My passion for black and white comics

Although I started reading two color comics, “Mickey Mouse” and “Nick Carter” by Bonvi and De Maria, I was always attracted by black and white comics. The first black and white comic I read was “Alan Ford” by Max Bunker and Magnus, the number 45 “Piano concert at the Centimetropolitan”.

Alan Ford 45

Comic page 107 of n. 45 of Alan Ford

In those stories I found something never seen before: grotesque drawings, a good hatching, intriguing plots. Those black and white drawings had thickness, and made the color useless.

Comic strips: the tradition of black and white

Many of the first comic strips appeared in the newspapers were in black and white. Italian comic books are all in black and white, except for special color numbers. There is a long tradition of black and white comics.

The color printing has a higher cost, so it’s better to print comic strips and comic books in black and white.

The black and white comics are no easier to draw

Watch this comic page from the special Tex drawn by Magnus.

Tex di Magnus

I read that Magnus made color studies to draw some comic panels in black and white …

A good black and white drawing should not make people miss color.

Black and white cartoons

Generally, cartoons are made in color. In some anthologies of the works of Jacovitti there are mostly colored cartoons, but there are also several black and white cartoons. In several magazines I found only black and white cartoons.

Editorial cartoons, like those by Forattini, are in black and white. Maybe cartoons published daily require a faster work, even if in many American newspapers there are now color cartoons.

Black and white techniques in comics

Black and white in line weight

I’ve never really loved the so-called line weight in black and white comics. It’s a drawing without or with little hatching.

The number 200 of “Alan Ford” was drawn by Magnus in line weight, quite different from the full-bodied cartoons he used to make in the past. But we were in 1986 and at that time Magnus’s style was obviously changed.

Line thickness

It’s the thickening of the inked line for characters and objects in the foreground, while for all that is far away the line is lighter. Jacovitti used to repeat the border of the characters several times to thicken the line, while for the inside of the figure he used a light line.

So, you can do a decisive detachment of the character or object from the background.

The cross hatching in black and white

The technique of the hatching is the one I prefer. I immediately loved the hatching of Magnus, which reached perfection in the Tex’s special comic book. Jacovitti used a cross-hatching, while the line of Bonvi was … anarchic, I would say.

The halftones in black and white

I have known the use of the halftones by reading “Nick Carter” by Bonvi and De Maria. I used them when I attended the comic school.

They were the old adhesive halftones, costing about 7,000 liras each sheet. I cut off the necessary piece, applied it to the panel and finished the outlines with a cutter or a razor blade. Light spots could be created by grating on the halftone with a blade.

I used them for a short time, it began to cost me too much as a technique, especially if you don’t work full-time as a cartoonist.

Now I create the halftones with Photoshop. I place the halftone on the panel and with the rubber tool I delete the areas that I have to leave without the halftone effect.

Conclusion

I’m always looking for good black and white comic artists. Lately, on Tex, I discovered the Greek Yannis Ginosatis, the twins Gianluca and Raul Cestaro and Majo.

Panel in Tex by Cestaro brothers

Panel in Tex by Yannis Ginosatis

Panel in Tex by Majo

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