Bang, Zap, Boom: MC Freshman Designs Own Online Comic

Superman, Captain America, Spider-Man and the X-Men are just a few superhero stars of some of the best-selling action movies of our generation. They actually began life, however, as stars of the best-selling comic books of our parents’ (and grandparents’) generations.

Photo by James O'Connor.
Patrick Estanbouli works on his online comic. Photo by James O’Connor.

Once a staple of the Sunday issue of American newspapers, comics have a rich history of combining artistry and entertainment that can appeal to a range of audiences. Patrick Estanbouli, a Manhattan College freshman double majoring in biology and psychology, is carrying on that tradition with his new online comic, “PWCL: People with Crazy Lives.”

Estanbouli said the idea of creating his own comic began when he was a junior in high school.

My best friend in high school and I were in English class and we had to do drawing assignments in the class—instead of doing a 12-page paper we could do a five-page paper and do three drawings instead,” he said. “At the time I had just started drawing digitally for my AP art class so I had a tablet and my friend was like, ‘why don’t you start a comic?’”

The two worked on the comic together, with Estanbouli drawing and his friend writing, and they ended up developing 150 comic strips by the end of their senior year. A rift in their friendship caused them to drop the comic idea entirely, but Estanbouli was still interested in the process and decided to go about it on his own.

I thought, ‘you know, I still want to do this,’ so I started up my own series which is totally different from the originally series we had done,” he said. “This one is going to be four friends who meet in college—it’s basically a modern life-fiction style comic.”

The comic is going to be done in three panel strips, with the panels sometimes portraying a storyline, and sometimes being unconnected. Estanbouli said the panels without an arching storyline line will “just be comedic, with sometimes maybe some drama in there.”

It’s just to have something that people can go on and look at, and have something to relate to that’s funny,” he said. “I’m basing it on scenarios that happen here at college—things that I’ve heard from friends, what’s going on with them. It’ll basically be a compilation of what life after 18 is pretty much all about.”

Though he is doing the drawing entirely on his own, Estanbouli has enlisted fellow freshman Max Whitwell for help on the writing portion of the comic.

I’m involved as a writer, so Pat will ask me to write a script for, say, three panels,” Whitwell said. “I’ll think of an anecdote about his characters that can be told in three pictures, and write the dialogue and a brief description of what each picture looks like.” 

Whitwell said one day he wants to write comics professionally for a company like Marvel or DC, so he’s grateful for any opportunity to “write scripts that are actually going to get drawn.”

I’ve been writing scripts for about a year, so I do have a bit of experience with it, although they’ve all been longer form and it does get a bit tricky sometimes having so few panels to work with,” he said. 

This is the first time any of my scripts are going to get drawn though, which is exciting.”

Estanbouli draws his comic on a tablet, which displays on his laptop screen in a computer program where he can edit his work.

I love drawing on paper,” he said of the more traditional art form. “The only benefit with digital drawing is if you draw something and you want to change the size of something because you realize the proportions are off, you can do that easily—or you can change the color tones. It’s nice for editing, compared to traditional where you have to erase everything and start all over again.”

Estanbouli is posting his comic on the art-sharing website Deviant Art. He started uploading his artwork there three years ago and has been able to successfully sell prints through the site. He also has a donation pool on his profile, as he hopes to accumulate enough money to eventually buy his own website and domain name for “People with Crazy Lives.”

Currently, he has drawn the four characters’ promos for the comic, has completely finished one character’s full body and is continuing to work on the other three. He hopes to have about 50 panels finished by November so if he gets busy with schoolwork he can continue to post one panel each week.

A sample of Estanbouli's cartooning.
A sample of Estanbouli’s cartooning.

I feel using online resources like Deviant Art is a wonderful way to get your work out there,” said MC Visual & Performing Arts adjunct professor Jacob Roesch.

Roesch teaches the courses “Digital Drawing” and “Introduction to Graphic Design.”

You are able to broadcast your art to the world for no cost, find and discuss work and resources with like-minded people and receive instant feedback of your pieces through comment areas and group critiques,” he added.

Estanbouli said when he’s drawing he has to have headphones on and listens to lots of alternative, indie music like Coldplay, Vance Joy, The Temper Trap and The Black Keys, which sometimes reflects in his characters’ looks. Some days he works for two hours, some days he can go up to eight.

Sometimes I get really sucked into it and don’t realize I’ve been working that long and then I look up and it’s dark out and I’m like, ‘oh, they goes the day,’” he said.

Basically, I’ve always been writing and doing art separately. So, I just wanted to do something that was funny— it’s a stress-reliever for college—and let me put my writing and art together in one project.”

Check out “People with Crazy Lives” at this link