s chair, though, that’s both sturdy and comfortable. It’s important to have a good chair with lumbar support when you’re a professional writer.
Artist of The Fix, Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Whiteout
Standing desk with a Cintiq 21 UX running Manga Studio 5. You can see me at work in this video: http://backtothegutters.com/post/142349055499/episode-8-steve-lieber-i-really-love-the-cheap
Writer of The Invisible Republic, Star Wars Legacy, Once Upon A Time: Out of the Past
I’m really lucky in that I have a studio with a lovely view. I have a battered old desk I found at a flea market and am finally replacing my battered old Ikea dining room chair with a Herman Miller chair to be kinder to my back. Only took me five years to do this! There’s a whiteboard next to the desk so that I can quickly see a list of what’s due when. I also have a couch in the studio, and a couple of bookshelves. There are a bunch of posters, several paintings done by animals, a radiograph of a pregnant monkey, a couple of vintage lamps, some Doctor Who and Alien action figures, a ton of vintage keys, a print of Goya’s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, a drawing done by my husband Gabriel Hardman of rhinos, a 1/16 th scale dinosaur skeleton replica, and an exact copy of a trilobite done in steel. I like to have a lot of interesting things to look at when I work. In addition, my lovebird Orpheus lives in my studio, and my fluffy black cat Vera is always in there when I’m working.
Writer of D4VE, Hot Damn, Kennel Block Blues, Curb Stomp
I bounce between my little office space with a desktop iMac, and my kitchen table with my macbook and piles and piles of notes, pens, and paper.
Writer of Atomic Robo, 8-Bit Theater
For about a year now Scott and I have been working outside of our homes. We share a small office at an print and art studio located close enough for our preferred methods of locomotion — walking in my case and biking in Scott’s. I’ve got a fancy standing desk and my work laptop and a spare monitor so I can feel like a proper hacker. Writing, email, and research happens on the big monitor. The smaller laptop screen is for random goofing off between work tasks to keep my sanity.
Writer of Aquaman, Titans, Guardians Of The Galaxy
I work downstairs, in a room at the front of the house. It’s full of books and other objects that I find stimulating – I appreciate some people like to work in very ‘plain’ workspaces. I like arcane clutter. I have a big desk, a chair I’m used to, a large iMac for handling art pages side by side with the script for lettering passes, and hardwired links to my back-up drive, my old school keyboard and my broadband, because wifi is not always my friend. I deliberately keep all my reference and back issues etc in another room – partly because there’s a lot of it, and partly so I have to go and look stuff up, which encourages walking around and thinking time. I love music, but I don’t have any when I work because it gets in the way (except for the occasional soundtrack or non-lyric piece). Walking (pacing, in my case), thinking, and reading (to stimulate or decompress) are all vital… as important to the writing as the actual act of writing.
Writer of Copperhead, Secret Identities, Near Death, Generation X
I’ve got an office set up in my house, in what would otherwise be a guest bedroom. It’s got a small desk, a couch, a TV, and shelves and shelves of DVDs and comics. Plus an old-time spinner rack my wife found on eBay. I write on a MacBook Air, and I write almost exclusively at my desk. Which goes against the portability of a laptop, but sitting on a couch, or whatever, ends up hurting my back. I also use an iPad Pro for reading comics and scripts, and the Apple Pencil for taking notes and marking up scripts.
Writer of The Tithe, Aphrodite IX, Think Tank, The Test – President/COO Top Cow
I have an office in the Top Cow offices and an office set up at home. I thrive on chaos, so I don’t think people should follow my lead on this. Most workspaces should be neat and minimalist.
Artist of Roche Limit, Thumbprint, X-Files: Year Zero
It’s always changing. As someone who has such an attachment to the feel and smell of drawing and inking, I’m actually really enjoying working digitally lately. Is it faster? I don’t think so, but I think it allows me to work out more problems and get to a product closer to my initial intent. So as of now my workspace is my laptop and my cintiq. Beyond that, I’ve always surrounded myself with my favorite comic books and art books just to soak up their spiritual energy and have inspiration handy.
Adam P. Knave
Writer of Amelia Cole, Artful Daggers, Never Ending
I use a 5 foot long staples folding conference table as a desk. I bolted a great keyboard tray to it, since I don’t feel the need to make sure my monitors are comfy, but I need to be comfortable and never in pain. On the desk I have two 24″ widescreen monitors so I can have multiple scripts and art open at once. All around me are books – prose and comic – so I can research and check things. I also have a notebook to sketch layouts on and a guitar in reach to fiddle with when I need a break but don’t want to take a long enough break to walk away.
Writer of Doctor Who, Vikings, Adventure Time
I’m very lucky that I have a study, which is crammed with books, DVDs, comics and toys. Lots and lots of toys.
It’s largely tidy. Most of the time. Well, some of the time.
Once or twice a month at least.
I write on a mac, but do most of my planning and plotting writing in a notebook. There’s something about pens and paper that helps ideas flow.
Writer of Pawn Shop, Footprints, Captain Ultimate
Right now, it’s a lap desk or my kitchen table. My wife and I just moved back to LA, which means our two bedroom New England apartment has been substantially downgraded to a one bedroom and no room for an office. We have lots of books in the apartment so it kind of feels like every room is an office, but I’ve typically always had to work with limited space or in cafes and bars. I think it’s helpful to train yourself to be as mobile as possible. I certainly love having an office with inspiration everywhere — comics, toys, art — but if that was a requirement for me to work I’d be screwed. It’s better to treat a nice office as a luxury instead of a requirement. My wife is a writer as well, so having work time set aside in the evenings helps to alleviate the need for a separate, quiet space.
Writer of Roche Limit, Hoax Hunters, The Burning Fields
Messy! I have lots of notes, books, and Star Wars toys all over my desk. I try to clean it every so often, but it slides into disorganization pretty quickly. But, to the untrained eye, it seems disorganized–but I know where everything is!
Writer/artist of Guarding The Globe, Green Hornet, Wonder Woman
Like something you would see on Hoarders. Piles of books, papers, supplies, etc. I have a big drawing table, a stand up table, and a desk with desktop for writing, all surrounded by bookshelves and flat files– basically the clubhouse I have been dreaming of since I was seven. I work traditionally, so my tabouret is overflowing with pens, brushes, pencils, etc.
Mark Alan Miller
Writer of Hellraiser, Next Testament, The Steam Man
Quiet. Removed. In his book, “On Writing,” Stephen King suggests that you, “Write the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” This goes beyond advice. This is a must. Turn the phone off. Close the door. And just write. If you don’t clear away the noise, you’ll never get into a flow. So my workspace can technically be anywhere. It doesn’t have to have all my amenities. I can write anywhere, as long as I can close the door and be left to write
Writer of The Red Ten, Epic, Tears of the Dragon – publisher of ComixTribe
I share an office with my wife, but I’m usually working when she’s not. I only recently added a second monitor to my home workspace and wish I had a time machine to go back and add that second monitor years ago! If you’re doing anything comic related and you’re working on one screen, run to Best Buy today.
I’ve been doing a lot of podcasting lately, so I have my mic, adjustable mic arm, and pop filter ready to go at all times.
And my tried and true art table that I’ve had since high school. A lot of ink has been spilled on that bad boy over the years.
Writer/artist of Superman, Booster Gold, Batman Beyond, New 52: Futures End
Drawing table on one side of the room, desktop and laptops on the other, lots of bookcases and windows for natural light.
And, unfortunately, far more cluttered than it should be!
Writer/artist of Pop Gun War, The Wrenchies, It Will All Hurt
It is mostly mobile since I am pretty much homeless right now. I carry around a messenger page with works in progress and supplies.
Writer of Green Lantern, The Flash, X-O Manowar, The Homeland Directive, The Surrogates
I don’t really have one anymore. Ever since I started using a laptop, I tend to move around the house throughout the day. I have an office with filing cabinets, reference books, supplies, and so on, but I rarely use it for writing. My favorite place to write is on my back porch, which looks out onto the woods behind my house. Plenty of trees and birds back there.
Writer of Death Head
I try to keep things simple and mobile. Right now, I write in Scrivener using a Macbook Air — both of which I cannot recommend highly enough for writers. 99% of my work gets done at my kitchen table, 1% out at a coffee shop so I don’t go stir crazy.
Writer of Doctor Who, Captain Britain MI:13, Action Comics, This Damned Band
An office at the top of the house, with art from my own projects on the walls and a bookcase of reference, collections, items from my career.
Writer/artist of The God Machine, Fraggle Rock
Currently I have two small desks that accommodate a very small living space. I have a 27 inch iMac late 2009 model, and a 21 inch Cintiq HD placed on the lower desk. Cintiqs are great for drawing directly on the screen, making work go faster than on a tablet (this is especially good for coloring comic pages which allows you to cover more surface.)
Having good tools can really make a difference when you’re working. A good stable fast computer can eliminate lag times and obviously you don’t need the latest model, just enough RAM will do to keep up with all your programs. On a budget? You can also get Cintiq knock-offs at a lower price or even tablets at an even better deal and still produce great results.
Writer of The Spider, Black Panther: Man Without Fear, Sherlock Holmes
I have a pretty classic home office — big desk with a computer and mess piles of paper, book shelves on the walls, etc. These days I also work with an enormous cat draped across my left arm.
Writer of Cryptocracy, The Flash, The Leg
I built a shed in my backyard and finished out half of it. It’s 8×12 feet. Pretty tight. Enough space for a desk, two bookshelves full of comics and other reference, and a cabinet full of supplies. I took an old window frame, painted the back side of the glass white and mounted it on the wall for a dry-erase board, to diagram out stories. I have a monitor and hook up my Macbook to that, so I’m not straining my neck. Most importantly, there’s no internet. I can stare out the window at the squirrels, or I can write. Most days, I write.
Artist of The Futurists, Captain America
My computer desk has become the alpha and omega for my process. I’m using Retina MacBook Pro hooked up to an old 21″ Cintiq mounted on an Ergotron arm. All of that just to drive Photoshop, which I use to paint covers, color pages, and to work up “pencils” to be inked by hand.
I’m a painter at heart, so those “pencils” are more like greyscale paint sketches. They are converted to non reproduction blue (a very light cyan) and printed onto 11×17 Bristol board. I use an Epson R3000 printer with archival pigment inks, which also makes very high quality color prints.
My drafting table is an oversized and highly adjustable model made by Mayline. At it’s center is an oversized LED light box with variable lighting that I leave on low while inking to push the contrast. I’ll sometime change my mind on a shot mid-page, and use the light box to transfer an optional sketch to my bristol board. To my left are all my tools: Platinum Carbon ink, Sailor fountain pens, Rafael kolinsky sable brushes from sizes #2 – #8, blotting papers to speed along the drying process, a 0.9 mechanical pencil for detail, and a 5.5 lead holder for broader strokes. The rest of table is usually covered in sketches and reference materials. I live in a humid southern climate, so I’ll often run a dehumidifier in the studio while I am inking to speed along the drying process. Smudging ink all over my pages is pretty much the bane of my existence.
Once the inking is completed, pages are scanned on a Brother all-in-one printer with an A3 scanner bed and then imported into Photoshop for clean-up and formatted for color processing. Files are sent out to be flatted, which is a layer of color separations that block the artwork into easily selectable objects for the color artist, which in my case works just down the hall.
Disclaimer: The elegant simplicity of comics means that you need absolutely none of those things to make them. Nice tools give you an advantage, but when I started at Marvel in 2005 I didn’t even own a computer and my drafting table was a cheap piece of junk. Where there is a will there is a way.
Ryan K. Lindsay
Writer of Negative Space, Chum, Deer Editor
My desk occupies half the kids’ toyroom at home. I have my laptop on a stand of books, and an external mouse/keyboard in front of me. The shelves behind me bloat with books, and it’s never as tidy as I want or need it to be. Before I start new projects, I tend to declutter and tidy things up and then they progressively get worse as my mind turns to mush through the process.
Oh, and I have lists accessible at all times. The major project board list in front of me, and the weekly/daily lists on the desk to my right. They keep me centred and on task.