Another week in and more Long John pages are getting churned out and I’m always surprised at how much of a blast it is do get these done.

I’ve been vocal about how frustrating I feel that drawing is, but I’m usually pretty satisfied with the end results. While making these videos, I wonder where, exactly, the switch flips to being fun and rewarding.

Honestly, I feel the layouts are the most creative part, but are also very difficult. It’s at that stage where I’m bouncing back and forth between scripting and thumbnailing that all of my insecurities come out as a storyteller and getting to the point where I say “I’m done” is really more of an act of contrition than satisfaction.

I think putting pencils down is the trough of the process for me. I don’t feel particularly creative while doing it––though it may be one of the most literally creative parts of the process––because I’m really just embellishing what was already done on the layouts. Also, this is the most frustrating part for me because this is where the logistics of the scene must be worked out and whittled into a shape I can live with. For instance, with last week’s video where I inked the lineup of the bad guys (spoilers, I guess), that was a profoundly frustrating and exhausting page overall (since I basically had to draw that panel twice). First, laying out the characters was daunting because I wanted the lineup to look imposing but I didn’t want to draw thirty guys. Second, I basically designed each person on the page (with the exception of the guy in the middle); I bounced between them, making them as different from each other as possible. Because they were all new characters, I needed to be detailed with the pencils––what is called “tight” pencils––and, once I was done, I noticed that I had made the middle guy much bigger than the rest. While I designed the panel to emphasize that middle character, there were some lines of fantasy that I just couldn’t cross.

Inking, while time-consuming, I think is where things start to lighten up for me. Putting ink down makes the choices permanent be they good or bad, and when combined with my confidence knowing how this world is supposed to look and its overall aesthetic, it suddenly becomes a known quantity and I can start to have some fun making these drawings start to look like a finished comic.

This week’s video is an example of that. It’s not a perfect panel by any means––I could have worked a bit more on the perspective on the house (the eye line is off) and the dude in the black bowler looks a bit funky, but I had fun playing with depth. Most importantly, I think it reads clearly and easily. We know who the important characters are and where they are and we get a sense of the story as well as the personalities of the characters.

I’m not saying insecurity doesn’t bleed through; I certainly lay down ink that shouldn’t be there. But that kind of thing is an easy fix. A line can be removed or changed, but if the entire composition is off, then no amount of lines can save it.