Uphill: The Process
How is a comic made? Here's the process behind my latest piece, "Uphill."

1. The inspiration

I love the work of R.O. Blechman, Shel Silverstein, and Bill Watterson - their visual styles and writing voices have shaped my work both consciously and unconsciously. In folk and jazz music, borrowing and adapting (and at times, stealing outright) leads to a rich tradition of work that's rooted in the past but always looking to the future. I think cartooning can work in a similar way.

2. The sketchbook

This is the place where ideas gather momentum, linger in anticipation of being drawn, or fizzle into nothing. The image of a cyclist pedaling uphill appeared sometime early this year. There it waited patiently to become a published drawing.

3. The rough

I submitted this drawing in a group of sketches to The Believer magazine for consideration. The art director didn't accept this one (stay tuned for the one they chose!), but I was excited to turn it into one of my weekly comics. I like the looseness and energy of the rough sketch. It's fun to draw for the pure idea alone, without the pressure that comes with perfecting it for publication.

4. The final

Here I focus on colors, clarity, and creating the perfect words to fit the picture. I often obsess over minute details in contrast and color palette in Photoshop. The comic gets rewritten and revised until finally, my self-imposed deadline for publishing it arrives. Do the finicky changes add much to the final piece? Usually not. The best ideas require the least revision.