omic book artists typically use 11"x17" sheets of heavy, high-quality art paper called Bristol board. Bristol board comes in two "tooths" (surface texture), Plate (which is smoother) and Vellum (which is rougher). Check them out and decide which is best for you. You can find bristol in your local art supply store typically in 14" x 17" pads. Just trim off the extra 3" with a T-square and an exacto knife -- OR you can leave that 3" gutter on and use it to do quick little sketches of things you're trying to work out. What brand you use is up to you. Most people swear by Strathmore. It's a nice high-quality name. It's a little more expensive, and it is very good. Utecht is another good brand if you can find a Utrecht store. It's almost identical in feel and costs a little less. You can often get name brand Bristol pads cheaper at craft stores than at art supply stores. So look before you buy!
COMIC STRIP artists also use Bristol board, but comic strip art is smaller than comic book art. 11"x14" pads work perfectly and let you fit two strips on one page.
You will also need a T-square. You can probably pick one up at the art store for $10-$15. It will save you loads of time when you're drawing 90 degree angles for not only your original art guides, but for panel borders as well. It's a must have. An 18" or larger T-square is recommended.
This should be obvious: When you're ruling off your original art...use a pencil. You're going to erase these lines once you've inked your panel borders, Let's move on...
Above you'll see how to measure an 11" x 17" piece of bristol for typical comic art. There are a few slight variations, and the sizes have changed a little through the years. What we have here is an 11" x 17" sheet with a 10" x 15" bleed and a 9" x 13.5" panel border. The purpose for ruling off the sheet is to give you an idea where your panel borders are and where your safe zone is as far as outside the panel border. When the art gets reduced and then trimmed digitally for final print size, (which is typically 6.625" x 10.25" these days) you're going to lose the art outside your bleed area. Ever notice in comics when the art goes right up to the edge of the cut page? That's called "full bleed". The artist drew a little beyond that so when the art was trimmed down there was some play in case it wasn't exact. Now let's talk definitions...
The section shown below is the bottom right corner of your sheet. We'll use this for reference.
1. This is your "safe area" where the majority of your art will be. Go nuts. Draw til your hand bleeds.
2. This is your panel border. Most of your panels will butt against this rectangle.
3. This is your Full Bleed line. Anything outside your full bleed is no-man's land. Just tumbleweeds out here. Anything you draw there will almost certainly not be seen in the final page.
Below we have a typical comic strip template. This is the generic three or four panel strip you see in your newspaper. The goal is a little different here. You just want the panel border. Your original art size for strips is 4" x 13". With an 11" x 14" pad of bristol you can fit two strips on one sheet like you see here.