Typically a comic book is produced by many creators. This is an attempt to outline the process of comic book creation, explaining each of the creators credited in today’s typical comic and what they do.
The process of production begins with a story idea. This idea is known as the plot for the story. Plotting is the first phase of comic book writing. The next step in the writing process is the scripting phase. There are two major forms of comics scripting. The first has become known as the Marvel Method as it was used by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby during Marvel Comics’ Silver Age. This form has the plot being given to the penciller (see below) who then draws pages based on the plot and returns them to the writer. The writer then writes dialogue and captions based on the images on the page. The second method of scripting is known as the DC method as it was the favored method of DC Comics throughout the Silver Age of Comics. This method has the writer write up all of the dialogue, scene description and captions before the penciller begins work on a page. The penciller then follows the prepared script when producing pages.
The Penciller (with Breakdowns and Layouts)
Whichever method is chosen for scripting, the next person involved with the creation process is the penciller. The penciller is responsible for breaking the story down into a series of sequential images called panels. The penciller will here loosely place objects, figures, etc. This portion of the creation phase is called the layout or breakdown phase. The penciller may here continue to draw in the complete figures or leave them for the next phase of creation.
If the penciller has not chosen to finish the complete drawing of the page the next person involved in the process is known as the finisher. This person will finish the drawing of the pages as well as perform the duties of the inker (see below).
After the penciling has been finished the next person to work on the comic page was traditionally the letterer. The letterer is responsible for adding the dialogue, captions and sound effects directly onto the page. Letterers used to work exclusively by hand, but with the advent of computers this stage has become almost completely computer-generated, allowing for the letterer to work on a page after the inker has already finished with the page.
The inker is the person who adds ink to the pages, either with a brush, quill or felt-tipped pen, darkening them up for printing. Typically the inker will add shadows to panels and make lines more expressive. They may also modify the penciller's work if need be.
When the inking and lettering are finished the pages (if they are to be printed in color) will next go to the colorist. This is the person responsible for determining which colors will be seen in the final printing of the pages. The colorist makes a color guide, traditionally using ink or paint, but today most often using computers. This guide will be used by the printer when the comic book goes to press.
The overall production of the comic book is supervised by the editor who is responsible for assigning the pages to their respective creators, as well as checking for spelling and continuity errors in both the script and art.