On days like today, I need to trick myself into composing a page of comics. The blank paper looks intimidating, and the panel borders
feel cramped. So I sketch loosely and scattered on a cheap scrap, then scan, and shift things around in Photoshop. It seems contrived,
but sometimes drawing in all those claustrophobic little boxes doesn’t come naturally.

PS As always, it’s a pleasure reading your comments. Thanks!

48 thoughts on “overexert

  1. Ever since a friend of mine gave me Chunky Rice as a gift when I moved away years ago, I’ve adored your work. There is such a sense of humanity and emotion in your brush lines that never ceases to amaze me! Reading your blog is always a treat. I love seeing these behind the scenes posts and getting to know that your pencils are just as lush as your inks. Beautiful!

  2. Hi Craig,

    I’ve been always wondering wether you’d use Apps like Photoshop or not. It seems to be a handy tool for you (from what I see here) and that’s what I suspected. I’m looking forward to the release of “Habibi”, can’t wait.
    On a side note, I noticed that here in Belgium “Blankets” is’nt an exclusive to specialist (comic)book stores anymore. Most book stores have it on their shelves nowadays and I think that’s great!



  3. This is so beautiful; and to see your work go from sketches and concepts and ideas to the finished product is always awe-inspiring. Your blog is in my bookmarks because of entries like this.

  4. thanks for shareing this.
    i had the same problem last week.
    i wasn’t able to draw it properly and when i did, i’ve get absolutly lost in all palettes and coloures…
    and so i almost missed forms close in my magazine.

    i just had to push it through. but it didn’t ended as well as i was hoping.

    That Photoshop tip is good. thanks!

  5. It’s a problem every artists encounters I supose. I have it regulary as (student) screenwriter. I open the document, and read previous scènes en stare at my treatment to absorb the scène I’ll write next and I just fail to get it done. Everything seems just… dunno… dull or impossible.

    At times like these I just close my eyes and see the scène. Not looking at the blank pages and the pulsing cursor helps, mostly.

    In my opinion it’s the knowledge that your work will never be as good as you imagine or would like it to be that suffocates you.

    Anyway, I truly enjoy your work. Read Blankets over and over and just gave my copy to my literature teacher at school, as an example of how ‘comics’ can do more then most people thing (especially here in Belgium, where the graphic novel are ‘a new kid on the block’.

    Greetings from Ghent!


  6. It is great to see the stages of an artists work.
    I love your comics, and when I showed my mum your work (and my mum has always never really liked comic art) she found herself having a change of heart about what she thought of comic art.
    Keep it up good sir!!!

  7. This is a wonderful insight to your process. And it will surely help out when I’m procrastinating on my panels 🙂 I can’t wait until you complete Habibi… I’ve been re-reading and absorbing every panel of Blankets and Goodbye many times. More power!

  8. Wow, it’s so great to get an insight to your process. Thanks for breaking it down and showing us that everyone gets stumped now and then. And that there are ways to overcome those creative blocks.

  9. every post is a treat indeed!
    question- have you ever considered doing a comic in only pencils? looking at some of these, it might be great. it’d allow some effects and line treatment that’s impossible to do in ink…

  10. Son of a Gun!
    I’ve thought about doing that a couple of times, only because I have a hard time working small, but turned away from it because I figured I was making too much work for myself!
    I’m seeing now that I have to listen to my first instincts more often.

  11. Ah ha, so you’re NOT as perfect as you seem! 🙂
    I find this method of composition completely valid though, as I’ve drawn things out then scanned and re-aarranged/cleaned them up in photoshop, he he!

    beautiful, beautiful work as always. thank you Craig!

  12. I have been a long-time follower of your work and (now) blog. Your art always serves as a point of inspiration for me. I love these posts that show your processes; they’re very inspiring and informational. 🙂 Keep up the awesome job, and I’ll be counting down ’til the release of Habibi.

  13. Wow. This page is teeming with emotion! It looks like your process was a success—the characters don’t look crammed into their panels and it looks as natural and seamless as your other pages.

    Who is the girl? And how does that guy know her? Where did that tension between them come from? Where are they?

    I’m waiting with bated breath…

  14. The way you work never ceases to amaze me. I was wondering, when you come up with ideas how do you know they are ones you want to work with? And have you ever gotten moments when you aren’t sure that what you’re making is what you really want to do?

  15. Even before Photoshop Chester Brown would just draw his comic panels, cut them up then make a paste-up (on another sheet of paper) of the panels in a layout that pleased him.

  16. Hi Craig,

    I’ve wanted a copy of Blankets since April of 2005 when I comprised a list of books that I wanted. Being a poor student, I rarely spent my money on purchasing new books and with the arrival of more intense challenges at university, I forgot about reading for leisure almost entirely until I graduated in 2008.

    The boy that I’m seeing new that I had once desired Blankets and he went to great lengths to obtain a copy for me (since it is no longer available at bookstores). He gave it to me as a Valentine’s Day present this year and I was overjoyed. I read it in less than a week, often tackling sixty or seventy pages at a time. I read it while he slept next to me; I read it in his car; I read it in the waiting room at a doctor’s office; I read it everywhere we went. It was one of the greatest reading experiences I’ve ever had and there are scenes and phrases in it that moved me in ways I’ve never known before.

    Thank you for creating that piece of art. I have become a devoted fan of your work and I look forward to owning as much of your work as possible.

    With all the love a fan can offer,

  17. Hey Craig. Great post. I agree with the others that it’s inspirational to know that other people get stuck and have tricks that get them moving again.

    Working that way doesn’t seem contrived to me; in fact, it seems like the opposite. Starting out with those boxes as a given seems more contrived to me!

    Hope to see you soon!

  18. Hello,

    I just finish reading “Blankets”, That’s awesome! Great line, great story, thank’s a lot for that experience.

    From France, goodbye

  19. One by one, the guests arrive
    The guests are coming through..

    i’ve felt kinda star struck, but i think i’m getting over it.
    i just couldnt help it.. you give us this vision, and include yourself in it. which raises you into the world of myth. sort of!

    do you feel fated, because your work has taken on such an energy of its own?

  20. I’m adding to the list of people who just read Blankets and loved it, and am recommending it to friends and looking for your other work, and looking forward to your next and further work, with much admiration and wonder. Thank you.

  21. Your drawings are each day better and better!
    By the way, looking at the pencil drawings in this last post I can’t help seeing a big influence of Will Eisner in they way your characters act. Am I right?

  22. Craig Thompson,
    Your book Blankets was so inspiring to me, and loved all the details in each and every scene. Blankets moved me in a way i didn’t think was possible. The only dissapointing part of the book was when i finished reading it.

    keep rocking,
    Peace out

  23. I have the same problem when I try drawing in panels. I suddenly remember now how much more free I was when I just photoshopped my sketches together into comic pages back when I was in my teens.

    And BTW, AHHHHHHHHDSFKHD I can tell this is going to be sooo good. When it comes out, I shall buy it and read it, love it and read it again and read it some more and cry because it’s so beautiful.

  24. Hi, I’ve just started to follow your blog. I think your artwork is absolutely amazing. Are you self-published or with a specific publishing house (e.g. Dark Horse, Vertigo)?

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