It usually starts with a script. This is page one of the first Stormy Tempest story that Len Strazewski and I worked on together for AC Comics Femforce title. Stormy is a police officer from the future who was sent back in the past to assassinate a political candidate. She was captured, and Len thought she should be put in a Gitmo-type facility.
When I read the script, I thought about James Cagney's walk down the last mile in the 1938 film Angels With Dirty Faces. I wanted to capture the mood of that scene, so I kept it in mind when I worked out the layout of the page.
After I do thumbnails, if I have time, I take photos of a model. I almost always use some type of photo reference, primarily for proportions. In this case my friend Natanya Rubin was the model for Stormy.
After loading the photo reference into the layout, I start drawing. I do a rough pencil for editorial approval and to work out any kinks. If there are any problems with the layout or the drawing, they are solved here.
Once I get approval, I do my final drawing, cleaning up the line work and adding shadows and blacks. I use a 3H pencil for the line work and an ordinary #2 pencil for the blacks.
At that point, the pages leave my hands and go to the inker. In this case, the inker is Jeff Austin.
And that's it. I usually work on more than one page at a time - I'll do 5 pages of roughs and then start the line work on all 5 pages before adding the blacks. It's a good process and works really well for me.