Working in comics, Part 4: Optics.

Working in comics, Part 4: Optics. 

A couple of weeks ago, in front of some food I was chatting with my friend, Colorist Kote Carvajal. Topic changed from our daily struggle, comic book documentaries and then the lenght of our carreers in comics (which he summed up in this post), I came to a slightly different conclusion, but bottom line it’s a similar one. It’s not the time on the business. It’s the meaning of it.

We named several artists and tried to find out how are they right now. It was surprising that I knew way more about 60, 70’s 80 and 90’s artists whereabouts than I thought.

If you play your cards wisely you can work up to your sixties.

Up until today I have not found new paid jobs. For that matter I have accepted two back end projects so if they publish, and after they have cover the expenses, then I’d might see some cash. It’s quite frustrating, since I’m looking at the end of my first year as a semi-pro inker and my numbers are not as good as I thought they would be. However the meaning of it means to find a better style of work.


I’m changing the optics, then. To widen my boundaries. I will work as many tests sample pages as actual work. I’ll send sample sets every specific amount of time. first, this publisher, then this another. Wait two weeks, send another set of sample pages…

This teaches me that despite inking is a team up collaboration type of work, getting to be known is an individual task. Let me show you an example: I received some bad news lately: The guy I have been inking the most since 2010 is currently struggling with family issues – which I wish only but a quick recovery and all the bests. That leaves me alone, because all the knowledge I gain understanding his craft goes into oblivion.

Relying in just one penciler is not a good suggestion to a newcomer. Find good and several pencilers to work with.

Inkers are – in my opinion –  the most unsecure, unstable, most depending on other’s work making it the weakest link on the comic production team. Writer depends on penciler and colorist on penciler. Comic may need a colorist or maybe not. Penciler depends to colorist, but inkers… buf… it’s harsh. You can be a colorist and color different titles and you can be recognize by your palette, but your color still can works. On the other side, the inker struggles with a truth with plays in your favor if you are a well recognized inker (*), but against you if you are trying to step from Amateur to semi pro to professional inker: You art is welded to the penciler’s craft. Inker contribution relies on shape, light, form, texture, depth and maybe some fixing corrections, but are the amount of pages you and your penciler do together also shows a unique talent of partnership that pops up and gives the extra your publisher loves. If the penciler suddenly walks away (he ends his carreer, does not have you in mind for newer commissions, whatever…), then all those pages you did together won’t work.

So mixing inking sample pages while inking current commissions, it what I thought it will help me to find more pencilers that will be able to team up with me and make my list of pencilers wider.

I’ll let you know how it goes.



(*) By a recognizable inker I mean those who you can recognize his craft no matter the penciler. Jonathan Glapion, Danny Miki, Scott Williams, Joe Weems, Batt, Rich Friend, Klaus Janson, Tim Townsend…)

(Upper picture, © Camilo Mendoza – Mesa Gráfica)

(Lower picture, © UPI – Cooperativa)


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Born in Barcelona, 1977, now I live in Chile. I'm currently working as a inker or letterer for several American, New Zealand or UK publishers like Beyond Reality Media, Alterna Comics, Advent Comics, Insane Comics, IDW Publishing, Ariete Producciones and Dogitia among others.

2 responses to “Working in comics, Part 4: Optics.”

  1. crisuadi says :

    Hey , Cristian , you never thought becaming a penciler your self ?

    • DOCINKS says :

      I have previously done several penciled pages. Latest effort was posted on this blog (Midnight Delivery Service). However I would considerate a full penciler + inker carreer only if the situation leads me to it, since my main goal is to became a professional inker. Thanks for dropping by!

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