Behind the Scenes: ‘Book of Darkness’

Maybe it would be fun to read Book of Darkness, like any ghost story, at night. Under the covers with a flashlight. I love ghost stories, especially on crisp October nights.

This comic came about as a submission for Illustration Friday‘s topic of the week, “book.” Nick Marsh wrote a very enjoyable, spooky bonus story for backers of the fundraiser to print “The Express Diaries,” called, “The Ausperg Affair.” The story mentions a poor man whose love for his dead wife sends him into the occult and madness. Nick’s good Cthuluery inspired this comic.

(Oh, I’m dropping down to M-W-F comics. Going to use the extra time to improve the drawings and work on a larger project.)

Behind the scenes

Here’s a bit more about the process I used to make this comic.



  • 2H and HB pencils, Lead holder with HB lead
  • Kneaded and plastic erasers
  • Sketch pad

First, I wrote it with a rough drawing in my sketchbook. I knew how I wanted it to end, so I started with the 4th panel … well, let’s watch, shall we?

You can see from all the erasing and smudging that several of the drawings were a struggle. The drawing changed quite a bit from what you see in the video, too, especially panel 3. Here’s the final rough sketch:

Book of Darkness - Rough



  • Hunt 101 Nib and nib holder
  • Higgins black magic india ink
  • Fluid Easy-block watercolor paper

I lightly redrew the comic on a watercolor block in 2H pencil. (See “Painting” below.) This gave me a chance to correct some of the drawing, especially the acting going on in panel 3.

Then, I redrew the comic in ink, choosing to use a nib pen instead of my trusty Lamy Safari fountain pen. I like the accidental lines I got, but I made a mistake thinking I could letter the comic with a nib pen. I ended up redoing the word balloons on bristol board with the Lamy and cutting them out and pasting them on. Live and learn.



  • Winsor Newton permanent masking medium
  • WN Cottman ultramarine blue and burnt umber watercolor
  • Winsor Newton Series 7 brushes, nos. 1 & 2
  • Painter’s blue masking tape

I’ve been making my comics in my sketchbook for the past month. I like the idea of having them all in one place, and in the beginning, the low quality of the paper didn’t matter because I wasn’t painting as much. I’ve been enjoying the watercolor phase, though, and this old sketchbook paper doesn’t hold up too well. The paper buckles and I usually leave the sketchbook under a pile of heavy books all day to try to flatten it out.

I recently bought a Fluid watercolor paper block, not too expensive and does the trick. Blocks are like pads of paper but are glued on the edges. This way you don’t have to stretch or wet the paper and it keeps the paper from buckling.

Here’s a look at painting the 2nd panel in octuple time.