Friday, March 31, 2006

Comic Creators

My friend Todd sent me an email with links to these comics creators. I'm slowly going through them in between panels. It's always interesting to hear other people's experience.
1. Grant Morrison interview. He is one f***ing well-dressed man.....
1a. The Grant Morrison Pint Glass - the coolest pint glass in the world!
The guy interviewing the rest of these people isn't a very good interviewer, but it is kinda cool seeing these folks I've only seen pics of in Wizard finally moving and real people.
2. Brian Bolland interview
3. Mike Kaluta
4. Mark Waid
5. Tony Harris & Jolly Rogers Studios
6. Judd Winick and his pal Pedro!
7. Phil Jemenez
8. Joanne & Laura Siegel (Jerry Siegel's widow and daughter)
9. Jhonen Vasquez (he gets kinda mad when they mispronounce his name)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Brush Sketches

I bought a few brush markers for the con and a ream of Lazor paper. So I've been doing a lot of little brush sketches lately. My main weakness in creating comics is that I overfocus on minutia. I do it because I never know where to stop. It's such a problem that I dread having to do layouts. I overthink the pages and take too long to get them done. My fascination/obsession with storytelling is in discovering the unknown. It's the thing that's driven me all these years to create. I love exploring places no one has ever seen, or possibly even imagined. And I am infatuated with the idea of actually being able to take other people to those places. But my problem has been that I've never been able to draw the line (so to speak) between discovering the fantasies and relating them to the real world. The irony is that problem wasn't only consistant in my art. I figure the first step to breaking through this anxiety is by sketching scenes from real life. Anything that tells a story or developes a character in a single image. A conversation, a movement, an action, body language. Every image should be a servant to the story. And I'm finding it easier to leave out the minutia. --Will

Nick Bertozzi - MIT comparitive media studies

I was doing some random Google video searches for comic books and ran across this fascinating series from MIT interviewing comic book artist Nick Bertozzi through the process of creating a page and a comic book. INTRO Background Research Sketching Blueline Penciling Inking Coloring Finished Product --Will I really liked this quote. I've heard it many times, but never put quite so succinctly. "If panel two is very similar to panel one, you probably should be doing animation, because you're trying to express motion. What should be happening between panel one and panel two... There should be a significant change between those two panels, so that the gutter - that white space between each panel - is filled up by the readers mind." --Nick Bertozzi

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Con Report - Aggiecon 37

Aggiecon, oh aggiecon, whatever happened to good ol' aggiecon? You skip a few years and all of a sudden it goes all Filky and Cospastic. This year was definitely not a comic book year. In fact, it wasn't a con for art in general. There were a little over 20 panels for writers and maybe half a dozen for artists. To say the least, it was disappointing. I did have fun. I figure, as far as first cons go I could do much worse. The highs and lows of this con. Well the good news was that when I finally found my table I realized that I'd be spending the entire weekend sitting at the same table as Brian Stelfreeze. The bad news... I spent the entire weekend sitting at the same table as Brian Stelfreeze. Yeah, I didn't make much money. Actually I didn't make ANY money. My little marker sketches just don't cut the shit like fully painted BEEyooTiful girly art from a well established comic artist. I'd hoped to at least make $50 in commissions. Didn't happen. But I spent a lot of time either jabbering at Brian, or just watching him work. Definitely worth the... not... money.. thing. My main goal with this show was to experience what it's like to be a working pro at a convention. And I definitely got that. My studio mate Luis, messed my head up a few weeks ago by pointing out - as I was unabashedly bragging about the possibility of me being on panels with Mr. Stelfreeze-- that there is hardly much, if anything at all, that I can add to what Brian might have to say. But it turned out Brian has been on a few panels and probably answered every question there is to answer. And I imagine - from the barrage of questions from him and the 5 and a half people in the early morning crowd - that he enjoyed having someone else share the task. We ended up having some relatively interesting conversations. About the unseen benefits of learning to draw comics in a middle of nowhere town like Lubbock. To the cocaine like addiction we've both experienced with producing airbrushed novelty products for the masses in exchange for bags of cash and the small price of our artistic souls. The panel was definitely a fulfilling exchange. And I feel like I more than held my own, and can consider myself to be in the ranks of other professional comic book artists. I think that was the general feeling for me this weekend. I realized how far I've come as a comic book artist. I spent almost the entire weekend at my table critiquing artists portfolios. And absolutely feeling confident in what I was saying. And when the time came for Brian to critique my portfolio. I didn't get the "you're pissing me off!" and "what are you doing to me?!" stuff that I was hearing about a lot of the other artists coming through (and the critique I've gotten from him every previous year). Instead it was a quiet appreciation. Complimenting my color theory and character development. And a handful of tips on how to stylistically and economically improve what I'm already doing. The whole affair was unexpected, and very flattering. I am to say the least, inspired and reinvigorated. There are two realizations from this weekend that I will be working on in the immediate future. First, I need to practice simplistic storytelling. I have a tendency to overcomplicate everything. Especially in my artwork. I have a log jam of stories and ideas that I haven't been able to get out because it takes me so long to draw a finished page. So for the next few months I'm going to start doing simple/quick 1 page stories. 1 hour pages. It's the sort of thing I'm worst at, and the major thing that's slowing me down. So I'll probably take a que from my friend, the genius that is Brian Morante, and start doing something fun. The second thing, is ironically in the opposite direction. I realized as I was watching Mr. Stelfreeze's painting demo, that I'd seen it before. In fact, at the atelier it was almost a daily thing. And I realized if I want to get to that level I need to keep learning to draw the figure more confidently. Specifically, I need to move back to San Diego and get back into the Watts school. I've been trying to keep up my lessons here, drawing from the figure and doing portraits as often as possible. And working from Andrew Loomis. But I've become stagnant, and I'm not sure where to go from where I am. So that's the plan. My girlfriend and I are planning to move back to San Diego. Probably at the end of the year. This time for much longer than 6 months. Anyways, to wrap up the con report. One of the most interesting panels this weekend was with Peter"Chewbacca"Mayhew. It was strange seeing him, and seeing all the same mannerisms as chewy. The most interesting to me, was the way he walks. I didn't realize that Mr Mayhew had a limp in his knees. The walk I'd always known as chewy's was because he had bowed knees. Mr. Mayhew also had a very fascinating insight into the development of a character. He says that it starts with the feet. The shoes to be specific. Whatever shoes a character is wearing, dictates how a character will stand, and walk and move. It's something that most of us don't even consider. When in fact it should start with that, the rest sort of works itself out. I found that very interesting. Anyways, I'll leave you with this... it's a quick sketch caricature I did of Peter Mayhew. Then I touched up the colors in photoshop after scanning it. His hands were incredible. If you've ever met Lou Ferigno, his hands were even bigger than that. --Will

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Well I'm off to Aggiecon. It's been hectic getting all my work done as well as trying to get ready. I'm not, but I'm as ready as I'll ever be. There are a few of you that have mentioned you'll be going to the con and wanted to know when my panels will be. The first panel will be "What's your media" Friday morning, 11:15 am in the Rudder tower, room 404. I'll be on that panel with Mr. Stelfreeze himself. Stoked! My second panel will be "Blending and shading" 5:30 pm Friday in the same room. My third and final panel will be "Digital vs. Traditional art" Sunday 10:00 am, again in the Rudder tower, room 404. I'm not sure where my table will be located, though I requested it to be near the other artists, in the dealers room. So I'm assuming it will be there. I look forward to seeing everyone that's planning to make it out there. I'm excited. Also, I don't think I've mentioned this here yet - but I think it's safe to announce now - I'm the colorist on the new Disney Gargoyle's series from Slave labor graphics. The first issue is soliciting this week and should be on shelves in June. This is looking to be bigger than anticipated. I've heard that this is expected to be the biggest initial selling book ever for SLG. Here's hoping. I'm very excited to be part of it. I've been doing comics for nearly ten years, but this is going to be my first book to actually get national distribution. Couldn't ask for a better way to start out. Have a good weekend! And as always, Keep smiling! --Will

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Conan - Colored

One of the artists at colored over one of my Conan sketches from the other night. It looks really cool. Check it out. --Will

Monday, March 13, 2006

Art School Confidential

I love it. They're finally turning Daniel Clowes' (Ghostworld) comic book Art School Confidential into a MOVIE. And it looks freaking hillarious. A little too familiar... but hillarious none the less. --Will

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Adam Hugh's - Drawing

There's an interesting segment on with a web documentary of Adam Hughs doing a commission sketch. It's not really all that informative, but it's still fun to watch him draw. And if you haven't checked out his website there is definitely some gorgeous artwork. --Will

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sketch night - Sketches

I was sort of ambushed on the way in to denny's sketch night, by one of the waitstaff at the restaraunt who wanted me to draw his chevy corolla "tricked out". And I'm a sucker for free food. I feel like such a whore, lol. Anyways, I didn't get all that much sketching done. But I did do a sketch for Trinidad and Luis in their sketch books. Both sketches were of Conan. I've been doing conan sketches whenever I draw in people's sketchbooks the last couple months. And I'm trying to do more than just draw the character, but something that really speaks to the character. Anyways, Luis scanned his for me, and Trinidad said he'd scan the one I did for him. I'll post his whenever he gets around to it. I hope everyone else had fun at the sketch night. --Will

Friday, March 10, 2006

Digital Figure painting

I've been working on this painting a little bit each night after work. I'm very happy with how it's turning out. I'm finally starting to get the realism I've always tried for. And now it seems like it's all starting to finally come together. It's strange , and amazing in a way, that I've been able to teach myself color just from what I'd learned about tonal drawing, light and anatomy at the Atelier. I've picked up a lot of little things here and there since then. But this is defintely rooted in what I learned from two semesters at the school. I can't wait to get back there one of these days to put in some real time. No telling what I'll get out of it then. This is painting is at about 3 hours. I need to do something with the background. And I'll probably continue to noodle with the skin tones. But I'm stoked. --Will

Thursday, March 09, 2006

"How to become a comic book artist"

One of my goals for this blog, is to use it to inspire other people to do what they love. I believe that we are created to be happy. Not to work a job, or make a mark, or impress other people. But to do what we love and love what we're doing - every day! Whatever that may be. For the purposes of this blog, I'm writing about doing comic books.

"How to become a comic book artist"

In the last week, the subject of making a living with art has come up several times. Enough to warrant some thoughts here. And I can, for the first time, honestly answer this question with some real perspective.

"Doing what you love"

There is a difference between doing what you love and making a living. It's possible to do both. But one must come before the other. Not because of the other. Doing what you love means doing it because it's fun. Not for any other reason. I'm making a small living now with drawing comics. But I'm not doing it to make a living. I quit working a job, and quit doing caricatures for money, because I'm making a living. But I'm doing it because it's fun. It wasn't always that way. And for a time I resented and hated drawing because I made it more than it's meant to be. Once you do that you're screwed. Once you make it more than it is, and forget why it was important to you to begin with, you're in big, big trouble. Every artist has to learn to not make it more than it is. You have to draw because you want to draw-- first and foremost. And once you get used to doing it every night, your drawings will tell you what to do with them. Not the other way around.

Just remember, there's no finish line with art (so to speak). Finishing one drawing, one painting, or even one book isn't going to make you successful. Needing to draw every night because you love it-- that will make you successful. Being productive, with anything is hard. But it's not about wanting to do it, or thinking about doing it... it's about doing it. Slowly making it part of your life until it IS your life. And doing it because it's fun. Doing it like you're a kid. Not because it will get you somewhere, or pay your bills, or make you better than other artists. Don't make it more than it is. That sucks all the fun out of it. Till there's nothing left but resentment and bitterness. Nothing left but the end. We kill the things we love that way.

"Ego and Insecurity."

Every artist walks a fine line between being confident and being arrogant. No matter how good you get you will never be better than some people and always be better than the rest. It's essential to understand and accept that. The better you get, the more you realize there is to learn. It's a never ending process. As it should be. Use that to your advantage. What you do with what you have is up to you though. Don't compare yourself to other artists. It's easy to get lost in "I can do it better than them." or "I'll never be as good as them." Those are only excuses to not try. Just learn to work with what you already have, and continue to grow as much as you can throughout your career. You can make a living doing comics in any style if you market it the right way. It doesn't matter. The important thing is to realize that you are not better than anyone and no one is better than you. It's all perception. All that matters is what YOU do. What YOU put in people's hands and how often you do it.

"Learning to do it right means learning to do it wrong."

Robert F. Kennedy once said "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." Failure is the key ingredient to learning - Just like walking is controlled falling - Art is learning to manipulate mistakes. I guarantee that the best artists you'll ever meet have drawn 1000 times more than you'll ever see from them. Because only the best work is seen by the public. The rest are the mistakes they made, to learn to get to where they are. It's all a numbers game. You have to draw to learn. You have to put stories out to learn what sells. You have to pay your dues.

That said, you don't have to do it all the hard way. The right teachers can help you along. Saving you years and years of teaching yourself. Find mentors, teachers, role-models, wherever you can. You want to be the best, learn from the best. And diversify, learn from as many people as you possibly can. And never stop learning from other people. There was a time when I felt I'd let down my earliest students. But I've come to realize, that teaching is simply demonstrating that something is possible. Learning, is making something possible for yourself. Take what you can from wherever you can, and learn to make it possible for yourself.

"Leap of faith"

You only have a safety net if you plan to use it. I've always believed that. There's a point in every artist's career when they need to make the leap. And I'll tell you... it's not easy, and it sure as hell is not comfortable. There's no clear sign to let you know when it's time. And there is no guarantee that it will work. But that's how the universe works. There are two reasons for this. First reason is physics, you have to do something before you can get the result you want. There must be action before there can be a reaction. The second reason is, well... accountability. You have to put yourself on the line. I won't eat this month if I don't draw comics. I won't pay my bills if I don't draw comics. If it's my only option I will find a way to make it happen. Fear is your friend. Fear is the doorway to freedom. Use it to your advantage.

Keep in mind that I'm speaking to all levels of talent here. You can take the leap at any level of your career. I've seen all levels of talent make it work. I will say, the more you know the easier it is to make it happen. Like GIJoe says... "knowing is half the battle." My rule of thumb is this... "You have to know where you want to go before you can figure out how to get there." You can start off making $10 - $20 a page pretty easily. But unless you invest more into it, that's all you will be making 3 or 4 years down the road. It becomes nothing but a paycheck then. A small one at that. Just like you can put out cute little books and get them published. But if you don't have goals for yourself you are doomed forever to work to achieve the goals of others. Have a destination for yourself and work at least a little every day to get there.

"Reality check."

I know the reality of it all. We all have our reasons why it's just not "that" easy to make this happen. I had my excuses. And my excuses were harder to accept than just being married and having kids (the more realistic excuses). But that's where the first lesson here comes in. Doing what you love. Make it fun again, make the time to make it fun again. And make that time every single night. And one day it will grow into something bigger. And eventually, you'll be ready to take that leap. There's a lot to learn... whatever you want to do with your life. But the sooner you start, the quicker you'll get there. But it's definitely worth the journey. Your worst day doing what you love will be a thousand times better than your best day doing anything else. Just remember to never lose sight of why you're doing this. Because it's fun.


"What we have is based upon moment-to-moment choices of what we do. In each of those moments, we choose. We either take a risk and move toward what we want, or we play it safe and choose comfort. Most of the people, most of the time, choose comfort. In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or brilliance. They either have what they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not." ~ Anonymous

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Aggie Con 37

I just found out that I've been confirmed as a guest at this years Aggiecon. March 23-26th in College station. They're even giving me a free table in the dealers room. I am stoked, this will be my first convention as a guest of the con. And also my first convention where I will be on discussion panels. I am very excited. I have no idea how many panels, or what kind I will be on. I just hope I make a good impression. So hopefully they'll have me back again. This is also the last Aggiecon for my sensei Brian Stelfreeze for a while. He's been doing it for ten years, but due to changes with the con, he's planning to take a break for a few years. I'm stoked I will get to see him one last time before that, and (hopefully) be on some panels with him as well. As a special treat, his studio mate Cully Hamner, another terrific artist, will also be at the con. Double sweet! And my favorite wookie Peter (Chewbacca) Mayhew. So if anyone can make it to the show I hope you do. It would be really nice to see some familiar faces in the crowd. --Will

Friday, March 03, 2006

Figure Study - 2 hours

Today was all kinds of weird. Got up early to go to the studio, but due to a very strange series of distractions... Some good, some bad, some... just weird. I didn't make it there until a couple hours before it was time to call it a day. So instead of starting into the next page I decided to do some digital painting. It's been about a month since I've done any figure drawing. And I feel really rusty. But I'm really happy with this. A lot of things are finally making sense now. And I think it's time to start studying my Loomis books again. I think I needed a break to let things gel. Now I'm hungry for it again. It's a good feeling. Anyways, this painting was done in about two hours from a photograph. In photoshop with my wacom. --Will
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