My House is Now Protected by Big Barda

Flower & Flour

2 panel comic about flower, flour and monsters. Of course.
I have no idea where this comic came from. I awoke today and it demanded to be drawn. Inks are terrible, but I’m trying to get over my phobia of using large swathes of black,


PS This is exactly how we were taught it in school. Except for the monster, of course.

PPS …I think.

A Herd of Slumdogs

5 panel comic about Slumdog Millionaire, featuring two Monks.

Redrawing Watchmen

A TPB of Watchmen next sitting on a page drawn by me
Every New Year since I was 12 I think to myself, “You should really learn to draw.” And at the end of every year I find that I have drawn less than the previous year. My problem is twofold: while I have ample access to teaching material on drawing and have dipped in and out of it frequently, I have never developed a knack for daily practice. Secondly, when I do practice I try to draw everything I imagine I would like to draw, and within a few minutes a lack of experience and skill leads me to be frustrated with the terrible doodles on the page which look nothing like the grand illustrations I imagine.

So this year I thought I’d just try to redraw the greatest graphic novel of our times: Watchmen.

Origin Story


One day a few years ago I was re-reading Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic for the umpteenth time, and was struck by the quality of the drawing, the writing — just everything, really. I wondered when — or if! — I’d ever develop skills good enough to make comics even a fraction as good. As I pored over each page a memory flooded back: me hunched over a table — I must have been nine — copying a money shot of Kilowog smashing into the big villain from the Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn TPB. It was the first time I’d attempted something like that, it wasn’t exactly great, but it was a fairly accurate facsimile of the original. I noted with some disappointment that in the sixteen years since my drawing skills had probably deteriorated, not improved.

An idea struck: why didn’t I just try to redraw Watchmen? It was basically what most kids do, learn to draw by copying from their favourite comics, but I’d take it to the next level by trying to reproduce the entire book. Every page, every panel, every word balloon and every title, teaching myself — if not classical draftsmanship — then at least the workings and pitfalls of making an actual superhero comic. I put the idea out of my mind for a while, but this year I dusted off my copy and set to work in my free time.

Rough Draft

The Comedian goes out the window in my redraw of Watchmen There are several reasons I chose Watchmen over other comics. Firstly, I like it a lot, and was going to re-read it before the movie comes out anyway. Secondly, it’s set up on a strict grid, which not only appeals to the graphic designer in me, but also makes my life a lot easier as far as reproducing pages is concerned. Thirdly, it’s a dense script as most Alan Moore ones are, and since I was going to be doing the word balloons too (an Alex Toth doctrine from that infamous Steve Rude critique), it would really teach me something about getting words into a panel.

Finally,it’s not drawn in a highly stylised way. If I’d chosen works by other artists I admire like Darwyn Cooke or Terry Dodson, I’d have to look past their styles in order to interpret their work, or worse, I’d end up mimicking their styles too much and not really learning. Dave Gibbons’ work in Watchmen is almost photographic; it’s still drawn like a comic, but the proportions are realistic and everything is done with such attention to detail that there’s a lot of room for interpretation.

And interpreting it I would be; I didn’t want to just copy it or try to trace DG’s work line for line.


My trusty Batman pencil box full of my trusty pencils and pens
As of today I’ve finished my first inked page, and that’s because I’ve been having some teething troubles. I’m much, much slower at drawing that I have any right to be. A single inked panel takes me around 90 minutes, and that’s about as much time as I can set aside for a side project like this. I can grumble endlessly about how frakking detailed Dave Gibbons’ work is and how he must be a Terminator/Cylon, but the plain truth is my hands are stubs that don’t know what to do.

Of course, this exercise is designed to remedy just that (I hope), so I’m not worried.

Then, of course, I’m a tightwad, so I wasn’t going to waste art paper for something like this. My first pages were done on ‘computer paper’ — office drones from Accounts will know these as wide, perforated white-on-one-side sheets. Fold them in half and you get a two comic-book-sized pages ready for Japanese fold binding. Perfect, right?

Except they’re terrible to draw detail on. Maybe Archie comics would be okay, but certainly not Watchmen. Also, when I say comic-sized pages, I mean actual printed comic size pages. Most artwork that goes into comics is done at larger sizes and shrunk down.

Despite knowing that, I thought I’d try anyway, and the first two pages were done on the bad paper at that size. I couldn’t ink them — I gave up even trying to do the word balloons after two panels because it was too small. Until now I’ve always drawn small; tiny notebooks, tiny sketches. I shudder at the sight of blank A4 papers, not knowing what to do.

But this project couldn’t continue at that size, so I dragged out a roll of cheap sketch paper (I think you still get it at IKEA in the kids section, for about $4) and cut out foot-wide sheets. This gave me the required 10 by 15 inch frame I needed, and immediately I could tell the difference. The paper is still nowhere as good as art stock, but it’ll do.

For actually drawing the thing, I’m primarily using 2B mechanical pencils. I’m comfortable with them and I hate sharpening/going at ’em with a knife. Inks are first laid down with a Japanese brush pen (double-ended, small and medium tips), which gives the whole thing a certain manga-esque ‘bounce’. The lines are a bit more slack and curvy than Dave Gibbons (did he use 0.1 Rotring engineering drawing pens or something?) and this is partially down to my more cartoony style as well. I tackle the word balloons and text first with a fine-liner, then do figures from foreground to background.

So as not to dull the brush pen, I fill in the blacks with a couple of sizes of markers. I don’t erase the underlying pencils, mostly because this project isn’t going anywhere beyond this so I don’t need to, and also because the paper is too thin to stand it and I’ll ruin whatever is there. Also, it’s nice seeing your construction lines now and then.


Page 3 of my redrawn Watchmen in all its glory
For now I’ve finished just one page (the first two and cover don’t count since they were on the smaller paper) and at this rate I’ll probably finish this in around 3.2 years (I did the math). I’m enjoying it immensely, but I don’t want it to consume my life. So I’ve decided that for every page of Watchmen I do, I should then do a finished original illustration. I don’t want to just redraw comics for the rest of my life, I want to make some of my own!

Even at this early stage I’ve learned so much. It may be trivial knowledge for most artists, but it’s gold for me, and the only way I would have learnt it is the way I’m doing it.

I won’t be putting up all the pages online for public viewing, so please don’t ask. I won’t give away or sell any of these drawings either. The line between fan-art and copyright infringement is a thin one, and a redraw of a 400 page graphic novel somebody else created is not something I want to put up. If you haven’t read Watchmen please go out and buy or order a copy. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

I will update every month or so with my progress and musings on the work as I go along. I hope you’ll drop by now and then and tell me how it’s going.


Loser No.1

Comic Strip by Vishal K Bharadwaj on Procrastination and Laziness

Comic Konga 2 #5: Megalomania

-I wish I was fabulously intelligent. -You aren't?
-Then I'd program a kickass brew of linux and rule the world!! -I see.
-Geeks would love me. Children would respect me. Women would really love me! -Women love men who program operating systems?
-You're no fun anymore.


Finally, the fifth and final strip of the second Comic Konga!. Dunno why I dawdled do long on this. It didn’t take me long to do. I guess that’s because I had a bunch of other strips planned and never got around to doing them (sorry Dolly!). I’ll have to get around to those soon, or when we do the next comic knoga in a month or two. Come to think of it, I didn’t end up doing any of the strips I thought I would do this time. Most of the ideas were very long, multiple page ideas, and would have required a lot more drawing. Still, I’ve enjoyed all the strips I’ve done (not to mention the rest of the strips).


Don’t Call it a PiƱa Colada

Further adventures in processed food in this, the fourth and much delayed strip of the second Comic Konga! Click on the image to see the full strip.

The drawing is all over the place in this. I’m just a bit out of it this week, I suppose, running around doing real life stuff. One more left; have the script, should draw it asap.


Comic Konga 2: A Short Intermission

comic konga intermission monks
Due to unforseen developments, I’m going to have to put my contributions to this second Comic Konga! on hold for a couple of days. I won’t have computer access for the next two days, and instead of rushing and putting up some crap or the other, I request my readers to be patient with me for a little while.

The remaining two comics will be posted on Saturday and Sunday (12 & 13 July).

Meanwhile you can look at these monks. Ah, don’t they look serene? You would be too if you were dreaming of comics.


Comic Konga 2 #3: Mint Chocolate Marvels

Third day, third strip of the second Comic Konga!. Today’s strip is a two-pager, so click on the thumbnail above to bring up the first page, and then click next at the bottom to see the second. Alternately, you can click here to directly see the second page.

I can’t say I really hate mint chocolate — the ice-cream version is something I enjoy quite a bit — but most varieties of it are not very well made, and the experience is more negative than positive.

I have no idea what tomorrow’s strip will be. Oh noes!


Comic Konga 2 #2: A Dilemma

Here’s the second strip of the second Comic Konga!. Click on the image to see the full strip.

This was actually the first strip drawn but I wanted to post it after the single panel from yesterday. Tomorrow’s strip has been penciled; I only have to ink and scan it, perhaps shade it in like this one. Like I said yesterday I think I’m not going to do full colour versions (Today’s strip is done in shades of desaturated blue). For no other reason than, like most Indians, I have a bit of a lenient hand with colour and it always ends up gaudier than I would like (strangely this is only a problem with my illustration work; my colour sense works fine when I’m doing design).


Comic Konga 2 #1: Jewels

So begins the second Comic Konga! I think I’m starting to like doing the first one as a single panel gag; it’s a format I never otherwise use, and it’s a challenge to distill something down to one panel and one line only. Like most writers I have a tendency to ramble, and something like this could easily have been a three or six panel piece.

The anatomy and line-work is all over the place, and I did try to colour it but decided just to keep it to black and white (perhaps that can be a theme for this time’s CK). Hope your own comic endeavours are fruitful. Can’t wait to see what you lot have come up with.


Get Ready for Comic Konga 2!

It’s been far too long since I’ve posted here, and even longer since our first Comic Konga! Half a year has gone by in the blink of an eye, and so I thought it would be best to get back into blogging by jumping in at the deep end with another CK.

CK2 will begin July 7th (that’s Monday after next) and run until the 11th (that Friday). The rules are the same as last time: five days, five comics (in whatever way you define a ‘comic’) posted to your blog or online space of choice. A free-form festival of graphic delights, hosted by your truly.

You have about twelve days so that should be plenty of time to come up with ideas, doodle, and even prepare your finished comics. If you’re participating do drop me an emial or a comment here (don’t forget a link to where you’ll be putting the work up!).

See you then!