Tag Archives: process

Process: Godland Trade Paperback Vol. 6

Godland, as an ongoing series, has ended, but as a creator-owned series it will always be part of my life. I’ve just finished the artwork for the wraparound cover for the sixth and final trade paperback collecting the final 7 issues of the series. It starts with a pencil drawing:


If you want a textured line, rather than a smooth line, you can ink the drawing with a pencil. I did a tighter pencil drawing:


No matter how much practice I get with a brush or pen, it will never catch up with the facility and control I have with a pencil. “Inking” with a pencil feels more natural, it’s easier, and I prefer the results to inking with actual ink. If you want a line with character, pencil is the way to go. Next step is to mess around with digital color and you’re there:




Free Comic Book Day Gold: Transformers vs. G.I.Joe

It’s just been announced, the Free Comic Book Day Gold Comic from IDW will by Transformers vs. G.I.Joe by me and John Barber. We just turned in our script for this issue, and it is hands-down the best thing I’ve ever worked on. I wrote a little bit about the research process at ComicsAlliance. Here’s the cover art:


Initially Ed Piskor and I hatched a plan to create an unofficial crossover with our Free Comic Book Day books. We were both going to use a layout that pays homage to Marvel’s 25th Anniversary covers.


Here’s Ed’s HHFT Free Comic Book Day cover for Fantagraphics (minus the surprise reveal of the issue’s star):


Here’s my initial layout for the Transformers vs. G.I.Joe Free Comic Book Day issue:


I think the end result would’ve been great, but to be honest, as an image, I just wasn’t feeling it. I liked the prankish aspects of us doing an unofficial crossover. I thought it was something that could be highly promotable, the idea of two friends creating an unofficial crossover between their FCBD books. I lament the missed opportunity for those reasons. But as iconic as it is, I’ve just never been a big fan of that Marvel 25th Anniversary layout.

For a comic about Hip Hop, the idea of using a classic superhero layout like this is genius, real outside-the-box thinking, which perfectly fits Piskor’s “Hip Hop as Superheroes” thesis. For a Transformers vs. G.I.Joe comic, where this layout has been used before more than once, it seemed like it would be a bit obvious. These are the difficult decisions an artist has to make. This isn’t your father’s Transformers/G.I. Joe comic. I wanted to show a real break from what’s come before with Transformers and G.I. Joe, the start of a new era that reflects my aesthetic, my strengths as an artist.

Something immediate. Something you’ve never seen before. Something like this:


With a layout I was happy with, I went about penciling:


Then inking and texturing:


Then color (with the assistance of the great Josh Burcham):


So that’s the long and winding road to a comic book cover.

Retailers, order a ton of IDW’s Transformers vs. G.I. Joe Free Comic Book Day Gold Comic. Watch everybody come back a month later to buy issue one.

Comics Fans, ask your retailer to order a bunch of these so you’ll get your copy.

Transformers vs. G.I.Joe Studies 1


Here’s some sketches I’ve been doing in preparation for the upcoming Transformers vs. G.I.Joe. There are two whole universes of characters and concepts that I’ve been acquainting myself with over the last few months.



That means a lot of reading, cartoon-viewing, sketching and writing. The goal is to immerse myself so fully in these worlds that the characters become as real to me as anybody I know.


I want to be so well-versed in this body of knowledge that if I need to know what Megatron had for breakfast this morning, I’d have an answer ready to go.

Godland Finale


I just approved the printer’s proofs for Godland #37. It will be in stores December 11, 2013. If you’ve never read an issue of Godland before, please start with this one. Godland Finale is a heady, intoxicating, hyperactive comic that nothing, not even the preceding 36 issues, can prepare you for. The closest I can come to describing it is as a fusion of two of my favorite Futurist comics: Hunger Dogs and Dark Knight Strikes Again, but even that doesn’t do it justice.


One of my favorite things about collaboration is the way the sum of the parts add up to something that could not be achieved otherwise. The collision of the various elements have created a visual reading experience that is genuinely new, the likes of which may never be seen again.

I want to thank my co-creator Joe Casey, colorist Brad Simpson, Letterers and Graphic Designers Rus Wooten and Sonia Harris for making this “Very Special Issue” very special. Also, thanks to Jonathan Chan and the Image Office for getting this Finale into production as quickly as was humanly possible.

See you on 12/11/13.

Avengers/X-Men Cover


I was recently commissioned by editor Jordan White to create a cover that references an iconic classic Marvel cover but with the roles of The Avengers and The X-Men swapped out. In this case, take the iconic Kirby cover for Avengers #4, which is in my opinion THE Marvel cover, featuring the return of Captain America, and replace the Avengers with X-Men. Jordan presented me with a couple of concepts to choose from, but the one we both liked best was Professor X casting aside his wheelchair and walking. Filling out the rest of the roles was easy enough. “Flying” X-Men replace the flying Avengers. Earnest Giant-Man replaced by the earnest Cyclops. Long-haired Thor replaced by long-haired Marvel Girl. I was tempted to give Marvel Girl a hula hoop, to reference the ring of motion that Thor generates by swinging his hammer, like how the wheel from Professor X’s toppled wheelchair forms a visual rhyme with Captain America’s shield.


Whom to put in the inset box above was a little trickier. The Beast would’ve made sense, but in the original version it was Sub-Mariner, who was always a loner, belonging to no group at the time. I thought Spider-Man fit that role, the perennial outsider. Putting Spider-Man on a cover doesn’t hurt sales, either. I added the subtle flourish of a stamp border around his portrait.

I decided to use this cover as a place for stylistic experimentation. I’m trying to figure out the perfect look for Transformers/G.I.Joe. One that I’m considering, is printing directly from my pencils. Working on Satan’s Soldier for the past year, I really liked the results I was getting from intense colors over loose pencil drawing. I wanted to see what intense colors over a tight, meticulously-crafted pencil line would look like.


I was commissioned to provide black and white line art, to be colored by someone else. I’d recently made the decision that going forward, even if I’m just being hired for black and white art, I’d also color it. If the client decides to keep my color, great. If they decide to have somebody else color it, the colorist will at least know what my intentions were for the piece. The colorist can feel free to go in whatever direction he’d want with it, but at least he’d understand what everything’s supposed to be. That’s something you can’t take for granted. Sometimes areas of overlap can be confusing. Is that an upper lip or teeth? Is that shape part of the foreground character’s leg or the background character’s arm? These things are often difficult to discern.

In essence what I’ve created is at best, actual finished colors, at worst, a color guide, which many artists provide when they do black-and-white line art.

I drew it in pencil, then redrew it a couple of times. Instead of inking it, I redrew it again as a pristine, blemish-free, camera-ready super-tight pencil drawing. I like the variation you get with a dark pencil line. It breathes a little more than the crisp ink line I usually use. On a separate layer, I played with the contrast to make sure that, it could be easily adjusted into a proper hard digitally-inked line if need be.

First I added flat colors, then successive layers of modelling and color adjustments:XFlat



Here are my final colors:


Usually when somebody else colors my work, they make it less poppy, more modeled. In this instance, the colorist did the opposite. My version has soft, modeled colors, a subdued line and a somber palette reminiscent of Suydam, while the colorist went with a flatter Pop Art approach with a cheery palette and increasing the contrast on the linework.
As with the Deadpool cover, I feel like the end result is stronger than my initial version.


What the colorist made is richer than what I’d provided, but I can also see the influence that my guide had. Without that guide, I feel that the cover, for better or worse, would’ve been very different. I’ve been pleased with the results I’ve been getting from this approach and feel it’s worth the extra effort.

Process: Superman Illustration for Akron Comicon

The theme for November 9th’s Akron Comicon will be 75 Years of Superman. For that occasion I’ve created this color illustration.


Here’s the genesis of the piece:


At this year’s Phoenix Comicon I overheard two artists talking about the difficulty of depicting Superman. The problem is that he has a sky blue costume and is constantly flying against a blue sky background. This idea for this illustration immediately revealed itself to me. I’d use that element as a strength, rather than a weakness.

I began this drawing as I’ve described these other process drawings, rough sketch, flip the paper over to do a tighter pencil on a lightbox, then flip it back over to ink.


I gave everything a contour line except for his costume to really make it blend into the background. Note the missing eyes, like a painted religious icon where a conqueror gouged out the eyes.


On a separate sheet of typing paper I lightboxed a line drawing to indicate areas of color to make the color-flatting process easier in photoshop. This saves me from having to click-click-click an outline around every shape.


The end result presents Superman as an aspirational sky god. The “painted on” eyes hint at similar flourishes in Hindu statuary. The absence of the costume suggests a universality, but maybe also an emptiness to the character.

I keep trying to stifle my fannish impulse. I strive to be an iconoclast, not a pious delineator of illuminated manuscripts.

I can’t stop myself. I love comics, and superhero comics most of all.

As with previous process posts, I’m selling the original artwork on my Etsy page. Click here to purchase: www.etsy.com/listing/154719261/superman-drawing-by-tom-scioli?


The fictional character Superman is tm and copyright DC Comics