More archiving! On August 24th I launched the Kickstarter campaign for Inhibit: Book Two, and to celebrate I did a little AMA/Q&A over on Tumblr. Here were all my answers!

How do you design a book cover? I'm not very good at it.

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This is a funny question to get, because I’m also not very good at it! Graphic design is not my passion, and pretty much all the design stuff I know is because I’ve been in so many calls with @spiremint while he works on logos and layouts. Illustrations are also not my strong suit at all, I hate doing them, I much prefer story-telling through comics instead of a single image that the viewer will linger over.

My main advice is not to clutter the cover with too many elements and to have some sort of central focus. I don’t mean the image or title should literally be centred, but consider the text placement when you’re planning your cover illustration and make sure the elements are working cohesively to draw the eye rather than fighting against each other.

Some other tips that Spire has given me over the years: use a maximum of two different fonts on the cover and don’t use too many font sizes, two different sizes is probably also good. A logo/title tip he taught me is to make it REAAAALLLY small and see if it’s still recognisable and attention-grabbing at a distance. Learn to weaponise scrims to make different elements pop. Graphic designers pretend you didn’t read this, I don’t know how to explain these concepts properly [Men In Black mindwipes you]

Do you know the whole plot of Inhibit or do you make it up as you go?

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So the story has actually completely changed quite a few times, and when I started drawing the comic it actually had a super different beginning - Paulina was going to be captured by Urquhart and brought to Earl at the beginning of Chapter 2 and that’s how she would meet Vic, and then they would plan an escape together. I changed my mind as I was wrapping up drawing Chapter 1 and thank god because it’s way better the way I’ve written it now.

I solidified the rest of the story as I was working on it, with a semi-solid ending in mind but freedom to shape the plot as I went. I think about it like following a directions that only include major landmarks, so I can pick my own path there. It makes for a really fun and fluid way to tell a story, because I usually only nail down the specifics of what happens in a chapter when I’m two chapters away from drawing it. For example, the outline of Chapter 9 (where the kids go on their mini-heist to Larner) was essentially “Vic gets jackets, they go to Larner, they get the juice”. How was that going to happen? I didn’t know until I was working on Chapter 7 or so.

This style of story telling really works for me and keeps me engaged in the story, but it doesn’t work for everyone and it does have its disadvantages. There are elements I don’t think I set up well enough, or set up in a way where I couldn’t take full advantage of it, and that’s fine! This story isn’t as tight as it could be if I’d written it start to finish before I started drawing it, but if I’d tried to write it all first then I never would have started drawing it in the first place. My thought when I first sat down to draw Chapter 1 was “fuck it, let’s go.”

So TL;DR - I know the important beats, but I discover the details as I go!

How did you come up with the designs of your characters?

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I first drew most of the characters when I was like 17/18 so I don’t really remember to be honest. The first version of Inhibit was a prose story I started writing when I was 16/17 and Vic was described as stocky and cool spiky hair, David was a weedy little guy, Julia was skinny and sporty, and over the years they all morphed into their true forms.

That being said, when I was working on their designs as I wanted them to appear in the comic I did have specific details that I thought of That Character’s Visual Thing:

  • Vic’s was “box” hair, which isn’t a thing anymore it was just how I originally drew it
  • Paulina’s was a full upper lip and “oil” hair, which meant her hair would pool down like thick oil. It made sense to me at the time
  • Masha’s was those lines on her teeth (because she was originally a doublade gijinka hahaha)

Nate arrived in my sketchbook pretty much fully formed and the only thing that needed to be added was his shitty little goatee.

Is vic ok

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Excellent question. He is not.

who is your favorite character in the story?

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Everyone would see right through me if I said anyone other than Vic. It’s Vic. I love him. My boy………

how do you atually write a script for a comic fhhhdhdhdh like do you write it the same as a movie script idk how to start

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My basic system is using bulletpoints inside a table. Each table cell is a page, which is handy for planning page spreads, and each bulletpoint is a panel. This script also divvies up the scenes by colour so I can block out how long each scene is:

Because I’m the sole artist, I don’t include any information that is obvious to me; that means expressions, poses, or individual panel sizes don’t usually make it into the script. If there’s something really dramatic and important I’ll include it, but otherwise I tend to work out character poses when I’m thumbnailing or pencilling. I’m already kind of laying out the page in my mind when I’m writing so when I go back to actually draw it I’m like yeah I know exactly what face Vic is pulling here.

I do also have @spiremint on board now as colourist but because I don’t really think in colour I don’t have any notes for that in the script. Instead, I make notes on the inked/pencilled version of the page when I’m sending it to Spire for the colour script. Those notes will say stuff like the mood I’m going for, the weather, what happens in the scene so he can give me some cool alternate background colours. Spire never sees the script, it really is just for me when I’m pencilling/lettering, and then I discard it and work from what I have in front of me. It’s a stepping stone tool, not a strict guideline of what the page should look like.

That’s how I write a script, but you can write your script literally however you want! If it’s just for you to read, you only need to include as much information as you find important. For some people that’s everything because they either can’t envision the scene without a description or because they want to make sure they don’t miss anything important out, and for some people it’s the most barebones thing imaginable. If it works for you, just do it!! You don’t need to write a script like you would for a movie unless you really want to, or it’s for someone else to see. Do you want to see the entirety of my script for the Chapter 5 lasertag scene?

Now here’s a more helpful answer. I always start with an outline of what exactly needs to happen on each page so I don’t need to work too hard figuring out how many panels should pass before I need a page break. Example:

You will probably want to think about three main things when putting your script together: dialogue, environment, and character. Each panel is an individual moment in time. That means you shouldn’t have too many things happening in a single panel, and one panel should generally only have one dialogue moment, one environment note, and one character action. Someone can’t jump up in alarm and then look relieved all in one panel, because that’s two character actions (and would also be pretty difficult to draw but shh). A character shouldn’t (can, but shouldn’t) say they want to leave, then change their mind and ask for another drink all in one panel, because that’s two dialogue moments. For environment notes, you really shouldn’t have an explosion and the hidden treasure revealed all in one panel, because that’s two environment notes. You don’t need to stretch everything out into its own panel, but make sure you watch for too many things of the same category happening in one panel.

That’s a lot of info, but I hope it helps!

Whats your perfect sunday

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My perfect Sunday is a lovely long lie in…

Actually it’s probably to have a big old breakfast of shakshuka, head out to talk shit with my friends on someone’s couch, come home and work on Inhibit until midnight without any back or wrist pain, and then have a nice long call with my partner :)

Hi sorry just wanna say seeing your answers to the QnA has been really inspiring and cool! I've followed Inhibit almost since the start, which was a lot of my teenage years, and you were a big inspo when it came to trying to create my own comics. Nae worries if I'm late to the party but if you're still open for AMA qs I was wondering, do you ever have to motivate yourself to make pages, or does it just come easy? If you do have to motivate yourself sometimes, how do you go about it?

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This is awesome to hear, thanks so much! There are loads of webcomics that I grew up reading as a teenager, so to know that my comic is that for some people is amazing to me.

I do definitely struggle with motivation at times, particularly since the pandemic started. I’m lucky that I have a really big buffer now so it doesn’t affect my posting schedule but sometimes I don’t work on pages for months because there’s something I reaaaaallly don’t want to draw, namely cars or multiple people in one panel or environments that aren’t just a box lmao. It can be a real pain in the ass to slog through a page that is painfully boring to draw, but ultimately I utterly love the project and that is what keeps me coming back to it. I eventually go and reluctantly finish up those hell pages because it’s for the good of the story. Even when something is a passion project, not everything will be fun. A lot of it will suck ass.

One of my most foolproof ways of motivating myself is to listen to my Inhibit playlists, of which I have.. just…. so many. If there’s a scene with a particular character I’ll listen to their playlist and get hyped up thinking about their character arc and that will give me the energy to sit down and just fucking draw the page with that shitty stupid Urquhart van. My other favourite method is to just let myself move on to the next page; for Book Two I’ve tried to work on pages in chronological order, even when the entire chapter will be thumbed or pencilled so theoretically I could jump ahead to whatever page I want to draw. But that way lies only more suffering. If I drew all the fun stuff in one go (like I would do for a lot of Book One near the end) then I’d just be left with the boring stuff and would have a worse time of it. But sometimes, if the motivation is reaaally low, I’ll let myself have a little treat and draw that one goofy face two pages away.

Most of all, you do have to let yourself be demotivated sometimes. Your body and brain need time to rest from projects. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, and maybe you need to go and work on another project for a bit to recharge, or pick away at a different part of the story so you’re still technically working on it. If I really, really don’t want to draw, I’ll look over the script or do a bunch of admin like uploading pages until the urge takes me again. It’s a marathon not a sprint, so take your time and accept that periods of low or no motivation are part of the creation process!

Hi! Do you have a recommendation for where to post a webcomic these days? Thank you in advance!

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I would always recommend prioritising setting up your own main hub site. That means your own site with its own URL that you completely control the look of. Pretty much the only easy place to do this now is ComicFury, which is where I host Inhibit! It looks a little oldfashioned and clunky but once you get used to the backend it’s really versatile. If you want to put your own URL on your site, you just need to DM the site mod, he’s really friendly.

If you know a bit more about coding and don’t want to use ComicFury, you can use Neocities in conjunction with the Rarebit webcomic template. You will need to know some coding to get this working but you’ll have completely control over everything!

Once you have your main site set up, you should set up a mirror or two. This is somewhere you crosspost the comic to get new readers. The biggest two are Tapas and Webtoon, both of which have huge issues but what can you do. These sites have a massive readership who are always looking for new comics, particularly Webtoon, though if you do post here be aware that readers have a really strong preference for scrolling comics and can get really fussy when updates aren’t long or often enough. It’s a pretty demoralising place to post and very time-consuming if you want to adapt your comic to a mobile format like I do, but gets a lot of eyes on your comic. These sorts of aggregate websites are where the majority of modern webcomic readers do their reading and it sucks, but I feel very strongly about having your own website that will always be there for readers to find even if they can’t follow you to the 23rd new Twitter clone.

I would really discourage using Tumblr as your main site - it can be hard for readers to navigate the archives, pages can get flagged/removed/hidden which messes up the reading order, and I can almost guarantee that this site is moving away from customisable blogs even being an option. I would also recommend avoiding WordPress - there is a webcomic template/plugin you can use called ComicPress, but I’ve seen so many people complain about it breaking or not knowing how to edit it over the years, it’s just not worth the hassle.

Hope that helps, good luck!

Was it a deliberate choice to not use any thought bubbles in Inhibit? That's a detail I have *just* noticed after like. years

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Not necessarily a deliberate choice, I just don’t tend to use thought bubbles in comics I write! I don’t really like using them; if I want you to know what a character is thinking I’ll try to convey it through their facial expression or body language. Comics are a combination of text and image, and a good rule I try to follow is not to repeat the same information in both of those elements - as a really basic example, if a character looks sad, I wouldn’t have them also say (or think) “ough I’m so fucking sad.” We can already see that, you know? So if a character is thinking “ough I’m so fucking sad” then I’d rather try to convey that through the pose etc.

NOOOO i am too late to the party, can I still submit my ask? If the inhibit cast could speak any other language other than English, which one would it be?

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Haha don’t worry, I’m always happy to answer questions and this is a fun one!

A few of the characters already know another language - David knows British Sign Language fairly fluently, though he definitely has a hearing “accent” (less fluid signing, tendency to use English constructions rather than the way a fluent BSL user would phrase something, difficulty reading fast fingerspelling). He also understands Urdu because his mum is Pakistani but isn’t as good at speaking it.

Like a lot of kids in the UK, the Earl kids were taught some German but wouldn’t be able to say anything other than like “Ich lebe im Vereinigten Königreich” and “Scheisse” because language education is here is terrible and even worse at Earl.

Masha speaks textbook French because she’s a swot and would learn Russian if she could because her adoptive family is originally from Russia.

Nate is Chinese-American (born in San Francisco, moved to the UK when he was really young) so he’d be like oh yeah one day I’m totally going to learn Chinese. And you’d ask if he would learn Cantonese or Mandarin and he’d be like what.

Paulina’s family is Polish but she wouldn’t be much interested in learning it. She doesn’t plan on going to Poland any time soon. Same with Julia, she’d have no interest in learning Scottish Gaelic, it’s too hard and stumbling through German articles has put her off language-learning.

If Vic had to learn a language he’d probably prefer to study BSL properly - his signing is pretty poor comparatively and he wouldn’t be able to hold any sort of conversation with another BSL user beyond the basics, it’s like a cobbled-together sign language based on library books and what David has taught him. Otherwise he’d be much more interested in learning the history of another country than its language.

Hello!! I'm an avid fan of your webcomic saving up money to buy both printed versions^^ Anyways I wanted to ask, if it's not a spoiler for future pages, do Nate and the others have any siblings or family members? I like the little detail of how Sid's cousin works at Urquhart!! - lots of hugs from Italy!

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Thank you so much, I'm so glad you enjoy it!

It's not a spoiler: Julia and Paulina are only children, Masha has two adoptive sisters who aren't variants, and Nate has a brother who is like ten years older than him and pretty much vanished as soon as he got his domestic licence. He's probably somewhere backpacking in Thailand. Noor, the nurse/observation tech, went to Miller with her twin brother and he's now a GP. David's older sister also has her domestic licence and is in her final year of an accounting degree at uni. And of course Vic has a wee half-sister.