'Tara Normal' gets graphic: Making of a comic book series

Each week artist Howie Noel, creator of online comic heroine and savvy paranormal pop-culture investigator Tara Normal, checks in with a "making-of" blog entry about his upcoming graphic novel, Tara Normal and the Case of the Boyfriend Robbers From Outer Space. Howie uses this space to give a first look at artwork and to update readers on the pain and suffering of writing a full-length comic book. When not blogging, Howie also contributes a special edition of the Tara Normal strip to TAPS Paramagazine and spends way too much time on Twitter @hcnoel.

'Tara Normal' gets graphic: The cover

(ahem, in best Troy McClure voice) Hi, I'm H.C. Noel (Howie Noel). You may remember me from such sneak previews as the Tara Normal One-Panel Preview...

So, I recently became represented by the awesome literary agent Bree Ogden of Martin Literary Management. She's currently helping me bring my creation Tara Normal to the literary world in the form of a cool series of paranormal graphic novels. Right now Tara investigates with TAPS, the stars of SyFy's Ghost Hunters, in her own comic in their Paramagazine.

But my graphic novel series will explore how she became a professional paranormal investigator in the first place. I'm really excited to share her backstory and all of her supernatural adventures with you. Along the way, I'm going to offer some behind-the-drawing desk information about my journey in making my paranormal comics, and I"ll give you a sneak peek on how I create my art.

So the best place to start with the artwork of the first book is the cover. I had several thumbnail sketches and my wife Shelley helped me choose the one that had the most exciting composition. From there I penciled and inked it. The coloring stage, which I do in Photoshop, is always an exciting step in creating my comic art. I get to do cool effects and lighting and in this series, I'm really going to try and push the moodiness factor more than I have in other artwork.

The cover for Book 1: Tara Normal & The Case of the Boyfriend Robbers From Outer Space features my version of aliens, and on this cover, they have red eyes to make them appear creepier and help them stand out on the blue background. I went with a more painterly approach when I colored Tara than I usually do when I work on the webcomic.

I'm really happy with the result and I'm looking forward to continuing to color the rest of the book this way.

My wife helped me revamp the Tara Normal logo for the cover. I wanted it to be more slimy and realistic so an actual photographic of slime makes up the 3D effect on the logo. I also reworked the shiny highlights. She also worked on the placement and design of the subtitle text creating a very cool lightning graphic to go behind the words to add an extra element to the cover.

I really hope you enjoy this look behind-the-scenes and I can't wait to share more art of Tara Normal next week! In the meantime, please check me out tonight (Tues, July 27) at 8 p.m., ET, as I join Jeff Belanger on his show, 30 Odd Minutes to discuss all things Tara.