The Who's In Charge? there pager I drew was written by John Freeman and asked for a busy big panel on page one featuring The Swots and the Blots, The Bumpkin Billionaires, and anyone else I wanted to add. The Swots and Blots were favourites of mine back in the 1960s when they were in Smash! so of course I jumped at the chance to draw them.
Shown here are a couple of photos I took when the pencils were partly completed. You'll notice from the left hand side of the panel that I lightly rough out shapes first to indicate where characters will be. In this case I'd chosen to start doing more detailed pencils of the kids in the playground first, before I'd pencilled Weary Willie and Tired Tim properly on the left there.
Yep, I know my pencil roughs look very messy. It's just the way I've always worked to channel the energy of the characters from my mind onto paper. I know which lines I'll ink even if no one else does. I'm glad we don't have to work the American method by having other people ink our pencils. It'd take me twice as long to do neat enough pencils for the inker to follow!
Some of you may be wondering why I use a blue pencil. It's a certain shade of blue that the scanner doesn't pick up after I've inked the pages. It saves me erasing the usual grey pencils. Besides, the ink from the fibre-tip pens and brush pens I use now would fade to grey if I tried to erase pencil lines. (Yes, I still ink traditionally, then scan the art into Photoshop.)
I usually draw my strips "twice up", which is twice the width and twice the height of the published piece. Obviously that would mean a huge A2 original page, but I draw each page in two A3 halves, then assemble them in Photoshop after I've scanned them in.
Speaking of Photoshop, that's the software I use to colour the pages. As I've said before, I prefer doing computer colouring than the old method of using a brush and colour inks that I used throughout the 1990s. Anyway, here's the finished result of the half page show above. (Click on images to see them larger.) The dialogue balloons and captions would be added later after the editor passed it onto the letterer.