The Comics Workbook Roller Derby “of the mind” League hosts “derby bouts” every week. These bouts are essentially drawing challenges that push the girls toward increasing their skill set and experience. They might involve trying different layout or sequencing techniques, making a comic that focuses on figures, drawing FAST, making a comic using only shapes or blind contours, etc.
Some of the bouts are more intense than others – for instance the girls recently copied an entire Jaime Hernandez Locas story – King of the Hustle. This “derby bout” involved two teams competing against each other to finish the comic – both teams had to copy the entire 10-page story, and they had a week to do it. Here are the winning results, from Gloria Rivera (p.1-5) and Sally Ingraham (p.6-10):
This derby bout contained exactly the sort of real training that the CW Roller Derby League is all about. The League is not a support group for “women in comics”. It is an active force, comprised of women who are pushing themselves to constantly develop as cartoonists.
The goal of the bout was to reproduce each page of the story in black and white, but the teams were encouraged to mix up the techniques they used to get to that point, to think about the act of “copying” from all angles. Tracing paper and light boxes were allowed. Playing the roll of the artist submitting pencils for a story, and then switching gears to becoming the inker or letterer was part of the game. And of course the workload and deadline was important to the bout. Although the storytelling and artistic decisions had already been made for us, the girls that participated in the bout quickly found out just how grueling it can be to ink 5 pages in a week, or as I managed to pull off, 4 pages in two days…! Serious muscle memory was developed by this workout.
Gloria Rivera varied her approach continuously, imagining that the drawing would not come back to her but was instead going on to be finished by a different person. She copied page 1 with very loose pencils, which then proved very hard to follow in ink. Page 2 involved really tight penciling, followed by super loose inking. With page 5 she spotted the inks first with loose pencil guides, trying not to focus on the lines and looking at the shapes first – then she freehanded the lines and details.
I (Sally Ingraham) experimented as well, switching between a lightbox and tracing paper. I was derailed by a sudden illness mid-bout, so with the deadline looming I streamlined my process. With my final 2 pages, I inked all the faces and hands first and then went in for details. Then I photocopied the line work (this is a sideways process grab from Jack Kirby, btw, who usually photocopied his pencils so that he had a copy before sending the originals off to the inker) then I finished inking the pages.
(Our pages were of course drawn smaller than Jaime draws them, since we were working off of the reproductions in the book.)
Here are a few process photos from Gloria Rivera and I, followed by some finished pages from Gabriella Tito:
Follow the League on Instagram: @cwrollerderby