Top 5 Mistakes (I've made over the years)To many people in comics, I only arrived a few years ago with Joe the Barbarian. Then came Hellblazer (completed in 2008 before I began working on Joe), American Vampire: SOTF, and finally Punk Rock Jesus. Once in a while someone will mention Off Road (an OGN I did with Oni back in 2004), but for the most part it seems like I've been published only these last few years when in fact I've been published professionally for a decade now.
This isn't a plea to have everyone go back through my previous work--in fact, I'm glad that a lot of the books I've done over the years aren't on readers' radars. I'm proud of it all, but the books above are a nice, tight group of titles to be associated with. They're all in a similar brand, they're all recent, they all have good creators/publishers associated with them, and the artwork is mostly consistent. Go back further than that, and you'll see artwork that looks nothing like the stuff I'm doing these days. (Although Off Road still holds up to some de
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 Tips2 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
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 Write2 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
The Detrimental AweThanks for the ideas everyone! Here's the post many of you requested...The Detrimental Awe2 years ago in Personal More Like This
Here's a sample of responses I've heard from some editors over the years when I've raised practical business concerns regarding comic book publishing:
"No, we don't know exactly what books you'll be doing, but we're (insert name of big publisher) Comics, so sign exclusive with us and not (insert name of competing publisher who has titles ready for you)!"
"This is a (insert name of big writer) book! I know he's late, but just think of how many people would love to be in your shoes!"
"The page rate isn't good, but at least you'll be getting to work with (name of big superhero whom you're supposed to be a fan of)!"
"We won't fly you out or put you into a hotel, but you should come so you can sign at the booth for us! Who doesn't love signing autographs?"
What do these statements have in common? They're emotional arguments made to sidestep yo
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)10 months 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 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 Plan3 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
Why are we slower?About a month ago I finally got to meet an art hero of mine, Klaus Janson, a well known pro who's been in the industry for over 30 years. A mutual friend introduced us, and we hit it off right away. The group of us went through the Village hitting pub after pub, and soon I was drunk enough to ask Klaus something that had been bugging me.Why are we slower?2 years ago in Personal More Like This
I asked him if modern comic artists are, on average, slower than we used to be. He said yes, and I agreed.
From the Golden Age until the 80s, pencillers were generally expected to turn in at least two pages a day, while an inker was expected to turn in around 3-4. There were a handful of exceptions, I'm sure, but most of the artists could pump out pages like human printing presses. In the current comic industry, it's completely reversed: while a handful of artists can still hit this speed, the vast majority can't. Pencillers today struggle to produce a page-per-day, while inkers (those who still ink with ink) are hitting around 2.
So what happened? I'v
5%If you're reading this now, it means you're roughly in the 5%. Most people who go online to read about comics will end up reading previews and "top 10" lists--subjects we all, or course, enjoy. But the articles/blogs that critically analyze our industry are usually only read by two types: people in the biz whom are affected by this stuff, and the few readers who are interested in reading more than word balloons when it comes to comics.5%3 years ago in Personal More Like This
And I'm not knocking people who don't care to read these articles. All readers are contributing to the industry with their buying power, and I'm thankful for them, even if they're not in the 5%. I admit, if I had a normal 9-5 job and a boss that was kicking my ass 5 days a week, I might not have the tolerance for these sorts of articles either.
That being said, I think we need more of these articles/blogs written from different points of view--more from creators especially. The 2010s will likely be r
No More Unauthorized ArtworkRegarding the debate of whether comic artists should continue selling unauthorized prints/sketches of characters they don't own, I think Bissette and his legal advisor are 100% correct. So from now on, I won't be doing any sketches or commissions at shows of any character that I don't own. Am I rolling over in fear of Marvel? Maybe, but as it states below, they're in their legal right to come after me if there's ever a dispute. I love to complain about the Big Two, but I can't (in good conscience) get upset at them if I'm breaking the rules myself. Being DC exclusive, maybe I can get a waiver that allows me to sketch DC characters, so I'll keep you updated.No More Unauthorized Artwork3 years ago in Personal More Like This
From Steve Bissette's FB page:
ALERT, ALL COMICS CREATORS: With permission, I'm quoting key points my dear friend and own legal advisor/contract consultant (since 1992) Jean-Marc Lofficier raised on his posts to a Yahoo forum discussing Ty Templeton's cartoon concerning the Gary
5 LevelsI've spoken as guest speaker a number of times over the years (come visit me at SCAD Atlanta in January). While I'm not the best or most patient teacher, I think my strength is my pragmatic and blunt approach to the business side of comics. In order to help the students think of a "5 YEAR PLAN" (more on that in an upcoming post), I'll often break down the different page rate levels of comic book artists as a way to help analyze the playing field of our industry. If there's a ladder to success, what's wrong with defining each rung? I imagine such a breakdown helpful for moving up in most any industry, not just comics.5 Levels3 years ago in Personal More Like This
Here are the 5 LEVELS of comic artists as I see them--NOT based on talent but on page rates, popularity, and the prestige of the titles the artist works on. You might define them differently or have more than just 5, but I find that less-is-more when it comes to people being able to retain information.
Why it's so important to unite as artists.We are with many though yet we are with few. We're all divided over little subgroups such as, fantasy illustrators, concept artists, comic book pencilers, photomanipers, techartists, anime drawers, realism sketchers etc. You might even find your place at multiple sections.Why it's so important to unite as artists.6 months ago in Personal More Like This
I found that the biggest united groups on Deviant Art are mostly evolved around fan art, such as Sonic, or My little pony.
Observations aside, I think the good thing about those groups is that they serve for companionship. Being an artist all by yourself with no one to share/talk about/discuss your work with can feel rather lonely. And that lonely feeling is not encouraging at all. Most of us keep a lot of things taboo as well, like techniques or rates. If we were more openly with these the changes of being underpaid or missing out on a job because someone else does it for hardly any money at all will grow slimmer. People should know what they are worth and not be afraid to ask for it.
When I joined Devia
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 Diminished8 months 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
Experiment Part 1: Training Your EyeSo my buddy karuvan is trying to learn how to draw properly. He's been on a roll as far as progressing. But he's stuck at a standstill. This is an experiment that I've done with him and that he's working on in order to train his eye. I decided to share the conversation and experiment with you guys for you all to apply to your study habits and advancement in drawing and art.Experiment Part 1: Training Your Eye2 years ago in Personal More Like This
Karuvan: I randomly drew over my old pic. Ain't gonna do it over, was just curious on how much I could have done better.
Robaato: Quick question... like... who's work at this point do you really want yours to be close to? I'm tryna gauge what level you're trying to achieve.
K: lol... Joel is becoming a huge influence.
R: Ok. I have a test for you.
R: I want you to replicate this picture exactly as it is to the best of your ability:
4 Kinds of StorytellingHere's an old journal from 2010 about storytelling. Because I have a lot more readers these days, I think I'm going to start reposting some of my earlier posts for my newer audience. So for you old timers, feel free to skip.4 Kinds of Storytelling1 year ago in Personal More Like This
In full disclosure, I slightly edited this journal to make it a little more balanced (while also fixing a ton of typos).
I feel like the word "storytelling" gets thrown around a lot in our industry. Yet when I look out there at some comics, I don't always see a lot of evidence for it.
It feels like people in comics pros--myself included--often use the word only because we feel like we're supposed to. Over the years enough professionals have been accused of being poor storytellers to the degree that everyone is now afraid of being a pinup artist as opposed to a bona fide storyteller. But it's not enough just to claim you're a storyteller.
Most people reading this probably h
Tools of the TradeHey guys. I figured I'd go ahead and do a FAQ journal entry. Just a basic list of the tools I'm currently using for my marker work. I have a new tutorial for my markers that I'll post when I'm able to share the art I used for the progress shots. Feel free to fire away with any questions and hopefully, this can be a go to guide for basic info on my tools. I'm not going to talk about oil painting materials as I'm still figuring all that out and I doubt an answer I give today will hold up in the future.Tools of the Trade2 years ago in Personal More Like This
Ok Here goes...
Markers: Prismacolor Cool and French grey markers. I think "Copic" has become another word for "marker" these days, so it's assumed that I'm using Copics for all of my work, but I actually use Prismacolor for all of my figures and detail work and only use Copic markers for backgrounds. I use to use "Warm" greys but I like the sepia look of French more now. I also occasionally use Copic color markers when I'm doing a full color marker piece. Why do I like Prismacolor markers
Give me a break (into comics...)Pro comic writer :iconzubby: Jim Zub has a blog where he's written a few entries on how to break into the comics industry. Well worth a read IMO!Give me a break (into comics...)2 years ago in Personal More Like This
The links -->
Part 1 - How do I break in? --> http://www.jimzub.com/?p=1725
Part 2 - Find an artist --> http://www.jimzub.com/?p=1767
Part 3 - Comic Writing --> http://www.jimzub.com/?p=1068
Part 4 - The Pitch --> http://www.jimzub.com/?p=1511
Part 5 - Pitch Critique --> http://www.jimzub.com/?p=1882
Part 6 - Comic Q&A --> http://www.jimzub.com/?p=1813
Part 7 - The Realities of Creator-owned Comics --> http://www.jimzub.com/?p=1953
In addition he links to Charles Soule's blog articles about Freelance work and Contracts called "Agree to Agree"
Here's the links -->
Part 1 --> http://charlessoule.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/agree-to-agree-part-one/
Part 2 --> http://charlessoule.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/agree-to-agree-part-2/
Part 3 --> http://charlessoule.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/agree-to-agree-part-three/
Part 4 --> http://charlessoule.word
DO YOU KNOW THESE ARTISTS?It's been a while since i've shared some of my favorite deviants. Here's a list of talent that some of you may or may not be aware of that i've been drooling over lately. I love this place!DO YOU KNOW THESE ARTISTS?2 years ago in Personal More Like This
Check 'em out!:
:iconmonk-art: Fabian Schlaga. LEGEND. If you haven't heard of this guy, you're missing out!
:iconsaspy: Saspy's work is amazing. The female mega-talent from Italy shows no sign of slowing down with her bright and fun approaches to character design, expressions and energy.
:iconjoel27: Joel is currently my FAVORITE ARTIST on Deviantart. Just flip through his gallery and you might find yourself there all day.
:icontchokun: French Artist who worked on online games and flash shorts such as WAKFU is not to be missed. serious talent here
:iconrikkitikki: Rikkitikki's light hearted animation influence illustrations are something to fall in love with. He's got a detective concept he's been playing with that shows the main characters quite often and i usually fave when he draws th
Exposure, Getting Better, & Having the ChopsEXPOSURE & GETTING BETTER AT WHAT YOU DOExposure, Getting Better, & Having the Chops2 years ago in Personal More Like This
I'm only going off of my own personal experiences talking about these few things. (And I'm not specifically talking about ONLY dA here.) So take it with as many grains of salt as you can.
I've recently been asked questions like "How do I get people to see my work?", "Why am I not receiving commission inquiries?", "Why isn't anyone following my work?", "What can I do to get better?". Often, and I answered it before, the answer is as simple as this:
Create, as in, DRAW. PAINT. RENDER. SCULPT. You have to do develop a tolerance (or the obvious definition: LOVE) for creating if you want exposure and to get better. You have to LOVE the drawing or illustration that you HATE how it came out in the end. You have to ask yourself after every piece, what could I have done to do that differently. And you have to do this frequently.
Some folks come on the scene, post once or twice a week, and expect an audience to flock yo
GraysLast week when I said that I wouldn't be doing con sketches of copyrighted characters, I had no idea that the news would get the coverage that it did. But seeing as how I helped poke the hornet's nest--and having taken the time to read the opinions of readers and other artists--I feel like it would be helpful if I responded to help clarify what's been happening.Grays3 years ago in Personal More Like This
First off, I think that what happened regarding this issue highlighted the BEST of our industry. I'm thrilled with the results, although I don't find Marvel's statement reassuring (more on that later). When we learned that Marvel was pursuing the $17,000 from Friedrich, we came together as concerned professionals and fans and managed to affect the situation. Even though we disagreed, at least we weighed out the options. And we even came together to set up funding to help out Friedrich. With the use of Twitter, blogging, and proper action from the media outlets, w
THREE TIPS FOR DRAWING CARSYou know that green ellipse tool that you bought in art school? Do you know how to use it for something other than oval shapes? Do you know what those "cross-hair" marks are for? And do you know how to use it for technically correct perspective drawings?THREE TIPS FOR DRAWING CARS2 years ago in Personal More Like This
TOO many comics artists don't, and it's driving me crazy. So instead of starting a blog that starts showing examples and naming names, I figured it was better to make a quick tutorial. And this isn't just for cars but also for guns, fire hydrants, and millions of other machined objects found in comics.
If you go through this and you're still stuck, please don't write to me. I'm happy to show you at a convention to make it clearer, but within a blog this is the best I can do. Check out "Perspective for Comic Artists by David Chelsea" for more.
Cars are a whole lot easier to draw if you know how to properly use perspective and ellipses. The more familiar you are with the math, the more fun it is to draw cars. Once I figured out th
TAD: Making It RightHere's an update about the royalties situation:TAD: Making It Right2 years ago in Personal More Like This
John English over at TAD stepped up and did the right thing by sending me a check for my royalties, which I have already received and banked.
He also gave me his word that he would be taking care of the other artists royalties who were wronged as well.
Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but he called me not long after I made my post wanting to know what he could do.
John said he didn't think people should get credit for doing the right thing and I agreed. But I still want to take the time to flesh this out a little because I want to keep my side of the street clean and because there's a lot of confused, angry, hurt, people.
Justified or not; dropping this nuke hurt TAD and TAD isn't only populated by the people who wronged me; it's comprised of people *just like me* trying to make a living in art.
I was wronged, but TAD isn't some cartoon villain plotting to suck the life-force from hapless artists; no one goes into business
The SenshiStock USB Drive Is Available!The SenshiStock USB drives are in and available for purchase!The SenshiStock USB Drive Is Available!3 years ago in Personal More Like This
Here's what you need to know:
This is a USB drive with lots of images on it! Everything from the start of the account until Shoot 26 (the bright blue sheet)
The drives say "SenshiStock" on one side and "A Stock Revolution" on the other side; they come with a lanyard.
Payment can be made online via PayPal or through regular mail by Money Order.
The drives are $20 ea. This does not include shipping. Shipping & tracking for the USA will be $5; First Class International shipping is $7 but does not include insurance or tracking. (Note: USPS increased their rates in Jan 2014)
The stats on the drive currently are:
3.83 GB of stock (but this is an 8GB drive so you will have some additional space!)
About 2,900 stock photos
Includes everything in the gallery from shoots 21-26 (shoot 26 is the one with the brigh
Where to get started before you can apply for workThere is no such thing as suddenly knowing when you are ready to turn yourWhere to get started before you can apply for work8 months ago in Personal More Like This
passion into your profession. But there is a way of measuring your chances on being
able to get work and eventually sustain a living from it.
Accepting commissions or freelance for low payment won't help you. You can think any penny counts, but it will lower the worth of your work and damage the market.
How to measure that you are ready?
You probably have high goals, but they are usually not your first step. You must search out the clients who can be that first step. Often found in the card game industry, book cover illustrations and smaller game company's.
Look at the artwork shown by a company such as the card game company: Fantasy Flight games. Compare your skills with the average of their artworks. If it matches yours, you will have a chance. However, keep in mind that those artworks had been done in a limited timeframe, usually within 12 hour
Over-Eater?Before I begin this 7-sins journal, I want to just let everyone know that you can catch me on Twitter for daily updates and such. S'Like contacting me as if you had my phone number (cuz' I interact on Twitter with folks on my phone like a text message when they message me, so yeah, s'easier for me to instantly communicate with folks). I got hit with a minor flu since last weekend and I'm still in the recovery zone as well as finishing up some contracts, prints, and those darn few leftover commissions.Over-Eater?3 years ago in Personal More Like This
So, what is your artistic diet like? Like, what do you eat (figuratively speaking) to keep you artistically healthy? What things do you do to keep yourself from feeling famished?
Me, personally? I like taking in "foods" that inspire me to keep working. When I find the time to do so, I love to just put an hour or two aside and dive into other Deviant's faves and find new artists or works I've yet
How to Write a Novel - a beginner's guideI am often asked - how do you write novels? I am often told by the person asking - so politely -How to Write a Novel - a beginner's guide2 years ago in Personal More Like This
"It is my dream to write a novel"
"I wish I could write"
"I would love to write my novel on ..."
I let people know I am on my third novel. It is rare to meet a writer, rarely someone who has realised their dream, and who has produced a book. Rarer still to find a published author --- why? it seems so easy.....when you read them.
Many try the