Comic Strips are formatted different ways for different size requirements. The “drop panel” is a panel or tier of the strip that can be omitted because of size restrictions without affecting the gag or storyline.
For example, Here’s today’s Sunday strip (June 9, 2013) as it appears on Daily Ink and in many papers.
And here is the black and white version with the drop panel.
For those readers who haven’t seen them, here’s a spotlight on last month’s Sally Forth drop panels.
Side note: They’re black and white as I don’t have access to the color files.
The standardized system to format strips for newspapers was devised years ago by King Features’ Comic Art Production Supervisor, Frank Chillino (1920-2007). It helped streamline the process saving countless hours of production time (and money) for King.
Frank Chillino was my boss when I first started at King – One of the greats! The above pic is from the 1993 King Features Christmas party in New York City. For those interested, the following link is an interview from when he retired back in 1991. As mentioned in the post, it pretty much encapsulates the history of the syndicated newspaper strip, as Chillino was one of the key players…
Art: Craig MacIntosh (earlier strips) and Jim Keefe (most recent).
To borrow from Lee Falk, For those who came in late…
After the holidays, a less than stellar reunion…
Missing a beat…
Things go from bad to worse…
Depression sets in…
Trying to make sense of things…
Parents are consulted…
THEN OUT OF THE BLUE…
Is Nona back to stay or just back to have her say?
Will Hil apologies in a way that only makes things horrendously worse?
And if so, CAN FAYE STOP HER IN TIME?!
For the answer to these and many more questions,
TUNE IN NEXT WEEK.
SAME SALLY FORTH-TIME, SAME SALLY FORTH-CHANNEL!
If Sally Forth isn’t in your local paper, you can check it out online at…
A yearlong subscription to all of King Features’ comics (new and vintage) plus two years worth of archives for every single strip is a pittance at $19.99 a year. Unsure? Try a 7 day trial subscription for free.
As many of you have already heard, I’m the new artist of the Sally Forth comic strip. My name has been on the dailies since March 11th, and even though I drew the strip for this past Sunday (3/31/2013), that was the last one overseen by cartoonist Craig MacIntosh and bears his name.
Back story: A few years ago I connected with Craig and began working as his assistant inking and coloring the Sally Forth Sunday pages. When Craig decided to retire last year I worked up some samples (under Craig’s watchful eye) which were then submitted to King Features Syndicate. After navigating the proper channels the word was given from on high – editorial approval – and I was given the green light
I can’t say enough about how great it was working with Craig. He’s the consummate professional who makes the incredibly stellar work he does look easy – a great friend and mentor.
Sally Forth is currently written by bestselling author, cartoonist and writer, Francesco Marciuliano. He was handed the baton by Sally Forth’s creator, Greg Howard, when Greg decided to retire from the strip back in 1999.
I was a fan of the Sally Forth comic strip long before coming on board, so I truly lucked out as far as being able to collaborate with Francesco. In addition to being a 15-year veteran on the strip, he knows the characters inside and out – which as far as I’m concerned makes the humor strike closer to home.
Warning: Unabahed plug time.
If Sally Forth isn’t in your local paper, you can check it out online at…
A yearlong subscription to all of King Features’ comics (new and vintage) plus a year’s archive for every single strip is a pittance at $19.99 a year. Unsure? Try a 7 day trial subscription for free.
Unabashed plug officially over.
Going to wrap this up now as deadlines are looming.
For the past fifteen years or so I’ve been providing illustrations for a syndicated column called Sew Simple. When I started the feature it was written by Eunice Farmer, now it’s done by her daughter, Vicki Farmer Ellis.
Basically what’s needed is a black and white drawing created from a color illustration or photo. Over the years I combined the traditional pen and ink with digital to produce the work.
The general steps involved in creating the artwork starts with making a non-repro blue copy of the reference to ink over, thus creating the line art. I could have done it all digitally by creating the line art using a Wacom tablet, but I still prefer the line I get with a traditional dip pen.
After the line art is done, I’d then manipulate the reference to create certain tones in Photoshop, or just lay in a tone in grayscale. The last step would be to bitmap the image.
The mixing of pen and ink and digital can be tricky as you don’t want the combination to be jarring to the eye. The pen and ink has to be up to a photo realistic level and the digital adjusted so it is in harmony with the pen and ink. Here’s some examples.
I’m posting these as the print date of February 3, 2013 wraps up my tenure on the feature (had to pass on renewing my contract due to time constraints I had involving other work). A lot of work freelancers do is uncredited, so I hope you enjoyed the little peak inside the process of a syndicated feature.
Back in 2002 I dropped Joe Kubert a line asking if he’d be interested in drawing a Flash Gordon Sunday page for the small sum I could afford to pay at the time. I figured I had a shot at him accepting as first, I was a Kubert School alum, and secondly (and more importantly) because of his fondness of the strip and its creator, Alex Raymond.
He said yes with the stipulation that he would have full control over the finished product. In essence, for the paltry sum I had offered, he was willing to do not just the art but also the lettering, coloring and color separations as well. He also wanted to include as many classic Raymond characters as possible. I sent him some reference (Raymond clip art and color specs) and a loose script that I told him not to adhere to – to just use as a springboard. I gave him the page well in advance so I would have plenty of time to fashion the surrounding Sunday pages in regards to continuity.
Flash Gordon Sunday page: Loose script
Reaction shot of Flash, Vultan and Thun to creature (creature as yet unseen).
Vultan and Thun are momentarily frozen to the spot.
Flash springing forward into action.
Flash and Thun have swords, Vultan has spear. See reference for costume.
Note: Flash wearing holster but gun has been removed.
Text Box: As the grisly creature enters the arena, Flash springs into action!
Flash: Vultan, Thun, no time to waste… That thing is headed straight for Dale!
Panel 2 (inset in panel 3)
Close up on Ming in his spectator’s booth. A look of macabre enjoyment lights his face.
Text Box: Far above the horrible spectacle, Ming issues a proclamation as old on Mongo as time itself…
Ming: Let the Tournaments of Death Begin!
Flash, Vultan and Thun engaging creature as it reaches Dale. Dale is chained to center of arena (see reference), straining at bonds.
Vultan flying, swooping in for the attack.
Creature is your design – go nuts!
Text Box (lower right hand corner): To be continued!
Promptly and WAY before deadline, he emailed me the finished artwork.
The changes he made to the script were sublime.
Flash entering with weapons? Where’s the fun in that?
Joe had Flash and his allies chained in the center of the arena – defenseless.
The layout: Panoramic establishing shot followed by reaction shots of our helpless captives leading up to the cliffhanger as the creature is released.
A master storyteller, Joe had amped up the drama from my initial script to a fevered pitch.
After the page saw print I sent Joe a copy of it from the Boston Herald’s Sunday Comics section. A few week later I got the following response…
December 2, 2002
It’s amazing and sad the depths to which syndication has sunk. I was sorry that they distorted the strip to the extent that they did, but what do people say about crying over spilt milk?
I hope the New Year brings good things for you.
To fully understand Joe’s reaction I’ve included the following quick visual showing what Joe Kubert grew up reading in the 1930’s compared to what Sunday comics look like today.
A short time afterward Mark McMurray and I (a fellow alum) were visiting Joe in his studio and I asked (if it wasn’t any trouble) if I could get a copy of his Flash Gordon Sunday page artwork full size. Joe found the art and asked me if I would rather just have the original instead – dumbfounded I accepted. He bent forward to sign it for me, and before pen touched paper he turned to me and said, “I better not see this on eBay tomorrow.”