Supplies for the 24Hour Comic Jam

Comics Classroom, What You'll Need to Get Started

If you’re coming to our workshop at the Penn Libraries on October 4th and 5th, then you might be wondering just what you’ll need to bring. We will have some supplies on-hand, but free art supplies can be an expensive provender for a working cartoonist. Here’s our list of what we’ll be using, with some money-saving suggestions:

-A few pencils. Regular old number two pencils are fine. Or, for those of you hitting the art supply store first, HB or softer. Softer pencils erase easier and don’t make scratch marks in the paper that can affect the inking.

(some people like to work with non-photo blue pencils, and they do have some advantages in terms of speed, so we’ll have a few on-hand for you to try).

-An eraser or two (preferably the pliable kind).

-Paper. Now it starts getting a bit more complex. There’s a lot of variables here, mostly based upon the shape and style of comic you wish to make, but also because professional grade papers can become expensive.

If you’re making standard format comics there are a series of different pre-ruled papers available from Blue Line Pro found here. But paying someone to draw those lines in for you gets less cost effective in the long haul, and we’ll have a series of templates available for you to use that may eliminate that need. I’d suggest sticking with the less expensive Strathmore brand found in art supply stores everywhere.

Black & White comic art (mostly the kind you’ll be doing in this workshop) is best accomplished with Bristol board (paper, really, they just call it board because its a bit thicker) of a “smooth” or “vellum” surface. Standard comic size pages are 11X17inches. You’ll need some of these to make your comics if you’re not working digitally.

-Pens, brushes or inks. Brushes can get confusing and there will be a section on this website about suggestions for which might work best for new cartoonists. But for the workshop you’ll probably want to bring pens rather than brushes. They’re more portable, neater, require less clean up and therefore a bit more suited to where we’ll be working.

The important thing is to get yourself a few “pigment pens.” This means the ink used in these pens is permanent and won’t fade like the ink in writing pens. I usually suggest the MICRON Pens because they’re easy to find and come in a variety of sizes (plus a few colors, but let’s stick to black here, please). Pens come in a variety of point sizes, which can also be a bit confusing. If you’re using MICRONS I suggest getting three pens, an 08, an 03 and a Brush pen. Anything smaller than the 03 is for far more detailed work.

-A sketchbook. You don’t really need one to participate in the challenges or the workshop, but I can’t suggest highly enough how important it is for young cartoonists to keep a sketchbook for their ideas, notes and rough drawings. Quite a lot of times having a sketchbook to turn to while in a room full of other cartoonists is a very comfortable place for letting your own creativity run free.

Now some people may wish to work in color or in other drawing mediums. That’s fine. Bring what you’re comfortable with. But please keep in mind that we will be working in the library rather than a painting studio. Think about products that can be easily cleaned-up like cake watercolor sets rather dyes or acrylics.

For those of you working digitally, well, you’re going to be very happy with what the facility has to offer.

-BRING YOUR LAPTOP if you have one. The work stations handle either VGA or HDMI connectors that will allow you to project your work on whiteboards to share with others. Most laptops do connect through that, but if you’re using a tablet you’ll probably need a VGA or HDMI adaptor (a “dongle”)

-We’ll have complete wifi access throughout the day, so anyone working on Creative Cloud for their laptop should be fine.

-We’ll be using a comic-making program called Comic Life for the workshop and the course. There are others, but I find it the most flexible and the one with the easiest learning curve. We’ll have it on a few laptops at the workshop and I’ll be showing people how helpful it can be for shortcuts in page construction, but you may wish to download the trial version for yourself.

That’s about it. As I said, we’ll have some supplies on hand for people to try, and there is a very nearby art supply store if you need more. But this should be enough to get us start making comics on Saturday.

See you there!

– Rob & JC


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