Fan-tum is a comic book concept that I’ve thought about off an on for a few years. This summer, I decided to draw a page for a Fan-tum comic. Soon my son (Noel, age 12) jumped in to help plot a 24 page story. What started as a bit of a lark on a summer afternoon became a fun father-son project!
The idea for the Fan-tum character came to me a few years ago. I thought it would be fun to have a comics FAN look at his comics and absorb the powers of super-heroes in those comics. It’s really kind of an old-fashioned comic in some ways, the kind of comic I would’ve enjoyed reading as a kid and still enjoy today. The style is really hand-drawn and basic. Not much touching up in Photoshop. I’d been doing a lot of digital techniques around that time and I wanted to do something pared down. I briefly considered coloring it, but Noel and I agreed it was really nice in simple black and white.
Actually, the funny thing about the process is that I wasn’t entirely consistent from beginning to end. But essentially, Noel and I started with story. We scripted some of it, made sketches, and even created finished pages to flesh out the story we wanted to tell.
I “pencilled” the page. Actually, I use yellow highlighters for this! I find that I don’t need a lot of pencil laid down first, just some rough layout. The yellow highlighter is easy to get rid of in Photoshop later. I inked everything with a combination of Micron pens (08, 03), a Uniball Vision pen, and a black Sharpie for larger areas and thicker lines. I scanned the pages and cleaned things up in Photoshop just a bit. I did some fills of larger black areas in Photoshop. Next, pages were saved for posting online.
People have responded very favorably to the project! I was a little surprised. Not because I was unhappy with the finished work, but it was kind of experimental. I tried not to obsess too much about the final outcome. To find that people enjoyed it and that they were interested in how my son and I collaborated on it was wonderful. I learned that sometimes it’s better to move forward with a project than to keep looking back and “fixing” what you think is wrong with earlier pages. In the end, there were only a few minor edits to pages.
I’d like to announce that Noel and I are planning our second issue of Fan-tum! It involves a deranged zookeeper. And I’m sure we’ll learn a lot more about the strained relationship between Bob Bobberson and Dr. Hibernaus! It will also be cool to see what Jimmy decides to do with his newfound powers (and how it will inevitably complicate his life). To find out when that might come out, I’d recommend following https://www.facebook.com/JohnHaneyIllustration/
Also, you can read all of Issue # 1 at https://www.behance.net/gallery/55701585/Fan-tum-Comic-1