Comic Book Artists Roundtable: Bringing comics to life with art


At this Toronto Comicon roundtable, I learn more about comic book art with artists Jahnoy Lindsay, Megan Huang, and inker Matt Santorelli.

The art of comic books is a fascinating, complicated and often confounding aspect of the industry. At the recently concluded Toronto Comicon, I decided to go behind the scenes to unravel the mystery surrounding how written words can be turned into glorious illustrations.

Choosing only a select few artists at the Artists Alley was hard, but I had the opportunity to catch up with Luke Cage – Marvel Digital Original artist Jahnoy Lindsay (that has been his favorite project to work on so far), up-and-coming Toronto comic creator Megan Huang (I was the first person ever to interview her!), and veteran inker Matt Santorelli, who was the happiest person in the Alley. Here’s what they had to say about their comic book processes, loves and dreams.

Comic Book Artists Roundtable – Jahnoy Lindsay, Megan Huang, Matt Santorelli – Photo by Monita Mohan

Can you tell us about the process of drawing a comic?

Jahnoy Lindsay: For me, the process starts with an editor from a publisher sending you a script. And then from that, we do storyboards – like thumbnails, to plan how the script will be turned to art. And then from those thumbnails, after they are approved, you move on to the pencil stage. And once the pencils are approved, you move onto an inking stage. And then from that inking stage, it gets sent off to a colorist, who then colors it. And then it gets printed.

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Megan Huang: If I do it all myself, I basically start with a concept and build upon it. I do all the concept art – I design all the individual characters, and the world even, because you can’t write a story without knowing the world. After that, I start to write. And then from there, based on what I’ve written – which is the script – I start to draw. And that’s the fun part; that’s where I actually get to show people the world. I get to show people what’s in my head and show them what I love, really. That’s kind of the process, really. So it goes from concept, concept art, writing and then finishing it with full color art. Some people just do inks alone, or letters alone and pencils alone, but that’s how I personally do my stuff.

Matt Santorelli: There are different sections of comic book art. There’s the penciller, the inker, the colorist, the letterer. I handle the inks, so that really is just getting the pencils from the penciller and sort of finishing the artwork in black and white and get it ready for the colorist to go. So it really is a team effort, all the cogs working towards the one thing. So if one of those cogs is late, then we’re all late. That’s the gist of it. Long days; long nights. [Laughs]

What is the one thing you love about comic book art?

JL: It’s a fun job. I get to draw these amazing characters. I just love drawing and being able to put that love for something and being able to find a career in it is what I love most about it.

MH: It’s very expressive. I just love the energy that some of the artists I idolize like Jason [Loo] here have in their art. Some people can make very expressive characters and tell a very good story, without even using words. I think that’s a really great talent to have.

MS: Just the different styles that it comes in. Everybody brings something different to it, especially me as an inker. I get to work with many different pencillers, with many different styles. So that’s one of the things that I love about it – to interpret different styles. I love the fans, as well. It’s quite rewarding.

Which character would you love to draw at least once in your career?

JL: I would love to draw Storm. Storm would be great, because she’s my favorite X-Men character. I would love to draw a lot of the X-Men, but Storm specifically.

MH: Spider-Gwen! If you saw Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, you would know how awesome she is. So I would love to work on one of her books. And I follow the writer, and I follow the artist. I showed [one of her Spider-Gwen artworks] to Marvel. So I’m really pushing to get on one of their books.

Spider-Gwen by Megan Huang (Credit: Megan Huang)

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MS: The X-Men. Any X-Men. I grew up in the ‘90s, so that was my go-to. So if I got to do that, it would be amazing. For DC, Green Lantern was always my favorite, and I was fortunate enough to work on that book. That was like, dream come true.