Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
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)
Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley has been answering all sorts of questions from his fans over on his Tumblr blog this week about Scott Pilgrim, his upcoming book Seconds and several questions on his process, among other topics. For instance, here’s where he came up with the idea for Seconds:
Q. When you finished Scott Pilgrim did you have a concrete idea of how Seconds would play out? Or do you have a vague idea of a concept then make it concrete along the way? I guess I’m really asking: what is your thought process when coming up with a new story?
A. To be honest, I came up with the basic idea of Seconds in 2004, a few months after finishing the first scott pilgrim book. There were moments during the series when I wished I could quit scott pilgrim and go off and do Seconds, this other unrelated book, but I was good & patient & I waited until I was finished.
Anyway, over those years (like 6-7 years thinking about it before I started really writing it), the idea grew and evolved along with me. I don’t think I could have done it properly at any time before now, but it’s still the same basic idea from 2004.
My actual process is to have 1 idea, write it down somewhere, then have idea 2, 3, 4, etc (all stemming from the first idea?) and write them all down, and then go back over everything i’ve written and try to figure out what i was trying to say. What is the point? What’s the core of the idea, what are all these little ideas orbiting around? Once you figure that out, that’s kind of the first real step.
I know I link to Ben Caldwell a lot, but that’s only because he’s awesome. When he’s not sharing someone else’s suggestions for creating interesting visuals for stories, he’s sharing his own. And explaining how film noir helps inform his choices. There’s even more in today’s post. Great stuff for process junkies.
Ben Caldwell tested for Dreamworks a few years ago and received some very cool notes about effective character design and visual storytelling techniques. He’s sharing those on his blog in a couple of posts, noting that while the pages were designed to help storyboard artists, “a lot of it is good, commonsense advice for graphic storytelling in general.”
I occurs to me that this isn’t just for artists either. Some of the advice could be helpful for comics writers as well, especially the stuff about “cuts,” which is just another way of talking about using panels to facilitate more exciting pacing.
I love these posts where an artist takes you from initial concept to finished work, and here’s a fine example of that: Bryant Paul Johnson, the creator of the wonderful faux-history webcomic Teaching Baby Paranoia, shows us a step-by-step account of his creation of an illustration for the Avarice Industries RPG, which is yet another Kickstarter project that has already exceeded its goal. Johnson discusses composition and character design and shows his work along the way. Good stuff!
With the 10th anniversary of the college romance/drama Stylish Vittles, Volume 1: I Met A Girl approaching, Tyler Page (Nothing Better, Chicagoland Detective Agency) is thinking about ways to celebrate his debut work while also acknowledging his growth as a cartoonist. In a recent blog post, Page shared some potential cover designs (there are more at the link), but talked about handling what he calls “the deep flaws of the work.” He’s currently working on an ebook collecting the original versions of all three Stylish Vittles volumes, but is considering a Director’s Cut to trim out what he considers to be problem areas.
I can’t help but think about George Lucas as I read that, but Page’s approach is different in a couple of important ways. First, he’s approaching the anniversary spruce-up from a position of humility; looking back at an early work with the eyes of a more mature artist is different from saying that the new version is “what I always intended the old one to be.” More importantly though, Page is keeping the original available for long-time fans (like me) and side-by-side comparison. I need to remind myself that the Director’s Cut is just something Page is thinking about and not a done deal, but I hope he goes through with it. Offering both versions sounds like a perfect way to both celebrate and offer a critical retrospective of an early work.
Over on her blog, Gingerbread Girl artist Colleen Coover takes us step by step through the design of a cover for her short story a male/male romance titled Home Port. Coover has a nice, fluid style, and the drawing comes together pretty quickly, but it’s interesting to see how she keeps on toying with it after that.
She also talks a bit about using photo references from the web: “Now, it’s important to note that I did not just trace these photos directly, or stick ‘em in a Photoshop filter or anything like that; that would be a violation of the photographers’ copyrights. I drew from them as one would from a live model–to place the features in all the correct proportions and angles–but I made significant changes.”
This is an hour-and-a-half long, but dang it’s cool. I’m not sure which is more awesome: that Ben Templesmith draws a comic book page before your very eyes, or that it’s a page from the next issue of Fell.
It took place at the Noise Pop music festival in San Francisco last year, put together by comics retailer extraordinaire James Sime and hosted at his Isotope Comics Lounge. According to Sime:
I took over [Noise Pop] last year with all sorts of cool live comic art content. The highlight was definitely bringing in Ben Templesmith, putting him on stage in front of a packed house with one of the SF Bay Area’s best DJs and having him start drawing the next issue of Fell!
DJ SamSupa loves Ben’s work so the set is definitely tailored for him, there’s even a Doctor Who theme moment that had the live audience cheering. Here’s the footage of what we projected up on the big screen for the audience, and the sound mix pulled directly from the soundboard.
Ben is fucking hilarious, twittering to the crowd and writing inking lessons on a spare piece of paper for the fans. And he even INKS WITH BEER.