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by alparrott

It may surprise you to learn that each day's GBK strips often do not reach fruition until minutes before the self-imposed deadline of noon EST every weekday. This razor-thin margin of time management seems to lend a little urgency to the creative process, and for someone with a oft-professed lack of self-discipline, this is actually a big help.

The deadline works out to about eight PM on my current side of the world, so about noon I begin to brainstorm ideas on how Kitty will shuffle off the mortal coil today. This is no longer so easy as it once was. The fact that I have a photgraphic, encyclopaedic memory helps, in that I am able to quickly able to compare ideas against those already published and discard ideas that hew too close to, or reuse too much of, a previous concept. Very often I come to the drawing table prepared with some ideas from subscribers (on the Facebook side, people are not shy at all about suggesting cruel and unusual punishment). Co-conspirators Dave B. and Dave N. often act as a sounding board-slash-focus group-slash-think tank for the day's savagery.

Next I grab some regular old 8.5 by 11 copy paper (often used on one side) and a pencil and quickly sketch in the rough layout of the strip. Once I have a basic layout that I like, I may flesh out the trickier elements of the cartoon in pencil as well. 

The ink is usually done with a fine-tip Sharpie over the pencils. Permanent ink gives a very definitive line that transfers well on a scanner. Also, the original character's look uses a heavy line, so I feel like I'm keeping faith with the look of the source material. Finer line work, such as crosshatching, shading, and lettering is usually done with a finer-tip technical pen or gel pen after the heavy lines are in, which is reverse from how I was taught to do it back when I was slavishly following the "How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way" book. 

Once the strip is inked, I erase the pencil lines and retreat to my computer, where the sketch is scanned into Paint Shop Pro at full size in black and white, to preserve the lines.

Once it's in the program, I will often use a flood fill to take care of large black areas (although many times I'll fat-marker ink it at the drawing table). For special effects such as lighting or blurs, I first switch the comic to greyscale, which really doesn't do anything to the B&W sketch except enable the special effects. If the strip calls for it I may use two or three shades of grey for coloring or contrast. Rarely, I will kick the whole thing up to millions of colors and color a key element in the sketch that otherwise might not be identifiable (a red Star Trek uniform, Kryptonite, molten metal). 

"Post-production", as I call it, is also a nifty place to put right the little errors that creep in when inking - misplaced lines, not-quite-erased pencil marks, et cetera. If I have accidentally misplaced something on the page, due to my dislike for backgrounds I can usually grab and drag the offending item and put it where I should have drawn it in the first place.

The last thing I do in post-production is check to see that I have drawn on Kitty's whiskers, I forget those things all the time.

The entire strip is then resized for the webpage (current a default width of 650 pixels and whatever proportional height that works out to), the GBK logo is added to the strip, and the result saved and uploaded, with titles and captions worked out as I am putting them online. 

I then check to see that all the pictures work, the RSS feed updates, and then within a day or so (usually just an hour or two) I check to see what comments have come back on the strips.

Doing this fifteen times a week can be stressful at times, but I don't want to disappoint 382 people just yet.