HOW TO GET PUBLISHEDThis is an old piece I wrote and posted a while ago, but just recently people have been asking what my experiences were with regard to publishing and getting published - so here it is again, with a few new notes added about dA and Madefire!
This is a very honest view based on 27 years experience as a writer, artist and publisher. The point here is to try to HELP you go into the business enlightened and with open-eyes, knowing what to expect. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PUT YOU OFF! However, you should know that getting into comics is NOT easy - as too many people frequently imagine - and neither is it a glamorous 'rock-star' existence. It is hard work, as are all trades, and it should be treated as such. I see too many people despondent and badly hurt by their experience, and this can be avoided if you know what you are getting into right from the outset.
Getting into comics is something a lot of people want to know how to do, but there's a lot of questions you w
The evolution of an artistI'm a right pain in the arse as far as fans go. I admit it. I chop and I change, and if you're looking for a book that is consistent then you'd better not invest any time in me!The evolution of an artist2 years ago in Personal More Like This
I'm only half joking. Case in point - 'Captain Stone is Missing...' (on dA here: www.deviantart.com/art/Captain…) may be, in my opinion, the best work of my career, but consistent it is not!!!
For me there are artists that are able to produce work that spans decades in a style that remains consistent, professional and inspired. I envy these guys enormously! Page one of 'Watchmen' drawn by my friend and personal hero Dave Gibbons looks to my eyes as if it was drawn the day before the last page of issue 12. It's an incredible achievement! But then there are artists like the equally brilliant Moebius who would change styles page to page, even panel to panel, depending on his mood, aspects of his life, or a suddenly fl
The Creative mind, pop, and money.Following on from my recent musings around getting into publishing, and my own views on creating art and comics, here's a little more fairly random padding!The Creative mind, pop, and money.2 years ago in Personal More Like This
People might think that in comics skill alone will get you there, but it's a lot like the music industry. Talent might be one thing, but somebody in a position to publish your work has to actually LIKE what you do - and we all know taste is a VERY subjective thing! There are thousands (actually, millions) of people who like their entertainment in easy-to-swallow bite-size chunks. They don't want to stretch themselves when they get home from work or school or wherever. They don't want to think too hard in the cinema, or read stuff with words they have to look up in the dictionary. They want music to dance to, or as a background soundtrack to their lives. It is a pop culture we live in, on pretty much all levels. This makes it hard for more alternatively creative people to find an audience. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-pop, thoug
I Got Angry Pt.5Something else to get a bit angry about...I Got Angry Pt.59 months ago in Personal More Like This
If you GET a distribution deal, you'll be in the long shadow cast by the big companies, buried in a dark corner of a vast monthly catalogue.
If you have no marketing budget, then your only option is to hit message boards, FaceBook, indie-driven comic sites, and by getting hold of a list of the internet comics news sites – they're easy enough to find, you just have to Google them.
If you have created your own book, and your dream is to see it printed, but you have literally no funds and nobody is willing to publish it, there are other great options, such as http://www.lulu.com/blog/tag/print-on-demand/. Here you can upload your entire book having placed it into one of the templates they provide, and you can then order a printed, bound copy direct from them for the price you set for it. Print on demand is an incredible innovation, and like Amazon, they will list your book for anybody to buy, they'll eve
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)1 year 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
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 Storytelling2 years 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
I Got Angry! Pt.3I'm not an angry guy. I'm very mild-mannered. But there's SO MUCH I wish I had known up front, before I got into comics. There are rudimentaries that I'm kind of angry nobody clearly pointed out before I got in too deep.I Got Angry! Pt.39 months ago in Personal More Like This
Nobody tells you that in the mainstream, as an artist, you'll almost certainly be drawing stuff you're NOT prepared for, and don't really have any desire to do or passion for.
Are you hearing this? It's REALLY a big one:
You'll almost certainly be drawing stuff you're NOT prepared for, and don't really have any desire to do or passion for.
What does that mean? What are you saying Sharpie? How can that be right?
Well - and this is from experience - you won't generally get to draw or write the book you're most suited to.
Classic example: I've been trying to get a Conan gig my whole career - a book I'm so clearly suited to it's unreal, and pretty much every artist I know has said as much! - and yet, even after all this time (27 years
I got angry! Pt.2As I said - I got angry. Frustrated. And I see it a lot. How DO you get your work out there? How do you get seen?I got angry! Pt.29 months ago in Personal More Like This
Getting into comics is something a lot of people want to know how to do, but there's a lot of questions you want to ask yourself first. There is such a vast array of genre and sub-genre, technique, approach, and so on, that it's important to be clear where you want to go with your work at the outset – and you have to be REALLY honest and tough on yourself.
Do you want to draw:
If you're into the capes and tights and you want to go mainstream you're going to have to want it incredibly badly, as the competition is the most extreme I've ever known it right now. There seems to be more titles than ever - and with the digital revolution more people are capable of producing sleek, mainstream quality art - but right across the
What-up humanity?It's almost easy to see why people stop caring about anybody else and just start to look after número uno.What-up humanity?6 months ago in Personal More Like This
The world fosters it.
The media fosters it.
Consumerism fosters it.
And sometimes giving a shit just doesn't seem to pay dividends - it isn't the yin yang we hope for in our hippy days.
Good people can live miserable, forgotten lives.
Bastards can live and die like kings.
The universe doesn't care.
I remember hearing once that we are communists in our youth, socialists, then eventually conservatives in our selfish old age.
Nobody cares about the old, so speak your mind and take what you can get, that message suggests.
Your every thought of freedom was folly.
Every aspiration towards a better, more caring world was pointless.
Lock the doors.
Don't trust the strangers.
If you don't you're a damn fool.
Looking at groups like ISIS it's hard to argue an alternative point sometimes.
Where are we going so wrong?
Starting a Story From Fresh pt.1I promised, a while ago, that I would write a journal that addressed the writingStarting a Story From Fresh pt.17 months ago in Personal More Like This
and creative process as much as anything else - how I start, and even why.
What makes a memorable character?
What are the themes?
How much do you care about popularity - ie. is it a project you're doing for
yourself, or because you hope it will generate a huge, mainstream audience?
What age-range is it?
And as mentioned earlier - why is it important you do it?
But let's start with...
Where do you get you ideas?
Great ideas do not come fully-formed out of the ether. Even the ideas I've
had that were born of dreams, and dragged screaming from my subconscious
before I forgot them, were an accumulation of living experiences. In Metawhal
Alpha the setting is somewhere I lived as a boy. I know every inch of the
Clock Warehouse, the noises and smells of the place, as well as the referenced
folklore. The Pub in Death and the Myrmidon was indeed a local, and it does
have a well covered in glass that y
I Got Angry! Pt.4 (Furious Interlude!)I was wondering to myself if I was STILL angry about things, even after all these years - and honestly? I really am!I Got Angry! Pt.4 (Furious Interlude!)9 months ago in Personal More Like This
Actually - I'm f**king pissed-off!!!
You'll be hard-pressed to find an artist that isn't!
We're over a barrel. We're art monkeys. We're work-for-hire engines that spit out the creations of others as best we can, striving to gain enough prominence to sustain an ongoing living, dreaming of a legacy.
We face hatred, the bitter barbs of trolls, the cruel dismissal of subjectivity, unfair comparisons with our peers.
We have to navigate taste, culture, the need for relevance.
We have to beat our way past the legions of others after the same job.
We have to remain immune to the jealous mutterings of those that fall along the way.
It SUCKS being a part of the machine, the self-serving circle of an industry consuming itself because it doesn't know any better. It's stuck in an ancient cycle, a rotating dance that is literally going nowhere!
So yes. I'm f**k
Had the Urge...…to write this because I'm getting repeated questions that are pretty much along the same lines and rather than direct each one to my FAQ, I have a different way to answer the question, which is basically:Had the Urge...2 years ago in Personal More Like This
"Why am I not getting anywhere in my art? What can I do to get better? No one is liking my work, how can I get more people to like my work so they can pay me?"
The real question you should be asking yourselves is:
"Why am I drawing?"
I mean, I take a look all the time at people who may not be skilled or whatever, and I'm sure they don't feel the best about their work (or they may), but they always have something to say that made them feel good while drawing it. Saw a sunset beach picture earlier that someone drew/painted and of course, it's not professional-looking at all. What ringed to me was the fact that in their comments, they said they "enjoyed it and was a relaxing piece". Not complaining about how the sand looks too crappy or the colors in the s
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
Money - what the hell is it?Did you ever really THINK about what money is? I mean, what it ACTUALLY is?Money - what the hell is it?1 year ago in Personal More Like This
I never did. It's probably part of the reason I'm not very money-oriented; not, in my heart, a capitalist. But still, as I look around at the news, at the growing divide between the rich and poor - they that truly care about the world and its well-being, and they that do not, and all that comes of globally powerful corporations, and how they absorb and smother all else that tries to grow in their shadow - and it seems increasingly like something I really HAVE to understand.
But where do you start?
There's a lot to know. And it's not cut and dried! There are many human transactions that happen without a like-for-like trade, and sometimes with no trade at all. You'll pass a hammer to somebody banging a nail in the wall to hand your photo. You'll help somebody weaker than you carry their bag across a road, up some stairs. You might furnish a beggars paper cup with a paper dollar. Not all of these are moral trade-o
Convention BasicsComic Cons are our bread and butter. They're how we interact with our fans, how we sell a lot of our merchandise, and how we meet with other artists. Comic Cons are fantastic... but at the same time there is a lot of unknowns and variables to contend with. I'm just going to outline a couple of things which should be common knowledge. If any artists who have attended Comic Cons want to add their own advice in the comments section, please feel free to!Convention Basics2 years ago in Personal More Like This
Make sure that you travel light. Try and fit everything you can in as small a space as possible to avoid having to pay for excess luggage. Even if you don't fly, getting around an unfamiliar city with piles of luggage will just complicate things. If the con is local, you can probably afford to have more stuff on your table. But if the con is far away, or you need to take a plane or bus, it's probably best to try and pack as light as you can while still having as much inventory as you can manage.
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
More on HatersThis is a copy and paste from my facebook page, but I felt it was really important to say something, and equally valid here:More on Haters1 year ago in Personal More Like This
'I HATE that trashy Image style. Hiding bad drawing with flashy technique….'
Oh boy. I'm so tired of hearing this.
The internet nearly broke yesterday with a battle (on FaceBook) around good drawing, bad drawing, technique, bad manners, being able to take criticism or not, and whether a certain artist did or didn't deserve his success, and why we hate him, or not. It was epic.
I'm not going to go into the details. It got out of hand. My toes curled when I read all the comments. My heart sank. The entire original point of the thread was buried under a mound of vitriol which, justified or not, made me a little ashamed of my industry.
Comics are not all about good drawing. I've seen plenty of Jack Kirby anatomy that aligns to reality only in the most rudimentary sense, but we all know he was great.
The so-called Image style actually evolved at Marvel - and if
Fiction.How redundant is it pointing out these following statements?Fiction.2 years ago in Personal More Like This
There's no such thing as a gigantic mechanical robot fighting off alien monsters. There has never been a report of a man being bitten by a radioactive spider and becoming a hero. You can't summon a mini-tornado at your own beck-n-call, don't matter how much into the occult you are. The odds of a young male teenager having a harem of sexy girls at his every turn is nil. There aren't bipeds of animals that are supposed to be quadrupeds flying spaceships in the galaxy above us. You can't legally hunt and catch thousands of different animals and use them to protect you from other animals and people in a sports-like venue. You can't eat a flower and ignite fire from your hands.
I can go on and on... this journal is probably being expressed because of recent built-up distaste for people bullying others because of what they like when it comes to fiction.
Just to reestablish what it even means, here it is, straight
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?3 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
PROCRASTINATIONProcrastination... Being a sloth... it's a disease.PROCRASTINATION3 years ago in Personal More Like This
All of us struggle with it. On certain days you just don't feel like doing nothing at all. Other days you feel that you worked hard on something and that you're owed time-off for it. And there's that period where you KNOW you should've been working on something; after a lot of time have passed you eventually find yourself wondering WHY you even went along doing nothing for so long.
We're not perfect creatures, it HAPPENS.
But being a procrastinator compared to being a hard-worker is a measure of how serious you take yourself.
If you have a regular 9-5, come home whether it's a long commute or short one, and then taking care of family matters (wife, kids, or parents), it can be pretty hard to keep yourself focused. That's a valid reason for struggling trying to stay focused on a creative project. Life is hard in that aspect. You're definitely a hard-worker in that regard. If you do all that and then work your
I got a bit angry again...I just don’t understand. I really don’t.I got a bit angry again...6 months ago in Personal More Like This
There seems to be a growing tribalism in what, for now, we’re often labeling ‘Geekdom’ - or some other reclaimed formerly derogatory term.
A few examples:
There’s a healthy debate about sexism in comic, and the edges of what is an ingrained misogynistic streak that goes back decades.
There’s also a number of very buxom and proud of it cosplayers creating incredible, intentionally sexy costumes for comic conventions.
(Re. the points above: The debate gets hazy in the area that sexy and sexist butt-up against each other – no pun intended. What is cheesecake? What is pin-up? What is erotica? What is porn? What is artistic nude? You can’t simply say I know it when I see it. To some the statue of David is offensive! Either way, the debate rages while pin-up art vies with big-name superhero imagery as the easiest to sell. I can’t budge any pages that don’t feature either, or, or both of
Realities of working at a video games studioHeerrrooo! Second vid vid of the week is here!Realities of working at a video games studio1 year ago in Personal More Like This
Some chatty chatter about the game industry in here, check it out! Oh and the start of another painting
Some more tips to FreelancingJust over a year ago, I compiled a small list of things you need to get started as a Freelance artist.Some more tips to Freelancing1 year ago in Personal More Like This
Let's accelerate a little bit, and assume that now you're in the business and have a pretty good groove going. While the core principles are still paramount to anything else, here are some quick one-shot tidbits of information that will assuredly save your bacon.
Back up everything, including the backups.
When working digitally, it's so easy to accidentally delete something off your hard drive and be unable to get it back. I've done this a few times myself. Even had entire hard drives fail on me. But it has been a very, very long time since the last time I had to redo an image from the start. Sure, I've had crashes that put me back an hour, I've merged layers together in a manner that ruins my work flow and makes the file unusable. But fixing these issues isn't nearly as painful
The Detrimental AweThanks for the ideas everyone! Here's the post many of you requested...The Detrimental Awe3 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
GET OVER YOURSELF!Oh, before I begin:GET OVER YOURSELF!3 years ago in Personal More Like This
If anyone know any fantastic 3D Zbrush (and Maya, though the originality in Maya is hard to find these days; everyone's building off of stock models) modelers, please let me know. I'm looking to hire a peep for some Rat Rage prototypes for figures in the near future. They have to be good with catching the original art exceedingly well, as well as astounding anatomy work. THANKS IN ADVANCE.
Also, I'm working my new gig + Rat Rage + miscellaneous. Haven't sent ALL of the commissions out yet, but they are definitely on their way. Had to begin the new gig earlier than I thought.
GET OVER YOURSELF!
Sometimes it's good to give yourself a pat on the back for your accomplishments. When you get done with a piece that you poured blood, sweat, tears, saliva, and urine in, you feel like you can throw the whole planet of Earth into a different galaxy. Those are very natural feelings. You have a right to be proud of yourself for what you've done.
But pride is an