Infinite Comics: Marvel's New Format Changes How Comics Are Created And Read

The first issue of Marvel's new Infinite Comics format comes out on the iPad tomorrow. It's a technological step forward — it allows artists pace the storytelling, by shifting focus within a single drawing, or staggering the appearance of text bubbles in dialogue. Yet, as Marvel's Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada tells Gizmodo, the new format retains what makes a comic a comic.

The biggest benefit of reading and making comics digitally, Quesada said, is the ability to surpass the printed page as a medium to show fine levels of detail. This is particularly dramatic on the new iPad. "Some artists draw lines that are so thin that they don't even print," Quesada said. But with the ability to zoom in on retina-enabled comics, along with the brightness and colour of the display, readers will be able to see all the intricacy in the artists' work.

Digital hasn't changed the process for everyone, though. Quesada says a majority of inkers still work with plain old pen and paper because the penstrokes are so hard to replicate digitally. About the only thing that's changed is that now the images can be scanned and transferred, instead of shipped. "We save a lot of money on FedEx compared to the old days."

Quesada's drawing hardware of choice is a 21-inch Wacom Cintiq. To produce the art, Quesada uses a stylus along with the Wacom's version of AutoDesk's Sketchbook. It's a popular, good program, but it isn't something Quesada can produce on the iPad itself.

That's the irony. The iPad may display the finished product beautifully, but Quesada can't work on an iPad to create the art. "It's not designed for art," Quesada said. "I wish they would consider the artist with the iPad." He has a point. But the capacitive technology just isn't ready yet.

What is ready — tomorrow — is the first comic of its kind: Avengers vs X-Men #1 Infinite. Quesada took the time to bang out some notes on the process, along with the rough pencils and inked images. Check out the gallery for high-res images of the art and Joe's process.

And here's the whole cover, illustrated by Quesada for AvX #1 Infinite.

This image shows how I made certain that the blurred space backgrounds played well one into the next as well as the forward movement and twist of the character in space.

Now after all the prelim work is done, it's time to get to the real work, DRAWING! Here's a very loose gesture drawing the first Nova panel scribbled in Photoshop.

Now in Sketchbook, my favourite drawing app, I work my way to final pencils. Keep in mind that for expediency sake, I'm skipping over several steps that get me to this tight pencil stage. Trust me, I'm saving from the boring stuff.

Here are the finished inks done in Photoshop. When you ink, do not, I repeat, DO NOT use the brush tool, use the pencil. The brush will give you a soft line that will look horrible in print. Also, when inking in Photoshop it'll appear as though some of the lines are pixelated, but they will smooth out in print as long as you are inking at a decent resolution. I usually ink at 600 dpi and then reduce it down to 400 for print purposes.

Here's my loose gesture drawing for the next panel. Let me just say it out loud, Nova's helmet is a bitch to draw. My hard drive is litter with rejected versions of the helmet.

Speaking of tough to draw, some days are green days and the pencil can't be stopped, anything you want to draw seems to come to you magically. It's like a baseball player when he's on a hot streak. And then there are days when nothing seems to be working. I don't care if your Leonardo da Vinci or John Romita Jr, everyone has a bad day (actually I'll bet JR JR never had). On the day I was drawing this panel I was struggling to get the arm just right. That's when I resort to the artist's best friend, photo reference. Thanks to my faithful iSight Camera I just snap a quick pick of my flabby arm and away we go.

Final pencils.

Final inks. For those wondering, because I was under tremendous dealing pressure, in order to nail the circular graphics on Nova's costume, I simply built the circles in Photoshop and then edited them in TRANSFORM using the EDIT tool. Ahhh who am I kidding, even without the deadline I would have done it this way.

This angle was a huge pain to draw. In order to nail it I took a picture of myself laying on the floor. While my legs are sexy as hell, the rest of me is too out of shape to show the photo. Sorry kids, I can't demystify everything.

Final inks, for the speed lines I used Manga Studio EX4, they have a great perspective tool designed just for these occasions.

Finally the pencils for the Phoenix. Let me add that this may very well be the first time anyone has drawn the Phoenix from the underside and while I thought of it, I avoiding drawing its junk.

Finally the pencils for the Phoenix. Let me add that this may very well be the first time anyone has drawn the Phoenix from the underside and while I thought of it, I avoiding drawing its junk.

Final inks... PHEW, time to sleep.

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