Comic-Con: Dave Gibbons’ Digital Cartooning

By  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I attended my first San Diego Comic-Con in 1988. Back then, it was a show about…comics! Mostly, at least. Today, it’s a show about comics, movies, TV, toys, science fiction, videogames, and a bunch of other topics…and it’s hard to walk for more than a few yards across the insanely crowded exhibition floor without bumping into someone dressed as Bart Simpson, Darth Vader, a Smurf, Poison Ivy, or (most often) the Joker.

There’s also some tech here–especially tech relating to drawing, painting, and animating. At the booth of graphics software maker Smith Micro,  I chatted with cartooning legend Dave Gibbons, who’s best known as the co-creator of Watchmen. He knows pencils and brushes as well as any cartoonist alive, but he uses Smith’s Manga Studio package–which, despite the name, is for drawing comics of all sorts.

For the first time, he recently did a story using only digital tools–from the first sketches to the final art–for Dark Horse Comics. It’s called “Treatment.”

I asked Gibbons whether digital comics creation went slower or faster than old-fashioned drawing. For “Treatment,” he said, it went more slowly at first–but he picked up the pace as he went along, in part because he was able to automate drudgery such as drawing perfectly curved helmets.

I also wondered what he thought of the iPad. He has one and loves it–and thinks that it’s particularly exciting as a new way to read comics. (“Treatment” will be available as an e-comic.) He’s also dabbling with doing art on an iPad using SketchBook Pro and Brushes, but it’s just experimental, since there’s no way to use a pressure-sensitive stylus with an iPad. (He uses a Wacom Cintiq tablet display for his published work.)

I’ll report back here on anything else here at Comic-Con that feels like Technologizer fodder–but in the meantime, I’ll be tweeting highlights of my trip at my mostly-about-comics Twitter feed, @harry_go_round.

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  1. Stilgar Says:

    Nice article. I didn't know there was anything comic-related at ComiCon anymore. For the record, I prefer the Martha Washington comics to Watchmen tho 🙂