The Matt Kindt REVOLVER Process continues! Day 4
Pencils and inks. During the creation of 3 Story and then for Revolver I stopped working in a vacuum. Up until these last two books I’d just gone away and written and inked the books and then showed them to the editor before publication. But with these last two books and going forward I began to show early stages to trusted (and brutally honest) friends to get feedback and to ask questions. And at the end of the day I think that it really helps. You can be too close to your work and not see something glaringly obvious—sometimes it’s a mistake or something that’s unclear but other times it might just be a missed opportunity to make a moment a little better.
From an art standpoint there’s also a lot to be gained from working with other artists. Sharing studio space and time with a friend of mine (Brian Hurtt)--similar things happened with the art. I used to just go into a page and pencil with whatever pencil I had laying around and pencil pretty rough. If the page is penciled too tight then there’s no fun in the inking because it’s all been figured out. There’s no “danger” or thrill of sort of figuring it out on the fly and improvising on the page.
The flipside to that is, sometimes you end up with some bad drawings. So I adopted a technique I’d seen Brian using where he’d go in with a light colored pencil and rough in the shapes and general layout and then go back over the top of that with a mechanical pencil and tighten it up. It took a little longer but I feel like it really improved my art. I still left it kind of rough to keep the inking interesting but it improved the underlying structure of the drawings.
After the pencils are done then I head to inks. I ink with a Sumi Japanese calligraphy ink because it puts really solid blacks down and is super-waterproof so I can use water color over the top of it, or in the case of Revolver, a second Windsor-Newton colored ink. For a brush, I use a #2 Raphael Kolinsky Sable Hair brush. Because I usually work on a rougher water color paper surface the brush tips don’t last that long and I typically go through 10-15 brushes per book.
The reason I use the admittedly garish orange ink over the black is so that I once I scan it in, it’s really easy to isolate that orange color on a separate layer in Photoshop and change it into any color I want. This is a trick I’d learned when doing Super Spy where the color was also key to the story. In Revolver, that second color would be critical to helping the reader figure out which world they were in.
For Revolver I also wanted to create a fictional science-fiction author and book that both Sam and his antagonist could share. It’s a definite nod to one of my favorite authors, Philip K. Dick. Since I wasn’t quite sure what the final colors of the book were going to be I just designed the entire book cover and left it in full color until the final pass on production. Given the time I would have loved to actually write this entire novel as sort of a world-building piece. There just isn’t enough time in the day.
In the finished color pages I had to be pretty careful with the color choice. The book is printed in two colors so the blue and the brown had to both work as line art and also work as a lighter secondary color.
My earliest books were all black and white so once I was able to work in color I think that background in black and white really helped me think about color. Color isn’t something that you just add to pretty it up. Color should be as important as the story. If it’s not helping the storytelling than it really isn’t necessary. So given the chance to use color I’ve always tried to make it fit the narrative. With Revolver, I think it’s the first book where the color choice is essential to understanding the story.