Ever wonder what us illustrator types do in our spare time?
Click for full size.
Ever wonder what us illustrator types do in our spare time?
Click for full size.
Commission piece. It was chartered for Storm but I hadn’t drawn any Skrulls in a while so they got in.
Get this: I lost the piece while scanning and carrying a bunch of other stuff. Dumbass. At least I have the scan. I’m recreating it.
These are a few more explorations of classic characters. I’ll be posting more of these a few at a time. While I’ll never work at Marvel/DC again, I still enjoy these original characters. I stuck Hank Pym into one of these pieces twice, once as Ant Man and the other as Giant Man. I just wanted to draw both of these characters. -t.
Here’s some new stuff. Just pushing forward with everything I know how to do. -t.
Here’s a relatively new one anyway. New Silver Surfer and Galactus. The Silver Surfer has always been one of my favorite characters and I know I’m not alone in that. Enigmatic, tragic, powerful – one of the best from the legendary Kirby/Lee era. Enjoy!
These are rough line-art with PITT pens. Not my usual but I enjoy them. The finishes will be up when the lines are thickened/adjusted and the blacks are placed. There is always a bit of sadness in losing the pencils to the inks and the ink lines to the blacks. Se la vie
I may write more about this in the future but I want to put something down about it now.
In a nut shell, the politics in any group endeavor is present but especially in the will-nilly-silly world of entertainment; it is pernicious, petty and persisting. The egos are small and brittle and without reprieve, merciless once excited. Over the years I’ve seen a lot of falling-outs in comics and have, to my recollection, never seen one patched up. Once injured, they never get over it.
Think of it as High School with ashtrays and legal beer, or the 13th grade. “Who’s Hot, Who’s Not.”
Marvel and DC are private parties. By invitation only. In unguarded moments they’ll even put it in those terms. Talent, how hard you work, deadlines missed or made, all of it, aren’t the most important thing. It’s the connection with some one who can/will invite you to the party. If I listed the top (and I mean top) people who can’t work at one or the other of Marvel or DC you wouldn’t believe it. Top talent. Think of the best guys you’d like to see on titles but haven’t for some times years. The reason probably is something like I’m describing. In the future I may go ahead and list some of them.
In comics, between Marvel and DC, there’ve only been about 30 people give or take who can authorize a living wage for working mainstream artists. That is if your goal is to work high profile with broad promotion for the project and your work. At any time, most freelancers have only 1 or 2 of these people in his corner to send them work. And God help them if they ever get 1 or 2 of these people on their neck over something real or percieved. It can poison the well for them at both companies.
To anyone coming into this business of comics, stay out of the offices as often as possible. Don’t move to New York, Los Angeles, San Diego or anywhere else for the work. If your stuff is up to quality you can make it right from the town you live in, the farm in East Jesus or any other place where your best interests lay. Keep your house, your spouse and children where they are. The cities mentioned offer nothing that will add to your work or your chances.
Also, move cautiously at conventions if you choose to attend. When you do attend (I still do myself, though rarely) stick with people you already know and those you percieve to be at what you guess to be your own level of accomplishment, for the most part. Status is relative and all of perception in the business. Without trying, offense is imputed or percieved sometimes merely by seeking to make acquaintances above your station.
I haven’t attended cons with any frequency in most of the last 20 years. They can be fun and enthusing, especially the fans. The pit falls of the offices are lessened here but still present.
When I started in this business, it was still recommended to move to New York. When I did, it was exciting and the city is wonderful but the trade off is the contempt of the office-goers that your familiarity can breed. This doesn’t always happen. Accept what I write merely as a cautionary.
I’m not alone in this experience of the “community.” In recent interviews where I lay out some detail on the matter I’ve later been contacted by artists from the same 10 years or so when I started work and they’ve confirmed and encouraged the description of things then as I have said. Some of them were contracted with the companies and did quite well under the Shooter reign and others. Nevertheless, they agreed with me as to the treacherous environment.
Things and persons have no doubt altered since that time. But my small contact with Marvel and DC in the last 10 years have not deminished my wariness of the liablities.
It’s the best job I or any one else could ever have. But it’s a lousy business at the staff level.
For a more about this see this interview completed recently. There are a couple of more coming out shortly:
Materials for comics (for me): after years of experimentation the only paper I use is Strathmore Bristol 2 ply, smooth finish; 2H pencil (wooden), preferably Japanese Tombows; Windsor-Newton Kolinsky brush, Series 5, size 3 round; Ink, used to be FW but it’s changed and most varieties are too thin to be really fun these days so whatever’s on hand will usually do; points, nothing short of the classic Gillott 1290, the “Cartoonist’s Point.” For touch-ups I use the full array of PITT pens; size B (the brush) for small fill-ins and adjusting thicknesses from the 1290 and the other PITT pens for small faces, figures and some details, also BGs and rigid forms even if they’re soft/rigid like vehicles, furniture, etc. Sometimes the 1290 does that job too but it depends on the piece and the feeling desired.
No coincidence that most of this stuff comes from England.
While I enjoy and have a great time with mechanical pencils and drawing with the point of any pencil, my primary method is with the side of the pencil using the famed kung-fu-artist-grip.
This allows for a greater range of tone and thick-and-thin in the line. It also frees the artist to draw from the elbow, not only the wrist. It takes some adjustment in technique but with some practice and experiment it reveals itself to be excellent. I render even very small figures and details this way. An added benefit is it promotes a gentler attack on the paper resulting in less fatigue in the hand.
I do miss that bump on my middle finger from the old scribe’s pencil grasp. The bump from where my pencil always registered while drawing was usually stained grey from graphite and reminded me at all times what it was I would rather be doing no matter the current engagement.
I worked with a few inkers over the years, some quite good but even in the best arrangements something of the original intent and liveliness of the pencils was lost. Sometimes for the better but mostly a loss of what was promised in the pencils. Most artists will lament that the pencil is superior to the inks in any event even when they themselves do both jobs. For myself, tackling both is the best way to follow the image through to completion.
Over years I worked frustratingly for a method to translate the pencils into at least some faithful version with ink. There was lots of bad drawing and good drawings wrecked by bad inks. Often I inked on sheer vellum, tracing the original pencil drawing because I knew the inkse were going to kill it. Eventually I settled on a few impliments and a hand full of techniques that seemed to most perfectly sustain the subtlty and warmth of the pencils.
While I’m in among a large group of artists in that no ink job will match the aching and transporting beauty of a pencil rendering, I’m quite sattisfied with the combination of tools and techniques for ink that I solved for.
I could go on from these few ideas, they’re spring-loaded like snakes from a trick can but this’ll serve as a starter.
I’ve continued to experiment and enjoy the process. The results are surprising and pleasing once I adjust my expectations from the fantastic Gillot 1290. The Scatter Cat pages are mostly with the PITT pens and the difference is notable. I intend more of this. The ease of using these permenant India Ink pens facilitates speed, too. I averaged about a finished page a day. Unfortunately, most prospects for paying work expect the Gillott 1290 look in the finishes so I’m still primarily working with that.
I’m working on more full color stuff and developing a lettering style, inspired by purists like James Romberger, Erik Larsen, James O’Barr and others. The page looks more fully a comic page with the lettering on it. -t.
Sorry for the long delays in posting. Been busy with some new projects (more to come on that shortly).
Here’s some sketchbook stuff I had squirreled away. Hope you enjoy it.
Iron Man, The Punisher and more. Hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Now – back to work!