comic strips

Process: Ginger Meggs Sunday strip

Some Ginger Meggs readers at comic con were asking what my process was for drawing the strip these days; do I work digitally or in pencil first? Well, the answer is: a little bit of both.

For certain poses and situations sometimes I'll sketch the characters out in pencil and take a photo with my phone using the Evernote 'receipt scan' cam widget, which cleans up the image and uploads it to the cloud. It shows up on my Evernote immediately. (I do this for a lot of prelim sketch work.)

Then I drag and drop the pencils into the strip and resize it to where I want it on the template. I'll draw over it with a 'blue pencil' brush on photoshop and sketch out the panels and where the word balloons need to go in each panel.

(Remember - always write out your words first for the comic strip; that way you can edit them down, and then you know how much room the word balloons are going to take up in the panels.)

I then take those sketches and make them about 40% opacity on photoshop (using that layer as a 'draft pencils' layer) and add a layer above it for inks. I have specific brushes that I know will reproduce well in print, and will draw in the characters according to the style guide for Ginger Meggs.

For this strip, I turned Meggsie into a "Captain America-style" hero so there was a bit of character re-designing to do. I like drawing these kinds of strips because I get to play around with compositions like it's a comic book.

captain australia-complete.jpg


If you have any process questions, leave me a message in the 'contact' section above.

You can read Ginger Meggs everyday on GoComics:

Ginger Meggs Tribute Strip

My grandparents were the best of mates for 68 years- Thelma and Harry Penn.(He called her 'Penny'). He had to say goodbye to her last month. Today would have been her 90th birthday. Poppy's still going strong at 94, he misses her so much. She used to read Ginger Meggs every day to see what he was up to. This strip ran in papers around the world today for them.


Who Writes the Words for Ginger Meggs?

THE single most commonly asked question I get about Ginger Meggs is: Who writes the gags/stories? The short answer is, I do.


The slightly longer answer is; Producing a daily comic strip (in my experience), is separated into three parts: 60% is writing, 20% is drawing (the fun bit), 20% is business and syndication.

The writing is the most time-consuming and difficult part of it. That’s not to say that getting syndicated isn’t difficult (heck, it’s near impossible these days!) but as far as time goes, you spend more time and mental energy coming up with new material day after day than anything else. It’s like a stand-up comedian not being able to get up on stage and do the same routine as he did yesterday. Every day.

It used to irk me that people would assume I just “drew” Ginger Meggs, but then I realised it was because often a comic strip cartoonist is referred to as “the artist for…” which of course would lead one to assume you just draw the strip, and someone else writes it. That setup is not uncommon (ie. Zits, Baby Blues, Wizard of Id) but it’s not how the majority of comic strip cartoonists do it.

I like the challenge, and I take a lot of inspiration from guys like Gary Clark, Jerry Scott, Paul Gilligan, Sean Leahy and Tony Lopes. These people just know how to write consistently good material, and they work hard at it.

I suppose it’s like anything- the more you do it, the better you get. I’m still a novice, but my background in writing editorial cartoons and stand-up comedy gave me a good grounding for writing a daily strip. It’s been a very steep learning curve, and I’m enjoying the experience. I hope to be doing it for a long time to come!

The first writer for Ginger Meggs was his creator, James C Bancks in 1921. He was followed by Ron Vivian in 1953, Lloyd Piper in 1973 and then my predecessor, James Kemsley in 1983. A full run-down of the Ginger Meggs history is available at:

Ginger Meggs is syndicated internationally by Universal Uclick. You can read the strip every day at GoComics