My friends over at the Nerdy Book Club asked illustrators to post a sample of the size they create their original work at, and use the hashtag #iDrawThisBig. The quarter is there for reference, but I think the better reference is the books themselves — all of my books have the same trim size, so you can easily see the paper size in contrast to the books in the photos. I posted my results on Instagram along with some annotations, but thought you guys might like to see them too, and putting everything in one post seemed like a good idea.
First up: SMILE! Smile and Sisters were both drawn on 9×12 Bristol board. When I began Smile as a weekly webcomic back in 2004, my goal was to spend as little time as possible on each page, and working small kept me in line. It also lent a sense of intimacy to such a personal project. I repeated this technique with Sisters, as you will see! Drama and the four Baby-sitters Club graphic novels were all drawn larger. Also, for those interested, Smile is my only published book to date with hand-lettering. All of the others were lettered with a font based on my handwriting.
Fun fact…I chose to show this page because it takes place on my first day as a student at Lowell High School in San Francisco…and my 20-year reunion is this fall!! Time truly flies when you’re having fun.
Next : DRAMA! Drama pages were drawn on 11×14 Bristol board. The four Baby-sitters Club graphic novels were also drawn at this paper size. Drama is the project where I began adding panel borders digitally. It saves some time and ensures the margins are straight, which pleases the design team at the publisher! I chose this page because I love bookstores.
Fun fact…The store in this scene is called Longacre’s…Mrs. Longacre was a frequent substitute teacher at my elementary school, and she subbed long-term in my third grade class while my regular teacher had surgery or something. Mrs. L was kind and caring, in stark contrast to our regular teacher, who was an angry, tough lady, and I remember that being a wonderful month within a really difficult year. However, both teachers left a mark, and I learned SO much from both of them.
Finally, SISTERS! It was actually quite challenging to go back to this smaller paper size after Drama, but I felt that it was important to work similarly to the way I created Smile, because this was a companion book. My working methods changed a lot between Smile and Sisters, though…I no longer hand-letter the dialog (although I still create sound effects by hand) and panel borders are digital. I have also worked with a different colorist on each project, although I have had the same editor, book designer, and letterer since Smile. It’s nice to have a team that’s comfortable working together!
Fun fact…We really did hit this huge storm while driving across Nevada, and Lovelock, NV was the town we stopped in to wait it out for the night. We had planned to go further, but traveling requires thinking on your feet sometimes. To this day, when my sister and I joke about the worst places we’ve ever been in our lives, that town always tops the list! I’m sure it’s totally fine now, but in 1991 (when Sisters takes place) it was pretty sad. Especially in a torrential storm.
Hope you enjoyed this peek into my studio!