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Drumroll please...and the winner is...

Greetings everyone!

It’s been a busy month so far (as we all just got back from New York Comic Con a few days ago, phew!) and boy did we have fun going through the entries for the Fran Kenstein Artist Challenge—thanks again for everyone who entered or supported us, we had a blast! We hope you did, too! It was tough coming to a consensus but we eventually did…

And so without further adieu, I’d like to introduce our winner:

Congratulations Morgan Long (Felis-M) as the winner in the Fran Kenstein Artist Challenge! She really went all-out with her sample, even coloring and lettering the piece, and we felt she wonderfully captured the spirit of the character and world. Judge Dave Gibbons even went so far as to note “it has a magical quality”. 

MorganLong Fran Kenstein by MadefireStudios

So excited to get the project moving forward with you on board!

Also, we were so thrilled with the quality of submissions that we have a few more announcements…first up, thank you Amelia Parris (FlossAndChaos) for your submission:

AmeliaParris Fran Kenstein2 by MadefireStudios

and John McGuinness

JohnMcGuinness Fran Kenstein3 by MadefireStudios

They equally did such a fine job with their samples that we’re planning on bringing them on board for some future projects we have cooking…great work you two! 

Last, but certainly not least, Rich Fuscia
(Fusciart) who not only created his sample page for the contest but also built it as a Motion Book! We were so impressed by the clever build that we’ve asked him to be the guest ‘builder’ for the Fran story—and he’s agreed to it! Hooray!

We’re absolutely thrilled at how well everything went and we’d like to thank every contestant who put time and effort into their submissions. You guys all ROCK! We’d also like to thank our panel of terrific guest judges for their help and insight and enthusiasm!

Until the next challenge!


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1b.-FF-Email-071.04-Injustice by MadefireStudios

Read DC Comic's most popular digital comic for free on dA or the Madefire app

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The artist challenge is now...CLOSED!

Good evening, folks!

And so concludes our Fran Kenstein Artist Challenge—thank you EVERYONE who participated (and those who couldn’t for various reasons—next time!) and a hearty THANK YOU to our wonderful and diverse panel of judges.

Now, it’s time to work with the judges and find a consensus winner…and for fun, we may just post some of the ‘runner-up’ entries…as we’ve gotten some pretty awesome submissions!

Keep an eye on this space…announcements to come!

Be well!

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A little chat with judge Dave Gibbons!

Good afternoon, guys!

We're entering the final week of the goes everyone's submissions? We've seen a few awesome things here and there but we're expecting a flood of submission--so don't let us down! No idea what we're talking about?! You still have time to enter:

We're incredibly lucky to have the legendary Dave Gibbons as one of our judges and he graciously sat down with us for a little interview...

Can you tell us a little about yourself? And what’s your background in illustration/design—self-taught?
I’m a kid who always loved comics, was lucky enough to get into comics and I’ve spent my career writing and drawing comics. I’ve been in the business now for more than 40 years, I’m amazed to discover, and I always thought of myself as the lad but it seems I’ve turned into the dad…or maybe even the granddad!

I’ve worked on all sorts for characters over the years—most of the DC characters, a lot of the 2000AD characters and I’ve done some creator-owned work…and I’ve worked for Madefire and I’m very interested in researching new storytelling technologies at the moment.

I’m completely self-taught…one of the things that attracted me to comics was that really with a piece of paper and a pen you could produce exactly what you read in the real, professional comics. The only thing that stood in the way was your talent, ability, and experience. So from a very early age I was drawing my own super hero comics, science fiction comics…

Later on, I discovered that comics were drawn bigger than they appeared in the printed books so I bought myself some big sheets of Bristol board and practiced inking with a brush, which is what I had found a lot of artists did, and got pretty proficient at that.

Can you walk us through your process?
Because comics were done on a production line, particularly in the States during the early part of their popularity, there kind of is a fairly standard process most of us use:

-There’s a script written (I’d either write it or somebody else would write it)

-From the script you do thumbnail drawings which is a really good idea to get everything organized before you commit yourself to drawing too much in too much detail at a larger size. And the thumbnails would show you how the actual unfolding of the story works—to show how the images on a page relate to each other and how the pages relate to one another. Then how the whole reads as a story.

-Having done the thumbnails I then draw the whole thing out in pencil. Sometimes completely finishing penciling a page before moving on to the next one…sometimes, in just keeping the whole thing moving, I’ve often found that if you get a little bit bogged down in an illustration it’s good to move on to something else you can do a more easily—although not to do all the easy shots first then you leave yourself with all the problems in a big lump at the end.

-Having finished the pencils, I would generally letter it (although now a lot of it’s done digitally so the lettering can be left until the end).

-Next I would ink it—basically converting the pencil drawing into a crisp, black-and-white drawing….filling in the areas of black and drawing the texture and the details. If you’re penciling for someone else you might do a bit more at the pencil stage whereas, particularly if I’m inking my own pencils, I like to leave a bit of the drawing to the inking stage so that it’s not a boring re-doing of everything you’ve already drawn.

-Then it would be colored—which nowadays is done exclusively on the computer.

-The penciling and inking still applies even when I do a job completely on the computer—it still feels a natural way to do things.

As a creator what do you enjoy illustrating the most? And the least?
I always liked to draw things where there’s something going on—some movement to show, some progression between pictures.

Probably most artists would tell you the most difficult thing to draw is two people in a room talking. If that goes on for any length of time it becomes a real challenge to keep the compositions fresh and varied. The characters have to speak in a certain order so you have to be aware of keeping one on the left and one on the right and that can inhibit the compositions you can do.

To my mind the really good comic book artists, people like Garcia Lopez, can even make one of those static scenes seem appealing.

The more you repeat the things you don’t like the more you’ll come to get to like them…or at least the easier you’ll find it!

Who are your artistic inspirations?
Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Steve Ditko, Carmen Infantino, Gil Kane…really, all the usual suspects. I particularly have to mention Wally Wood, Will Elder and Harvey Kurtzman who did the wonderful MAD comics stuff. The amount of detail and texture they’d put in…and the wonderful involvement you got from their artwork was a favorite with me.

Amongst the British artists there was a guy called Frank Bellamy who was a master of action and exciting design. Another artist named Frank Hampson who was the genius behind the famous comic character Dan Dare.

What advice would you give an aspiring artist?
Really, just draw, draw, draw. Draw from your imagination, from your life. It really just enriches your art and informs you on not just drawing figures but on actually what’s really around you—becoming an observer as much as an artist. And I think it’s important if you want to produce work consistently to have some kind of system discipline that helps you get the work done on a consistent basis. Also, be persistent—it took me a couple of tries to break into comics. You’ve really got to love it. Seek advice from other people and take their advice—most comic artists I’ve found are very generous with their critiques but be prepared to listen to them.

What upcoming projects do you have in the works? Anything you’d like to plug?
What I’m working on at the moment is my autobiography which involves more writing than drawing—that’s a lot of fun.

I’ve got my Treatment series which has been wonderfully handled by some other writers and artists for Madefire and I’ve recently finished writing a feature length story for that which I hope I’m going to be breaking down into Madefire type chunks soon and looking for a good artist to work with on it—I probably won’t do finished art but hopefully do some layouts to set the tone.

Thanks so much for your time, Dave, it was a true honor...and we're EXCITED for your Treatment story amdreally  looking forward to Kingsman: The Secret Service based on your epic series!

That's all for today...keep working, everyone! Another entry to come soon…

Be safe!

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Fran Kenstein Contest Update

Happy Friday!

I hope everyone's working hard on their submissions--the 30th is coming up fast! If you'd like to send 'work in progress' images to maybe we'll post some! Not sure what I'm talking about? Check out this link pronto:

In the meantime, we have another stellar interview with another judge...we liked Dustin Nguyen's responses so much we thought we'd ask the same ones to legendary Liam Sharp to see his thoughts:

Can you tell us a little about yourself? And what’s your background in illustration/design—self-taught? University?

I’m a veteran of 27 years in comics, starting in the UK in 2000ad, through Death’s Head II – the biggest selling comic to ever come out of England – for Marvel UK, then on to Marvel US, DC, Image, Dark Horse, WildStorm and more. I’m now the co-founder and CCO if Madefire, and the co-creator of Captain Stone.

I’m basically self-taught, but I did serve an apprenticeship with the late great Don Lawrence when I was 18 – a loooong time ago!

How long have you been doing illustration? Can you walk us through your process?

I’ve been creating comic art since I was 18 professionally. As regards process – I’m a chameleon and am constantly looking to find new ways to create pictures in order to tell stories. It’s one of the things that interested me most about exploring the new digital medium of storytelling that we have pioneered at Madefire.

Here’s a link to me dA gallery:…

As a creator what do you enjoy illustrating the most? And the least? Is there something you really dislike drawing?

It used to be barbarians! These days I love landscapes – which was very unexpected. I sometimes feel I could just paint landscapes all day. I still hate drawing cars – for some reason my brain really struggles to make that kind of technical drawing work properly!

Who are your artistic inspirations?

Bill Sienkiewicz, Moebius, Druillet, Barry Smith, John Buscema, Don Lawrence, Frazetta, Boris, Jeff Jones, Michael Kaluta, Bernie Wrightson, Jim Lee, Richard Corben, Liberatore, Serpieri, Mike Mignola, Frank Miller, Art Adams… the list goes on and on!

What advice would you give an aspiring artist?

Concentrate on the kinds of subject matter that you don’t feel good at. Love drawing MORE that you love drawing what you love drawing – because honestly, as a professional artist you’ll rarely get to draw the kinds of things you really love. Keep learning, and don’t be too hard on yourself.

What upcoming projects do you have in the works? Anything you’d like to plug?

More Cap Stone, and more scripting for MONO! Oh, and more Sherlock Holmes with Bill Sienkiewicz I hope!

Thanks, Liam! We're excited for anything you produce but more Sherlock Holmes would be amazing...

Have a safe weekend everyone and keep up the good work!


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Fran Kenstein Artist Challenge--WINNER! by MadefireStudios, journal

Free Injustice Motion Book Comic by MadefireStudios, journal

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Devious Journal Entry by MadefireStudios, journal

Devious Journal Entry by MadefireStudios, journal