The Technique: A Look at the Process of Comic Book Art


Without it, comic books would not exist. Our imaginations would be bland, barren wastelands full of nothing but tumbleweeds. This website would be a product of science fiction.

Lucky for us, art is alive and well in the world, making our favourite sequential storytelling colourful and vibrant. Comic books are a perfect muscle to flex to keep art alive, but strangely enough it seems not very many people stop to consider everything that actually goes into making a comic. Yes, writers have the majority of the power, but it is the artist that makes the words come to life, that keeps walls of dialogue interesting, that sets visual prompts to our favourite characters. Artists spend long hours drawing and inking and colouring so that we can enjoy the finished product, the true intention of a great story… picture books for grown ups.

Now, I am not professing to be an artist by any means. Though I’m a creative person, the only thing I can accomplish drawing is a unicorn that looks more like a dinosaur. But as someone who works in this industry and as a true appreciator of art, I have found myself surrounded by more talented people than I know what to do with. As a writer I don’t have much to do at conventions once I have covered x amount of panels and photographed every cosplayer I can feasibly stalk, so I have habitually started lurking around my artist friends and watching them work. The creative process is so fascinating to me: how someone can look at a blank page and transmit what is ringing around in their brain into lines and beauty. But despite the fact I have always been interested in such things, I never really stopped to consider how most art comes to its finished form. I knew there were drafts and so many brush strokes etc, but when one is looking at a piece of art it usually doesn’t go much deeper than admiration for the product in front of you.

My convention lurking changed all that.

I’m currently more amazed with the process than I usually am with a finished piece of art. I am absolutely enraptured with the way an artist’s hands move, the natural way they pick up pens and sketch in tiny details. I’ve become absolutely enamored with the preciseness of each line, the tiny mistakes that give drawings character. So one day it occurred to me that maybe other people didn’t realize how incredible the road to an end was, and as someone equipped with an expensive camera and a million connections to various artists, perhaps I should share this experience with others. This began a new excursion into creeping over artist’s shoulders with a camera and learning how to edit videos. It’s something I’ve recently taken to doing, but a project I would like to share with the comic book community nonetheless.

Below you will find sped up, over the shoulder footage of three artists: Ben Templesmith, Charlie Adlard, and Jean Jacques Dzialowski. They are all videos of sketches the artists were creating at conventions, so it is a more “pure” or "raw" form of art, less polished and finished than perhaps pin ups or comic book pages.


Ben Templesmith is probably best known as the artist of 30 Days of Night, a vampire comic that was made into a movie a few years ago. However, he has made a name for himself in the comic book world with other titles like Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse, Fell and Welcome to Hoxford. His style is dark and possesses a kitschy sort of humor, which has earned him a cult-like following of dedicated fans. Although he has never done a superhero comic in any official capacity, fans oftentimes ask him to sketch his own interpretation of beloved characters. Here he is drawing Ghost Rider.



As you can see, Templesmith’s process is not very precise. His lines are messy and sketchy and he usually only works in two colours when he is sketching at conventions: red and black. Occasionally he will use watercolours and washes to give drawings more depth. Whatever the process is, the Templesmith "style” shines through even when he is drawing a Marvel character.

Charlie Adlard is the long running artist of The Walking Dead. He has been drawing comics for years but Walking Dead is certainly his biggest title and the work he's most known for. His style is incredibly recognizable due to the fact he uses lots of blacks and shadows. Here he is drawing Michonne.


What I find interesting about Adlad’s technique is that he starts out with very precise and clean lines and then fills in a lot of black to give it his “signature” look.

Jean Jacques Dzialowski is a charming French artist I met at a small festival in Illzach, France. He is an exceptionally talented artist who is up and coming and has worked on titles like Batman. Watching him work is truly mesmerizing, as every brush stroke and mark is calculated and precise, like he has had the drawing planned in his head for years instead of mere minutes.


Unfortunately, my camera only records in 12 minute chunks at a time, and Jean Jacques works at a very slow pace, putting incredible effort into even convention sketches. Therefore, the entire process is not recorded above, but the picture at the end is the finished product.

Due to the fact I travel to an exponential amount of conventions each year, please continue to watch my YouTube channel for more installments of “Molly being a lurker and video-ing artists over their shoulders”. Or, if you guys like these videos enough, maybe I'll turn this into a regular feature!


Molly McIsaac believes in unicorns and currently can't stop eating crepes. One time she made a fort out of longboxes and slept inside it for a week… when she was an adult. She likes to tell the world about her bizarre existence with Twitter, where you can go stalk her mercilessly.


  1. very cool, kinda wish they weren’t sped up though, still amazing!

  2. Wow, Molly.  That last one is beautiful!

  3. I *love* these videos. I could watch people draw forever.

  4. Great videos! I approve.

  5. agree. the last one was just amazing. who knew templesmith could draw diffrently then all of his other work? i didnt.

  6. The music synced with Templesmith’s Ghost Rider is spot on I love how they hit the bridge at the same time he switches to red for the flames.  BTW, who is performing that?

  7. Yeah, what Connor said, I like watching this process as well.  Thanks for sharing, and if you come by more such videos I hope you share.  Thanks.

  8. I’m also interested in what type materials they use, what type studioes they work in, who their influences were, what movies and music they listen to if any while they work, etc.  The Comic Journal used to be a pretty good resource for that, before they got too expensive and naval gazing. 😉

  9. I loved watching the videos, hope to see more in the future! Wow!

  10. I have never used heroin in my life, but I imagine this is what it feels like when I watch artists drawing on video. For a guy who can’t even draw proper stick men, this is like bloody magic before my eyes.

  11. So great to see the work in action – amazed at how moody Adlard’s work becomes once he gets out that thicker pen and works his magic.

  12. this is really inspiring and useful, please turn it into a regular feature. My brain has never been so full of different things to try out.

    watching artists work really lets me see how I can improve, and trust me, I need as much help as I can get 

  13. Wow. I could watch these over and over.

  14. The a horrifying and morbid Ghost Rider.

  15. I love templesmith… Welcome to Hoxford locked me into his style and now I have everything he’s ever drawn.

  16. Those videos are fantastic. The last two are just sooo good.

  17. What surprises me is the fact that the french artist got remnants of a real face going in 3 seconds. I do alot of erasing before I get to where I’m at.

  18. these are my new favorite things, videos of other artists drawing.. I had no idea these existed, but now I can’t get enuff of them! I usually find a couple to watch to inspire me before hunkering down at the drafting table..
    thanks for posting these! and PS you should make it a regular thing!