creative process Archives - Page 2 of 7 - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
Ahead of the Oct. 31 release of Amelia Cole and the Unknown World #4 from Monkeybrain Comics, artist Nick Brokenshire has provided ROBOT 6 with a look at his process for creating Page 4 of that issue. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, by Brokenshire, writers Adam P. Knave and D.J. Kirkbride, and letterer Rachel Deering, the first three issues are available on comiXology.
A wee while back, my friends Adam and DJ asked me if I fancied doing a process diary-type thing for Comic Book Resources. I was surprised because I am a new artist in the wondrous world we know collectively as “comics.” Of course, what with our book being picked up by Monkeybrain and put out on comiXology, I said yes. We are obviously in the business of drawing attention to our work so that we can sell copies which in turn will allow us to make more comics. … But that isn’t the real reason that I want to share this little snapshot of the way we do things. The main reason for me is: love of the process. Even as an unknown, I relish the chance to share the little I have learned with anyone that may enjoy or benefit from this information.
A few years back while I was training to be a high-school art teacher (which is what I do as a day job now), I stumbled upon the revelation that the only way to achieve anything is by starting. I had been drawing comics characters and chopped-up bits of comics but never managed to finish anything. Then, upon listening to the experiences of professionals on podcasts like Word Balloon and Art and Story, as well as interviews on blogs and magazines, the same little snippet of advice kept popping out: start. Start to write and start to draw. After you start, don’t stop. Even when you don’t think the work is that good, don’t stop. That’s the only way to get better. So I started and I think I’m getting better. I’m a long way from being as good as my heroes, but I’ve made a start. So, for those of you who want to make comics, whether you dream of super-stardom or like me, just like to tell stories, here’s a brief breakdown of the process I go through to make comics. Hope it helps you start.
For process junkies, animated film studios seem to be great sources of instruction about good storytelling, in comics or any medium. Last spring, Ben Caldwell shared some lessons he learned from DreamWorks. This time, former Pixar story artist Emma Coats is offering 22 guidelines she picked up from her senior colleagues at the studio:
#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
You can read the rest on Coats’ blog.
(via Kelly Sue DeConnick)
In a recent superhero comic, the artist introduced a character who was notable for his small stature. Nowhere in the first 20-odd-page issue did you see him clearly in scale next to normal-sized characters that demonstrated he was small. This was covered in passing in the dialogue. That’s bad comics. If you were telling this story over a campfire, one of the first things you’d say is that this guy was very short; you might make it specific, with a comparison. In comics, the art should do that for you. Something about a picture painting a thousand words. Visual info should be conveyed visually.
– Dark Horse editor Scott Allie, not referring to the specific panel above, but talking about the same thing.
Allie writes at length about the importance of visual storytelling to comics. He uses lots of examples, both positive and negative, but one of my favorites is when he points at some Alan Moore comics to prove that it doesn’t matter how talented the writer is. If the artist doesn’t convey the right information, the comic’s going to suck.
This isn’t to say that the art is more important than the writing. That’s not true, and neither is the reverse. What’s true is that art and words BOTH have to do their parts to make a good comic.
Lucy Knisley has three things to delight us this week.
First, a new episode of her seldom-updated webocomic Stop Paying Attention, in which little Lucy asks the big questions while playing with her toys. It’s a wonderful comic, philosophical without being dry or boring.
Second, she has written and illustrated an essay on The New Life of the Comic Book for The American Reader, which is a nice overview of the whole world of comics, sharpened with her own experiences.
And third, she has a process post explaining how she did the main illustration for the article, from concept (and unflattering photo) to finished product. It’s a fun peek at her work process, and a nice addition to the article.
I only just discovered the blog of Mouse Guard creator David Petersen, and it’s a great read if you like behind-the-scenes details. He recently posted a detailed account of the small model he made for the Matriarch’s Room, which appeared in Black Axe #5; it’s amazing to see how much care and thought he put into it. And now he has a new post, detailing the cover he drew for the Baltimore Comic Con program, from initial concept to finished art. It’s a treat for process junkies and some nice eye candy for the rest of us as well.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, it’d be an eclectic bunch featuring Jesus clones, retired spec-ops workers, environmentalists and Batman. First up would be Punk Rock Jesus #2 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), following Sean Murphy’s big-time foray into writing and drawing. Murphy’s delivering the art of his career, and while the story might not be as great as the art, it still has a synchronicity to the art that few other mainstream books have these days. After that I’d get Dancer #4 (Image, $3.50); Nathan Edmondson seemingly made his name on writing the spy thriller Who Is Jake Ellis?, and this one takes a very different view of the spy game – like a Luc Besson movie, perhaps – and Nic Klein is fast climbing up my list of favorite artists. After that I’d get Massive #3 (Dark Horse, $3.50), with what is disheartedly looking to be the final issue of artist Kristian Donaldson. No word on the reason for the departure, but with a great a story he and Brian Wood have developed I hope future artists can live up to the all-too-brief legacy he developed. Delving into superhero waters, the next book I’d get is Batman #12 (DC, $3.99), which has become DC’s consistently best book out of New 52 era. Finally, I’d get Anti #1 (12 Guage, $1). Cool cover, interesting concept, and only a buck. Can’t beat that.
If I had $30, I’d jump and get Creator-Owned Heroes #3 (Image, $3.99); man, when Phil Noto is “on” he’s “ON!” After that I’d get Conan te Barbarian #7 (Dark Horse, $3.50). I’ve been buying and reading this in singles, but last weekend I had the chance to re-read them all in one sitting and I’m legitimately blown away. The creators have developed something that is arguably better than what Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord started in 2003 and shoulder-to-shoulder with the great stories out of the ’70s. This new issue looks to be right up my alley, as Conan takes his pirate queen Belit back to his frigid homeland in search of a man masquerading as Conan. Hmm, $7 left. Any other Food or Comic-ers want to grab some grub?
If I could splurge, I’d excuse myself from the table dining with my fellow FoCers and get Eyes of the Cat HC (Humanoids, $34.95). I feel remiss in never owning this, so finally getting my hands on the first collaboration between Moebius and Alexandro Jodorowsky seems like a long time coming. I’m told its more an illustrated storybook than comic book, but I’m content with full page Moebius work wherever I can get it.
[Update: Thank you to Ryan Estrada for pointing out Stan Sakai’s Facebook comments about this post. By way of clarification, these pages were already posted in their entirety on the Tumblr account credited at the bottom of the post. I didn’t scan them myself, but it was still thoughtless not to contact Mr. Sakai and ask before sharing them here. I regret not doing that and apologize.]
The January 1991 issue of Amazing Heroes (Issue 187) included this cool eight-page comic by Stan Sakai on his process in producing Usagi Yojimbo. There was also an accompanying interview with gems like this: “I’m not really that into manga. It’s funny: whenever I go to conventions around the country I’m always put on a manga panel, I guess because I’m Japanese and Usagi’s about Japan. But I know almost nothing about manga. So I just say my two cents’ worth and keep quiet the rest of the panel.”
Twenty years later, it’s still an insightful (and delightful) read. Check out a couple of the pages below; Vingt Et Un has the rest.
Organizations | Following the abrupt closing on Monday of the Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art’s decade-old New York City location, President Ellen S. Abramowitz promises, “MoCCA is not dead. Some reporters assumed we were going to a virtual gallery, but that is not the case. There will be a new physical space.” She tells The Comics Journal that the new space, expected to be announced at the end of the month, will be an improvement over the old one, which occupied 975 square feet on the fourth floor of a SoHo building. [TCJ.com]
Publishing | ICv2 provides more evidence of an increasingly robust direct market with the news that eight comics, driven by Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men and DC’s New 52, sold more than 100,000 copies in June, tying the number in November 2011. Those two months had the most titles over 100,000 since January 2008, when nine passed that milestone. In addition, three graphic novels sold more than 10,000 copies in June and and two sold more than 20,000. [ICv2]
Saturday’s programming for this year’s Comic-Con International continues the grand “big movie panels” tradition typically associated with the third day of the con. Both Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios are on the schedule for Hall H; no doubt Marvel will have more than just Iron Man 3 to talk about at that 6 p.m. slot. Warner Bros., meanwhile, will talk about Man of Steel in their panel, which will also include The Hobbit and Pacific Rim.
Comic publishers are well represented, with BOOM!, Marvel, DC Comics, Archie, Archaia, Dark Horse, Image, Top Cow, Drawn & Quarterly, Skybound, Vertigo, Top Shelf and more scheduled for various panels on Saturday. CCI also puts the spotlight on Mark Waid, Morrie Turner, Klaus Janson, Stan Goldberg, Gary Gianni, Jim Lee and many more creators, and celebrates anniversaries for Funky Winkerbean, Love & Rockets, Bob the Angry Flower, Courtney Crumrin and the Gays in Comics panel. And don’t forget about the always entertaining masquerade.
Here are some of the comics-related highlights below; visit the Comic-Con website to see the complete schedule.
Astonishing X-Men has been in the news lately, bringing some much-deserved exposure for the covers that Dustin Weaver has been doing for the comic. Take, for instance, the cover to issue #52, featuring Karma giving her robotic leg a tune-up.
“Not your typical X-Men cover, I think. Convincing the editors to let me go with this idea took some doing,” Weaver said on his blog. “You know how they tell you to pick your battles, well I picked one. But now I’m left to wonder, if I’ve only got so many battles I can fight, did I pick the right one?”
I’d say yes.
Check out the complete cover (with a bunch of fun background details) after the jump, and head over to Dustin’s blog for more on the process he used to create it.
John Rozum lets readers take an in-depth look at his process in a recent post on his experiment at writing a comic script using the Marvel Method. For those unfamiliar with the term, the Marvel Method is the approach developed by Stan Lee during the early days of Marvel in which Lee would provide brief outlines of the events in a comic book issue (as opposed to a full script), let the artist draw the whole thing, and then come back and add dialogue over the finished panels. The advantages of that format include letting the artist have a lot of creative input, while also requiring less time from the writer (meaning that someone like Lee could write a ton of books at the same time).
Organizations | Tom Spurgeon reports that The Hero Initiative has now received close to $3,000 so far due to campaigns asking those people who watch Marvel’s The Avengers to donate money to the organization. The Jack Kirby Museum, meanwhile, reports it has received $1,300 from Avengers-related giving. [The Comics Reporter, The Kirby Museum]
Conventions | Chris Butcher, co-founder and director of the Toronto Comics Art Festival, reports that about 18,000 people attended this year’s TCAF-related events: “TCAF 2012 was the most ambitious festival yet, and my most ambitious personal undertaking. With more off-site and lead-up events than ever before, more partnerships than in previous years, an additional day of programming, and more than 20 featured guests, I worried in the weeks leading up to the show that perhaps we’d bit off a bit more than we could chew. Luckily through the talent and support of some wonderful folks we had varying levels of success on every front, and as always, lessons were learned and we think 2013 will be even stronger.” [Comics212]
Another post for the process junkies; this time about writing. On his blog, John Rozum answers a reader’s question about trimming fat and killing darlings in comics scripts. It’s one of the basic rules of writing, but Rozum relates it specifically to the pre-determined page counts of single-issue comics stories.
Generally, if it’s an action oriented comic book, I will cut out some of the action. My feeling is that with over 75 years of super hero comics behind us, everyone reading them has seen two people in garish outfits hitting each other frequently enough that they can fill in the blanks and get the sense that a hefty battle is being waged even if I cut out a page of someone getting beaten with a parking meter or having a bus thrown at them. This seems like something easier to do away with and without the same impact that cutting a scene that strengthens the bond between two characters through their interaction over dinner.
Cutting action pages out of an action comic is an interesting choice, but Rozum is clear about his personal priorities in story construction. ” I usually put the characters first and plot serves as a supporting function to develop the characters,” he writes, “whether that’s something long term like Xombi, or even a 2-issue Batman story.” The implication is that writers should identify their own priorities in storytelling and make edits accordingly.
Rozum also talks about what happens when he does have to cut character moments and when outside forces like suddenly reduced page counts and truncated series get in the way of his original plans. There are lots of real-life examples from Xombi, Midnight Mass, and The X-Files and also stuff about how much freedom artists should have in developing pacing. Even though there’s a lot there, it’s not a long post. Very worth the time of new writers.
Nicolas Labarre has conducted a cool experiment in which he’s re-drawn the same page from an issue of Planet Comics five times. The point, he says (if Google translator is accurate), is to examine where the story is built in comics. Because of their brevity, Golden Age comics are famous for making the reader fill in many of the details between panels and Labarre seems to be trying to figure out just how that works and how what you don’t show is as important as what you do.
It’s fascinating to watch him as he plays with not just composition, but styles and character designs as well. In the three versions that aren’t sampled above, he replaces the characters with NASA astronauts, talking animals, and a version that’s almost purely design.
(via The Comics Reporter}
As someone who’s fascinated with the process of making comics – and someone who occasionally writes them as well – I read a lot of process advice. A few years ago there was a post by cartoonist Matthew Bernier on the First Second blog that’s stuck with me. It was about the benefit to artists of working with a writer. As a writer, of course I loved that idea, but beyond my own ego, it also speaks to one of the greatest advantages of collaborating: forcing everyone involved to leave their comfort zones and stretch artistically.
I couldn’t have told you that Bernier was the author of that post, but it makes sense that he’s also the creator of the awesome new process blog, Comic Tools. In addition to teaching difficult anatomy like horse legs and canine feet, Bernier stresses the importance of visual details, proper storytelling, and other vital elements. It’s a blog that process junkies and aspiring creators will want to make a habit of checking in on.
(via The Beat)