An Introduction to Comic Book Art

By Donovan Gauvreau in Research > Art Movements

The first comic book was born in the United States and is often said to have been officially launched by ‘Famous Funnies’ in 1934.

What followed was mass production of a wide assortment of comic books that eventually led comic book historians to categorize them according to their production date. They are either part of the Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, or Modern Age.

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Today, comic books are still very popular, due in great part to the talented comic book artists who create them.

How is a comic book made?

Creating artwork for comic books isn’t easy. A lot of detail is required to create a good comic book that will attract readers, especially in our modern world of movies, DVD’s, televisions and computers.

Before any of the characters or imagery can be drawn, the artist must put his or her head together with the writer. The first thing on the agenda is to discuss and develop a story line that will captivate readers. Next, characters are created, situations are devised, and scenery is established. The writer’s script must be meticulously followed by the artist in order to please everyone involved.

The artist proceeds to draw a rough sketch in pencil of each comic book page, and uses these rough drafts as a guideline for his artwork. At this stage of development, all the necessary comic book art elements—such as narrative, sound effects, and dialogue balloons—are included, but in a different shade from the main illustrations so that they are easily distinguishable.

When the finished pencil artwork is presented to the editor, it may be required that the artist make changes to the drawings to further ensure that the imagery matches the script. With the editor’s final approval, the drawings are enlarged and sent to the inker, whose role is vital to comic book art.

The inker is responsible for creating the finished linework for the comic book, as well as introducing shadows, adding special effects, separating the foreground from the background, and carrying out several other tricky tasks.

When the inker’s work is done, the copy of the comic book is sent to the colorist whose job is to find the perfect shade of every color for every character, as well as every detail, in the comic book’s imagery. A computer is used in order to save all the color data on file for future comic books of the same series. A proof copy of the finished product is printed and forwarded for final review.

Following approval, the comic book is sent to print. The pages are placed in the correct order, printed, cut, piled, folded, and stapled. Millions of copies can then be shipped out to comic book stores all over the world!

Comic book art and popular culture

Comic books have definitely made an enormous impact on popular culture in recent years, and a significant number of comic book characters have even jumped from the page to the big screen.

Prominent characters such as the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Transformers, Watchmen, G.I. Joe, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, and other superheroes, whose mission is to save the world, have delighted movie-lovers, young and old alike.

And personally, whenever films portraying comic book characters become incredibly successful at the box office, I think it is important to acknowledge the comic book artists who originally created these memorable characters.

Without them—and without the artists currently working to produce new comic books—the superheroes that we know and love would never have existed.


Donovan Gauvreau is an art historian and art therapy speaker. You can read more of his articles at www.AaronArtPrints.org.

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