I started sharing about Charlie and his blog/website Wesley Bros last week. You may want to start there first.
I was curious about Charlie’s process. When you read the comics, you will notice that he is able to include a lot of historical and theological details, while keeping the characters in a modern-day setting. I asked him where he gets his inspiration every week:
I usually jot down ideas when they come to me. I do a lot more research into church history and John and Charles Wesley now that I do this comic. I read Wesley’s sermons, I read histories of Methodism, Wesley’s journals, Charles’ hymns and the stories behind them. If I can find irony or humor in what I read, I scribble out ideas and get started.
But sometimes, something crazy will happen at church and the comic strip becomes a way to address it – or make fun of it, whichever comes first. A historical story or reading a commentary on something modern can be other triggers to what Wesley did or said. Charlie shares one example:
For instance, I read a commentary on the myth of redemptive violence in Star Wars and it reminded me of Wesley’s “Calm Address to the American Colonies,” so I made a comic where that tract was paraphrased into a Star Wars scene. Yes, I am a nerd.
Charlie always begins his creative process with a handful of ideas. He begins his process by typing out a preliminary script early in a week. “If there’s a lot of history or theology to convey,” he told me, “I’ve got books open all around me and I research very closely to make sure I’m not grossly misrepresenting history.” If there is a cultural anachronism, he will do some research on that (and he thanks Google and Wikipedia!)
He then will sketch out any new characters he might have until he has a look that works. This is followed by going to the drawing board where he pencils out the whole thing: boxes, text, and pictures. “Sometimes I ink a few panels before penciling the last ones just to get a better feel for the balance of the whole,” he says of the process. It will take him up to six hours of drawing time a week. This is usually done during his kids’ nap time. Charlie says he takes the time he does because he wants the pictures to be interesting, and that includes adding backgrounds and textures.
More from Charlie and the Wesley Bros next week.