One of the ongoing changes in my process is exactly how many pages I'm willing to work on at a given time, specifically penciling and inking. This can be a tough balance to find, because most artists (or just me) are a bit crazy to begin with. Too many or too few pages seem to bring the crazy straight to the surface.
I didn't really start drawing PAGES until I went to college. Before then I drew little comics in sketchbooks and more often than not, on the backs of school assignments. For most of my early page drawing days at SCAD, I usually penciled and inked one or two pages at a time, tops. Rarely were assignments more than four pages anyway, which at the time seemed like a lot. The idea was we were learning and there was a lot of noodling. "Is this guy going to end up standing on the panel border?" "Is that an awkward crop? "Is that face too boring?" (ed. note: In college the answer to these question were yes.)
For me, there is no surer way to spend half an hour drawing and redrawing a fingernail than working on one page at a time. "No no, this fingernail isn't right. Wait...now...no...shit...there? No." Shit takes FOREVER. We're not saving the world people! Leave that to the guys on the pages.
So I started ramping it up. In one of his essays in PulpHope (a book everyone should own), Paul Pope explains that he works on 16 pages at a time. Two rows of eight hung up on the wall, and he spreads around working on the stuff he does want to and the stuff he doesn't. At this point I had already started hanging my pages up to work on them, just so I had immediate reference of what everyone was wearing and where all the furniture was, and I gave 16 pages at a time a shot.
16 pages for inking worked great. The information is already there, and inking goes relatively fast. Also, a wall full of inked work just looks cool. It's fulfilling to see it all there. 16 pages for penciling was an entirely different matter. This is where I discovered I may or may not have ADD.
Drawing that many pages at once was the road to madness. There's just so much god damn artwork on the wall that, personally, I can't focus on any one thing for too long. "I think the horizon line is gonna be...oh shit! That fingernail clear across the room is wrong! Let me fix it while I'm thinking about it. Okay. Wait...now...no...shit...there? You know what this fingernail needs? I just...oh shit! That ear clear back across the room is too low! Let me fix this while I'm thinking about it."
And the answer? Around 10. I draw in spreads but the first and last pages are on their own, and I invariably end up with an odd number anyway. In a 22 page issue, doing half and half just breaks down conveniently. ALSO. Even if the first half of the issue didn't go well, I feel refreshed knowing that I have halftime. It makes me feel like a football player. You can always get pumped at halftime, come back out on the field and win this thing!
Of course, if a scene doesn't end on pg 10-11 spread, I'll usually put up the additional pages to finish the scene out for continuity's sake. I keep the sports metaphors though so I don't want to think about it.
Everything else I handle on a per issue basis. Thumbnailing all gets done by issue to maintain pacing. Digital tone goes so fast it also gets done by issue, and for simplicity's sake I do my lettering by issue as well...at that point it's already scanned in and laid out, so I might as well.