Creating Jack Teagle's Nobrow Comic Book

Posted at 9 pm on July 18, 2010 by

Posted in: Character Illustration, Comic Art, Ink Illustration

I’d spotted illustrator Jack Teagle’s comic book whilst graphic novel-shopping in London recently.

I was struck by the beauty and appeal of such a well designed, drawn and printed book so I thought it would be nice to find out more about the process behind creating such a work, which he had published through a cool printing and publishing company called Nobrow.

Jack gives details of his book: ‘Jeff Job Hunter‘ and the process behind its creation, below.

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Introducing the Book:

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Jeff Job Hunter is about an unemployed man who simply can’t find work. Jeff is on his 13th week of the dole, and has his payments stopped. He has to go on a work placement to receive further benefits. His work placement is to go into the dungeon underneath the job centre to kill a monster to start his payments again.

Jeff Job Hunter is a story based around the trouble I had with signing on, when I was unemployed. I wanted to create a comic which reflected the situation I was in, but add in my sense of humour.

Nobrow approached me after they had spotted my work at the D&AD design awards. They create artists books, comics, narratives, limited prints and showcase the talents of a variety of artists and illustrators.

I had worked with them on their Nobrow: Jungle book, they were pleased with my work, and knew that I drew comics for fun.

They want to give a platform for British comic artists and writers because there isn’t really a platform for comics in the UK like there is in Europe or America. They asked me if I was interested in creating a comic book for them, gave me the specifications and asked me to start writing up a story.

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Planning the Story:

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When I had to sign on, everything seemed pointless. I would search for jobs days on ends, attend interviews well out of my way, where I would have trouble getting to work everyday. The people at the job centre just didn’t seem to care, they always treated me like I was a waste of time and space.

I wanted to try and get some of that into my comic, a poor man going to impossible lengths to get work or to receive payments while receiving indifference from the job centre employees. I had no shortage of ideas for the project because of my experiences, so I started to plan.

I started off with a blank page for each comic page,and started to try and flesh out the idea by drawing a small rough comic. At this point, I didn’t know the style, or really what was going to happen.

I showed Nobrow the comic, they made suggestions and changes and then I started to write up a much more solid story based on the feedback and rough comic. Now I had a script for each page, so I made another plan which was much more developed.

The style was taking shape, and I managed to fit more into the comic. After a few chops and changes, Nobrow were happy with the comic, and I started to work on the final.

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Planning the Visuals:

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Visually I tried to keep to my usual style when I work in pen, I thought this would relax me and get the best work out of me. I wanted to keep it simple, but also be able to build up areas of detail when needed.

When I created the characters I wanted to create a protagonist you could sympathise with.

I designed my characters hunched over, so they looked tired and like they couldn’t be bothered with things.

I usually draw my characters with large eyes, but I thought that I could get more expressive faces by simplifying them to black dots.

With panel layout I kept things quite traditional. I didn’t want to cram too many panels in, so I think at the most I have five or six panels per page.

I use more panels if I need to get crucial timing across, and less panels for easier to read material.

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Rendering the Finished Piece:

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When inking the finals, I planned out the pages and doubled the size to get more detail into them, put in bleeds and panels, and then inked into them. Nobrow have a very unique way of colouring their work, which I had to follow.

I was given three colours to work with, and had to use Photoshop to merge and blend these three layers of colour to get a variety of other tones and colours. Mixing all three gets the dark line I used for outlines.

The process was quite complicated, but the outcome was well worth it.

Text wasn’t too much of an issue, I’m a big fan of hand drawn types, so I hand wrote everything in the book, including the publishing information in the back.

I didn’t need to worry too much about printing, as I sent my files to Nobrow, and they checked everything was in order before the print run.

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Getting Published:

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I’ve worked backwards for this process, instead of approaching a publisher with an idea, they saw that I drew and self published comics, and wanted to give me a chance to create a published work. It was going to be in book form from day one.

© Jack Teagle and Nobrow, 2010

I think from my experience, the best advice I can give is, keep drawing comics, just draw for you own amusement, self publish, post online, get them seen!

The more comics you draw, the better you will get at pacing, timing, telling a story and drawing. People will be able to see you create comics and approach you.

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Buy the book here!

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