Productivity Analysis

Last Monday I got a full week’s strips inked, and I was hoping the rest of the week would be similarly productive. It wasn’t. I managed, over the following five days, to color the inked week, script another week, and pencil five rows of that week.

Breaking it down by staged rows per day:
Monday: 12 (9 rows inked, 3 rows pencilled)
Tuesday: 0 (prepped rows for coloring, but finished no stages)
Wednesday: 6 (5 rows scripted, 1 row colored)
Thursday: 6 (6 rows colored)
Friday: 5 (3 rows colored, 2 rows scripted)
Saturday: 4 (2 rows scripted, 2 rows pencilled)

That’s 33 staged rows for the week. Since there are 36 staged rows in a week of strips (9 rows each of scripting, pencilling, inking, and coloring) that means a net loss of 3 rows.

My goal for a productive week is to average 10 staged rows per weekday, for a total of 50 rows per week. During a productive week, I’ll put a little less than a week and a half of strips away, adding maybe three days to the buffer.

THIS week also began auspiciously. I pencilled four rows and inked nine. So…. 13. Since I’ve got a convention at the end of the week I really need to get my game on and NOT slip tomorrow. Having a 0-row day kills me extra-dead when I lose Friday and Saturday as work-days. (Not that I got much done on those days last week, mind you.)

Tuesday’s goal, then, is to color everything I inked. At the very least I should be able to knock down 6 rows. But I’d LIKE to be able to color 9 rows (finishing next week’s strips… yes, the uploaded buffer ends on Saturday as of this writing) and script three.

And now you can see inside the head of the anal-about-his-productivity cartoonist.


“Good lord, man, retain that anus! Someday its fruit may be all that stands between us and oblivion!” — The Tick, “The Terror,” 2001

8 thoughts on “Productivity Analysis”

    1. Probably none, since I’m burnt out. I’ve got a stack of notes for the OvalkWiki here next to me that will help with scripting, but before I can scan and color the strips that I’ve inked I need to sleep on them. I’ve got to have a fresh eye before I start coloring, or I end up hurrying stuff too much.


  1. I’m always impressed by the methods by which you keep a drawing schedule. I’m definitely stealing some of these ideas when I start my next project.

    Incidentally, is each stage of a comic, on average, the same amount of work? They never were, for me, by a rather large factor (pencilling generally takes me about three times as much work as inking or scripting, and the same amount of time as coloring), but I’ve noticed I do a lot more of the detail at the pencil stage than you, and my writing isn’t nearly as solid…

    1. Pencilling and scripting require “Smart Howard” to be in the house. Inking and coloring are more rote-work.

      On the average, though, pencilling takes maybe 15 minutes per row these days (very sketchy, very fast), inking takes 30 minutes per row, and coloring takes between 15 (weekdays) and 45 (complicated sundays)per row.

      Scripting takes about 10 minutes per row if you’re timing the typing. But I’ll spend DAYS playing the dialogs in my head. A good scripting jag usually follows a good nap in which I’ve slept for 45 minutes, nodding off while letting the characters talk to each other. Call it 20 hours of planning followed by 2 hours of typing for one week of scripts.


      1. And he used to do all that while also working a 50-60 hour per week day job at Novell.

        We’re still not sure how he did it. He must have learned how to fold time or borrow from the future.

        1. Never having met Howard or seen how he works (before leaving Novell, or after), all I can do is guess… but could it be that now that it’s “the real job”, he’s taking more care on every phase? I know that for me, the transition of things from “hobby” to “job” make them take a lot longer, because I’m much more careful.

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