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Category: 04 Storytelling Lecture (Page 2 of 4)

The Inking Rant

Storytelling Lecture Series, Part 20

And now, some points about inking. Inking is a complex discipline. It requires the following: 

1) Control of the tools, that is, being able to make the pen or brush make exactly the mark on the paper that you want it to every time—nothing accidental. 

Vince Colletta could make a perfect circle freehand, with a brush, exactly even line weight all the way around. Best hands in the business, or at least tied for same. I’ll tell you about Russ Heath sometime.

2) Mastering technique. You need to know what to do with the tools to make hair look like hair, glass look like glass, sand look like sand, etc. If you tried to develop your own techniques for every occasion, it would take you decades. Better to learn from your favorite inkers. Check, for instance, how John Romita, Sr. does highlights on hair. Take a look at how Dick Giordano renders metal. See how Klaus Janson does glass and reflective surfaces. Take a look at how Wally Wood did everything. Learn from the best. It’s not cheating—it’s building upon the visual language comics artists have been developing for more than a century. 

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Storytelling Lecture, Strange Tales Part 8

Storytelling Lecture Series, Part 19 (Edited from the transcript of a 1994 seminar)

Page twelve.

Okay, this is an extended pull-back-to-reveal sequence.

We see Cap using a remote control device. What is he up to? No clue yet. A skyhook-thingie pulls him up. Again, a little vertigo in this shot. You know these buildings are planted on the ground, by now you’re pretty sure that way is up, so no confusion here.

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Storytelling Lecture, Strange Tales Part 7

Storytelling Lecture Series, Part 18 (Edited from the transcript of a 1994 seminar)

Page nine.

Panel one.

Now they’re talking. Interacting. As you’d expect, Kirby shows them up close. 

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Lettering and Balloon Placement Memo

I come from the Stan Lee school of thought regarding lettering and balloon placement. Here are the lettering notes I frequently include in my scripts:

– Lettering should be clear and legible

– Lettering and balloons should be as unobtrusive as possible

– There should never be any question about which balloon comes next

– As much as possible, balloons should stay out of the way of the art:

– Anchor balloons to the panel borders when possible, unless that puts the balloon too far from the speaker or otherwise causes problems

– Try not to cover anything important or interesting—especially light sources, signs, figures, critical details and especially heads

– Characters shouldn’t be wearing balloons like hats or balancing them like trained seals—avoid “resting” the balloons on heads

– If a balloon MUST cover part of a head, try to keep the coverage small.  If it’s going to cover a head down to the eyebrows, it’s time to adjust the art

– If you can overlap a head a smidge into the balloon to avoid covering the head or trained seal syndrome, please do

– Try to have short, straight pointers aimed at the speaker’s mouth

– Pointers should come from around the middle of the balloon.  Avoid those cat’s claw pointers at the ends of balloons, especially long, narrow ones


– Avoid “snakey” pointers

– Consecutive balloons from the same speaker should abut, if possible, with a bridge connector between them 

– If a longer bridge connector is required, make it as straight and direct as possible

Storytelling Lecture, Strange Tales Part 6

Storytelling Lecture Series, Part 17 (Edited from the transcript of a 1994 seminar)

JayJay here. The blog service has been down and I have a few things that Jim wants me to post so I will be putting up several extra articles later today and tomorrow. Check back!

Page Eight.

Panel one.

Action, a full figure.

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Storytelling Lecture, Strange Tales Part 5

Storytelling Lecture Series, Part 16 (Edited from the transcript of a 1994 seminar)

Page four.

Okay, panel one we have action—full figures if you don’t count Cap’s toe.

Look at the reactions of the background characters, and the Torch, for that matter. So much is expressed so simply and so powerfully. The words underscore the attitude Captain America expresses in the picture, and the Torch’s reactions, physically and verbally, tells us that what we’re seeing is a big deal.

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Storytelling Lecture, Strange Tales Part 4

Storytelling Lecture Series, Part 15 (Edited from the transcript of a 1994 seminar)

Page three.

Here’s the establish-the-big-new-location-shot, the Los Angeles Coliseum shot. Now that’s an establishing shot.

If you look carefully, you can see Johnny in the lower right hand corner. That’s Kirby ”telescoping” again, establishing our featured character’s position within the location. This really needed two shots, but remember, Kirby had fewer than 100 panels to tell this story, and he compromised here—probably hoping that Stan would mention Johnny’s presence in the caption. He didn’t. And the colorist colored Johnny’s shirt wrong. Oops.

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Storytelling Lecture, Strange Tales Part 3

Storytelling Lecture Series, Part 14 (Edited from the transcript of a 1994 seminar)

Page two.

Take a look at the second panel.


The boys have landed in a heap. In order to make that clearly, Kirby treats it like action, that is, he uses the usual action depth and shows us full figures, or nearly so.

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Storytelling Lecture, Strange Tales Part 2

Storytelling Lecture Series, Part 13 (Edited from the transcript of a 1994 seminar)

All right, we’re in the backyard of this suburban home. Three young men are arriving. Look at her, the Invisible Girl. You get a pretty good look at her. You’ll see her feet later, trust me. You get a pretty good look at her, enough so that you might actually recognize her if you saw her again. Look at the acting going on here. It’s clear that these guys are arriving and they are excited. What is she saying? Even if you can’t read the balloon, you know she’s saying, “Stay back boys,” just from her body language. Cool.

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Storytelling Lecture, Strange Tales Part 1

Storytelling Lecture Series, Part 12 (Edited from the transcript of a 1994 seminar)

I’m going to quickly go through a comic book for you. This comic book, an issue of Strange Tales later reprinted in Captain America.

Why this one? This one is an old comic by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and it was probably done at a time when the page rates for artists were around ten bucks a page, fifteen bucks a page, so it was probably done very quickly. I guarantee you, Jack didn’t spend a great deal of time pondering each panel. You couldn’t do that if you wanted to earn a living. He didn’t give it a lot of thought. He did it from instinct more or less. Nonetheless, it’s a great illustration of fundamentals.

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