Drawing on the Advice of Experts

One of my favourite comic books, about a Canadian superhero team, is Marvel’s Alpha Flight. I dream of being part of an all-Canadian creative team that would work on it, with Nick Bradshaw –  an artist from Moncton, NB – working as the penciller. Among his accolades, Nick pencils for Marvel’s Wolverine and the X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy. I’ve had the pleasure of talking with Nick at Ottawa Comiccon, and Summer Fear in Tatamagouche, NS. He’s a graduate of the Algonquin College Animation Program. I’ve watched him draw, and I love his style.

Check out this CTV Morning Live interview, with Nick, at Ottawa Comiccon 2013 (inset):

At the outset, I decided that if I was going to take this Canadian Shield comic project seriously, I had to get some solid advice. I turned to a second-year Graphics Design student at Algonquin College, Matt Kemball, co-founder of the Algonquin Comic Book Club (2013-14). Matt is also a co-founder of Alchemic Archetypes, an Ottawa-based independent comics studio. He gave me useful tips which I will be putting to good use throughout the project.

First, I revised my script. I realized I could benefit from having more information on what should appear in each panel. Then I started drawing thumbnail-size images of my page based on my notes. I wondered if a different panel configuration would look better on the page and still allow me to include the images I wanted. I drew three page layouts. I settled on the second, which I then redrew larger to get a better idea of what it might look like.

The next step was to draw the artwork on full-size comic board using a “non-photo blue” – or “non-repro blue” – pencil. The reason you want one of these magic pencils is that when you scan or photocopy images drawn in this colour, the lines don’t show up. This gives you a means of doing rough work over which you can draw select, final lines in regular black lead pencil, and only have the final work show.

The last stage for this week involved inking the illustrations, using a set of my wife’s Pilot Drawing Pens. They were so nice to use, and the results were great.

Who are your artistic heroes – pencillers and inkers of the comic-book world – whom you’d like to work with, if you could?



An enthusiastic writer with a passion for comics and supernatural horror, Stephen grew up in Almonte, ON, lived in Nunavut, and now divides his time between Maitland, NS and Ottawa, ON. A dedicated environmental activist, his meticulous attention to detail is surpassed only by his robust laughter and generous spirit.


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