Making the Comic #1
 
I'm going to start sharing the bones of how Ramen Empire is made, because I suspect at least some of my readers also make their own comics and would be interested in how someone else does it.

Zach and I decided to switch to pages. The online-only format was fun, but ultimately invited a lot of empty laziness and boring panels, so if you can't quite put your finger on why this comic feels different -- that's why.

So, the first step is obviously writing. This happens in three concrete parts. The first one is where Zach and I kind of talk through the comic and get the basics happening -- the very simple arc that just answers the question "what is happening." We're usually walking outside for this and we never take notes.

When we part ways, I'll go write a very long document that's terribly boring to read. It has pages like this:

Then, I take this kind of boring thing and create a much more formal boring thing:

Zach usually never sees this second bit of writing. It's entirely for me to get my head on straight for phase three, which is the initial lettering and just a tiny bit of story boarding.

I can't draw very well, and I'm working in illustrator, so I only put art down where I think it'll help solve composition problems. Mostly, I'm figuring out what the panels should be doing and how the reader's eyes should move through the words on the page. Most of this is going to change, but it gives Zach a good place to start, and saves me a bit of work down the road.

Zach will then take this mess and make pencils that we'll usually talk about and see if anything needs changed or doesn't make sense.

We talk about what's changing and what's staying the same, usually quite briefly, and then either he or I will lay flats, and then I'll start editing the lettering based on how the comic looks, where the art ended up compared with where I predicted it, facial expressions, and my mood. Which is actually kind of important. Don't try to write when you're angry or depressed. Nothing comes out well.

I fire this back to Zach, and he picks any nits -- then from there, I'll edit while he renders, and we end up with something pretty close to the final product.

From there, I'll export it from Illustrator, throw it into Photoshop to trim off blank pixels, and then upload it to the website.

Then I'll realize I did all of that wrong, go back, resize everything, and try again. Repeatedly. :(

And that's how we make comics.