The Seed&Spark Blog

A Step-by-Step Roadmap to the Draw of Comics

May 11, 2020

• Ronnie Braithwaite

As part of our Creative Sustainability Sessions, on Friday May 8, Erika Alexander and Tony Puryear welcomed the comics community for a deep-dive on comics creation and publishing. 


The “Draw of Comics” served a double meaning: on one hand, the presentation laid out the tactics, tips, and tricks for the development of comics. On the other hand, Erika and Tony revealed the value of the graphic novel storytelling medium as an opportunity to take control of the narrative. 



Because the barriers to entry are low, the cost of production is cheap (when compared to filmmaking), online learning resources are abundant, online self-publishing is easy, and the internet community is supportive (from a thriving virtual comic-con landscape), telling your story through comics can be a powerful tool for advancing your artist journey. 

In this step-by-step guide, I’ll walk through three key steps for taking the leap into creating a graphic novel.


Step 1: Invest in some tracing paper and a lightbox


Tony Puryear shared his biggest pro tips to drawing comics.


“You can get the cheap white box for a hundred bucks online and put your drawing paper right down over your tracing paper and draw an ink over the lighthouse — that's one of the secrets that we did.”


Tony shared a story about how he honed his drawing skills through trial and error, repeatedly drawing his subjects with the help of the light box and tracing paper: 


“I would draw something, and it would look shitty because I was learning how to draw and I would draw something, but I would put a piece of tracing paper over it and draw it again and draw it again and trace it again until it got better… and there was no substitute for that either.”


But even if you fail to get the drawings exactly how you are envisioning it in your head, there’s still hope.


Step 2: Prioritize good storytelling over perfected drawings 


Erika Alexander urged everyone to focus heavily on the story aspect of content creation above all else, “because if you don't grab them and it's not consistent and it doesn't move your reader, then it will be dead on arrival… People often don't know why they're not succeeding, but they haven't spent enough time on the story.”


Tony agreed. 


“You're not just here to present your characters. You're here to move the people. You're here to make them turn the pages,” he said. “Our job is to make you care. You're not there to make muscles or big explosions or the biggest gun.”


Step 3: Recognize the power of your graphic novel as a sales tool for your Hollywood movie pitch


Erika also stressed the importance of having a tangible product that executives and economic decision makers can experience, “especially in Hollywood, when you're competing against all sorts of different really fantastic projects and creators, it's hard to know what you're going to do,” she said.


Tony doubled down on this sentiment. 


“You've got something that the next person doesn't have. You made something and you're already somebody who crossed the burning sands and went through the ordeal, which already says something about you too- that you made something of value,” he said.

Check out the full livestream conversation for further insights from  Erika and Tony’s Draw of Comics presentation and a Q&A session to help you continue navigating your graphic novel launch.


Ronnie Braithwaite

Ronnie Braithwaite is an equity & inclusion leader with over five years of experience in R&D, project management, digital marketing strategy, content creation, and data analytics. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Ronnie Braithwaite graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelors in Business Administration where he studied marketing and motion pictures. Ronnie also holds an MBA from Clark Atlanta University and received his executive education from the Yale School of Management’s Fostering Inclusion & Diversity program.



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