Hey there folks!     

For those of you who I haven’t met individually yet, my name is Jamie ( J.D. for the context of comics making) and I’m a fourth-year student at S.A.I.C.  I grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, about an hour and a half by train away from N.Y.C.

Yup, the same place from that line in the French Connection.

pickpoughkeepsie“Picked ya’h toes, didn’t yah!?!”

My father was a writer and life-long comics reader and my mother is a librarian, so I grew up in a household filled with books, both traditional and illustrated.  In 2010 I moved to Chicago for college, working in the residence halls  as a Summer Resident Educator for the Early College program and becoming a member of the Ladydrawers Comics Collective along the way.

With my parents’ and some fantastic teachers’  influence and encouragement, I fell in love with drawing and storytelling at a young age.  Comics were always my favorite medium- my dad’s office was and still filled with boxes of them- but around middle school I had the ‘oh, what I’m doing is terrible’ realization and cowered in the corner for a few years.  Thankfully, I continued to keep sketchbooks and writing a little, and found my other two current key areas of interest- sculptural illustration* and fibers.

* Sculpt a tiny figure, make a set for the tiny figure, light, photography, show business.

It wasn’t until my second year in college that I  felt ready enough to try making comics work again- and I’m so happy that I did.  Making comics- traditional or otherwise- allows for such a variety of storytelling techniques, layouts, and ways noticing.  As a drawer it lets me show little details of movement, emotion, and setting that could be missed in other formats, and as a writer it gets me into the head of characters whose life experiences are farther from my own then I would of imagined connecting to.

To answer the prompt, I’m taking this class to learn how to speak clearly through my work, to learn from both my professors and my peers, and have conversations about the type of stories I love to read, in and out of class.  Also, I’m hoping (fingers crossed) to table at a convention for the first time this year, and I want to make minis  I will feel proud to sell and trade.

In terms of work, the prompt for this post got me started planning a two-page comic on identity and making work, but considering I still need to finish penciling, inking, and coloring, that might need to wait a week or two.  In the mean time, here are some notes and little sketches to show my scripting process.

WRITING:  Scripting by typing on directly on the computer is completely impossible to me, so first I’ll do a version of the script in pencil, either on standard lined paper or, more likely, my sketchbook.  I’ll use marks or colors(squared versus rounded-off corners here) to distinguish between dialogue, narration, and other types of text, as well as include small sketches of characters, expressions, setting and general panel formats.  For longer stories I might type this up, though the ‘working script’ will still likely be covered with notes.  Lots and lots of editing, rewriting, and more editing.


GENERAL PAGE LAYOUT:   Again, done on either standard lined notebook paper or in my sketchbook.  This stage is just to get an idea of the flow of the page, and make decisions like panel layout, text paging, and set up.  I usually work off of a 9-panel grid for my comics, though sometimes for autobio I’ll use a 4 tiers, with a little one as a header (as seen below).  More editing.


THUMBNAILS: A lot of the work for my pages happens in the penciling stage, so for the thumbnails I try to keep things loose and work from there, often switching them out as needed.  This stage is done almost exclusively in my sketchbook, or on flashcard (Frank Santoro and Scott McClould both do this- brilliant, but potentially tiring if you don’t use a lightbox).  Here’s a little guy I did in the corner of a scripting page.


EVERYTHING ELSE:  I pencil on 11 x 14 vellum bristol with either mechanical pencil or standard HBs, then ink with Sennelier ‘Á La Pagode’ India ink using a 000 brush on matte dura-lar.  If I’m using color, I’ll either use colored pencil or Ph. Dr. Martins Liquid Watercolor.  Inking and coloring on dura-lar can make scanning a bit difficult, but it keeps the inks clean and the pencils pretty, just in case.


Watercolor and ink practice

Alright, folks- that’s all for now.  See you soon-wise, fellow travelers and coffee-drinkers!


Unfinished sketch of Clarke's Diner, Wrigleyville Chicago