This is page two from "No Good Deed" in Gen 13 #36. I'm not showing you the final pencils or inks but if you compare the scans you can see how I worked out some of the background elements and clarified what I was going to do with the shadows. I'm making a mental note to attempt a blog entry on problem solving one of these days. The how-to books always seem to overlook that subject even though it's a huge, recurring part of the penciller/inker/cartoonist's job. This story didn't have any big problems to solve. The script was clear as Waterford and if we hit any snags, I don't remember them.
Picture one shows the pencils after all the obvious stuff is resolved. I wasn't sure about the corn dog vendor in panel one or the background in panel four. I knew I wanted some shadows in the last panel since our point of view is inside the trailer and we have bright sunlight coming in the window but I was having trouble imagining what the panel would look like if I made more than half of it solid black.
So I made a copy of the pencils and started doing some sketching on it. First with a pencil, then with a fat marker. Picture two shows were that got me. A black background for panel two. fading into a crosshatch pattern and maybe a shadow cutting diagonally across the vendor's head.
Panel four: The trailer on the left, carnival tent and maybe a ferris wheel on the right. Everything should be far enough away from our main character so that we focus on him and his posture. He's bummed out because the fryer's broken and he can't get a corn dog. By the way, the kerosene lamp in the next panel is a nice touch. I wish it was my idea but it was in the script so either Jerry Prosser or John Arcudi thought of it.
Seeing the final panel with all those roughed in shadows put my mind at ease. Piece of cake.
Next I returned to the board and started working out those details in pencil and inking the areas that I was sure about. That previous step might've seemed like a waste of time but it helped me to see where I was going so I think it was worth it because it made the rest of the pencilling go a little faster.
I ruled some light perspective guide lines in the first, fourth and final panels. These can help suggest details as well as giving you a guide for freehand drawing. I moved the ketchup and mustard containers so our vendor is peaking over them.
Then I finished the pencils on our disgruntled hero as he walks away in panel four. I inked him next so that I wouldn't have to worry about smearing his lines if I did a lot of erasing and redrawing on the carnival buildings behind him.
A little detail on the sliding window helps us keep our bearings and maybe a little cross hatching in the open space so that we get the sense that there's other stuff back there, it's just out of focus.
I also decided not to put the shadow across the vendor's forehead in panel two. I'm not sure why because I think it would have worked fine, but I just chickened out. Or maybe I just forgot.
I'll wrap this up by mentioning the research that I did before I started drawing. Today I'd probably just do a quick web search but back in 1997 I was frustrated as I tried to figure out how corn dogs were supposed to be deep fried. In baskets, like french fries? Hung from a custom apparatus? I didn't have a clue. So I did what we used to do back in the dark ages; I asked around. My brother hooked me up with a friend of his who owns the Pronto Pup concession at our local State Fair. He opened up one of his stands on a cold winter day and very enthusiastically showed me how it all works. I never showed him the story because it paints his product in a slightly negative light but I really appreciated his help. The vendor in the story was not based on him. Not even a little bit.