The inker (sometimes credited as the finisher or embellisher)[1] is one of the two line artists in traditional comic book production.

The penciller creates a drawing, the inker outlines, interprets, finalizes, retraces this drawing by using a pencil, pen or a brush. Inking was necessary in the traditional printing process as presses could not reproduce pencilled drawings. "Inking" of text is usually handled by another specialist, the letterer, the application of colors by the colorist.[2]

As the last hand in the production chain before the colorist, the inker has the final word on the look of the page, and can help control a story's mood, pace, and readability. A good inker can salvage shaky pencils, while a bad one can obliterate great draftsmanship and/or muddy good storytelling.


While inking can involve tracing pencil lines in a literal sense, it also requires interpreting the pencils, giving proper weight to the lines, correcting mistakes, and making other creative choices. The look of a penciler's final art can vary enormously depending on the inker. A pencil drawing can have an infinite number of shades of grey, depending on the hardness of the graphite and the pressure applied by the artist. By contrast, an ink line generally can be only solid black. Accordingly, the inker has to translate pencil shading into patterns of ink, as for example by using closely spaced parallel lines, feathering, or cross-hatching.

Some inkers will often do more than simply interpreting the pencil markings into pen and brush strokes; depending on how much detail the penciler puts into the pencil drawings, the inker might add shading or be responsible for the placement of black spaces and shadows in the final drawing. An experienced inker paired with a novice penciler might be responsible for correcting anatomical or other mistakes, modifying facial expressions, or changing or improving the artwork in a variety of other ways. Alternatively, an inker may do the basic layout of the page, give the work to another artist to do more detailed pencil work, and then ink the page himself (as Joe Simon often did when inking Jack Kirby,[3] or when Michael T. Gilbert collaborated with penciller P. Craig Russell on the Elric of Melniboné series).

The division between penciller and inker described here is most frequently found where the penciler and inker are hired independently of each other by the publisher. Where an artist instead hires his own assistants, the roles are less structured; an artist might, for example, ink all the faces of the characters while leaving the assistant to ink in the backgrounds, or work with the inker in a more collaborative fashion. Neal Adams' Crusty Bunkers worked like this, with say one inker responsible for the characters' heads, another doing bodies, and a third embellishing backgrounds.[4] The inking duo Akin & Garvey had a similar arrangement, with one inking the figures and the other the backgrounds.

Digital inking

One can ink digitally using computers, a practice that has started to become more common as inkers learn to use powerful drawing and editing tools such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, Inkscape, Corel Painter, and Manga Studio. A graphics tablet is the most common tool used to accurately ink digitally, and use of vector-based programs precludes pixelization due to changes in resolution. However, many regard the process as more time-consuming.

As of 2015 some companies put scanned pencils on an FTP site. The inker downloads them, prints them in blue, inks the pages, scans them in and loads the finished pages back on the FTP site for the company to download. While this procedure saves a company time and shipping costs, it requires artists to spend money for computer equipment.


For a long time, inking was considered a minor part of the comics industry, only marginally above lettering in the pecking order. In the early days of comic books, many publishers hired "packagers" to produce entire books. Although some "star" creators' names (such as Simon and Kirby or Bob Kane) usually appeared at the beginning of each story, the publisher generally didn't care which artists worked on the book. Packagers instituted an assembly line style method of creating books, using top talents like Kirby to create the look and pace of the story and then handing off the inking, lettering, and coloring to largely anonymous — and low-paid — creators to finish it.

Deadline pressures and a desire for consistency in the look of a feature led to having one artist pencil a feature while one or more other artists inked it. At Marvel Comics, where the pencil artist was responsible for the frame-by-frame breakdown of the story plot, an artist who was skilled in story-telling would be encouraged to do as many books as possible, maximizing the number of books he could do by leaving the inking to others. By contrast, at other companies where the writer did the frame-by-frame breakdown in script form, more artists inked or even lettered their own work. Joe Kubert and Jim Aparo would usually pencil, ink and letter, considering the placing of word balloons as an integral part of the page, and artists such as Bill Everett, Steve Ditko, Kurt Schaffenberger, and Nick Cardy almost always inked their own work (and sometimes the work of other pencilers as well). Most artists, however — even experienced inkers of their own work like Lou Fine, Reed Crandall, Will Eisner, and Alex Toth — at times hired or allowed other artists to ink their drawings. Some artists could make more money by pencilling more pages and leaving the inking to others; different artists with different working methods might find it more profitable to both pencil and ink, as they could place less information and detail in the pencil drawings if they were inking it themselves and could put that detail in at the inking stage.

Due to the absence of credits on most Golden Age comic books, many inkers of that period are largely forgotten. For those whose names are known, it is difficult to compile résumés. Inkers like Chic Stone, George Papp, and Marvin Stein embellished thousands of pages during that era, most of which are still unidentified.

In the early 1960s, Marvel Comics began giving the inker credit in each of their publications. This allowed finishers like Dick Ayers, Joe Sinnott, Mike Esposito, John Severin, Syd Shores, and Tom Palmer to earn a reputation as inkers as well as pencillers. In addition, penciller-inker teams like Kirby and Sinnott, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson, Gene Colan and Palmer, and John Byrne and Terry Austin captured the attentions of comic book fandom.

In 2008 Marvel and DC inker Bob Almond founded the Inkwell Awards, which is an award established to celebrate the craft of inking and to lift the profile of the art in general. The Inkwell Awards has gained much publicity and counts notable inkers such as Joe Sinnott, Nathan Massengill and Tim Townsend as members and associates.

Notable inkers

Notable penciller–inker partnerships

See also


  1. ^ "Bullpen Bulletins," Marvel Two-in-One #52 (Marvel Comics, June 1979).
  2. ^ Fox, Margalit (April 5, 2013). "Carmine Infantino, Reviver of Batman and Flash, Dies at 87". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b "The Twenty Greatest Inkers of American Comic Books: #16, Joe Simon," Atlas Comics. Accessed Feb. 13, 2009.
  4. ^ Michael Netzer. "The Lives and Time of Crusty Bunker," Michael Netzer Online, September 17, 2007 Archived January 19, 2013, at WebCite. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  5. ^ Captain Comics forum post formerly at this dead link Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine Last access attempt Oct. 12, 2006.
  6. ^ Gelbwasser, Mike. "Interview: Comics Legend Murphy Anderson," The Sun Chronicle Online (Sept. 25, 2008). Archived 2009-04-01 at the Wayback Machine Accessed Feb. 13, 2009.
  7. ^ "The Twenty Greatest Inkers of American Comic Books: #6, Dick Ayers," Atlas Comics. Accessed Feb. 13, 2009.
  8. ^ Redington, James (April 15, 2005). "Local Convention to Host the Only National Team Appearance of Superman/Batman Creative Team". Comics Bulletin.

External links

Al Milgrom

Allen L. Milgrom (born March 6, 1950) is an American comic book writer, penciller, inker and editor, primarily for Marvel Comics. He is known for his 10-year run as editor of Marvel Fanfare; his long involvement as writer, penciler, and inker on Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man; his four-year tenure as West Coast Avengers penciller; and his long stint as the inker of X-Factor.

Al Williamson

Alfonso Williamson (March 21, 1931 – June 12, 2010) was an American cartoonist, comic book artist and illustrator specializing in adventure, Western and science-fiction/fantasy.

Born in New York City, he spent much of his early childhood in Bogotá, Colombia before moving back to the United States at the age of 12. In his youth, Williamson developed an interest in comic strips, particularly Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon. He took art classes at Burne Hogarth's Cartoonists and Illustrators School, there befriending future cartoonists Wally Wood and Roy Krenkel, who introduced him to the work of illustrators who had influenced adventure strips. Before long, he was working professionally in the comics industry. His most notable works include his science-fiction/heroic fantasy art for EC Comics in the 1950s, on titles including Weird Science and Weird Fantasy.

In the 1960s, he gained recognition for continuing Raymond's illustrative tradition with his work on the Flash Gordon comic-book series, and was a seminal contributor to the Warren Publishing's black-and-white horror comics magazines Creepy and Eerie. Williamson spent most of the 1970s working on his own credited strip, another Raymond creation, Secret Agent X-9. The following decade, he became known for his work adapting Star Wars films to comic books and newspaper strips. From the mid-1980s to 2003, he was primarily active as an inker, mainly on Marvel Comics superhero titles starring such characters as Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Spider-Girl.

Williamson is known for his collaborations with a group of artists including Frank Frazetta, Roy Krenkel, Angelo Torres, and George Woodbridge, which was affectionately known as the "Fleagle Gang". Williamson has been cited as a stylistic influence on a number of younger artists, and encouraged many, helping such newcomers as Bernie Wrightson and Michael Kaluta enter the profession. He has won several industry awards, and six career-retrospective books about him have been published since 1998. Living in Pennsylvania with his wife Corina, Williamson retired in his seventies.

Williamson was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2000.

Art Thibert

Arthur "Art" Thibert is a comic book artist, primarily known as a freelance inker, although he has a substantial résumé as a penciler and has even written some comics. Thibert is best known for his work as an inker for Marvel Comics on their various X-Men titles during the 1990s.

Bill Sienkiewicz

Boleslav William Felix Robert Sienkiewicz ( sin-KEV-itch; born May 3, 1958), better known as Bill Sienkiewicz, is an American artist known for his work in comic books—particularly for Marvel Comics' The New Mutants, Moon Knight, and Elektra: Assassin. Sienkiewicz's work in the 1980s was considered revolutionary in mainstream US comics, due to his highly stylized art that verged on abstraction and made use of oil painting, photorealism, collage, mimeograph, and other forms generally uncommon in comic books.

Bob McLeod (comics)

Bob McLeod (born August 9, 1951) is an American comics artist best known for co-creating the New Mutants with writer Chris Claremont.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics

Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics refer to comic books based on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While many of these comics were published when the television show was on air they are not all considered canonical and often deal with characters who do not appear in the television series, most notably in the Tales of the Slayers and Tales of the Vampires mini-series.

The first series of books were published by Dark Horse Comics between 1998 and 2004, originally in comic format but then gathered into volumes of trade paperbacks. A small number of Buffy comics have not been included in trade paperbacks, such as the books entitled "Giles", "Jonathan", and "Reunion".

Following the television series finale, Dark Horse began releasing new books titled Season Eight, Nine, and Ten, and various spin-offs, which are written and/or supervised by creator Joss Whedon and officially recognized as canon to the show. In 2007, Dark Horse allowed the rights to produce the comics for Buffy's companion show Angel to lapse, and they were picked up for a short time by IDW Publishing, who released the canon series Angel: After the Fall among other non-canon titles. Dark Horse reacquired the rights in 2010 and went on to release the official Angel: Season Six and the spin-off series Angel & Faith.

In 2018 it was announced after 20 years at Dark Horse Comics, the license for Buffy and all related material will transfer to BOOM! Studios. The first issue from the new publisher will be released in January 2019.

Frank Quitely

Vincent Deighan (born 1968), better known by the pen name Frank Quitely, is a Scottish comic book artist. He is best known for his frequent collaborations with Grant Morrison on titles such as New X-Men, We3, All-Star Superman, and Batman and Robin, as well as his work with Mark Millar on The Authority and Jupiter's Legacy.

J. H. Williams III

James H. Williams III (born 1965), usually credited as J. H. Williams III, is a comics artist and penciller. He is known for his work on titles such as Chase, Promethea, Desolation Jones, Batwoman, and The Sandman: Overture.

Jerry Ordway

Jeremiah Ordway (born November 28, 1957) is an American writer, penciller, inker and painter of comic books.

He is known for his inking work on a wide variety of DC Comics titles, including the continuity-redefining Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985–1986), his long run working on the Superman titles from 1986–1993, and for writing and painting the Captain Marvel original graphic novel The Power of Shazam! (1994), and writing the ongoing monthly series from 1995–1999. He has provided inks for artists such as Curt Swan, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, John Buscema, Steve Ditko, John Byrne, George Perez and others.

John Cassaday

John Cassaday (; born 1971) is an American comic book artist, writer, and television director, best known for his work on Planetary, Astonishing X-Men, Captain America and Star Wars. He has received multiple Eagle and Eisner Awards and nominations for his work.

Both Marvel Comics and DC Comics include many of Cassaday's iconic images in their marketing, and in their art and poster book collections. Marvel Comics-based animated films have made extensive use of his art.

Kevin O'Neill (comics)

Kevin O'Neill (born 1953) is an English comic book illustrator best known as the co-creator of Nemesis the Warlock, Marshal Law (with writer Pat Mills), and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (with Alan Moore).

List of Angel comics

Angel comic book refers to one of two series published by Dark Horse Comics during 2000–2002. Both of these series are based on the television series Angel, and were published while the television series was on air. The first volume was an ongoing series halted after seventeen issues. The second volume was a mini-series, spanning four issues. Various related works have come out coinciding with these volumes.

In 2005, IDW Publishing picked up the rights and began publishing various Angel related mini-series and one-shots set during and after the show's final season (these series are considered non-canonical). In 2007, IDW began publishing Angel: After the Fall, which is considered the canonical Angel season 6 (following the success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight from Dark Horse) and is overseen by the show's creator Joss Whedon. IDW continued to publish an Angel ongoing title until Whedon transferred the rights to the character back to Dark Horse, where he will feature as part of the Buffy Season Nine franchise, starring most prominently in the ongoing series Angel and Faith.

Marie Severin

Marie Severin (; August 21, 1929 – August 29, 2018) was an American comics artist and colorist best known for her work for Marvel Comics and the 1950s' EC Comics. She was inducted into the Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame in 2001.

Mark Buckingham

Mark Buckingham is a British comic book artist. He is better known for his work on Marvelman and Fables.

NK Inter Zaprešić

Nogometni klub Inter Zaprešić is a professional Croatian football club based in Zaprešić, a town northwest of the capital Zagreb.

They play in the Prva HNL after they were promoted from the Druga HNL at the end of the 2013–14 season.

The team are nicknamed Keramičari ('The ceramics makers', because they were sponsored by a ceramics factory through much of their history) or Div iz predgrađa ('The giant from the suburb'). The team's colours are yellow and blue. Home games at Stadion ŠRC Zaprešić.

P. Craig Russell

Philip Craig Russell (born October 30, 1951) is an American comics artist, writer, and illustrator. His work has won multiple Harvey and Eisner Awards. Russell was the first mainstream comic book creator to come out as openly gay.

Sal Buscema

Sal Buscema (; Italian: [buʃˈʃɛːma]; born Silvio Buscema, January 26, 1936) is an American comics artist, primarily for Marvel Comics, where he enjoyed a ten-year run as artist of The Incredible Hulk. He is the younger brother of comics artist John Buscema.

Tom Palmer (comics)

Tom Palmer Sr. (born July 13, 1942) is an American comic book artist best known as an inker for Marvel Comics.

Wally Wood

Wallace Allan Wood (June 17, 1927 – November 2, 1981) was an American comic book writer, artist and independent publisher, best known for his work on EC Comics's Mad and Marvel's Daredevil. He was one of Mad's founding cartoonists in 1952. Although much of his early professional artwork is signed Wallace Wood, he became known as Wally Wood, a name he claimed to dislike. Within the comics community, he was also known as Woody, a name he sometimes used as a signature.

In addition to Wood's hundreds of comic book pages, he illustrated for books and magazines while also working in a variety of other areas – advertising; packaging and product illustrations; gag cartoons; record album covers; posters; syndicated comic strips; and trading cards, including work on Topps's landmark Mars Attacks set.

EC publisher William Gaines once stated, "Wally may have been our most troubled artist ... I'm not suggesting any connection, but he may have been our most brilliant".He was the inaugural inductee into the comic book industry's Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1989, and was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992.

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