5 Comic Book Truths (that I don't think are true)There are lots of tips, chestnuts, and other pieces of advice that I've heard over the years--tidbits of wisdom passed on from one generation to the next, from professional to professor to prospective student. Some of them are drawing tips, some of them are tricks to dealing with publishers, and some are general guidelines on how to survive in comics. Most of them are useful and true and will stand the test of time, but a few of them have become hackneyed platitudes and have gone unquestioned for too long. Here are 5 that I'm questioning...5 Comic Book Truths (that I don't think are true)2 years ago in Personal More Like This
1. READERS WILL ONLY LOOK AT A PANEL FOR 5 SECONDS, SO DON'T SWEAT IT TOO MUCH.
I understand the intention of this bit of wisdom, and I mostly agree with it: drawing great interiors is important, but at the same time, you don't want to get bogged down with small details that most readers won't even notice.
But here's my concern with this: if you treat every panel like it's disposable, then you're less likely to make an impact with reader
5 Reasons to WriteI wrote a blog once that urged comic artists to try writing their own books. I held back a bit on what I said--Punk Rock Jesus hadn't come out yet, so I didn't feel like I had the proper authority to really speak up.5 Reasons to Write3 years ago in Personal More Like This
Since then, there's been a lot more discussion about the etiquette of publishers toward their freelancers, the recent rise of creator owned books, and the effects of Hollywood moving into comics (or vice versa). And as friend of mine at Newsarama pointed out recently, I'm one of a few guys who's found a middle ground--not only because I'm writing and drawing my own book, but because my OGN is partially owned by DC Comics.
Certain events of the last year have created new concerns within our industry. Do you still need to work for big publishers if you want to "make it"? Do they deliver a better product than creator owned books? Are the Big Two treating creators as fairly as they've always been? Between the rise of digital comics and comic-based movies, are creators getting
Stop the perfectionismOn my Tumblr site someone asked me for some general advice for an aspiring comic creator. This is what was on my mind. Thought I'd share it here on Deviantart as well.Stop the perfectionism4 years ago in Personal More Like This
Right now all I can think of is something I've been thinking about lately. And that is the depression some of us artists get about our art. Like our expectations aren't just "My drawings need to be good!", they are "My art needs to be PERFECT."
So I would suggest always try to improve, gain confidence, but expect good/average output. Don't expect perfect art, ever. By doing this only causes you to be frustrated, which in turn causes mistakes, which pisses you off more, then you're stuck in a lame spiraling circle downward to the pathetic whiny artist. Which in turn kills your deadline. Giving yourself freedom from perfection makes drawing much easier and better art is produced and on time.
I'm currently working on this piece where it started out difficult, I had high expectations for it, I was in a bad mood, nothing was
it's all about work!Every day i hear how talented I am - I think this is a incorrect. I think that talent is confused with work. I do believe there is talent in every artist, but it is only 5%- you see when we were younger we all drew the same. As we got older, many people stopped trying to draw due to comments, lack of interest or what ever other reason they put there. The others that continued, like all things learned that it is 95% work, frustration, tears, anger, determination, persistence, practice, practice, practice, & more practice that allows them to create the artwork you see. Many people just grade the artist on the end result, in reality they missed the struggle and battle that truly defines the piece created. I enjoy the 5% talent I see around me yet I respect the 95% dedication that these great artist put out that makes their works fantastic. I believe anyone can learn to draw- they just have to want it bad enough. and that means that they are willing to show us by putting the effort in to iit's all about work!3 years ago in Personal More Like This
5 Art Selling TipsWhile I used to see "art sales" simply as bonus money coming in on the side, over the past few years it's become enough of an asset that it justifies an art dealer, record keeping, insurance, and taxes at the end of each year. It's currently 25% of my total income, and that has a lot of impact over my work. And just like storytelling, design and page flow--abstract principles that keep my career afloat daily--art sales also deserve to be studied, theorized, and understood.5 Art Selling Tips3 years ago in Personal More Like This
These are guidelines, not rules. And while most of them usually work for me, they might not all work for you, so keep in mind that my market might be different than yours. Because not only do we not draw the same, we probably have different sorts of buyers.
1. Don't stay on a book for too long
I find that doing mini series of 4-12 issues is optimal for selling art. If you spend a year doing one-shots or 2-3 issue minis, you'll be hard for buyers to keep track of because it's too infrequent. And it's hard to make an i
My favorite ART suppliesI get asked a lot what pens and pencils I use. So I thought I'd post an updated list of my favorites. I'm a big fan of trying new things, I'm always buying lots of different pens to try out and in my search for the best tools to use for creating comics Ive found these to work the best for my needs.My favorite ART supplies3 years ago in Personal More Like This
My number one question that others ask me is "What do you ink with?"
I use Kuretake brush pens. Here's a link to a sable hair brush pen that I love, it's the closest thing to a real brush I've used. It is pricey though. http://www.jetpens.com/Kuretake-No.-40-Fountain-Hair-Brush-Pen-Sable-Hair-Refill/pd/3958
The less expensive version is the synthetic hair, http://www.jetpens.com/Kuretake-No.-13-Fountain-Hair-Brush-Pen-Red-Body/pd/2661 this brush pen is similar to a Pentel brush pen. http://www.jetpens.com/Pentel-Pocket-Brush-Pen-for-Calligraphy/pd/1793
The cool thing about these Kuretake brush pens is the refill cartridges have nice ink in them that I use, but if you find you don't like the
5 Ways to Avoid Being DiminishedThere's a discussion brewing in comics about artists being more diminished as of late--that readers, reviewers, and publishers are focusing too much on writers rather than the artists who draw the book. I agree it's happening, but I'm not sure it's worth sounding an alarm over. I never felt diminished, but maybe I'm part of the exception. Maybe it's because I'm an artist and a writer.5 Ways to Avoid Being Diminished2 years ago in Personal More Like This
Either way, I do have a few thoughts on what artists can do to pull themselves out from under the rug.
1. DON'T DRAW LIKE A COG.
If you conform to a "house style", then you're at higher risk of being treated like an interchangeable cog in the comics machine. Yes, you're more likely to get consistent work, but you won't stand out as much. Therefor you'll be sought after less by big name writers, you're less likely to make a lasting impression on reviewers and readers, and you'll have a harder time getting raises (12 others draw like you and for less money).
I also suggests inking yourself if it helps. Penc
The Sean Murphy ApprenticeshipI'm thinking about taking on some students for a two week "boot camp" course in comics--based off the classic master/apprentice style of education. But before I move forward with the idea (and begin Kickstarting), I wanted to get your feedback and see if anyone is interested in enrolling this winter. Please pass this along (Twitter/facebook) to anyone you think might be interested.The Sean Murphy Apprenticeship2 years ago in Personal More Like This
I bought a house in Portland, Maine this past weekend. It's a 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom Victorian house that's been newly renovated. The top floor is finished and will become the drawing studio for 5 students. The idea is to furnish the building with tables, chairs, couches, beds, a TV, a library, a photo studio (for taking reference images) and all the other amenities that would create the school.
After selecting the 5 students (I'll take submissions that will be juried later on), we'll all meet in Portland this winter for the two week apprenticeship. The students will live i
Irrational Confidence and how it Helps the ArtistFolks,Irrational Confidence and how it Helps the Artist2 years ago in Personal More Like This
I was doing some studying of construction this morning and it got me to thinking on some stuff that might be helpful to you crazy kids that wanna break into comics as artists.
When I was coming up, I had an irrational confidence. I didn't know it was irrational at the time, but I can now see it upon reflection. I just KNEW that I was gonna be able to do this one day.
But when I go back and look at old drawings I did, I think, "What the hell was I thinking?" I mean, I was BAD. I definitely could draw, but I was a complete amateur in every way. A hobbyist. I was a guy that had a better jump shot than his friends and somehow I knew that meant I could play in the NBA.
This confidence could have been a hindrance, though, if it was the wrong type of confidence. My confidence wasn't that I was already good enough to draw professionally. My confidence was in that I would look at art and think, "I can figure out how to do that".
I've seen plenty of guys along the way that had the w
Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 3And now for the dramatic conclusion to the epic trilogy. Heroes will rise, bad habits will fall, in this last chapter we'll discuss how to focus your efforts and learn the most and improve quickly with your studies. If you missed them, click these links for Part One and Part Two. And now for...Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 32 years ago in Personal More Like This
WISDOM NUMBER THREE!!! Work smart and leave your comfort zone. This part is my qualifier for art school, tutorials, and educational resources in general, because they can be good, but only if you make them good. Once you've gotten in to the habit of drawing consistently, it's important to start being mindful of what you're drawing, how you're drawing it, and why you're drawing it. A key ingredient of success is hard work, but if that work isn't purposeful it might not move you
THOUGHTS ON COMICS CONVENTIONSSo I wrote a blog on Comics Conventions. How and why I try to navigate them professionally and creatively:THOUGHTS ON COMICS CONVENTIONS2 years ago in Personal More Like This
Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 2Here's the continuation of yesterday's journal discussing the importance of hard work. If you missed it, click here!Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 22 years ago in Personal More Like This
In part two I'm gonna talk about one of the biggest roadblocks I hear from artists who are having difficulty getting in to good study habits, so without further ado...
WISDOM NUMBER TWO!! Don't wait for perfect weather and stop making excuses. So often I hear things like "I don't want to waste paper" or "I don't know what to draw" or "I haven't found a good tutorial" or "I don't want to study perspective" or any number of things along those lines. I'll be blunt and just put the answer out there now: get over it. If you want to be an artist, you have to do the work, end of story. And with all the time you've spent thinking, wondering, being uncertain, and searching for that magical art secret of power, you could have filled 10 pages in your sketchbook today and inc
Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 1So this has been on my mind a bit lately and I was just struck with the sudden urge to write about it. It's a bit long so I've broken it in to three parts, but if you're a beginning artist I would recommend reading through it, it might just get you aimed in the right direction.Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 12 years ago in Personal More Like This
This started a couple days ago when I was trolling facebook and someone had posted some artwork, and one of the comments was something along the lines of "Nice! What tutorial did you use for this?" which prompted an immediate and violent facedesk on my part. I hear things like this all the time and would like to help dispel some myths about learning art; so after 9 years of drawing and 3 years of hardcore education and study, here's what I've learned about how to get better at art:
WISDOM NUMBER ONE! Getting better demands consistent, hard work. That's it. That's the magical secret that great artists never seem to get to in their tutorials; it's that one pivotal thing that makes the difference between
Do Artists Matter?Do we matter?Do Artists Matter?2 years ago in Personal More Like This
I'm specifically talking about "us" as designers, artists, or creative people. Do artists matter?
I have two personal stories that have helped me gauge and answer that question for myself. I hope they help you too.
(SIDE NOTE: I believe in a God and I believe that God loves me and leads my path but that I have free will and can turn from his leading and do my "own thing". Both of these stories have a TON of "God flavoring" that would make them much longer, so know that they are there if you want to read between the lines and find them. In short, both stories are answers to prayer.)
After 9/11 I felt worthless. Making cartoons just wasn't important in the new post 9/11 world. Firemen, policemen, construction workers, teachers, healthcare workers, architects- really, anyone that contributes to rebuilding our world and its infrastructure, those people had important jobs to do. We
HEAVY METAL - DeviantART issueOkay... We played a little last year about doing a collaboration between Heavy Metal and DeviantART. We got some guys on the back covers, we got a few articles in the mag, but we need to step up the game a little.HEAVY METAL - DeviantART issue2 years ago in Personal More Like This
It is so hard to get your work published these days and thank god Kevin
Eastman understands that. So having put together some special issues of
Heavy Metal recently I pitched Kevin on forgetting the idea of a few
DeviantART pin-ups or a gallery...
Instead we'll do an entire issue of Heavy Metal from the DeviantART community. Yup, 100 pages of dA goodness wrapped in slick glossy paper. We're going to aim for an issue as soon as possible next year. The page rates are $75 per page (all in including lettering), yes it is really low and that
The Value of CriticismEvery artist, on some level, loves fanfare. Who doesn't? But most artists resist criticism. I've been guilty of it in the past myself. But for the most part, after I suck up my pride, I use it.The Value of Criticism5 months ago in Personal More Like This
Any time you put your work out there [ in a comic book or on the web or in a gallery ], you're up for criticism. Sometimes the critiques aren't necessarily valid. They're coming from fans or, in a lot of cases, keyboard warriors that just want to be negative for the sake of being negative. But in almost all cases, there's something to be learned by criticism.
My wife is a perfect example. She's not an artist, which is my usual go to excuse when debating the merits of those that might offer critiques of my work that I disagree with. My wife, can't draw. But she knows when a nose is off. Or if the lighting looks "weird". Or if an arm doesn't look right. Or if a drawing is just sorta dead. She has a good eye.&
Improving and The Magic NibFrom time to time I'll hear questions from other artists concerning artistic pathways.Improving and The Magic Nib3 years ago in Personal More Like This
It probably stems from seeing my work over the years. Early in my career I was given a tremendous opportunity to draw the first Prophet book for Image Comics. I had years of inking experience behind me but I had never drawn a full comic book prior to that experience. The first issue sold nearly a half million copies. My first foray into penciling/inking was quite a spectacle... Looking back, it's one of the most cringe-worthy books from the 90's. That was a little over 20 years ago. When I returned to the comic book field I was a different artist thankfully. Obviously 20 years is a long time for a growth curve.
Check out some of my Journals here on DA. I delve into getting into the business and what pushed me, etc. Mostly it's just focusing on weaknesses and addressing them. Fixing what's broke or doesn't perform as well as I feel it should. Whic
5 Year Plan*Because I'll be teaching in about a week at SCAD, I've been thinking a lot about what to tell the students. And I wrote it out so that I could solidify it in my head. This stuff is for younger artists mostly, so feel free to skip.5 Year Plan4 years ago in Personal More Like This
When I spend time with another comic artist, sometimes I'll ask, "What's your 5 year plan?" In other words, what steps is he taking in order to gain control over his career in order to move up the ladder? Usually I don't get much of an answer.
The reason I think many comic artists aren't forward-thinking has to do with the way our industry is set up. Whether by conscious design or through the neglect of its participants, younger freelancers get into a habit of complacency while hoping for a chance to suckle from the teet of a major publisher. Waiting around for a career doesn't promote the idea of freelancers taking active control of their OWN careers.
If I had to sum up the 5 Year Plan
In Defense of InefficiencyI recently came across a wonderful series of blog posts by artist Jesse Hamm (http://sirspamdalot.deviantart.com/) discussing the work of Alex Toth. Widely (and correctly) regarded as one of the greatest comic artists of all time, Toth’s utter mastery of efficiency in line and form set him apart from the vast majority of other artists who are often seen as fussy or wasteful in comparison. Minimalism and efficiency are without a doubt incredibly vaIn Defense of Inefficiency2 months ago in Personal More Like This
TO THE ASPIRING ARTISTS...."The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case." - Chuck CloseTO THE ASPIRING ARTISTS....2 years ago in Personal More Like This
Good luck on your projects this year!
THIS is how you use the FLASH/ ANIMATION program.By being an exceptional artist/animator FIRST. Flash is just a very limited vector-based, digital graphics program. It's just a TOOL, just like pencil and paper. It's the artists using them that bring out its quality.THIS is how you use the FLASH/ ANIMATION program.2 years ago in Personal More Like This
Here's an example:
Good luck on your projects!!!
Enjoy the JourneyDon't despise the process of improving your craft. If a genie offered you instant and total mastery of art or music or whatever your thing is, would you honestly take it? Wouldn't it just be boring now that there's nothing left to explore and achieve? Certainly victories are enjoyable, getting compliments, landing a new job, and whatever else... but isn't it so much more fulfilling when you've been fighting a problem for ages and finally figure out how to solve it?Enjoy the Journey2 months ago in Personal More Like This
Stop wishing you were better and learn to just do the work and enjoy the journey. Success is meaningless without struggle.
Just a thought I was musing on this morning. Thought you guys might appreciate it.
Eid Mubarak 2012 / 1433!To all my fans and especially my Muslim fans who also fasted this month along with 100's of millions of people worldwide, Eid Mubarak to you and may Allah accept all our deeds and forgive us our faults.Eid Mubarak 2012 / 1433!3 years ago in Personal More Like This
In this month I really took some time to get rid of a lot of distraction and really focus on some of the major faults in my character I found cropping up over the last year. I cut out huge amounts of entertainment and obviously food among other things, and focused on my mortality and what exactly I am leaving behind when I die.
I really feel I have not done anything worthwhile other than entertain people, always being too scared to say how I feel due to my postion in work and with my fans.
If I offended any of you over the years I do ask for your forgiveness and hope this year to come brings a lot more clarity and success.
I will be doing some travelling over the winter and autumn it seems, and I will have more info on that as it becomes available. As for BlogTV, I will try to come on a
Speed inking demoI got some requests to see the inking demo I gave at this years SDCC, so here it is posted up on YouTube [link] . I inked a panel from Superman #3, on sale today as a matter of fact, and penciled by Jim Lee.Speed inking demo2 years ago in Personal More Like This
You'll see that I compressed about 45 minutes in real time down to about 3 minutes, but there are bits and pieces shown in real time. It was all inked with a brush just to speed up the process a bit. Let me know what you think...