As an artist I’ve never been a big believer in waiting for inspiration. You’ll end up waiting for a train that rarely arrives. But sometimes it does pass through the station. Or at least something close to inspiration. Maybe it’s just a coincidence of events but either way a bit of preparation also helps.

It was back in 2006 that I did a couple of drawings that I called “Monsters on Comics.” At the time I had a lot of free new comics that a friend had given me and I didn’t have much use for them. Neither did anyone else. I couldn’t even give them away. I eventually ended up giving them to my local comic ship for their dollar bins. They’re probably still in there. But before I did that I decided I wanted to draw on some of them. It’s sort of a thing in the art world to draw on the pages of old books, old sheet music, and whatever other old printed matter you can find. A little sub-genre of drawing. It wasn’t an original idea for me to draw on comics but since it was comics I had available it would be comics I would draw on.

I think I only made two drawings. Two monsters on comics. It wasn’t easy. The paper didn’t take the charcoal or conté crayon that I was using on it very well. Plus since I had to draw over printing there was very little room for any kind of preliminary drawing. It was a struggle to get a finished piece done. I abandoned the idea after a week or two and a few tries but over the years it popped into my mind every now and again.

So cut to ten years later, which is now, and the idea has been rolling around in my head again. I don’t know why but I’ve been thinking about drawing on comics but what’s held me back was not being able to decide what comic to draw on. Sure I’ve got plenty of comics I could get rid of but I don’t have the freebies that I had back in 2006. The paper in comics has also changed over the last ten years. It’s thinner and glossier these days. That’s not very good for drawing on. So I never got it going again.

This weekend I was at my local comic shop. I was hanging out and chatting about comics as the owner was organizing his dollar box comics. He was pulling out some of them that were so beaten up that they were garbage. That’s when the idea for drawing on comics popped into my head again. I had no idea if I’d do anything with them but I took a few free crappy old comics home with me.

At home I got started on them right away. I guess I was excited about having some old newsprint comics to draw on but my excitement was quickly dimmed. I pulled out some charcoal, ripped out a comic page, and started drawing. That’s when I almost gave up. The paper wouldn’t take the charcoal. It was like rubbing on paper with a rock. It was a frustrating no-go. That’s when I got out the white conté crayon to try. That worked better but still wasn’t great. I put the whole thing aside for a minute.

One of the things that’s changed since 2006 is that I have a lot more markers these days. I used markers a bit in the late 1980s and into the mid 1990s but then stopped using them. It was in the late 2000s that I decided to get into using markers again and there were a lot more markers to choose from than there used to be. They are better markers too. As a consequence I have a lot of markers laying around. Especially black markers. I like to try those out. I generally use the same few black markers but I have half a dozen more than those few in my marker bin. So I grabbed a Pitt Big Brush marker instead of the charcoal.

The marker took to that old newsprint like nobody’s business. The paper sucks the ink right out of the marker so there would be no trouble making black lines with it. The white conté crayon also worked well over the marker. Plus I found out that if I held the conté crayon at just the right angle it worked well on the bare paper too. I was good to go. Almost. Though I had figured out the tools that I needed I hadn’t figured out the imagery. My first monster on a comic was almost a bust. I couldn’t get it right. Finally out of frustration I put it aside.

Since the 2006 “Monsters on Comics” I’ve drawn a lot more monster faces. It was time to fall back on that experience and avoid the frustration. I found out that was easy enough if I did a small thumbnail drawing of the face first. Nothing fancy. Basic eyes, nose, and mouth positions. Plus the general face shape. It was so simple. The little drawing would take me two minutes and save me a lot of frustration. The little drawings were so simple that I didn’t even save them like I would a preliminary drawing. I just erased them and drew the next one on top. That helped keep it really simple.

After the little drawing was done I grabbed the Pitt brush marker and drew in some basic features. I have a variety of brush markers and I’m not even sure why I choose the Pitt one. Maybe its big, chunky barrel caught my eye in the moment of choosing. Any way I choose it the Pitt worked well for me. It’s a bit tough to see the black line as I draw it depending on what’s printed on the page so I have to trust my little drawing for a while. I draw a bunch of black lines and shapes but the face doesn’t start to come into focus until I start to work with the white conté crayon. That’s when I start to see what I want to see. For the rest of the time I work back and forth between putting in more white and more black. It’s a balancing act until it’s finished.

I’m not sure if it was inspiration or just keeping my eyes open for something different to draw but I really enjoyed the process of making these “Monsters on Comics.” I worked on a bunch of them over the weekend and got six of then done. They make for a nice little set.