Although proper inking is critical to giving comic artwork a professional look, it is often seen as more technical than penciling and is less glamorous, as many inkers go unrecognized. This image has been parodied in the Kevin Smith movie Chasing Amy, where Banky Edwards is accused of merely "tracing" the images drawn by the penciler, Holden McNeil. While inking does 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, for example. 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, or as 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.
Even in traditional North American comic books, many artists regularly ink their own work: Joe Kubert and Jim Aparo would usually pencil, ink and letter, considering the placing of balloons as an integral part of the page, and artists such as Steve Ditko, Kurt Schaffenberger, Nick Cardy, and Bill Everett almost always inked their own work, sometimes inking the work of other pencilers as well.
LADIES' MAN FAMOUS NAMES, NASTY DIVORCES, AND THE WOMEN IN EACH OF THEM TURNED TO ONE MAN, MONROE INKER, TO GET THEM A FAIR SHAKE FROM THEIR RICH HUSBANDS. NOW 80, BOSTON'S MOST FEARED DIVORCE LAWYER HAS FOUND AN EVEN MESSIER CALLING.
Nov 13, 2005; Monroe Inker, the man, is slight, stooped at the middle, propped up with a cane. His voice has the gravel and speed bumps...