Stone ink

Well, the actual drawing part of this is finished- I'm just down to the mind numbing, overly tedious job of applying the tones.

I hate the computer process with any sort of art. To me, it's the least interesting part. I tend to speed through it as fast as I can because I hate it so much. I also hate that I'm in the decline of real, physical illustration.

Nowadays, it seems like nearly everyone does almost everything digitally- penciling, painting, line work, inking... everything. And it's funny to me, because the best looking digital stuff imitates a 'real life' process. Like, something looks good because it looks like it was made with pastel, or oil, or chalk, but was all digitally rendered.

I do appreciate the irony in using a computer, photoshop and a tablet (and whatever else electronic eccentricities- which combined could literally cost thousands) to imitate a $3 box of pastels.

But anyway, it’s frustrating to have to use a computer to imitate what was a real, physical thing*. I hate that I have to use a computer to tone drawings, because I’d love to have an actual, completed physical drawing, but there’s no way around it. They don’t exist anymore and I have to use the fake kind. Well, it still exists, but not for real, actual professional work. A couple Japanese companies make, like, a super expensive version for yuppie hobbyists to buy, but for an American comic book, or any real life application, they’re ridiculous. A $8-$12 sheet is almost half the size of a sheet of typing paper. It’d cost $30-$50 per page to actually use that.

Also, apparently, a GIANT pet peeve of mine is when someone doesn’t (who should) know or understand what halftones are. Example- Staci and I were at a show in Ohio, I think, and there was someone young college kid who was acting like a know-it-all and making a real ass of himself (he kept talking about his really crappy Warhol knockoff of a halftoned Marlyn Monroe photograph and about being such a great graphic designer), kept calling it ‘pixelation’ to anyone that would listen to him. I just wanted to beat him in the face with a history book. Or, ask him what kind of computers they used in the early 1900’s to get that neat pixelation on their drawings.

And I would LOVE to get hold of some of this stuff-


They sold this chemically treated paper in bundles along with two bottles of clear ink. You'd draw on the paper like normal, then, when one of the inks was brushed on, one set of lines appeared, and a second set of lines with the other ink.


Eastman and Laird used it for the original turtle comics. Some people, who still have some squirreled away, still use it, but they stopped making it and selling it a while ago.

It’s just frustrating that to get these looks, you have to imitate this stuff, instead of just using it. I mean, could you imagine being an oil painter, but they stopped making oil paints 15 years ago? Because that’s kind of what it feels like.


*for those who don’t know, halftones, until fairly recently, had absolutely nothing to do with computers. Tones were sold in sheets that were rubbed onto the physical drawing.

Second and third illustrations by Sean Phillips and Eastman/Laird, respectively.