I spent as much time executing the roughs for Gotham Adventures 33 as I did the finished pencils. I’ve heard other cartoonists aver that they rough directly on the finished art boards without doing preliminaries. On one hand, I envy their facility but not necessarily their results. In my judgement, this work method often causes a certain lack of subtly and precision in their staging. I’m reminded of the “Marvel Style” comics from the 60’s and early 70’s: the artist would resort to such solutions as a close-ups of a fist along an impact burst and dialogue explaining what was supposed to have occurred in the panel (since the reader would be unable to tell otherwise). Or of having done a great drawing that's the wrong size or in the wrong place.
My goal is to be dramatic and impactful yet subtle, clear and precise, with continual variety and innovation, emotional nuance and hidden image systems, symbology, etc. I want my ambiguity and repetition to be on purpose, not because I’m inept or careless. That requires doing sometimes multiple rough versions before going to finish. It would be unrealistic to expect otherwise. I think of the rough as my first draft. The only novelist i’ve heard of who published his first drafts was Phillip K. Dick.
I am serially posting each page from Gotham Adventures #33, published by DC Comics in February, 2001. I will be posting Ed Brubaker’s script, my roughs, pencils and printed versions of each page. This is day 4, page 4.