To be an inker is to not practice a dying job. It is in the contrary one of the best of the two world of drawing: the digital and the classic one. What is great within these two worlds is that you can not say, when it is well done, what part is digital (except the greytones - of course!!) to what is classical.
And the most important part to this job is to do bring or better, to put life into a drawing. There a lot of excellent drawing artists, but some lack one of a base of an excellent drawing: the force lines. The drawing is very good but it lack from something that says "this is not an excellent drawing". The inker can then, correct and add these force lines and then, the drawing is really alive.
No one is perfect in this time of poorly paid overproduction of mainstream comic books. Time, pressures, censors, editors and publishers put the drawer under a so stressful environment that he lacks always something. The inker and the colourist are their to give these lacking touches in a drawing.
To apprentice artist, the inking process is a wonderful tool to help to improve his/her drawing skills. He/she learns to draw less lines to only keep the best and the most powerful ones. So, for the next drawing, the artist will use more usable and powerful lines in his/her drawing.
In the "better late than never" category, two years later, I came across Ron Marz's installment of Shelf Life on inking. A year ago I also wrote a piece about inkers, coincidentally also titled "Thinking Abou Inking." Well, I guess it was a coincidence, unless I subconsciously remembered reading Ron's column beforehand! So, anyway, exactly one year later, here is a link to my blog post:
By the way, like Ron, I am a huge fan of the inking of both Joe Sinnott and Terry Austin. I thought that Darryl Banks' pencils on Ron's Green Lantern issues looked amazing when embellished by Terry. The GL/Silver Surfer special especially so. Good stuff.