Ben Marcus // *1983, USA. Ben Marcus is an artist and illustrator living and working in Chicago. His favorite manga is Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo.
Ben Marcus: I live in Chicago. I have a studio in Garfield Park. I drive to it from my apartment in Pilsen when I'm not at my 'day job'. It's a nice little studio.
I'm still learning how to make comics. The comic I did for kuš! was my longest comic to date. 8 pages! I'm more of a weird narrative drawing person than a full on 'comic' person. But it's coming together, I was happy with what I made. Although it was really hard for me to do. This is my drafting table at the start of my process. Just flipping through sketch books, looking at drawings of Buddhas, trying to figure out the look of my characters. The proportions of the facial features is important to me and I draw and re-draw them. Too many times. I wanted my characters to have a contemplative complexity to them. A depth of consciousness that a sense of animation is born of. I drew everything by hand and scanned it and added the half-tones in photoshop.
I got legit 'manga' paper from jetpens.com. It was helpful to have the light blue lines that are printed on this paper. It kept my drawing sizes consistent, but it was difficult to draw so small. I usually draw my comics on big paper. But scanning everything and doing layout ends up being a horrible process. So this paper helps me out a lot further down the process line. Here you can see how I try different noses and and mouths, even chin shape. Trying out different looks and how it changes the tone of the mood of the character, even the propulsion of the plot. I used my light box to redraw my characters, and then to ink them. I don't think I can draw like this anymore.
The plot changed a lot as I was drawing it. Below is a really loose thumbnail sketch of some my anticipated story moments. Drawing the thumbnails happens so quick and I end up thinking "wow I'm almost done!" I'm always so wrong about that.
I pencil all the way through. I might have pencilled it twice. Getting the narrative flow right and making sure all the moments are clear and necessary. Tightening the line work with every redrawing on the light table. I think it took me a month to make this comic. I might have pencilled it and inked it 3 times. I'm assuming because it's my first long comic I had no idea what I was really doing or maybe comics are just REALLY difficult to make. I just wanted it to be really clean and clear. My comic has a particular clarity in the line work because I want the reader to keep track of the plot. Clean and clear language for dramatic and poetic purposes. I'm quickly lost in experimental comics and it's hard for me to focus on reading when I lose track. I hope you enjoyed the final product in the latest issue. What's it all about anyway?
Many thanks to Ben Marcus for providing this insightful process post! You should check out the final comic in š! #25 'Gaijin Mangaka'.