(Editor’s note: Author Jeff Siedlik is a designer at Variety who attended last week's Comic Con. He submitted this piece to Technotainment.)
Dave Gibbons is the penciller and inker of the most celebrated graphic novel in comics’ history, but he’s hardly one to stick with tradition. The man whose style steered “The Watchmen” – along with a slew of other comic works – no longer uses pencils or ink to do his work.
Gibbons says he uses Smith Micro’s Manga Studio Pro, which combines the comics-related aspects of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator with 3-D capabilities. It’s not a photography program that’s applied to comics, it’s software specifically developed with comics in mind.
“For a long time, the tech guys had no artistic vision, while the art guys couldn’t grasp the tech,” says Gibbons. “With Manga Studio, the developers and artists worked very closely to put out something specifically for comics.”
Laying out panels, a process considered tedious by many artists, can be done in seconds. Brush strokes can be nudged and tweaked to precision. And complex 3D objects such as cars can be imported, rotated and re-used from one panel to the next.
And in a world where many professional pencillers complete one page per day, Gibbons says he’s now able to pencil, ink and letter six pages per week. – assuming he doesn’t keep re-tweaking the work
“The best thing about the computer is that you can keep changing your mind,” he says. “And the worst thing about the computer is that… you can keep changing your mind!”