Making More Work For Myself

Sorry I’ve been absent. I’ve been working on the website/blog for the new line of shirts pretty heavily. In the meantime, of course, I’m working on Dixie Drive.

I often wish I’d developed a simpler style over the years but alas, that ain’t true. I used to cross-hatch the hell out of stuff and I’ve cut back on that but still, I add more detail than I’d like. I say this for the simple reason that it takes more time this way. If I could get a good gag over with more simplified art, I could fly through these things!

Here’s how I work: Usually Sunday is the day I have some quiet time to come up with ideas. I like to come up with five initially (just enough for the week) but I certainly welcome any extra ideas. I don’t do this sitting in a padded room or anything, but instead carry around a moleskine pad or scrap of paper and jot down the ideas as they come. Here’s what it usually looks like:

Just enough info to jog my memory!

Just enough info to jog my memory!

So after that, I spend a half a day penciling the toons and about a day inking, scanning and coloring. Here’s the RUB: My lettering style is a pain in the butt to get through. I know many of my “fans” (can I really call them that?) like the fun style of lettering and I’ve gotten many comments on it. So, I think at this point, I’m stuck with it.

Here’s what it looks like penciled.



I draw the words first and then fit the balloon around them. It’s often tricky to get the spacing just right so the right words are on the same line. For example: If the punchline was ” I told you I wanted a Dang Cheeseburger, you moron!” I’d certainly want the words “Dang Cheeseburger” on the same line and probably in bold. So, there’s always a bit of juggling going on in the pencil stage withing the space allocated for the speech bubble. Sometimes though, I forego the bubbles entirely and put the punchline on the bottom. I guess it depends on the drawing itself. Some gags just look better in bubbles and certainly, if it’s two characters talking, then it’s bubbles all the way!

So, once that’s figured out and done and it’s ready for the ink I usually do the drawing first (an old habit from the days when I screwed up the inking a lot…I still do …occasionally!) and then it’s on to inking the letters.

My trusty new fountain pen!

My trusty new fountain pen!

This is where the pain starts to show up in my butt-region. It’s those damned square corners on the letters I guess. It goes like this: Outline the “e” and fill the “e”…next!

Oh well…I don’t have time to be writing this stuff…gotta DRAW!!!

See you in the funny papers.


Rich Powell

I'm an artist/illustrator residing in a small, North Carolina town. I worked for a few years as a conceptual artist and art director in the computer game industry but set off on my own to freelance. I currently do humorous illustration and cartoons for publications such as MAD Magazine and Highlights for Children.

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3 Responses

  1. Jay King says:

    Enjoyed your post! What type and brand of fountain pen(s) you use?

    • Rich Powell says:

      Hi Jay! Unfortunately it’s the cheapest I could afford right now but it’s pretty good. A Lamy Safari with a refill converter using Noodler’s black waterproof ink. Don’t use Superblack or anything like that, it’ll clog. I hear Dr Martins Hicarb Black Star India Ink Is good also. Got ’em all on AMAZON!

  2. Steve Cofer says:

    Your trusty Lamy Safari pen. Great pen, great nib, for a great price! Love them!

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