Next comic episode will contain extensive background information on WWII

We already mentioned it recently: Your feedback helped us a lot to tweak some things concerning Grossväterland. On the one hand side we now offer a Paperback Edition for 30$.

30enOn the content-side we also integrated some of your impulses. The next episode named OTTO will use a different narrative-structure as KARL. But the much more important change will be the 2 pages of historical backgrounds that will accompany the episode.

Back in the episode called KARL we integrated the historical information into the narrative flow. That didn’t only irritated some readers but also didn’t give us enough room for the important background information to place the experiences of our witnesses into a historical context. So the next and soon to be published episode called OTTO will contain text and pictures as addon material that will explain the events happening in the comic.

You can see a little (german) preview of the background material in the picture above.

We are curious how you will like the new episode and are looking forward to your feedback again so we can improve Grossväterland even more.

And of course we would really appreciate it, if you would order Grossväterland. You can find all the available packets over here at Indiegogo ready to order.

Finaly: English language paperback for $30

Some days ago we launched the german language paperback edition of Großväterland as an offer for customers from germany which were heavily interested in our graphic novel Großväterland, but didn’t want to pay $60 for the hardcover edition with german and english language comics together in one book. Although we think this is of great value, we also understood the demand of a single language edition.

Due to the success of this move we now decided to offer the same thing for our english language customers:

Now you can order an english language only paperback edition with the same content as the hardcover edition: 80 pages full of comics, background material and historical facts from some of the last living german eye witnesses of WW2.

The former $30 perk, the digital edition, is now available for just $15.

We also put some thinking into the other perks and made the $60 and $100 perk (hardcover plus digital edition, sketchbook and postcards) into one single perk for just $60 and upped the number of pages from 120 to 160. That’s $40 less than before with even more content!

Note: If you already ordered the digital edition which was $30 before, you are automatically upgraded to the paperback.

Our new top perks:


Please visit our campaign on Indiegogo to order your edition of Großväterland …


Win an original drawing worth $500 …

Get the $500 perk for just $60? This is how …

On October 14th german TV station RTL accompanied us on our visit at the eye witness of our upcoming story “Otto”. Sometime in the coming days – we don’t know when exactly either – this feature will be broadcasted. So we made up the following thing:

Everyone who orders the $60 perk until then – and everyone who already did – will take part in a sweepstake in which we give a away one original drawing from the book. To be precise: You will be upgrade to the $500 perk


The first panel – making of Part II

In a previous article I explained how we work out the layout of the comics with the help of visual scripting. One part of visual scripting was reference-material.



The scribings evolve

In today’s post the pencil gets to work. Accordingly the finished draft will be called “pencil” as well. For those wondering if there aren’t any sketches or more drafts: Yes sometimes I do those, too. But in this case it is not necessary, because I use a historical reference-pictures as a template in the first panel that will be supplemented with persons and other elements later in the process.

So we skip that and get directly to the pencil. Later there will be the inked drawings, the coloring and the placement of the speechbubbles and textboxes: The lettering.

The blue-prints

I always start my drawings with a blue pen. Back in the days it was the traditional col-erase but in the meantime I switched to the tools by toonbase. The layout in blue is a traditional way of working of comic-artists who don’t work fully digital. It originates in the pre-computer-era, when artists used the effect that a specified shade of blue wasn’t recognized by repro-cameras in the prepress reproduction. So you you spared yourself from huge erasing-orgies to get rid off all the pencil-strokes. Today the principle is the same with the difference that you just let photoshop do the work of filtering out the blue lines.

My workflow with complex drawings like the ones for Grossväterland provides even two “blue phases”. The second blue phase will be explained in the next article about inking.

In the very first step I build a schematic scaffold of the drawing and take advantage of the low contrast of the blue pencil that will later be layered by the pencil. In our first Panel of Grossväterland that looks like this:


As soon as everything fits in here, I get out my pencil. After years and years with “normal” pencils and my beloved Faber Castell Dessin 2001 (unbelievable low priced, unbelievable great strokes) I switched to a mechanical pencil last year. Really convincing was the awesome built-quality of the rotring 900. The advantage not only lies directly in your hand but you can also save the time for pointing the pencil. So my workflow becomes really fluid. A possible disadvantage: The strokes are looking a bit less lively because of the missing grit.

But that doesn’t play a big role since I am going to ink later anyway and I’m working more and more in a Ligne Claire-like Style in the tradition of Eduardo Risso. It is even a bit of an advantage because the mechanical pencil is really close to the ink. True fact: In my project ONE. and other works for clients it appeared that I could even use the pencil as a base for the coloring and could leave out the inking completely.

What you can see in the picture as well: I print out a grid before I layout the blueprint – a 4 by 4 grid in this case – on the drawing paper in blue as well.

A good pencil works on its own

The pencil is in any case the most time consuming step of the work because all the important details have to be worked out in it. From time to time some of those detail are just hinted and are made concrete in the ink. But anyway: A good pencil must be able to work on its own.
I asked Eduardo Risso once which pens he uses for inking and he answered that it doesn’t really matter if the pencil is good. And oh boy is he right! (He uses a Staedtler Fineliner 0.2 by the way. Like me. That was really cool to find out!)

Furthermore we use the pencil – from time to time the blueprint, too – to coordinate our work in the project-team. That is really important because the pencil is the easiest stage to do corrections. Erasers rule, you know?

This is the reason why we already put the texts in, so we see if we planned enough room for them. A common beginner mistake is this: You draw the most beautiful panels and in the end you realize: The speechbubbles have not enough space and hide important parts of your drawing. That’s why not-lettered comic-panels often look so empty. Let me show you an example of a blueprint from the later pilot-episode:


The finished pencil

So much about the pencil. Here is the finished result – still without the lettering. That I am going to explain in part IV.






“Historical” support on board

“Großväterland” is a project that started on the web and will be made possible through the web. So it is no surprise that our historian for the project found us via the web as well. We were already in contact with several historians but when PhD Christian Hardinghaus read about “Großväterland” on our Facebook-Page he contacted me immediately as we share a mutual friend. A week later Markus, Christian and me had a Skype-Call and Christian laid out how he would like to support “Großväterland”:

As a PhD in history and an expert in WWII and the concern of “Großväterland” is an affair of the heart for him, too. He will be responsible for factchecking and the waterproving the history behind the stories.

Furthermore as a trained lector, writer and journalist he will work on the german website and the final versions of the episode-scripts before they are going to be drawn by Markus.

We are really happy to have Christian on board!

The first panel – making of Part I

In the coming days – until the launch of the crowdfunding-campaign I would like to explain you how the artwork of the graphic-novel is developed. As the example I use our pilot-episode.

Set the stage

The first panel of a comic often is used for several important purposes: It has to explain the reader where the story happens – on a time-scale as well as geographically. It has to set the mood for the following pictures and often the acting characters enter the stage. And if you want to pack everything into it, you lay out some storyteller’s bait to lure the reader into the story.

Especially at this important point you have to consider all relevant aspects regarding composition, design and illustration.

Those aspects are important for all other drawings of the comic as well, but especially if you start your story with a really large picture – the so called “establishing shot” – they play an important role. In the following panels you are often only working with parts of them.

In this and the following three parts of this short series I am going to address all aspects. The reason for this is that we are going to work with short-stories of round about 6 pages in “Großväterland”. That means the storytelling is more condensed as if you were telling one complete story in 32 or more pages. The establishing shot is a good way to get right to the point.

Ok. First things first:

Visual Scripting

Schematic layout of the first page of "Großväterland"

Schematic layout of the first page of “Großväterland”

Schematic layout of the first page of “Großväterland”


Most of the time I am author and illustrator in personal-union, so I often work really intuitiv and keep the visual layout in mind as well as the content. But as “Großväterland” is a collaborative project and its content and structure has to be coordinated with Alex Kahl and Christian Hardinghaus. So I came up with a way how I can visualize the page-strucutre and the contents without the need to draw even one line. I call this “visual scripting” as I combine the classical comic script with the panel layout. In Adobe Indesign I built a panel structure within my page layout, describe the content of the picture and add some early textboxes and speechbubbles.  You can see an example in the picture on the right. For me it is a great help as I can see later on at which position I spare some space in the drawing.

This is how it will look like in the first panel of “Großväterland”:

Place (Riesa) und Time (Summer 1941) are established via textboxes. Although the concrete date for the plot of this first episode is already fix, we are not going to spoil it here. I just want to show you, who the mood was in summer 1941 in Germany: Pretty good.

“We had a great time.”

All the campaigns and conquering of the Wehrmacht were successful. With much less losses in comparison to the horrible bloodbaths a lot of people could remember from World War I that just was 23 ago. (Do you still know where you were 1991? What you were doing then? Yes. 1918 was for people in 1941 what 1991 is for us in 2014. – Just to set this in perspective and help you to get your head around it.)
There was something like a good reason for feeling invincible somehow. Especially if you grew up in a time in that the two “Hitler-Boys” Karl and his friend Wolfgang (Hitlerjugend was the youth-organization in the Third Reich in which 98% of the German youth was in). Their story will be told in the first episode.

The front of the war was far from home. The people in Germany back then, at this fateful day of World War II, didn’t know neither expect that from then on everything was going to change. So the reader shouldn’t know either. And Karl’s going to say: “We had a great time.”

You can’t do it without references

A very important part of our work shows up in the short-description of the panel: The clue for a reference-picture. As a matter of fact we depend on a lot of historical reference material for the visuals. We use classical sources as books or photographies as well as museum. Especially the web is a real treasure-chest for picture- and info-material.


For our establishing shots we are pretty lucky: We found a great historical photography of the trainstation in Riesa. Therefor I chose to point it out so particular in the panel.

Ok. More of that you can read in the next article that will be published on friady, October 24th.

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„Großväterland“ is a Crowdfunding-Project. Its goal is a graphic-novel that tells episodes from WWII.

You can access all background info via the menu in the upper left. There is a FAQ, some good to know fact about the project and about our financing method crowdfounding. And of curse we would like to introduce the team.
Please: Take a look at our first example for a one-page comic and how you can support the project and help us to spread the word about “Großväterland”.