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Interview

What do people use to get stuff done?

C. Spike Trotman

C. Spike Trotman

Cartoonist, publisher (Iron Circus Comics)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Spike! I'm a cartoonist and publisher, and I live and work in Chicago. I'm the founder of Iron Circus Comics, Chicago's largest alternative comics publisher. I publish stuff I describe as "strange and amazing," specializing in unusual subject matter, DIY comics and woman-made erotica.

What hardware do you use?

Graphics tablets, primarily. Right now I'm in my office space, so I'm on a Cintiq Companion 2. But I work at home, too, and there I've got a Cintiq 21UX. I used to use Winsor & Newton Series 7 sable brushes, sizes 00 through 2, and bristol board, but I haven't sent anything drawn analog to print for years.

The Cintiqs are pretty much the Cadillacs of the graphics tablet world, and something I worked my way up to from lesser tablets from the same manufacturer, like Intuos 2 and 3 tablets and and a 12WX. But the Companion 2 is something I worked up to; a reward to myself for a really successful 2014. It was also the first Cintiq I bought new! I bought the 21UX and 12WX used from other artists who were either upgrading, or decided they didn't like drawing digitally.

And what software?

Photoshop when I have to, Manga Studio EX 5 under pretty much every other circumstance. MS EX 5 is tailor-made for the production of comics, and it's an incredible program that's completely changed the way I work. It can display collated pages, auto-blueline digital pages, do screentones, allow you to ink in vectors, ignore small gaps in your inking when you're floodfilling.. it's a godsend. There's a Manga Studio 5, too, but if you're gonna get a version, I would strongly recommend you shell out for EX 5; the bells and whistles are worth it.

My MS work is supplemented by Frenden's custom brushes, too. I ink my comics and black and white illustrations pretty much exclusively with his Hairpin Sable brush, and I paint with his Painterly and Painterly - Wet brushes.

Sometimes there's no getting around Photoshop, though. I'm still on Photoshop 2, I think, because that's all I need to open up and convert some files. I don't create in it.

What would be your dream setup?

I pretty much have it!

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