How we Create Our Mad Life

Creating the comic - partially inked
First Lenny draws the comic in pencil, then he goes over it in ink.

I’m fascinated with how things are made. I love the TV show How It’s Made. So, I thought I’d give you a peek behind the scenes to see what our process is and how we create Our Mad Life. Lenny has designated me to be the “writer,” so I often come up with the ideas and write them out panel by panel on my phone. Sometimes Lenny has ideas too and I work with them to make them funny.

When Lenny sits down to draw I read out the description to him. I watch him draw because I love watching people doing creative things. It is also an opportunity to nail down what the panels are going to be. I think Lenny does an amazing job with the expressions of the characters. It’s fascinating because he makes a few lines, and then he turns it around and there’s someone who is laughing, or sad, or worried.

Creating the comic - Lenny inking
Lenny inking in the Investments comic

First he draws the comic in pencil, then he goes over it in ink. I think my favorite part though is when he takes his eraser and erases the pencil leaving the inked drawing behind. I don’t know why I think that’s so cool, but I do. Once the drawing is completed it is scanned into the computer. I think the drawing looks fabulous on the page with just the ink outline, but once it gets on the computer screen it needs color.

Creating the comic - the finished inked drawing
The finished inked drawing

It takes about an hour to draw the comic and ink it and scan it. Coloring the drawing can take several hours depending on how complicated the drawing is. I use the same colors for recurring characters like Paige, Evan and the support group facilitator Lisa. New characters or complex backgrounds can take a bit of thought though. Also, sometimes I do different textures or whatnot for tables and trees and grass. After I get it colored, I replace all the text with a font that we bought or a standard font for signs.

Creating the comic - partially colored comic
Partially colored comic

And that’s how we produce a comic. Lenny and I have had conversations about who is more important in the process. I think he is because the drawing and character expressions are so integral to the meaning of the strips. He thinks I am because I write it. I think really it’s a product of the both of us collaborating to create something that hopefully illuminates mental illness and at the same time provides a chuckle. At any rate it’s something we both enjoy doing, and doing with each other.

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