Sunday Mailbag

March 20th, 2011 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: Have you ever worked on a MAD splash page (or any page for that matter) and have an accident happen to it that made it impossible to repair (for example, spilled ink all over the drawing)?¬¨‚Ć And along with that, have you ever completed a page, and when you were finished (inking, coloring, etc.) noticed that you left out a critical detail, or messed up on a very necessary feature that needed changed and would be close to impossible to just “add in”?¬¨‚Ć If anything like this were to happen, would MAD have to send out a new board to draw on or how would this be fixed?

A: I cannot remember ever having something happen that completely ruined a piece necessitating a complete starting over. That would have to be a really major catastrophe… like spilling the ink as you suggested. Even a pretty good sized spill or some other defacement could be fixed with a lot of “White Out” or, barring that, cutting a section of the board and pasting in another section of board like a puzzle piece, then working on top of it. I have done both a few times in the past in extreme circumstances.

Of course, those were the “good old days”. Now the computer has made White Out and laborious physical corrections obsolete. I don’t use White Out at all anymore, except for one specific need I’ll mention in a second. I do all corrections and “fixing” after scanning the line art. That includes all smudges, smears, splatters and any other of the fun little things that happen when you wave and scrape a pointed metal-ended stick or one with a tangle of tiny, bundled together hairs on the end dripping with permanently-staining dense black liquid over a perfectly white surface. It also includes real “corrections” like drawing a face or fixing some elements that became indistinct or otherwise unreadable during the inking stage. Yes… as much as I say I dislike drawing on the computer I will redraw important elements like faces and even large parts of panels or what-have-you in order to fix something. I never said I couldn’t do it, I just don’t like it as much as drawing on real paper.

PhotoShop’s ability to use layers, completely remove any elements with no trace, select and move elements about and about a million other useful features makes it relatively quick and effective to do even major corrections and have the end (i.e. printed) results be seamless. It’s an illustrator’s best friend.

So, what is that single use for White Out I still have? I use it to correct things on original artwork, but only to make it match the computer-corrected print versions in the event someone wants to buy said original. It takes much longer to do it by hand, so I save the time when I’m racing against a deadline and take it only when the original is being sold to someone.

Thanks to fellow member of the “Usual Gang of Idiots” Nate Fakes for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar,¬¨‚Će-mail me your questions and I’ll try and answer them here!


  1. I completely ruined a commission once by having a full bottle of ink fall all over it. The ink then ran down the drawing table and into my lap and all over my arms, which I used to dam up the flow to keep it from getting all over the carpeted floor (which it still did any way).

    I got most of the ink out of the carpet, and off the table, but it took a scotchbrite pad to get it off of my skin! Quite the catastrophic failure.


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