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A picture of C. Spike Trotman

C. Spike Trotman

Cartoonist, publisher (Iron Circus Comics)

in artist, publisher

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!