Many who have been following this blog know I’m a fan of both Image’s Skullkickers and Oni’s The Sixth Gun. So when I saw that the two creator-owned books were having a mini-crossover of sorts — or, to be more specific, an ad swap — I thought it might be fun to see if Skullkickers writer Jim “Zub” Zubkavich and The Sixth Gun‘ writer Cullen Bunn might be up for interviewing each other.
So the duo hit Skype and had a long conversation that covered many different topics — how they pitched their books, their writing process, how they work with their artists, finding time to write and much more. My thanks to both Cullen and Jim for doing this, with an extra tip of the hat to Jim for transcribing it. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the second part of the interview.
Zub: So, let’s start right off with the big news. Did I hear correctly that you’re now writing full time? You quit your day job?
Cullen: I did. This is my third week as a full-time writer.
Zub: Awesome. What were you doing before that?
Writer and reviewer Justin Giampaoli, who previously posted the 10-part “Brian Wood Project” on his 13 Minutes blog, has launched Live from the DMZ, a website dedicated to the Vertigo series by Wood and Riccardo Burchielli. Giampaoli promises “a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the series, never-before-seen images, and full length interviews on each of the 12 volumes of the series, posting in regular installments for the remainder of the year.”
He kicks off with an introductory Q&A with Wood, who discusses the genesis of DMZ, his collaboration with Burchielli, and response to the series. “One reaction I thought we would get more of and barely got any was from people accusing me of being anti-American or something like that,” the writer says. “I thought for sure someone from the other end of the political spectrum would have some comments for me, but … nothing. Not sure if I’m happy about that or disappointed, to be honest.”
In his latest post at The Comics Journal, Frank Santoro engages in a little bit of compositional analysis, explaining how an artist determines where the eye will fall, and what are the static and dynamic areas of the page, using a page from a Tintin comic, King Otokar’s Sceptre, to demonstrate the ideas in action. In this case, the components of the drawn comic line up so neatly with Santoro’s diagram that it’s hard to believe Herge wasn’t doing it deliberately.
I’m usually suspicious of after-the-fact dissections, because it’s easy to look at a completed work and see things the artist may not have put in deliberately. But Santoro says that Herge was probably aware of the technique, but that for some artists it just comes naturally, like playing music by ear. And just as the artist may use it unconsciously, the reader probably isn’t aware of it, observing only that some pages are more attractive or compelling than others. It’s useful to be reminded that such swift impressions are often born of painstaking planning. Sometimes you have to work hard to make it look easy.
When the editors of the Graphic NYC blog asked Incredible Change-Bots creator Jeffrey Brown to discuss his influences, they had an essay in mind, but after working on the idea for some time, Brown came back with something different: A comic.
In the charming I’m Really Good at Playing, Brown uses his interactions with his son Oscar to make some points about creating comics, some obvious—his comics are inspired by childhood love of both comics and action figures, in which good and evil were clearly demarcated and good always triumphed at the last minute—and some subtle, like the way his wife can’t impersonate a shark as well as he can. As an extra bonus, he provided a diagram of his initial thoughts and how he turned them into panels of the comic, and he goes through all the steps at his blog.
Over at ComicsAlliance, Laura Hudson has a real treat for those of you who like your superhero comics with an alternative twist: 50-plus pages of sketches, thumbnails, pencils, inks, color studies and more from the Strange Tales II hardcover, which debuted this week. Click on over and get a glimpse at the creative process behind contributions from Kate Beaton, Jeffrey Brown, Ivan Brunetti, Farel Dalrymple, Rafael Grampa, Dean Haspiel, Jaime Hernandez, Paul Hornschemeier, Benjamin Marra, Edu Medeiros, Harvey Pekar, Frank Santoro, and Paul Vella. That’s hella Strange!
Although he’s constantly at work, every new bit of Paul Pope art that’s released is like catnip for a certain section of comic fans — including me.
So it comes with particular delight to not only receive news that the artist is doing a new fine art print for CBLDF, but that he did a process video showing how it was made as well as talking about why he’s doing it for CBLDF. Here’s the video:
Artist J.H. Williams III shares what I believe is a variant cover for the upcoming Static Shock Special DC is putting out as a homage to Dwayne McDuffie. At least, the solicitation for the title lists Derec Donovan as the cover artist.
At any rate, it’s a wonderful piece of art that Williams says was inspired by funk music.
“I wanted to try some different things in attitude,” Williams wrote on his blog. “The Milestone characters always had this unusual quality to them, which I think made them pretty cool. And some of them seemed to have this Funk aspect to them. Now when I say Funk, I’m referring to Funk Music. So I decided to see if I could bring that more forward in attitude for this cover. The result is pretty effective. It still has this iconic quality that the genre should have, but now it feels like Funk meets Superheroes to me. Resulting in something different than what I usually do.”
You can see the steps in his creative process, from rough sketch to the final version, over on his blog. The comic comes out in June.
Writer Warren Ellis and artist Michael Avon Oeming are teaming on a new project called Half Moon, and Ellis is using his blog to show their progress as it moves from the idea stage to reality.
“We’re working in realtime on this one. We agreed on the general concepts just a couple of hours ago, and will spend the next few days in development on it, to see what we’ve actually got,” Ellis said on his blog on Monday. “So I thought, and Mike agreed, it might be interesting to open the process out and let you see a bit of the sausage-making. As it were.”
Ellis said the project sprang from an email from Oeming that simply said, “Warren, I’ve been wanting to work with you for a long time.”
“And then a flurry of responses – because I’m not stupid, I wanted to get moving before he sobered up or the drugs wore off or whatever the hell had happened to him to make him email me,” Ellis said.
A second post shared the above concept art. Keep an eye on his blog for further updates.
Wow, he’s really, really fast.
Courtesy of the Comic Archive, artist Paolo Rivera shows how he created the cover to the upcoming Daredevil relaunch. As announced this past weekend, Rivera and Marcos Martin are teaming up with writer Mark Waid to chronicle the adventures of Matt Murdock and his alter ego.
Spawn creator Todd McFarlane channels his inner Bob Ross and shows you how to draw a face. This is a third in a series of videos he’s posted; he’s also covered how to draw eyes and how to start a comic page. You can find them all on the McFarlane Companies YouTube page.
In a video by Chris Sparks, Famed Disney “Duck” artist Don Rosa explains his eyesight and how it affects his ability to draw, after surgery for retinal detachment wasn’t completely successful. Very interesting and somewhat inspiring, especially after watching other videos of Rosa in action.
The New Yorker’s John Lahr took in a showing of the big-budget, critically panned Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, and and his review can be found on the magazine’s website. But even if you think you’ve heard enough about the troubled production already, there’s a good reason to check this particular review out — the accompany illustration by artist Tomer Hanuka, featuring Spider-Man, Mary Jane and an awesome Green Goblin.
Hanuka details the process of creating it over on his own site. Can we elect him as the official artist for the comic adaptation?
What do you get when you give a creative person too much free time? Sometimes it’s playing too many video games, while other times you might get an off-the-wall idea. Sometimes you might get both.
As an exercise, cartoonist Marian Churchland (Elephantmen, Beast, Madame Xanadu) is serializing her thoughts (and art!) on designing a video game — a video game with one goal in mind, to “please and amuse Marian.” Inspired by her recent time spent playing Final Fantasy XIV, this dream video game project is going under the title of The Crossing.
Here’s how Marian describes it:
The Crossing is an interim world, where the great heroes of earth arrive when they die, and through which they may pass in order to attempt to reach the land of the Gods. This will make more sense at length, and in a later post I’ll scribble the map over with more detailed locations, but for now I’ll keep it simple.
You might think of it as a world of gates. All the most bloodied heroes and warlords from human mythology arrive through those gates, and eventually they make their way (or not) to the farthest and most perilous gate, the crossing point to godhood.
Although only a week into the project, Churchland has posted maps, the game’s races and even items to find. Although no actual video game is expected to materialize, the idea of a cartoonist thinking in this way — world-building a story — is very interesting and evocative. Visit her blog for more details.
First Second produces some of the most beautifully designed graphic novels on the market today, and in this interview at Artist Abbreviated, designer Colleen AF Venable explains the cover design process from start to finish. It’s definitely a combination of inspiration and perspiration:
If you count of the number of thumbnails we did for those two books [Brain Camp and Kristyna's Ghost] it is over 40. Thumbnails are the most important stage. Without an awesome thumbnail, one that works even if seen at a single inch tall, your cover will never really shine. We then go to pencils and I obsess in that stage a bit more, eyes need to be exactly right (the thing that draws viewers in the quickest), proportions need to be perfect, space for logo should feel deliberate, not an afterthought. It can take months before we go from perfect thumbnail, to perfect pencil.
She also talks about her love of spot gloss and other special effects, her dream of someday designing a wordless cover, and the day she was discovered as a designer. There’s a nice gallery of images to go along with her discussion of the types of art she finds most compelling, so this is well worth a leisurely read.
For process junkies, and for fans of Phil Jimenez is particular, The Comic Archive has posted four videos of the Adventure Comics artist talking in depth about page layouts, backgrounds, drawing tools, writers and more.