This is the best and hardest question you could ever ask. It could have a super long answer or it could be really short—something like, you either get it or you don’t.
I dont know how long you have been at it. If you’re in school , probably not long enough. If you saw my stuff coming out of University, you’d probably agree with me that it was barely serviceable.
Since your in school I’m assuming your reasonably young and you have time.
Have you read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell? Really good discussion on his theory of 10,000 hours and achieving excellence. He talks about the Beatles and guys like Bill Gates and how they became so good at what they did. Basically, it goes, spend 10,000 hours working at a skill and you’ll become reasonably good at it. You might not be the Beatles or Alex Ross but should have a pretty good skill set.
Having read the book I figured I reached 10,000 hours of drawing time right around when I was working on Death: High Cost of Living. I was super lucky as, at the time, the business was expanding and they needed help. I wasn’t ready, but Karen Berger saw something promising and gave me a shot. I kind of learned the rest on the job.
Can’t say that I have defining moment but right around then I had good idea I’d always have work.
Some guys make it look easy but, in my case, its always been very hard drawing. Its easier now, but sometimes its brutally hard getting ideas on paper. When was 15 I couldn't draw anything, but I worked at it, it came slowly and eventually you pick up skill here and skill there and you start to turn into a legit artist. It takes long time and a lot of work. You have to do it everyday.
I have a BFA in illustration. I don’t know the curriculum at the Kubert School but I would encourage you to try everything from Life drawing to painting, to sculpture, design classes, water color. I took them all. The class I learned the most in was 2D design. Awesome class. I had no idea at the time what I was doing, what I was learning but as I grew to understand the discipline realized it was the best experience I ever had. Man, I took fashion illustration. great class. Got an A in 3D class. Fun. I think what I’m saying is don’t limit yourself. try everything . With every experience something will stick and, hopefully ,at the end of the day you’ll turn into something wonderful.
I know I can do anything in the business. Write, pencil , color, paint and ink. It gives you options. Don’t limit yourself.
Most people in the biz today are one dimensional. Give yourself as broad of skill set as possible. You never know where you’ll end up, what you will be working on. Don’t limit yourself to comics pen and ink. You'll be boring.
How many hours have you put into drawing to date?
Do you work hard everyday—harder than the guy next to you?
You are a unique person. Whats’ special about your work? Is your work interesting? Do you think outside the box?
Do you look at other artists? A guy thats new and amazing to me is Mike Del Mundo. Check out his work. he’s amazing. Really smart stuff and he works hard. He’s interesting. Thinks outside the box .Great sense of color, design and layout. Knows how to use positive and negative space. Knows how to communicate an idea.
Always ask yourself, what are you selling? What do you want to communicate? happiness? Sorrow?Dread? Desperation? Fear?
Scottie Young is a great inspiration.
Was just going through a James Jean art book that I bought yesterday. he’s amazing. That guy is way out of the box. Amazing artist. just perfect. I’m going to reflect on a few ideas of his, use them as inspiration on Dr Strange.
A lot of guys put up tutorials. Great way to learn.
Never, ever stop learning . I haven’t . Thats why my art looks different than it did 10 -15 year ago. Nothing is more disappointing than seeing an artist go stale and fade into mediocrity. happens a lot. And I know that there are a 1,000 other guys gunning for my job.
The business is really hard. Its a grind. Can you draw everyday, all day , by yourself in a room with your iTunes and a pencil?
Give yourself an age to make it. if you don’t by then, move on . I gave myself until age 27. Made it just before my 24th birthday. The hard reality is that you could put a ton time into finding the tipping point and you may simply just not get it. Its just not in you. Some people can’t dance.
But give yourself the chance .When i was 16 I decided to go for the dream. I wanted to draw comics for a living. At the time it was pie in sky. Never thought i’d make it but didn’t want to have any regrets.
I cried a lot. Some days nothing works. Others its as easy as pie. Just last week I wore out an entire eraser, because I couldn’t get something to work. Big pile of shavings around my desk. Surface of the paper a mess,, took a walk, came back and worked my way through. its part of the process. It can be really hard.
I follow a bunch of artists on twitter. Interesting to see what they are putting up, hearing their experiences, what they are dealing with. Their journeys.
Sorry this is getting long . Hope some of this helps. Keep working . Put in the hours. if you enjoy it , that shouldn’t be a problem.
One more thing, put in the hours ,put in the hours, put in the hours.
I'll be making a super live, super in person appearance at the following super comic distributer stores this upcoming weekend! Hope to meet your super person there!
All the best!
Frank and Sons Collectibles show Sat. Dec. 28th 1-3pm
19649 E. San Jose Ave. City of Industry, CA, 91748
Geeky Mamas (Cerritos mall) Sat. Dec. 28th 4-6pm
Los Cerritos mall, store 533, Cerritos, CA, 90703
Big Red Comics (Buena Park mall) Sat. Dec. 28th 7-9pm
8289 On the Mall 6261A, Buena Park, California 90620
COMMENTS--I've been experimenting with Magik's transportation FX. Here's an example of what I was doing early on using the lightning. As I've grown to know her I've advanced to the flaming, demon occupied entrances. They're fun to draw and maybe a little more dramatic to look at. I dont think there should be one way to illustrate the FX. I see them as evolving, changing with her mood. Early on it was described to me that Cyclops, Emma and Magneto had either lost their powers or were having trouble controlling them while Magik had actually enhanced her power. I wanted to highlight this disparity here by locating Illyana high up on top of the entrance, making her look tall and imposing in contrast with Cyclops and Emma huddling weakly below. Hope you enjoy!
COMMENTS--In panel two is an example of a screen tone. I like using them. They're a nod to the late seventies and eighties when they were used a lot to create gradients and grays. I think I'm the only one using the technique these days, which makes me either brilliant or really crazy. I find that they add a little texture and depth to the page helping sepearate the fore ground from the background. Once upon a time they were called zip-a-tone and you bought them at the art store. Today I create them on Photoshop. I draw and ink the image , scan into PS, add grey, convert to a half tone, print and paste. On this page I wanted to focus on Emma as she's struggling with the loss of her powers when Scott enters the scene. In the first four panels I focus on Emma, even in panel two with the big profile of Scott. I tone him down with the screen so that we're looking at Emma in the BG. Then I have Scott move in during the final two panels as the conversation grows intimate--the tender hand on the shoulder. Another technique I've been experimenting with is the employment of animation. Look at Emma from panel to panel on the page. The idea is that you could hand these to an animation in-betweener and he could fill in the gaps and make the figure move. Hope you enjoy!
COMMENTS--Releasing art from Uncanny X-Men issue one. First up, page two featuring Maria Hill as she prepares to interrogate the mysterious stranger that has requested to meet with her. This was an interesting scene as I knew that the two of them would be conversing the entire issue--and that the identity of the stranger had to wait until the last page. Had a lot of fun creatively concealing the "shadow man" as Brian referred to him. Really like this page, its good example of how I like to move the characters back and forth from panel to panel. In this instance the focus is on Maria---as its her scene. We start with a wide shot, then close, medium, wide, close. Its a device that I found helps make the page look and read a little more interesting from panel to panel. The first panel is wide to establish the room and I angled the camera so that everyone but us could see who is in the room and I wanted to focus on the last line in the panel, when Maria is looking into the room with the shadow man and says, "I don't like this". Has us wondering what's in that room. Whenever possible I like having characters do something while they're talking and here I thought it would be good idea if Maria removed her guns--another small item to peek our interest about what is in the room that she is about to enter--and that she is smart and has guts to go in unarmed. I had the idea to crop Eric's hair really short. At first it was a buzz cut then I went all the way and shaved him close. I was looking for a different take on him and don't recall seeing him with a clean head before and I thought it fit his current state of mind. Knowing this I figured it would be safe to actually show the entirety of shadow man's person in panel 4, that there wouldn't be anything obvious to tip us off as to who he is. I had spec'd the balloons so that the balloon in panel four was actually part the panel five conversation--that in panel four she looks in the room and takes a deep breath before giving orders and entering. I really liked the idea of having a pause there--but the four balloon was put back. Hope you enjoy.
COMMENTS—Continuing to release art from my last last issue of Wolverine and the X-Men. I dont know if many notice but one of the tasks I assign myself when designing the layout of the pages is to try and have the facing pages compliment/work with one another in order to create an interesting spread. Here's a good example. Page 12 is an individual page but if you open the actual book it falls on the right --with page 11 on the left. Both are completely separate entities but note how they compliment one another. It almost seems like you've opened up a multi-panel double page spread. Notice how the white sky on the upper left compliments the white of the floor on the lower right, how the blacks harmoniously bleed into one another along the gutter --as if they are all part of one large image. Both of these aspects are carefully planned to hopefully create a better visual experience. As I mentioned before, my original thought was to color the flashback narrative scenes from this issue in grayscale --to create a definitive contrast between the then and now and I was concerned about having too much gray. The live inset panel of Cade narration on this page was a calculated addition in order to add color to the spread that had the potential, should the pages line up-- as I never know how the pages are going to face one another-- to be all gray. The inset adds a nice little shot of color to liven up the spread. Yes, that's Hulk and Spidey in bed with Cade. Hope you enjoy.
COMMENTS—Nice series of action panels with Rachel battling cap and Kid Gladiator picking on Giant Man from the AvX crossover in WX. Really enjoyed working with Cap again. Nice couple of shots of him on this page. An example of me slightly diverging from the script is panel 5 in which I combined two script panels into one by having Cap being thrown across the panel by Rachel as KG approaches GM. Thought it was a good way to show that there's action going on simultaneously within the scene and works as a transition to another one-on-one confrontation. Hope you enjoy.
COMMENTS--Continuing to release art from my last last issue of Wolverine and the X-Men. There are some gigs of which you just have to get down and dirty, that test your will and determination, where you have to turn a blind eye and and be a good soldier and carry out orders. Case in point, this scene from WX 16. The subject? The Hellfire club. Synonymous with decadence, the rich, evil and.... women in lingerie. Yes, women in lingerie. I know, how could any writer, editor or company in good moral character ask me to objectify women by depicting them as objects of desire, to be abused and exploited for their fair beauty. And, professional that I am, I found it necessary to endlessly research the fine costumes in order to portray them with the utmost accuracy. I didn't enjoy it--that much-- and did my best to look the other way and carry on the best that I can. When viewing this page and considering it for purchase, please know that I compromised my high moral character in an effort to be as accurate as possible in depicting the characters on this page. This is the Hellfire club we are talking about. A place whose very name corrupts ones soul. To those of you of high moral standards, look away. To all the rest, accept your fate, look upon and enjoy.
A few of you have written to say that you've enjoyed reading my comment on the art for sale. I'm going to see about posting them here--as the pages sell and they are no longer available to read. Enjoy.
COMMENTS--Continuing to release art from my last last issue of Wolverine and the X-Men. In piecing this Hellfire Club scene together I reflected upon my last visit to the place in New X-Men 142--with Grant Morrison. I recall the issue with fondness and wished to recapture the essence of that place and time --the atmosphere, the colors--all of which I drew inspiration from the Kubrick film, Eyes Wide Shut. I like the back and forth on this page. The finger pointing, the accused pushing back. The finger replaced with the point of a gun. Note the angle of the finger and the gun throughout the page. All pointed in the same direction. Then a change of view with the ultimatum in the last panel. Hope you enjoy!
COMMENTS—Continuing to release art from my last last issue of Wolverine and the X-Men. The caption from panel three reads--"Anthony Tomazzotti. They call him Tony Tapioca because his victims look like pudding by the time he's done with them." Now that's priceless. Did I say that I LOVED working on this book. I'm a huge fan of Eduardo Risso. He gets to draw the nastiest characters out there and I envy the hell out of him for it. Jason called for a badass piece of work and I grinned at the opportunity to channel my best Risso--at least for a few pages. Not to mention, I had the rare opportunity to render up a banana split and a wad of spit. It was great.
A little bit on changes of style in response to Billy at the Yahoo group.
Interesting comments, Billy.
Yes, SPK was the first time I pretty much could do anything that I wanted and i took advantage. A lot of the inspiration had a lot to do with Joe Kelly whose imagination knew no boundaries. I recall leaving some items out as there was just not enough room to fit it all in.
A rolling stone gathers no moss. I never want to sit still. What still amazes me is that the work continues to change. I figure at some point I'll stagnate. That occurs with age. I see what I'm doing now, compare it to what was doing five years ago and its different. I dont know if its better or not but the style never remains the same. It is something I consciously attend to but at its heart its an organic thing. Changing. Its own beast.
Artists I've admired in comics have experienced the same trasnition. Bill Sienkiewicz, of whom I discovered on Moonknight, was a huge influence of mine and his transition from that book to New Mutants to Elektra was startling for me. I didn't care for his style evolution at all. Why was he doing that? I didn't get it. I do now. Elektra may be the best mini-series/comic ever drawn/painted. EVER!
Same can be said about Michael Golden. He was my biggest influence growing up. Still is. In the late seventies, early eighties he was my art God. I think with the 'Nam in the late eighties /early 90's his art adjusted. It transitioned from a heightened realistic style to a slightly cartoony look that didn't move me the same way and he kind of dropped out of my circle of relevance. That happens. I completely get that there are those that embraced what was happening on Shade and Death but didn't make the jump to Gen X. Along the way there are those that hop on, those that jump off and then there are others that are along for the entire ride. I'm pleased at the amount of people I'm hearing from for the first time and grateful for those of you that have been enjoying the drawings since day one.
I think as a creative person its important to keep moving, to keep exploring the medium. Its part of being a creative person. An on going challenge. Its hard. Sometimes what happens falls flat. But the alternative feels like so much stagnation. What's the point?
Thanks to all for being there.
First of all, thank you very much!! I send you the questions for the interview.
--- We know that starting a new series takes much more than to draw fill-in issues or others. How do you face the work of designing building, scenarios, changes in costumes, new characters? What image do you want to transmit with this series?
Yes, the tough part about launching a series is becoming familiar with the new characters. Had the costumes remained the same the transition would not have been too difficult as I've worked with several of the characters previously, but Nick and Brian asked me to re-design all of the costumes and, for me, that is the hardest part of my job.
--- Speaking of costumes changes. We are very interested in Cyclops’ new costume and its new design? Did you re-designed it? What was your intention with it?
I can't take credit for the Cyclops costume as Brian had a very clear idea of what he wanted the character to look like with the Red colors and the X visor. Honestly, I fought it all the way---as I was having a time coming up with a cool looking X visor. It looked very odd at first. I kept sharing other versions of what I thought the character should look like and Brian and Nick encouraged me to keep trying with the X and the red. We figured it out. Hearing lots of good feedback. I was more or less responsible for the costume designs of the rest of cast. The Tempus design was actually a design for Idie from WX that we didn't use --as it was decided to keep the WX kids in school uniforms. I thought it would work well for her. I was concerned about a lack of color for the group and Magneto was originally more colorful abut Nick, to his credit, liked the dark look to the cast and encouraged me to keep going in that direction --and I took most of the color out. This idea is also reflected in the lack of color in the opening arc covers--which i enjoy as they give the book a very distinctive look.
One of the tough aspects of the book was that we started really late and had a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time. Cyclops we took care of early and it was easy an decision to out him out front of the book on the first cover, but the details on the rest of the cast were fuzzy and, combined with a limited amount of time, it proved difficult to come up with appropriate, cool looking costumes. I literally refined each costume as I worked on each of the first four covers. Note the difference in the details on Magik's costume from the first cover to the fourth. Not an ideal way to work--publishing is like that-- but I think the costumes are rounding into good shape.
--- Is very different this new series to the last in which you worked, Wolverine & X-Men? Darkness versus light maybe? And very different to previous runs in which you worked in the title (we are very fans in Zona Negativa of your run in Generation-X)?
I loved Generation X and WX reminded me a lot of the tone of that book. I had plans of staying on that tittle for a few years--like I did with Gen X but Axel contacted me about a year ago and shared with the opportunity to work with Brian to re-launch Uncanny. I loved working with Aaron on WX, but knew opportunity to work with an Icon like Bendis don't happen everyday and considered that, maybe, I don't need to sleep and I could work on both. I'm really fortunate to have a very difficult decision. Both books are big winners for me and it was hard to leave WX, but Uncanny made the most sense.
Genre and tone don't mean a lot to me. I'll adapt to anything. What matters is that the book is well written. If the stories a and characters are interesting I'll work on just about anything. I have the same amount of fun and interest on something like Death as I do on WX and Uncanny. I've been very lucky to have had the benefit of working with great writers starting with Gaimen and Milligan at Vertigo to now with Aaron and Bendis on the X-Men. They always make my drawings look better.
--- The writer, Brian Michael Bendis, has said many times that this is not a “Bendis’ series” but it is “Bendis & Bachalo’s series”. How did they offer you this series and why did you decided to change from the “other mutant side” (W&XM) to draw Uncanny X-Men?
Pretty much covered this in the answer above. Rare opportunity to work with the great Bendis on a world famous title. We both really liked what we did with Dark Avengers Annual and wanted to expand upon that experience.
--- Of this roster, which has been the most fun to draw character until now?
This is a tough question to answer -- as there are aspects of each character that i enjoy. Magik might have the lead right now. I really enjoyed drawing her hack the Sentinel in half in issue one. I look forward to more of that. Emma is always a joy--starting with my first time working with her back in Gen X.
--- In the first issue we assist to the best cliffhanger of the century, where we discover the true nature of Magneto. Was it hard/fun for you to design the previous pages with many perspectives so that we could not discover the identity of the mysterious character? Whose was the idea to shave the hair to Magneto?
Yes, It was my favorite part of the issue. Being creative with the camera--to not reveal who Agent hill was talking to. Originally, I had grey whiskers on his chin, but Nick thought that was too much of a tell.
--- What can you tell us about the pages your are drawing these days?
Right now I'm working on issue four, the last issue of the opening four issue arc. Brian spends this time rounding out the Uncanny cast, establishing their base of operations and establishing what the book is going to be about--with a few special guest stars. Lots of good stuff. Hope you enjoy!
All the best!
It must be alpha omega and armageddon and the apocalypse because I'm on twitter!
Chris Bachalo @ShadeX6
I'll be posting with quick /short updates for art releases, store updates etc. I wont be posting about what I'm having for dinner. I'll still post extended thoughts here--with posted link at twitter.
See ya' there
Looks like the cats out of the bag. Its me an Bendis on a new launch of the series. This was a tough one as i was really enjoying my time on WX but Brian asked for me to help him launch the new Uncanny and how do you turn down that offer. Launches are tough as there's a lot of ground to cover to get things rolling. Characters are re-imagined, writing styles adjusted to, locations established. Its a tough learning curve that typically takes a few issues to figure out and grow comfortable with. We're still very early into the creative part so hard for me to comment on exactly what to expect. The daring part is that the tone of the book--feels like, its early--will be a little darker. Characters powers have been 'adjusted" as a result of the Phoenix five fall out and I was asked to redesign costumes for the entire cast. Everyone. Plus, as of today, there are two "new" mutants. Its a big jump that I'm sure will turn a few off but, we're betting on, that most will welcome and enjoy. One thing that you can count on Is that Brian will always give you something worth reading. He never fails to be interesting. Launch is two issues in February. LMK how I'm doing.
A ways back I was asked to do a few drawings for the animated cartoon series Tron:Uprising-- now being aired on Disney XD. Robert Valley, the character designer on the show, was leaving and they were looking to fill his shoes--but then he came back. It was a great time visiting the Disney animation studio lot and meeting the principles involved with producing the show. Had an "OMG, its him!" moment when we saw Forest Whitaker on the studio lot. Putting up a few of the drawings I did for them in CONCEPTS.
Posting a small sample of concepts I did a couple years back for a proposed Black Widow video game being produced by a Japanese VG publisher. To the best of my knowledge it did not receive a green light. Thought they had a great idea.
Browsing Deviant art and ran into this guy. His names Pascal Blanche. Never seen anything quite like it. Super curious as to how he pulls this look off. The drawings--I think they are drawings--look almost real but not quite. He comments that he uses Vray, 3Dsmax and Photoshop. But its not just the software that make these pics successful. His subject matter, use of color, composition and texture are really great. Fascinating stuff.
See his work here: http://pascalblanche.deviantart.com/
And speaking of working Hard. The hardest working man in comics is Skottie Young (and I hate him for this.... because he makes me feel lazy).
He draws ALL THE TIME. If you've been following his work the past few years you can see how the hard work has paid off in the increased quality of his work. He's officially in the zone right now. Check out the baby variants he recently completed. Freakin' awesome!
Speaking of Kevin Dart. If you haven't already, check out his Yuki7 Looks that Kill animated trailer. Its great. I love his style and art direction. Yuki7 is a 50/60's retro spy girl group that he created and likes to promote--despite no actual content-- with retro, fictional movie posters and trailers.
PLANT A TOOTH IN THE GARDEN AND IT WILL GROW AN IDEA
Mike wrote to me about inspiration---
Happy to hear that you enjoyed the Sinister work ( and BTW I don't have a twitter account. Not one that I created, anyway).
That's a big answer to your question. Scroll through my Blog as I address a bunch of issues related to starting out, inspiration, etc.
In short, inspiration comes from everything around you--books, comics, movies, people, art friends etc. I'm re-reading The Watchmen and that's giving me a bunch of inspiration. I like walking around mall's and seeing what people have on their T-Shirts. I'll jump on deviantart.com to see what people are posting. Most of it is crap but there's good stuff in there to be found. I recently discovered Kevin Dart's work there ( link on my site). Great stuff. Lots of fun.
Someone on the site put together a grid, filled it with images and labeled it an influence map. Clever idea. Very inspiring. I grabbed the template and filled it out. I'll put it up on the site soon.
My kid is big time into Calvin and Hobbes right now. I've been reading along with him and that's very inspiring. We just finished reading Ozma of Oz. Great work by Skottie Young. Very inspiring.
The fashion industry is very creative. I have a link on my site to the Sartorialist that i'll visit once a month. I like reading the profiles, looking at how the people dress. Its interesting to see what inspires creative types.
Stuff like that is all inspiring.
In regards to the title of this entry, I was with Peter Milligan one day and he was asked about where his inspiration comes from. That was pretty much his answer.
The one piece of advice I give everyone is to work hard. Be DETERMINED to work harder than everyone else. That's truly where talent comes from. That's how you will make it. That's what I wish someone would have told me when I was back in school.
Good luck with the drawing.
All the best!
THE APRIL LIST
1. Wolverine and the X-Men--
Working on a bunch on Wolverine and the X-men of late. This is a big reason that I have not replied to any of you that have dropped by to say hello. If I have replied you're either my Wife or you can blackmail me. The schedule relaxes now just a little and I'm going try and catch up on replies and maybe get a few commissions in. Just turned in issues 8-10, the first of which has shipped. Issue 9 kicks off the Avengers conflict. I'm not sure how long that will be a part of WX continuity though I can say what it is still a large part of the story line in issue 12. I'm not a big fan of the crossover thingys but we'll get through best that we can. Aaron continues write great material. Its a joy collaborating with him. Bradshaw will be drawing issue 11.
2. The Future
I predict that in June my future will be updated...
3. Original art--
Avengers 15 sold out. Wolverine and the X-Men issue one will be going up for sale soon.
I received an Eagle nomination for best artist and WX received a nomination for best new book. Thrilled with the nod.
5.Films I've sample of late---
The Chaser-- Very uneven Korean film about a former police officer and current pimp that loses one of his girls and spends the movie trying to find her. Parts of the movie were very well done and I enjoyed the idea but I think the screenplay could have been better.
Harry Brown--With Michael Cain. Good idea, awful screen play.
Mother--Another Korean film about a doting mother whos' son is convicted of murder. Interesting psychological profile. Liked it.
The Social Network--Awesome. See it.
People are Strange--I'm a huge Doors fan. Checked out this new bio and enjoyed. Narrated by Johnny Depp with lots of unreleased Morrison footage that looks like it was shot yesterday. Amazing HD restoration.
The Square--Wonderful Aussie film about a middle aged guy that conspires to run away with his mistress. Only, things don't go according to plan. Really enjoyed.
A prophet--French produced film about a kid that makes his way through the prison gang system. Well produced but not a great screenplay.
Terribly Happy--Very good Danish produced film about a big city police officer that is banished to a small town and becomes entangled in the locals predicament.
Hmm. Didn't realize I watched so many foreign films...
Mary and Max--Wonderful claymation animated feature about two people from different cultures that become friends as pen pals. its great. Very clever.
Recently watched The Shield season six -- favorite all time show
Breaking Bad season two. Highly recommended!
Quiet--Susan Cain--I'm an introvert --explains my chosen profession--along with Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Warren Buffet, Ghandi, Rosa Parks, Chopin, JK Rowling, Eleanor Roosevelt and Steve Wozniak. Learned all about myself and that its okay not to be an extrovert.
Power of Habit--Charles Duhigg-- Fascinating look at how habits dominate our daily lives.
The First Billion is the Hardest.--T. Boone Pickens--Very interesting observations about the oil and energy business. Notably that we are running out of the black stuff and that the reason prices are rising is a classic case of supply and demand. Prices will not be going down...
Walt Disney: The triumph of the American Imagination--Neal Gabler--Interesting portrait of Disney. I alway imagined him to be a person with no fault but he struggled off and on with success for an extended time and was often on the edge of bankruptcy. His brilliance was in his imagination, salesmanship and his attention to detail.
Blade Runner aka Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep--Philip K Dick-- I've always been curious about the inspiration for the movie and finally had a listen. Fascinating.
8. Graphic novels--
Continuing to re-read 100 Bullets. Reading A Foregone Tomorrow right now. Great stuff. Recently, the coolest thing to happen to me was to be invited to a show in Argentina by none other than the main man himself, Eduardo Risso.
Yeah, hockey. My kid plays and this is my website so it stays. His hockey team recently made it to the California state finals. We're very proud. Yes, they play hockey in California....
10. The End.
HUNDREDS OF IDEAS
George wrote me asked about getting into the comic book writing business....
I am an aspiring comic book writer, and have hundreds of ideas.. Although I recently read somewhere that the best way to make it or a name for yourself in the industry is to go and get something published independantly. I was wondering if this was the best way and if so do you know where I can find freelance or independant artists?
If you have a spare two minutes I would be so grateful on some start up advice or a \'nudge\' in the right direction; especially from an industry professional such as yourself.
I confess that idont' know a bunch about getting into the business as a writer, but yes, best guess is that you'll have to go the indy route.
First, Getting onto the comic book business as a writer and reaching a point in which you can make a living at it is hard as writers, unlike artists, can work on 3-4 books a month--so not so many titles to go around. But it can be done!
There's no magic wand to gain experience. You have to do the time. Talk to hundred writers and they'll have a hundred stories about how they they jumped into the business. The most important thing is that when opportunity knocked they were ready for it. What did Bendis say? Write 10,000 pages and then throw them all away. Only by then will your work be worth publishing. Look him up on the internet. I think he dispenses advice here and there. I just listened to an interview with Joe Casey that covers a bunch of ground about the business and process. Its a good listen.
Go to cons and talk to editors and anyone involved with publishing. No one is going to read your work there but Im sure they are full of advice.
Get yourself out there. Become a presence in the industry. Write articles. Write interviews. Write reviews. Write Blogs.
Write scripts. I'm sure you're full of ideas. Pick your best one and a start writing. Write one a month. No one will probably ever read them but you gain experience. My first 8 years of drawing no one saw my work except friends and classmates. A good thing.
Find sample scripts on the internet for reference.
Write. Write. Write. Write everyday.
Take classes. You'll get feedback there.
Read/attend Robert McKee's book/seminar called STORY. I attended the three day show. Its awesome. You'll never look at movies/read books the same way again.
Finding artists-- If money is scarce I would try Deviantart.com and look around. There's a gazillion artists there waiting to be discovered. You're not going to get Alex Ross first time around. Find someone you like the best and go for it. They'll screw up a bunch --that is what cheap buys----but so will you.
Go to cons and hit artists alley.
Check out indy publisher websites and research their artists. I'm sure some of them are looking for extra work.
If you've the means, publish your own book--there's a bunch of website printers that will print small press runs reasonably cheap--and set up a stand at cons. Invest in a pro artist to do a cover for you then make a huge print out of it to hang at your booth. You'll have nice image to attract eyes and instant street cred.
Learn how to pitch. Can you sum up your idea in one sentence? Do the research and practice.
Be patient and persevere. How many years/issues/pages did Kirkman write The Walking Dead before making it big?
Everyone has ideas. Ask yourself what makes you special?What do you have to offer that would give me incentive me to invest in you? Do your ideas have commercial value? Are they exciting? Can you execute your ideas? PROVE IT!
Keep your ideas simple--An alien arrives on earth and befriends a boy who helps him to return home.
And always remember its a business. If you have something special to offer and are reliable you'll always be busy.
Bottom line-- if you DO THE WORK, LEARN the craft, write WELL and have GOOD IDEAS you will find an audience/work.
Start with learning to use your spell check. Its indepenDENT.
All the best and Godspeed!
How do I sound in greek?
Be sure to scroll down. My broken english kicks in soon enough.
Released original art for XMEN issue 9 today at the Gallery0 store on the website.
Nice rug for sale too!
Check it out!
All the best!
Posted to a link to Sebastian Kruegers site. He's an mazing celebrity portrait artist that, unfortunately, has strayed away from interpretive work and more into photo realism--which I've never been that enamored with. I understand that it takes great skill to pull off realism but If you're going to put a large of amount of time and energy into making a painting look real then be creative with it. A good example of this is Sebastian's pic "Trust me, I'm a Doctor" from his website gallery. Very real but not something that you're going to easily replicate with a camera and photoshop-- and its a great example of SK's sense of humor.
I'm very inspired by Sebastian's work from the nineties. His work from that time period demonstrates a nice range of creative style and of editorial prowess--with much focus on the Rolling Stones. Its great fun and inspiring. The guy can draw like a beast. I own copies of his books, Stars and Stones published by Morpheus press. Highly recommended.
His website includes a nice, time compressed vid of SK painting a portrait of Michael Jackson.
SIZE DOES MATTER.
A smidgen of bathroom humor...
BACK ON XMEN!
WX1--Yes, I’m back on the X-MEN—along with the mighty Jason Aaron-- with the debut of the new title X-Title, Wolverine and the X-Men. The twenty-eight page first issue shipped in October and has received stellar reviews. Same with issue two. Many of you have noted my absence on issue four. This will continue through to—gulp-- issue eight. Yeah, sounds like a long time. The idea over at Marvel is to publish less mini-series and more of their monthly titles, meaning we’re looking at 16 issues of WX a year, meaning I’ll to skip an arc on occasion --such as we are now. I was hoping to get in more issues up front but I got off to a slow start—not unusual for me acclimating to a new title—as the concepts took a long time as I redesigned or created from scratch a large part to of the cast as well as the school. Commencing with issue eight, we’ll get into a nice run of issues. I just received the script for that issue and the fun never stops. Wolverine has a situation that you never imagined that he would be in….
In the meantime, we have a terrific young penciller/inker by the name of Nick Bradshaw who will working issues 4-7. Some of these issues will double ship, so the wait from issues three to eight will not be that long. Sorry for the gap…
ALIENS--October also saw the long awaited release of my Nintendo DX game Aliens: Infestation. I worked on this about three years ago and it was great to see it finally go public. Thanks to all of you that have dropped by with your kind comments in regards to the game and special thanks to Adam Tierney over at Wayforward for having me be a part of a great experience. Check it out.
INKING--The toughest job in comics is inking. The people that do this work have a highly specialized talent, are rarely appreciated and don’t’ get paid nearly enough for the service that they provide. I am super grateful for the work that they do over my pencils. Over the past few weeks I’ve asked a lot from the group of guys that I work with and I want to thank them for the high quality of work that they have provided despite the abbreviated deadlines. Thank you to my main man, Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey, Mark Irwin and my emergency inking specialist Victor Olazaba! The work looks great!
CHICAGO-- I just returned from my sons hockey tournament in Chicago during which I put aside time for pre-arranged, one hour sessions with fans. This is the second time I’ve done this and, despite the short notice, the five sessions I made available filled up fast. I drew a pic of Cap for Jason, A Creature from the Black Lagoon for Frank, A Wolverine for Mike and his lovely wife, a pic of Death for Charles and an Iceman and Harley Quinn for Eric’s two beautiful kids. We sat pool side, in a hotel lobby and the last session we spent time in the Brunswick Zone bowling alley in Romeoville, Illinois. We rented a lane for an hour, the kids bowled and we drew pictures and chatted about everything. It was great. I’m going to do this again for the next town that I visit during on our hockey travels. Its been a very rewarding experience. Thank you to all that participated.
ART SALES—I released art from X-Men issue nine today --11/29. This art is initially released to people on the buying list. If you are not on the list and are serious about buying directly from me contact me through the website and I will add you to the roster. The art is in auction format when there is more than one claim on a piece. All involved have an opportunity to purchase any piece made available. We’ve had sell out six months running.
TV and MOVIES and STUFF—I just finished season two of Madmen. Its really great. Its an odd show in that it feels like nothing is happening, but its just so damned beautiful to watch.
A great film I recently saw was Mary and Max. It’s a claymation animated film about two people living in different countries that become friends as pen pals. It’s wonderful. Highly recommended.
I've been really lucky with book listening. I recently finished the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and No Country for Old Men. Saw the movie for the latter first and thought I'd give the book a listen. It was great. The narrator is awesome and I was impressed with how close the movie followed the book. Looking forward to the Fincher take on Dragon. The book was great. Again, great narrator. Based on the trailer it looks like they've taken many liberties with the book--probably due to its length. I am a little perplexed by the casting of Daniel Craig as the lead. I imagined someone a little more bookish like Colin Firth in the role. I'm sure it will be great. Listening to a biography of Walt Disney right now. Very interesting.
A new show that i've been watching this season on FX that I highly recommend is An American Horror Story. Its really great. Very creepy. Produced by the people that created Glee, but nothing gleeful about this. Great writing and acting. Stars Connie Britton from Friday Night lights, Dylan McDermott and Jessica Lange. Lots of creepy visuals--especially the first episode. Very creative and I like the writing. I was sure Dave McKean put together the opening credits segment. It wasn’t, but I’m sure he was an inspiration. Check it out!
On the lighter side, I’ve been watching a Canadian produced hockey themed show called The Tournament. Its a scripted, documentary style, black comedy about a Jr hockey family. I wasn't expecting much but it was very funny and well produced. My wife refers to me as me Barry McConnell-- in reference to the overzealous, hockey dad, protagonist of the show. In the event you’re new here, I’m a hockey dad in real life…but not that obsessive. Really…
Only movie I've seen of late in the theaters is Moneyball –seen while we were in Chicago. Wonderful movie. We watched in one of the new, trendy, up scale theaters with recliners, pillows, blankets and dinner service . it was great.
A great film to see that didn’t get a lot of attention is Flame and Citron--about two Danish WWII freedom fighters. Its excellent.
An interesting film from India that goes by the name of Karthik calling Karthik is about a loser geek that starts getting phone calls from himself that inspire him to turn his life around. It starts out as a kitschy, Indian styled love story and ends up as a psyche thriller. Liked it.
GEEKS--If you haven’t already, check out the new website occupythedeathstar.org. Its strictly for geeks and is very entertaining. It was co-created by Kevin Knight , a wonderful photographer and geek, who has been working on a series of photo shoots featuring creators In their studios. He dropped by about a year ago to take pictures of me in my work space and we hope to release the results soon—complete with interview. Go to http://theshutterclick.com/ for a sampling of his work and you may find few familiar comic book creator faces as well. Look under editorial…
STEAMPUNK--A lot of you continue to ask about the future of Steampunk. Joe and I are in the process of retaining the rites from DC and then we’re going to find a new publisher. After that, we’ll make a decision on how to move forward with the series. I’ll update with progress as it develops. Thanks for your boundless support…
COMMISSIONS—Yes, I’m very slow with these. If you’re in the queue you’re still there…and you’re very patient. Thank you for waiting.
Nope, I still don’t have a twitter or facebook account. This despite the fact that I was commissioned by Marvel to do a portrait of Cheryl Sandburg, COO of Facebook--one of the most powerful and influential woman on earth according to Forbes-- for her birthday on behalf of Marvel. I’ll resist til the end!
And thanks to all of you that write me daily just to say hi and let me know how I’m doing. I try and respond to as many of you as possible. I read them all and super grateful for the love. If you do not hear from me please write again. It’s no big deal. I try and respond to all…
Okay, this is getting long. I’ll sign off now. Thank you for continuing to enjoy the work and I hope you enjoy your holidays where ever you may be.
See you on WX. LMK how I’m doing.
Chris asked about how I color. Here ya go--
All coloring is done on Photoshop. I primarily use three brushes--soft round, hard round and sponge-- at various pressures on top of layers. A few others as well for textures. I also use photography-- especially for skies, walls and rocks- mostly landscape stuff. Its fast and convincing and I often pull colors from them to create my range of colors/color palette for the page/scene.
I'll start with BG's and then use a hard round to fill flats and figure out my palette. Textures might go in now. i'll then take a very low pressure--around 5%-- sponge brush and start blending and rendering to satisfaction followed by detailed rendering with a soft round at 100% pressure. Takes me 1.5--2 hours to color a page.
All the best!
Richard is writing a paper for his English Composition class and asked me about style---
1) Has any physical or emotional problems effected or approved/evolved your particular art style in the past or recent?
2) I’m very familiar with your particular art style and I’ve been following your work since Shade: The Changing Man to Death: The High Cost of Living and to Generation-X & the X-Men as well as your creator own book SteamPunk. Your art style seemed to had changed the most when you were working on Generation-X, and I was wandering what made your work change from the style in Generation-X#1-5 to what I kind of referred to as the more “puffy bubble” style that readers had saw after Generation-X #25 and again once you started drawing The Uncanny X-men, and so on with Steam Punk? Did the constant drawing have anything to do with your own particular art style, or was there something else?
Style can be influenced by many things. More often than not its a manifestation of your exposure to what's around you, what you enjoy, your skill level and the subject matter. I took a big swing in style with Generation X because I left the independent imprint Vertigo and entered the world of Marvel and superheroes. I found myself working in a different genre and was exposed to a different style of art. I went from Dave McKean and Duncan Fegredo to Jim Lee and Joe Maduriera, to dark stories of realistically portrayed characters to heroic people with powers that dressed in costumes. It wouldn't feel right to me to draw them with the same style. Late in my run on Gen X I embraced a cartoony , manga-ish style. I was looking at a lot of that around that time. On Steampunk, being a creator owned book, for the first time I could draw just about anything I wanted and I let it fly...
I'm also looking for ways to advance my work. I don't want to stay in the same place. I don't want to be stagnant. I'm always looking for styles that interest me and sometimes what interests me, inevitably, finds its way into my work. I guess you could chalk it up to boredom creeping in and wanting keep the work fresh and new.
Sometimes its a result of just wanting to draw better. If Im not satisfied with the way that I draw hands, for example, I'll try something different to improve upon them and see what happens. There might be a slight change of style and, over an extended period of time, a large change of style.
Constant drawing affects style as well. Hopefully, with the time invested, you get better.
Ultimately, style is a reflection of the individual, what he or she is attracted to and a reaction to the stimuli around them....
3) Can or has a tight deadline affected or put strain on your particular drawing style?
Maybe. I know I draw comics in a certain way as its efficient to do so. If I had the financial persuasion or time I might put in more details or render the figures with more detail-- draw every page with Travis Charest fanatical detail. I may cut a few corners from time to time if i need to get a page done in a hurry--less BG's maybe-- but nothing that I would say affects the style.
MEAHGAN is a design student that is considering illustration. She asked about my inspiration.
Collecting comics was a hobby as a kid and I found out in HS that I enjoyed and was good at art and figured I'd pursue the dream. I earned a BFA in Illustration as i wanted to learn as much as I could about producing art that I could as, typically, artists in the comics field exclusively pencil, ink or color and I didn't want to limit myself. The thing I liked most about comics is that I enjoy telling stories and that creating art in comics is a fast medium--I don't focus on a single drawing for several days at a time--which I don't enjoy so much.
The most important thing is to do is what you really enjoy and get the most satisfaction out of. If you become a pro and are successful you will be doing just that all day, everyday. Is it something that you can spend that much time on?
The best advice I can give is to work harder than everyone else --as that's where most peoples talent comes from. A good book to read is called Outliers. Talks about how the Beatles and people like Bill Gates became really good at what they do. I assure you that if you are really great at design or illustration and work hard you will be very busy. I don't know any really great starving artists. And remember that you're getting into is a business with deadlines and creative directors that will give you plenty of direction--that sometimes is really awful. Being in the art business is not often about what feels good and expressing yourself but is more about what is necessary and appropriate for the job at hand.
In the beginning, more likely than not, it will be very hard to find jobs, but with hard work, a great style and a little luck you can persevere.
All the best!
Original art from Storm Gambit has sold out. XMEN issue 7 will go up for sale in July. If there are any pieces that your are interested in share your list with me and I will do my best to take care of you.
All the best!
DRAW, DRAW, DRAW!
Advice for Cain who is 36 and considering the pursuit of his dream job--
Hey, if you've have the time, resolve and resources go for it. Scroll through my News section. If you can get past all the bits about my kid there's a few good nuggets of advice for aspiring artists. If there is anything specific that you would like to know please ask. The bottom line is that you need to learn how to draw EVERYTHING really well. There's no magic wand for this. You have to put in the hours. Go to school if you can. it was invaluable for me. If you can't, start searching websites, books whatever you can get you hands on for insight an advice and then draw. Draw your room, your friends, your cat, your car, your phone, trees, airplanes etc. Copy what other artists do and how they solve problems. You may adapt their style for a short time but , eventually, you'll develop your own. Spend a three day weekend drawing 12 hours a day and see if you can hack it. Hopefully, by day three you'll find that all your jitters are gone and you'll find out how really good you are and if this is really for you or not. I just put in a 20 hour day coloring Avengers issue 13 to make deadline. No problem. Eventually, you'll be called on to draw just about everything and you'll have to do it fast with confidence and style.
Good luck. Hope you make it!
STUCK IN THE SIXTIES
Just back from Minnesota where my 10 year old was playing in a hockey tournament. We refer to him as our hobby. As most of our weekends—and many weekdays-- are spent in a cold hockey rink or at a dusty baseball diamond.
I just completed Avengers 13 and I’m commencing work on issue 15-- Yes, skipped 14. This is welcome as I’ll have a reasonable amount of time to turn around art. Its fun working with Bendis. Issue 13 was a very fast turn around. I think 3.5 weeks for pencils and colors and contains what may be a new record for headshots. I think the final tally was around136 heads --give or take a few. Brian apologized for the head count --as he called for numerous pages with 10 headshot panels --but he shouldn’t. I have fun with them and expanded the head count to 12 on each page–adding a few of my own bits—to create a balanced 12 panel grid. The busy grids are extra work and not big on large scale visual drama but I really enjoy them. The real tricky part about jumping on a book like this is learning to draw the large cast of characters. It takes a few practice swings before I figure out a character and, I confess, that there are a few drawings that ‘d like to have back. Nevertheless, I think the book turned out reasonably well. Brian is in top form. Hope you enjoy it. It’ll be out sometime this month. Issue 15 is great fun. Its part of the Fear Itself event and I’m constantly amazed with the ideas the writing team at Marvel continues to come up with. Fear is another great example of their creativity. Wait until you see how much fun they are having.
Happy to share that Tim and I will be working on a new monthly that will launch in November . It’ll be the first book that we can call our own since X-Men back in ’08-- I don’t count ASM as it was published weekly and I was part of a rotation. On that series it felt like I was starting on a brand new book each arc as a great deal of story had taken place–and I would be working with a new writer. The new book has a fantastic writer on board--my first time working with him. It promises to be great. We’ll have a big lead time and hope to get in 7-10 issues to kick off the series.
Just finished watching Dexter season three. Thought his season started a little slow but picked up at the end. Great series. If you haven’t seen it check it out. The new show Chicago Code is also very good.
I made it a point this year to listen to more books while I work. I’ve been pretty lucky as all the books that I’ve read have been very good. When I was kid travelling back and forth from California to Manitoba by car we’d often catch a show, I think it was called Mystery Science theater, something like that, in which voice actors dramatized stories on the radio. It was a great listen despite the fact that the show would occasionally drop out as we moved out of reach of the signal. I think it’s a fondness for those days that especially brings me pleasure listening to the readers/voice actors tell the stories. Thus far, I’ve listened to Bill Bryson’s At home. He’s probably my favorite writer and he’s very good at narrating his books. My favorite of his is A Short History of Nearly Everything. If you like science this will have great appeal. I’ve listened to it three times. At Home is a book about…the home. He tells amazing, fact filled stories about how, historically, each room of the house came to be and about the people and cultures that created them. I’m a big fan of Johnny Cash and listened to A Man Called Cash. He’s one person I really would have like to have met. It was a testament to his creative skill and talent that he was making great music into his early 70’s. I listened to Stephen Kings Full Dark, No Stars. Nothing ground breaking here but he ‘s a wonderful storyteller. Always a good listen. Listened to the Beatles biography by Bob Spitz and Life, the biography of Kieth Richards. Can you tell I’m stuck on the sixties? I was not a big Rolling Stones fan until recently. As time moves on I’m convinced that the music of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s were the renaissance of rock’ n Roll and pop music. I look at my itunes library and 90% of the selections were from that time period. There’s nothing like that quality of music being produced today and I don’t think ever will again. I’ve discovered Philip K. Dick. Listened to several of his books the most recent being Ubik. Good to Great by Jim Collins, Liars Poker by Michael Lewis and I’m currently reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s the amazing survival story of Louis Zamperini who ran track for the US in the 1936 Olympic games, shook hands with Hitler and then was stranded at sea on a small raft for 46 days after his bomber went down in the Pacific Ocean only to be rescued by the Japanese who beat and starved him nearly to death for 2.5 years in prisoner camps. It’s wonderfully read by “ Lost Boys head vampire” Edward Herrman. My next door neighbor is a promoter and had Lou as one of his guests at a party. Lou was a part of a military tour he put on for our troops overseas. He’s in his nineties now and still full of life. An amazing man. I understand there’s a movie in the works. Its a great story. Read/listen to it!
On the graphic novel front, I read Scalped on my trip to Minnesota and really enjoyed it. Great work by Jason Aaron and R.M. Gerra. I’ll be picking up following volumes of the book. Another great read are the Oz books being created by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young. My son and I read the books aloud, each of us portraying our favorite characters. My son gave Jack Pumkinhead a southern accent. It’s hilarious. I especially enjoy Skottie’s work. He’s a rare and unique talent. I enjoy his passion for the medium. After 20 plus years in the business sometimes I need a little inspiration and he provides a great lift. He’s very friendly too!
I haven’t posted any art for sale of late at Gallery0 as-- I’m happy to share-- that everything has been selling out off line. Three of the four X-Men covers sold quickly, the last of which sold before it was drawn, and interiors for the ASM 630, 631 and 632 are gone. It looks the same for issue 633. If you ever see a page that you are interested in please contact me and I’ll do my best to take care of you.
Its May and the days are moving along quickly, but I still hope to publish sketchbooks this year. Maybe a few prints as well. Looking into that.
I hope to start selling my published books on the website as well.
Completed a bunch of concept work recently for a Disney animated series and for a video game development company neither of which I can discuss at this time. Tragic part is that I don’t think that either project is going to see the light. They wont let me put up art right now but I’ll see about getting them up at some point.
I put up a few of the concepts that I did for Oakley about 8 years back in the concept section.
I am pleased to share that it looks like the Nintendo DS video game that I worked on 3-4 years ago is going to finally ship. I’ll share details when I know more.
Sorry to share that I do not have any plans to attend a con this year.
My website main man, Kevin Cates, went to Mali back in March. A fun read. Read his blog here http://kevloucat.wordpress.com
I dont do this often enough but I would like to give a special shout out to my main man of the inks, Tim Townsend. He’s a great example of someone who works very hard and consistently provides high quality work --not to mention that he is very patient with my inconsistent schedule. I thought for sure that he would start to slip in his old age but no cracks in the veneer yet. He always makes me look great.
To all of you that are on the commission list thank you for your patience. I wasn’t kidding when I said it would take years…
To all of you that continue to write, thank you! Sorry, that I don’t always get back to you but I read them all. And a great big thank you to all that wrote offering their thoughts , prayers and support for my wife Helen as she battled through breast cancer last year. They worked as she just had her follow up and she’s cancer free.
I’m considering putting up a FAQ section on the site as I receive many inquiries about the business--mostly about how to get in. The simple answer is to draw very well. If you’ve an attractive, appropriate style, can draw anything and have a good work ethic it’s easy to find employment. The hard part is learning how to draw well. You have to put in the hours. No magic wand here.
Hope you’re all doing well. Please keep in contact. Always great to hear from you and I assure you that I will provide the next update sooner than later. Maybe I’ll see you at the local hockey rink hooked up to my itunes, stuck in the sixties.
All the best!
24 HOUR MONSTERS
I can't participate but I can spread the word. Support Jamie in his monstrous undertaking to raise $ for comic relief. Details--
All the best!
SO YOU WANT TO BE A COMIC BOOK ARTIST
Gianluca has decided that he wants to become a comic book artist and asked a few questions about the business---
I require your assistance however with the answering of these two questions which would greatly help in my future endeavors; 1. What is the official name of your occupation? (mostly so i have an answer to give to people) 2. And what steps did you- or should i- take to end up in the career you already find yourselves in (college courses, equipment, practices, etc.)?
Hah, I had that same moment of reckoning a long way back during my sophomore year of High School. I thought it was crazy, that I'd never make a living doing something that I enjoyed but made the commitment and never looked back. If I hadn't I always would have thought what if...? Couldn't live with that. I have a few regrets along the way , but don't regret that decision. Its turned out great.
What is my occupation? Some refer to the job as a being comic book artist. I answer that I'm an illustrator. I'm trained to be one (BFA in illustration from Long Beach State hear in CA).
I didn't want to limit myself by training to draw comics only. I wanted to able to do everything in the arts, to aspire to be someone like Bill Sienkiewicz or Dave Mckean because life is really big and long and you never know which direction that it will take you. Best to be prepared for anything. Its worked out great. I've painted covers, worked on video games, designed costumes and created T-Shirts and album covers.
I took art in high school and then entered the Illustration program at Long Beach. I learned everything that I could from life painting, to watercolors, art history and 3d design, but focused on comics when appropriate as that what is what I wanted to do. The last semester of school I took a class with an open curriculum designed to round out your portfolio. I made a comic book.
The best class that I ever took was 2d Design.
Best advice I can give is to work very hard--I regret that I didn't work harder when I was younger--and go to school and learn the trade.
You should be the kind of person that is self motivated and to be able to work long hours in a studio all by yourself. i touch on this a little in response to another aspiring artist that I posted today in the news section. Also, review the previous news posts. I've offered advice on the trade in a few segments that may be of interest to you.
Equipment? I use a lead holder with HB leads, lead sharpener, Kneaded eraser, Staedtler mars plastic eraser, I draw on Blue line pro 400 strathmore smooth surface boards, faeber Castell Pitt pens, waterbrushes for broad inks, copic markers for commissions and do all coloring and some design work on a wacom Cintiq display using photoshop CS3.
When you're in school experiment with style, technique and tools and when you get in the business keep things very simple at first, show that you can do the work and then grow from there.
Keep in mind that comic publishing is a business. Make yourself valuable. Do good work, make your deadlines and editors will fight for you.
And, very important, If you work hard and have a friendly style you can make very decent living in the business as of today.
All the best!
IF YOU REALLY LOVE THE BIZ THIS PART WILL BE EASY
"I'm a big fan of your work and an aspiring artist myself.I was hoping to get some advice about how to get into comic art, specifically what I should have in my portfolio
Any advice you can give me is greatly appreciated
Getting in this business is is really easy if--
you draw really well and...
can tell stories with pictures...
and can draw a page day ...
and have the self discipline to work very long hours in a studio all by yourself.
To draw really well put in the hours and--if you are able--go to school to learn the trade. Take a 2D design class. Best class I ever took.
To learn how to tell stories with pictures, look at how they photograph scenes in a movie. Animation is a great example, especially the Chuck Jones produced WB shorts. Bugs Bunny, ect. Look at how your favorite artists break down scenes.
Keep it simple. 5-7 pages of sequential art. Show that you can tell a story using pictures with a variety of characters in a variety of situations. Sitting watching TV, sitting eating, talking on the phone, driving a car. Draw nice establishing shots and then draw 2-3 pages of an action scene. Draw characters that you would like to spend time with. If your goal is to work on XMEN draw short a story with a member of the X-Men. Keep it all very simple. Nothing too complicated.
Provide a link to a website or deviantart.com or whatever so that an editor can look and see at a glance. Great way to show your work off. Again, keep it simple.
And ,finally, work hard and be more reliable than the next guy. High turnover in this business because people don't show up at deadline with their best stuff. If you really love the biz this part will be easy.
Best of success to you.
NEW ART RELEASE
Hope you are all enjoying a prosperous and safe 2011 thus far.
Sorry for the absence of late. Better part of my time has been occupied pencilling and coloring the upcoming XMEN arc, issues 7-10. I've 2.5 issues down and 1.5 to go.
After that, I'll be filling in for two issues on a very special book with a very special writer. These will ship in May and June. Announcement forthcoming.
There will be a new original art release from ASM 631 on monday Jan 31st at 4:00 PM PDT at the Gallery0 store on the website chrisbachalo.net. There are only 8 pieces available and all feature either Spider-man or the Lizard. I hope you find them to your liking.
All the best!
NEW ART RELEASE FROM DARK AVENGERS ANNUAL ISSUE ONE!
New original art release from Avengers Annual number 1! Nice selection of pieces from my 34 page one shot with Brian Bendis available RIGHT NOW. Even if you're not buying you may want to check out the descriptions of each item as I share a few "behind the scene" comments that you may find interesting. Check 'em out!
BACHALO HOCKEY RAFFLE WINNERS!
Thank you to all that contributed the hockey raffle! We raised a total of $970.00 for the fighting OC SQUIRT B's! Excellent job!!
Dylan drew the winners from the hat this morning. The winners are--
3rd place--Justin Porter!
2nd place--David Mandel!
1st place-- Ivan da Costa!
Congratulations to the winners!
On behalf of OC Squirt B's thank you for your participation and for helping make this season a great one!
All the best !
Okay, its been awhile…
First, I wanted to thank everyone for their support and patience the past few months. My lovely wife , Helen, Was diagnosed with breast cancer back in April and we been spending a better part of our time occupied with her recovery. She's taking radiation at this time and her prognosis looks fantastic. All the support, prayers and well wishes we've received have been amazing. Thank you! Thank you! They all worked!
I want to thank everyone for their patience. I've been trying to get to all that have written the past few months and I'm sure I've missed a few. If you have not heard back from me please write again. I'm not ignoring you and you're not bothering me. Always great to hear from you.
New art from all four issues of Sinister Spider-Man being released this Monday at 4PM PDT. 36 pieces in all! Dark Avengers Annual coming up next!
X-MEN: Storm Gambit shipping this month. One shot. 34 pages. I regret that I was not able to color—same with ASM: SHED. It was tough finding time the past few months and my Amigo, Antonio Fabela, helped us out of a deadline a pinch—twice! Tough moment for Storm at the end. Credit to Heroes alum, Chuck Kim, for a terrific story.
I'm starting work on three very special projects-- none of which I can discuss at his time-- but 2011 promises to be very exciting.
Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks an exciting team that deserved the big prize. It was a fun season. Looking forward to October when hockey gets rolling again.
Congrats to my son's little league AA baseball team. They won second place regular season trophy and then won the post season tournament. I shared pitching coach duties. Great kids! Great parents! Great experience! Go Spartans!
Anyone see Inception? Saw this past weekend. Thought the first half was a little slow and second half quite amazing. Would've like to have seen the Ellen Page character given a little more depth other than that she's Michael Caines best student. Her character needed an arc. Nice to see a movie that felt like something new.
My nine year loves Super Hero Squad. Me too. Its hilarious. Credit to Marvel for not being timid about poking fun at their characters.
Completed watching first season of Breaking Bad. Last four episodes are riveting. If you haven't seen please do. Its great TV! Helluva' lot better than most of the crap in the movie theaters these days. Nothing beats good writing!
Speaking of movies-- Iron Man two-- Err, if you can't say something nice….
And credit to WB/DC for finally exploiting their properties but, well, if you can't say something nice…
That'll take care things for now. As always, I welcome your feedback.
TALKIN' DOPE ABOUT METHRAEGHOST
INTERVIEW WITH PITCHFORK
Kayode wrote and asked about my process for drawing a comic book page.
I break the script down into simple beats making notes on the side of the script--Usually one or two words. Something like, Close. Spidey.
Thumbnail the beats on the board and design layout. This is the hardest part.
Light erase followed by tight pencils--characters first followed by BG's. No rendering.
I make a 60% copy of the pencils on which I'll ink in blacks--to give me good idea of black placement and how the final art will look.
Render and fill blacks.
I want to apologize for not getting back to everyone that has been contacting me in the past couple of months. A lot going on with various things and I've an immediate family member that is very sick and I have not been in the studio FT. Please know that I have been receiving your emails--read them all-- and that I will get back to you very soon--probably sometime in June.
Thank you for your patience and for enjoying the work!
Lots of catching up to do—
Dark Avengers annual released in December. Brian Bendis wrote it so it’s very good.
Army of Two:40th Days released in January. I wrote and drew six flash forward segments in the game. What’s a flash forward segment? As you’re playing, you’ll meet characters in the game that you will be required to make a decision about. You may be asked if you would like to let them live or die. As the action plays out based on your decision a series of flash cuts will appear documenting what happens to the character after you leave the scene. For example—in one of the scenarios you’ll find a boy cowering in the closet of a hospital. You’ll be asked to either save the boy or leave him in the closet. Should you decide to save the boy my story kicks in and you find out what happens to the boy after you save him. Originally, my segments were considered the “good” out comes but as I dove into the stories they evolved into the “gray” out comes--some are good, others , maybe, not so good. The fantastic artist , Jock, worked on the other half of the scenarios. Special thanks to El Mariachi, Jaime Mendoza for his fantastic inks.
Okay, I’m enjoying this! Its old news as of last week, but I just finished working on four illustrations for Island Def Jam Records recording artist’s the Wu Tang Clan. The new album features three of their creative best: Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon.
The four covers feature one of each the contributors and a double pager with all three. Great experience with this and I’ve never heard my work associated with the word DOPE so many times in my life. Having the time of my life. I’m glad my wife understands. Special thanks to AD Alex Haldi over at IDJ and the Sundance Kid aka Tim Townsend. Maybe more in the works with this project. Album due in March. I’ll be in touch.
More special tanks to Wallopin’ Stephen Wacker, my boss over at Marvel, who graciously spared me the time to work on the WTC covers. Speaking of which, I’m working on my next arc featuring the Lizard. Very well written by ZebWells. I’m amazed at how well his writing has improved since our last encounter on ASM about a year and half ago. Its great fun and kinda’ dark…in a good way.
Anyone watching the Olympic hockey tournament--ratings were crazy on this? US vs Canada game was amazing. With the US win they have a much easier track to the gold medal game. After Germany today, Canada will probably have to go through the gauntlet of Russian and Sweden to make it the Gold medal game. It’ll be great!
Does anyone have any advice on pitching? I never imagined this in my life but I’m one of two pitching coach on my nine years old son’s baseball team. Turns out this pretty serious stuff, with four practices a week and lots of clinic time—its like a part time job. I found myself pouring over video online studying pitching mechanics. I can tell you all about Tim Lincecums style vs Greg Maddux vs Nolan Ryan. I won favor for this position as my son pitched seven shut put innings in fall ball—taught him everything he knows! Now I get to put together a pitching staff. How much fun is that? Assuming we don’t get hammered too much this season…
Go Kings. I think we’ll make the playoffs this year for the first time since’02. Drew Doughty is a hockey God. He’s going to win a bunch of Norris trophy’s.
Is it a good omen to find a live bat clinging to life in your backyard pool? Pulled the drenched and freezing little guy out of the water and dried him off with a blow dryer. He hung out until dark and took off.
Watching the Wire Season three. Always a great show. I’ve just about no idea what is going on but Lost it’s great fun. 24 having a pretty good season thus far. Tried a few episodes of the Human Target and what a mess. I love Mark Valley, but the producers on this are screwing it up big time. It should be a lot better. I like that DC is finally exploiting a few of their properties except that HT is dull and The Losers , based on a viewing of the trailer, looks horrible as well. That would’ve been a great vehicle for Guy Ritchie to direct. Lock , Stock still one of my favorite movies ever. I have dialogue cuts from the movie in iTunes and Dylan loves playing them. I won’t let his him see the movie yet due to the language and violence--trying to keep him in Eden as long as possible. He loves the line from Vinnie Jones—one of my all time favs-- “There is one other thing….it’s been emotional.”
Last movie I saw was Avatar. Story was a little tired with the white man vs Indian, Dancing with Wolves shtick but the rest was pure spectacle!
Time to go. As always thanks for the kind comments. I read them all. If you write me, and don’t hear back, write again. Its no big deal. I will do my best to get back to you.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! NEW ART RELEASE! NEW AVENGERS 51+52!
Sorry for the late notice with this, but at 4 PM PST today new art will be released at the Gallery0 store at chrisbachalo.net Art will feature selections from New Avengers issues 51 and 52 and will include several backing board and concept pieces. Also, prices have been reassigned on many of the current offerings at the store. Definitely worth taking a second look!
I'll be in touch with further updates very soon.
I hope everyone is having a terriifc new year thus far and I thank you for your continued support!
Hope you are all well as we head quickly to year end.
A few quick updates—
Finished work on Dark Avengers Annual #1. Story, by the amazing Brian Bendis, focuses on Marvel Boy and his startling transformation. 31 pages of goodness and a huge reveal on the last page. Be sure to check it out. It’s a good one…
Finished Army of Two:40th Day for EA. Wrote and handled art on the positive flash forwards. There are six of them. Visited Montreal over the summer and saw the game in action. Wow! Special thanks go out to Reid Schneider, Alex Hutchinson and Matt Turner for having me be a part of their game. It was great fun! Release date is January. Buy two copies each…
Apologies to all that I’ve not responded to. Don’t give up on me. Keep trying…
Sorry to report zero progress on commissions. Again, don’t give up on me. I’ll arrive…
I did an ipod cast interview over at deconstructing comics with Timothy Young. Nice chat. You can hear my sounds.
Up next --Amazing Spider-man! Four issue arc written by Zeb Wells. I think it will ship sometime in May-- Man, that’s sounds like a long time. Stars the Lizard. Its gonna’ be fun!
New art being released over at Gallery0 on Monday at 4PM PDT featuring selections from ASM Extra 2 and Death concepts from Hot Topic.
If you’re interested in covers contact me and I’ll put you on the list.
Thanks a bunch. I always enjoy hearing from you.
OCTOBER ART RELEASE
Sorry for the short notice , but we've new art going up at Gallery0 this monday afternoon, October 19th at 4 PM PDT. Featured work includes art from ASM 576, two backing board drawings and a really cool Wolverine concept piece.
And apologies for my absence of late. Dark Avengers Annual is taking and its toll on my time. I read all that you send me and all your comments are very much appreciated. I'll do my best to get back to you shortly.
Thank you for your continued support.
Can you draw and Paint like Alex Ross?
My response to John in regards to finding work in the comic book business as an illustrator.
I guess my question is what advice would you give to someone who is trying to break into the art market? hopefully some publication in comics.
Honestly, if you can draw and paint like Alex Ross you'll find an audience and tons of work super fast. The thing is can you draw and paint like Alex Ross? If you've a non-distinctive style and very average talent like most of the posters on the Deviant art site you might have a tougher time. You'll recall that there is an old cliche about the starving artist. I like to contradict that statement by saying that I've never met a GOOD artist that is starving. I assure you that there is no way that Alex Ross will ever be able to get to all the work that he is offered. I can't paint like that guy and there's no way I can get to everything that I'm asked to do.
So, the million dollar question is how good is your work and --if you want to work in comics--can you tell stories?
A few ideas to get your work out there and find out if you're up to snuff--
First, It doesn't matter where you live. That's an excuse. I found work via the mail. These days its easy to get your work out there via the internet. Every publisher has a website. Send in a few jpegs of your work. If its really amazing, someone--eventually- will see it and respond and It only takes one reply to get the ball rolling.
Put your portfolio on a site like deviant art. Show off your stuff.
Find writers that want to get their stories drawn. I'm sure there are several sites on line where you can track someone down. Draw their book. Put it up. Share it with anyone that will look. Mail the work to every publisher--specifically books that you would like to work on. If you've a manga style don't waste everyone' time sending your samples to the X-MEN office as that's not what they are looking for. If you like drawing spandex probably not a good idea to send you work to Vertigo, etc.
Make plans to attend a con that will have portfolio reviews and publishers. I'm sure Wizard Chicago in the mid-west has a lot to offer. Visit the publishers. Ask if they will will look at your work. If you are looking for scripts to draw hang out at a writing panel and ask if anyone is looking for an artist to draw their script. If they make it big someday , maybe they'll bring you along with them...
Keep the sample of work small for portfolio review stations. 1-10 pages of sequential art and maybe a few examples of your best cover and color work. if that is what you would like to do.
Early on, take any work that you can get. In High School I drew art for a guy that made t-shirts. My first job out of College was painting ceramic pots. My second working for the ad department of a real estate firm. Its all great experience.
The most important thing to concentrate on for comic book work is to demonstrate that you can draw well, draw quickly (can you draw a page a day?) and tell stories with pictures.
Hope this helps.
Best of success to you.
UPDATED TORONTO SCHEDULE
4:00-6:30 - signing table DD
6:30-7:30 - Marvel Booth-- 538
11:00-12:00 - Marvel booth -- 538
12:00-1:00 - Signing table DD
1:00-2:00 - Sketch dual--room 714
Available drawing time is a little shorter in this version. I'll do my best to get to as many pics as possible...
BACHALO WORLD TOUR TORONTO
The world tour continues and ends in Canada next weekend--the 28th and 29th.
Current table schedule--
Table schedule is subject to change as I may be assigned to Marvel booth...
I do not know where I am sitting.
I'll be available for a few drawings. I may be able to get to 5-7--maybe more-- in the six hours. I'll do the best I can. Sorry, No guarantees I will get to you. First come first serve. $40-$70 price range. You can sign up when I arrive--and then take off and enjoy the show-- so that you don't have to wait for me to get my act together...
It'll be great fun meeting everyone!
See ya' in Canada, glorious and free!
DOG DAYS OF AUGUST: ASM 575 ART RELEASE
Getting back to normal around here after SDCC. It was a brisk two days of action. Met a lot of great people, saw a few friendly faces that I’ve not seen in awhile and my spleen is still vibrating from the woofers at the EA booth--They had about a dozen large screen video game displays, manned by gamers with the volume cranked up. The place was rockin’!
EA announced at the show my participation in their new game Army of Two: The 40th Day. Been writing and illustrating this PT for about six months now and its been great fun. We’re wrapping up production this month and the game is tentatively scheduled for release shortly after Christmas. Here’s a trailer…
I’ll post a few frames of the art at the site very soon.
Apologies to anyone who stood in line the Marvel booth expecting Tim and I at 12 PM Friday. Apparently Tim and I became stuck in an alternate reality in which we had confirmed with Marvel that we would appear at the booth from 1-2. In this reality Tim and I showed up at 1 and were just in time to watch the Stan Lee extravaganza. Not much action for us, but we had good seats for the show.
Next up on the world tour—TORONTO. August 28th and 29th. Passports are in and we’re ready to party. Spike the punch bowl! I’ll post details and show times as the dates draw near.
Wrapping up Sinister Spider-man. As I mentioned in the last update, deadlines were tight on this and it was going to be a miracle for me to complete the entire four issues. Here’s the final breakdown—issue one -22 pages, issue 2 -17 pages, issue 3-7 pages, issue 4—22 pages. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with this gig but Brian Reed turned out some fun material. The last issue is a party and includes a bit with a poodle and corn dogs that’s a kick.
Next up—Dark Avengers annual with Bendis!
Long delays on this, but pleased to announce that a new release of art will take place Monday at 4 PM PDT.
The subject at hand? Amazing Spider-man issue 575. Pieces up for grabs include the awesome double page spread with Spidey from pages 2+3. We also have several backing board drawings and concept pieces available for purchase. Check ‘em out at the Gallery0 store at Chrisbachalo.net on Monday
New art posted in the gallery on the site featuring recent covers from Sinister and New Avengers and an old friend from X-men Unlimited. A few splashy interiors posted in MISC as well. Thanks to KC and the Sunshine Band for posting and keeping the site tidy.
Okay, back to business. Pass me some punch, wouldya’?
This is it! We're kicking off the first leg of the word tour is at SDCC next week.
Here is where I'll be and when--
11:00 - 12:00:
HERO BOOTH # 907--Donate generously as I may need assistance one day...
1:00 - 2:00:
MARVEL BOOTH #?--Me and Tim Townsend together in a once in a decade appearance. One hour only!
2:00 - 4:00:
EA--BOOTH # 5213--Signing art from the TOP SECRET VG I've been working on the past six months. Announcement of game at SDCC!!
2:00 - 4:00:
EA BOOTH #5213--More good VG stuff!
4:00 - 5:00:
COMIC BOOK PORTFOLIO PANEL WITH COMIC EXPERIENCE FOUNDER ANDY SCHMIDT--My only panel. If you're looking for advice regarding your art portfolio this is the place to be. Andy was my editor on X-MEN SUPERNOVAS. Good guy--and we all can find out how handsome he is at the panel. A good place to rest your dogs if your tired from walking around all day and, maybe, fire off a question or two...
That's about it. Its been awhile for me--attending a con-- so be gentle. I can sign books, chat, take pics, kiss your children, flex my muscles or show you my awesome new scar--I had hernia surgery about a month ago. And if you catch me at the right time and smile real nice--flashing your money clip full of cash works too-- maybe draw a doodle or two.
See you at the show!!
CB'S 2009 WORLD TOUR ADDENDUM!
Okay, relative to the amount of appearances I make it looks like a world tour. Two Dates--- USA--COMICCON --July 24th and 25th. Plan is to attend friday and Saturday. I will be on Andy Schmidt's--my former X-Men editor-- portfolio review panel at 4 PM saturday.
CANADA--Toronto Fan Expo-- August 28th and 29th. At this hour, I plan to attend friday and saturday, three hours each day. Except, I still need to find a passport and it's very important to me that the US lets me back into the country. The way I look at it, if I'm there, I'm attending, if not , I'm not....
Typically, I don't have a sketch list at these things. Its a case by case, time permitting situation in which I try to attend to as many people as possible in a very short amount of time...
I will not have art for sale as everything that I have for sale is already up on the site and, well, you can buy it from there anytime. And carrying around thousands of dollars worth art in airports just makes me paranoid...
I'll update with specifics as each show approaches. Looking forward to hanging out with you guys!
I hope to put up ASM 575 up for sale in the next month or two. I'm under a huge crush for the next two months but will find a way to get these items out there...
Same goes for commissions--that I have not been attending to. Apologies to all the folks in line. Thanks for being patient with me...
Speaking of crushes--Sinister landed on my lap with a huge THWACK and a tight deadline. Time is pressing and shipping schedules were moved around and, as a result, I will be drawing 19 pages from issue two and 5-6 pages from issue 3. Weird as it seems, I will draw and color the entirety of issue four.
Issue one of Sinister will ship this month as scheduled...
There is a variant cover for New Avengers 54 . The variant edition was delayed one week--a result of that crush thing...
That will be followed by my triumphant return to ASM!
I've also been working on a big project for EA. Announcement at COMICON.
You are up to speed!
Thanks a bunch and best regards,
CB'S 2009 WORLD TOUR!!
Okay, relative to the amount of appearances I make it looks like a world tour.
USA--COMICCON --July 24th and 25th. Plan is to attend friday and Saturday...
CANADA--Toronto Fan Expo-- August 28th and 29th. At this hour, I plan to attend friday and saturday, three hours each day. Except, I still need to find a passport and it's very important to me that the US lets me back into the country. The way I look at it, if I'm there, I'm attending, if not , I'm not....
I'll update with specifics as each show approaches. Looking forward to hanging out with you guys!
APRIL 21, 2009: BEEP! BEEP!
My response to Kev regarding drawing action poses--
Man, if I had a magic wand or pixie dust that would just catapult you into dynamic action land I would let you have it. Rotten truth of the matter is that you have to do the work.
Have a decent understanding of anatomy and anatomy in perspective. One thing about action is that the characters are almost never standing upright -- they are almost always leaning over, upside down or bent in an unusual direction...
Look at artists whose work-- you feel-- are good at action. For me, growing up, I really liked the way John Buscema drew Conan action scenes. He had a wonderful gift for drawing characters in motion. Frank Frazetta was another favorite. His characters move really well. Michael Golden is really good with action and I especially enjoyed Jim lee's action shots in Uncanny X-Men. Todd MacFarlane pulled off some crazy angles on Spider-man.
Integrating animation into your work is very helpful. I'm a huge fan of the Chuck Jones Bugs Bunny and Road Runner stuff and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The actions scenes in The Incredibles are the best! Stop on a few frames and see how Brad Bird sets up the action.
Faces/heads are very important. Nothing kills a dynamic pose more than an uninspired face. Is the subject gritting his teeth? Mouth open? Tongue sticking out with saliva spraying about? Eyes bugged out or slammed tightly together in determination? Hair furiously flying about? Lots to think about...
The rest is practice, practice, practice. You 'll arrive!!
Best of success to you!
My response to Patrick in regards to being frustrated with the creative process--
I get frustrated just like everyone else-- sometimes I just want to cry. Boohoo!
Time and practice--the more experience you have the easier the process will become. So, lots of patience with this...
If you feel frustrated walk away. Drop everything and take a nap, leave the studio for a day or two, ride a bike, exercise, do something that burns off the tension. Starting on new books is my biggest headache and I often get stuck on familiarizing myself with the new characters and locations. Yesterday was a frustrating day. I was scheduled to work the evening , but I figured that it would be better to take the evening off, relax and hit the table fresh the next day. So far so good...
Relax and think. If I'm looking for an good idea I have found great success by, simply, stretching out on the bed before going to sleep and working out concepts-- or whatever-- in my head...
Look at the work of illustrators that you like for inspiration. I try and make it a point to look at other illustrators work for a few minutes daily.
Hope this helps. Best of success to you!
In response to a question from Maurice regarding process--
Well, you could write book on this question, but, in general terms, I find the best moment on each page, make that the biggest image and then work the rest of the panels in around it.
The process--I do thumb nail pencils on the page- unless its a splash in which I'll concept on another board an then transfer to final board--then medium tight drawing of entire page, erase with kneaded eraser to clean it up, then tight drawing with no blacks or rendering. I then make a 60% copy using a copy machine, indicate blacks with ink on that, check for any necessary edits, and then go back to the big image and --using the copy with blacks as a reference-- edit, fill in blacks and render with pencil. On average a page takes 4-6 hours.
I needed some advice. Ive beenw anting to be a comic book artist since i was 5. Now that im 20 i want to be great and go forward with my dreams. I was wondering if you could give me advice or tips regarding my path into the that realm. I dont exactly knkow how to start and i dont know if i should take any classes or even if an art degree is desirable or available in that area of art? Please help me.
Lots of directions you can go. Unless you're loaded with remarkable talent, I would recommend school. Take a look at the Joe Kubert school--they've a website and correspondence courses or my former X-Men editor , Andy Schmidt has a program called Comic Experience that may be worth a look.
I've a BFA in Illustration so if you've a school nearby that has a art/illustration program that works too--my back up plan was to be an illustrator. They'll teach you how to draw, color and design well. Concentrate on drawing, life drawing, painting and 2D design courses.
If you want to draw comics, draw comics. That means storytelling with panels--not pinups and covers. Some of the work is really dull, but great artists make even the most dull of subjects look really cool. I'm sure you can track down a few aspiring writers online that will share their scripts with you, if you don't write yourself.
Know how to draw everything, not just superheroes, because you will get to draw everything.
Study artists that you like. Don't copy their style , but see how really good illustrators tell stories with pictures. Note how they set up location, position heads that are speaking, choreograph action, etc.
Most important, and this bears repeating, draw a lot!! As a serious artist you'll be drawing everyday, all day! If this is what you want then it'll be a pleasure. I'm listening to a book by Malcolm Gladwell called Outliers. It's about excellence and one of the subjects he talks about is the rule of 10,000. Devote 10,000 hours of time--about three hours a day, everyday, for ten years-- into a particular task and you'll become an expert at that task--that "talent" is more about hard work than inherent skill. He sites examples such as the Beatles and Bill Gates who spent inordinate amounts of time on their craft before making it big. I started drawing at the age of 15 and was as "talent-less" as they come, but I liked what was doing, spent a lot time in my room drawing and painting and eight years later--and I was still pretty raw, but was good enough-- landed my first illustrator work on Shade.
If you're really good you'll get a job in a snap. Know that comics publishing is a business and good art helps sell books. You'll start poor in the industry, but if you work hard and have a nice style you can work your up way up to the nice books and --maybe not Beatles and Gates money-- make a really good living. And If comics doesn't work out, or your interests change, you'll have a nice skill set that you can devote to other disciplines such as design, illustration or video games.
Draw about 200 pages--about what I draw in a year-- stop on by and show me where you're at. We'll roll from there.
IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE
Okay, I’m cruising along on New Avengers , happy little clam, and an email arrives, like from outer space, and FWAFOOM I’m working on Sinister Spider-man.
As I understand, the idea of a Sinister Spidey book came together quickly and, apparently I draw symbiotes well and, as is typical with these sort of projects, has a the prerequisite tight deadline which means that with one hand and one brain at my disposal I wasn’t going to be able to work on both New Avengers and Sinister at the same time. This means that New Avengers 52 will be my last on that title and Dark Reign Sinsiter Spider-man will be my new title.
I’m going to be able to stretch out my Gen X comedy bones a little on this bad boy, only this time around the comedy will be black and full of sex, booze, blood, dead hookers and cool Venom Symbiote action. Nice bedtime reading.
I have also learned, and this is months and months away and e-mails do arrive from outer space, that I will be back on ASM working with Wells on a four issue arc that sounds delightfully dirty, icky and squirmy. Oh, yes!!
I am now officially working on Dark Reign: Sinister Spider-Man with Ms. Marvel scribe, Brian Reed, on a four issue mini-series with issue one shipping in June.
I will be working on a variant cover for issue one and primary covers on issues 2-4.
I will be producing variant covers for New Avengers 52-54. So, not quite finished with NA yet.
Good to go!
From planet earth, best regards,
On occasion I do interviews or answer questions from those who drop on by to say hello. I'll put a few slices up here for all to see.
THE POINT OF DIMINISHING RETURN
Questions from Nick--
okay my questions are:
does trust play any part in your art? do you ever have trouble trusting yourself or what you are doing?
Yes. I often wonder if what I'm doing is the best way to tell the story, or the best image to convey the best emotion. There is a point of diminishing return and its important to realize when that time arrives for each and every panel or page, cover or whatever. It took awhile to learn how to let go and move on, to not get too emotionally attached to the objective.
do you ever have doubts about something youve done? any freak outs?
Yes. Not as much these days as I've figured out ways to solve problems faster. I still have the occasional problem that arises and is hard to solve. Its the hardest part of the job. I was real close to total frustration on a cover that I just wrapped for the Avengers. I couldn't figure out how to make it work and ended up starting from scratch on the main character on the cover. I completely re-drew her--very rare for me. Much better now....
how do you know when your done with a piece, or a page?do you have to walk away or is it a feeling of completion?
Part of what I said above regarding the point of diminishing return applies here. Otherwise , I look over the page and once I feel that I've reached a point of reasonable satisfaction I'll move on the the next problem. There's a part of me that could go on just about forever noodling, digging and scratching at a pic to make it "perfect" --and I'm never 100% happy with anything that I do--but I think I would go broke arriving at that point...
March 14th, 2009
This is my favorite time of the year. Not too hot, not too cold, the air is clean, baseball is near, pro hockey playoffs are right around the corner, and the joy of the new year is still fresh with spring colors of greens, reds and yellows.
New art is being released this Monday at 4PM PDT. This time around we are featuring the art from Amazing Spider-man Extra issue number one and a new release from ASM 555. We'll also have for sale an unclaimed commission and four really cool backing board drawings. These are some of the best I've ever created. I hope you find them to your liking.
As I mentioned at the Yahoo group, I had one of my ASM proposals accepted so it looks like writing is in my future. We're starting small—its a one issue event-- with the goal to work on something big—the other proposal that I've submitted. I'll relate progress as it happens.
In the meantime, I'm working on a string of five consecutive issues on New Avengers starting with issue 51, that should be shipping any minute now, and ending with issue 55. I'm splitting the book with series regular, Billy Tan. He'll be working the superhero beat and I'll be working the supernatural as the stories focus will be on the search for the new sorcerer supreme. Awesome scripts from Bendis! Variant covers by me.
I'm not sure when my next arc will be on ASM. The weekly publishing schedule is complicated and finding the right arc with the right deadline is sometimes tricky—especially with me PT on Avengers. I'm sure we'll figure out something pretty quick…
Check out Agents of Atlas! The first two issues of the book have sold out and I've a cover on the issue two second printing. This is a refreshingly good book and even more so that it doesn't have an Avengers, Hulk, Iron Man, X-Men, Wolverine or Spider-man logo on it. Good for them!!
Just finished watching The Wire season two. As Alan Moore mentioned in Wizard, this is the best of TV series. It's a great example of a well produced show. There are no big stars in the cast—and they are wonderful--which makes it even more special because it feels like your watching real life, with real people in real, unglamorous situations. The stories are compelling, with a wonderful attention to detail, and it says a lot about the writing when you've interesting plots with very few instances of heightened action--I think there are only two episodes with gunshots in season two. Check it out if you haven't already…
Sorry to say that I gave up on Heroes. I'm not sure what to say except that it's grown boring. I think they lost the refreshing edge they had in season one that I really enjoyed. The arcs are way too long and it's not a very smart show. I like when Parkman was a cop with a wife in an extraordinary situation, that the goal was to "save the cheerleader, save the world", the present was the present, everyone didn't have "Special abilities" and that Suresh was a normal guy trying to find the truth and not turning into a fly.
This season of 24 has been refreshingly good after the last two forgettable seasons. I braved season one of Damages and tried season two, but just gave up on that show. I feel that it should be a lot smarter considering the people involved. The Unit is very good and I still watch an occasional episode of House, but it seems to be growing a little redundant. Enjoying Lost and Burn Notice is great fun.
I haven't seen Watchman and I've no plans to do so at this is time—unless my wife makes me do it. I'm with Moore on this as well, as I think it was mistake to turn it into a movie. I just haven't seen anything that compels me to spend time with it. I admire his zest, but Zack Snyder was the wrong guy to make this--take out a few of the visuals and an awesome Gerard Butler and 300 is a mess. The wonderful Terry Gilliam didn't make this for a reason…
Some one once said that the brilliance of a lie is in the details. I feel this is the difference between a good story and great one. I started re-reading Watchman-- as I hadn't done so since its debut --and its amazing to soak up the detail and richness of this fine book. Reminds me quite a bit of the Wire come to think of it…
There's a pretty good chance I'll be attending a convention this year in the east. I'll confirm when I know more…
I still have plans for a sketchbook sometime this year…
I hope to start work on a creator owned book…
I'm making progress on the commissions list. Thanks to all of you that have been waiting for so long. I hope to get to you soon….
Working on a couple of other non-comic related projects that I hope to share with you in the fall…
But, until then, I'm off to enjoy more the spring.
Always great to hear from you. Please keep in touch.
Art for ASM 557 being released monday at 4 PM PDT. Last of the Upper Deck AP cards being auctioned off as well.
All yours for the taking!
Go get 'em!!
HOLLY HOLY! ITS DECEMBER!
I looked at my wife with that “I just took the Christmas decorations look last month” facial expression this week because, really, it feels like its only been about 35 days since I took them down. The dust hasn’t piled up on the storage boxes yet…
But here we are. Its December and St Nick isn’t coming without the electric light reindeer on the lawn, so up they went!
Not a heck of a lot of time—I’ve been putting up that Christmas décor—so I’ll keep this short…
Two Sypnosis from IMDB—
El AURA--A quiet, cynic taxidermist, who suffers epilepsy attacks, is obsessed with committing the perfect crime. He claims that the cops are too stupid to find out about it when it's well executed, and that the robbers are too stupid to execute it the right way; and that he could do it himself relying on his photographic memory and his strategic planning skills. After he is invited on a hunting trip away from his home, an accident gives him the chance of his life: the possibility to commit the perfect crime he has been waiting for. Written by nachi-
Espinoza is a shy taxidermist who secretly dreams of executing the perfect robbery. On his first ever hunting trip, in the calm of the Patagonian forest, his dreams are made reality with one squeeze of the trigger. Espinoza accidentally kills a man who turns out to be a real criminal and inherits his scheme: the heist of an armored van carrying casino profits. Caught up in a world of complex new rules and frightening violence, Espinoza's lack of experience puts him in real danger. And he has another, more dangerous liability: he is an epileptic. Before each seizure he is visited by the ''aura'': a paradoxical moment of confusion and enlightenment where the past and future seem to blend. These attacks appear without notice when he least expects them, just when he needs all his wits about him... Written by celluloid-dreams official distribution company.
October? What happened to September? I recall sitting bored nearly to death in 8th grade history class holding my breath as long as I could hoping that it would somehow-- in the cosmic scheme of things --move the clock faster. Then came middle age. Jokes on me now. My kid is seven. I swear to God he was 2 just yesterday. He's not into girls yet, thank goodness, but he can kick my ass in Wii MLB Pro's spinning around the room like a top as I sweat every pitch.
I've a pretty good idea that holding my breath wont slow the clock down. Well, maybe....
I just wrapped up issue 575 and 576 of ASM. I believe they ship in November. I should check on these things from time to time, but , hell, then I wouldn't have time to write this thing...
I haven't really checked on this either, but It looks like I'll be working on the next BND Extra with Dan Slott. It'll be out next year. How's that for being specific?
I've really no idea what i'll be doing after that except that I'll be busy doing it and wont have time for much of anything else and I really need to get a life....
I completed a HE-MAN collector card for the recent Masters of the Universe cartoon DVD release. The card is complete with a bio and pic of yours truly looking pretty handsome. My card is in volume three. Posting the art on the site....
I'll also be posting a set of 20 Marvel Masterpieces series three cards that I recently completed for Upper Deck. All color this time around...
Completed covers for Young X-Men, The Punisher Christmas and a Witchblade wrap-around for Topcow. I think that there may be an "R" rated variant on the Punisher cover with more violence and fun stuff. I think we're still thinking about it. I'll be sure to check up on this...
Any new good shows this fall that I should kill my evenings watching? I've checked out Fringe a few times and feel that its not too bad. I'm not sure they know what to do with the son. Its seems that his only real purpose on the show is to make snide comments about what his Dad, the scientist , is experimenting on/with . I like his Dad and I really like his assistant who is cute and should get more air time. Im not sure what is so special about the lead actress's character and why's she's be assigned this division of the FBI -- she seems to hang around a lot watching everyone else--other than that she's another blonde actress plucked from Oz to fill up our TV screen.
I hate to say this but I'm losing the love for Heroes. Where do I start with this mess? Too many characters with too many powers in way too long story arcs and way too much traveling back and forth through time. And really, has anything really changed from the first season? We've the same time travel, prophecy to destroy the world, and Sylar mess that I thought was cleaned up way back in season one. They should've left Sylar in the sewers brought in a new bad guy and brought Sylar back in, like, season four resurrected, Phoenix like, from the dead. They've lifted every other cliche in the comic universe, why not that one? And why did they ditch the really cool--Save the cheerleader save the world--tagline? Bring that back. And less people with "abilities" and with shorter arcs. They juggle the story arcs well on Lost, a show I'm looking forward to seeing again.
Okay, the baseball season is just about over and, try as they might, the Angels lost to Boston again and now they have to look at themselves and say, we traded away Casey Kotchman for nothing. Mark Texeira was awesome and it would be nice to sign him but I think it would be better to drop a ton of cash on Manny Ramirez, put Kendry Morales at first--a natural born hitter and ready for the majors--put Manram in left field in place of Garret Anderson, who's contract is up, take the option on Guerrero and let go of Rodriguez and Rivera and take the money you would spend on them and give it to CC Sabathia. All problems solved. I should be a GM...
OH, yeah. I think its really neat that the Rays beat the Sox. That was fun...
Oh, yes! Hockey goodness is here. I have predicted that my favorite LA Kings, for the first time ever, will finish last in the league this year. Lots to look forward to…
Back to business--New art going up for sale on monday featuring a few remaining selections from my last issue of XMEN, number 207, a cover, one concept piece and a few other goodies...
A special thanks to all of those that have been writing to say hi and a bigger thanks to all of those for sending checks to me for being such a great guy. I'm grateful to you all...
Not much in the way of movies to report on this time around as I have not seen many. I did sneak out to see Batman, and i think I was expecting a lot , because I came away thinking that it was really just okay-- I suspect a fair amount of the big box office was a result of the Daffy Duck famous last act routine. Batman comes across as being a little slow to the chase in his movies. This felt like one big cat and mouse game with Bats and the Gordon one step behind the Joker all day--and, by the way, that guy really gets around town in a hurry. And how dumb is it to leave that cop all alone in a cell with the Joker? Think they'll just sit around and look at each other for an hour or two? Batman is the great detective. I want to see him be intimidating and smarter than everyone else. And no offense to Maggie Gyllenhal, but is she worth fighting/dying for? Poor thing looked emaciated through the whole movie. Lets get Charlise Theron. Nicole Kidman can still turn heads and demand a little respect...
I finished Season three of the Shield. Its the best! This killed me--I went to a Dodger game in September and my wife says to me take Dylan , my son, to the Dodger store and buy some good stuff. While I'm gone I missed the first pitch, usually tossed out by a celeb. I return to my seat and my wife shares with me that the celeb was.... Michael Chicklis!! Nahhh,na,na,na, na, nahhhhhh!!! (Theme from Shield sound FX)...
Whew! Held my breath this long and didn't spill my beer. I think, however, time sped up as I just ran out of it...
One of the reasons I didn't want a website was because I DID NOT want to create this thing and then ignore it like so many others, so her ya' go...
HOLY, GEEZ ITS A TIMELY UPDATE!
Greetings. We've new art being released from XMen: Messiah Complex issue 206 going up today. We've 10 pages from that issue available as well as really nice Death and Poison Ivy backing board drawings and concept pieces featuring Gambit and Cannonball. Hope you find a few
pages to your liking!
Special thanks to those of you who purchased art from Gallery0 last month during the relaunch of the store. Turnout was fantastic as we
SOLD OUT of XMEN 197 and 200 and have only a few pages remaining from 192, 198 and 199. One page left from issue 205 as well. Its an
especially nice one, so grab it while you can!! You guys are fantastic and we are really thankful for your patronage. Hope you are enjoying your newly purchased art!!
And a thank you to all of those that have taken the time to visit and comment on the brand spanking new Website! We're very proud of our new arrival!
Looks like the next project will be a sketchbook...I think...maybe. Hey, I was the last dude on earth with a website and I'll be last with
a sketchbook. I like to think of myself as the chocolate cake at the end of the big media publishing meal...:)
I just completed the covers for Amazing Spider-man 575 and 576. Be sure to duck as the fists are flying with these. We'll post them on the site soon.
I'm wrapping up interiors for ASM 575 this week and will commence work on 576 immediately after, which will complete my second arc on ASM.
Its terrific working with Man-of-Action member Joe Kelly again. He's written a fun and intense three issues--the first of which has recently shipped in the anthology BND EXTRA #1-- and features a nasty Hammerhead origin story. I'm not sure what I'll be doing after that. I'll bring you up to speed when I know.
I'll also be working on a wraparound cover for Witchblade issue 125 this month. Its the last of a six issue cover deal for Topcow. The
concept has been approved and I think it's gonna be a smash. No reservations on this one!
I finally saw Steamboy by Katsuhiro Otomo and If anyone hasn't seen it, please do, its an amazing piece of work. By now, I've seen pretty much everything the movies have to offer and nothing is too surprising, but I was floored by this film.
On TV, I' m watching season three of The SHIELD--I know, I discovered it way late. Its my favorite show at the moment-- when Lost isn't airing--and I'm watching it really slow--maybe, an episode a week-- savoring every dirty minute. Anyone watching Madmen? How is that?
You're up to speed!
Okay, I'm last one with a website over seven years of age but here I am! Yes, its a website with my name on it, authorized by me, owned by me (I think) and hosted by me on this first day of Comicon 2008--I'm not actually at Comicon, but I figured I can recall this date easy enough and my Dads' birthday is this week....
For navigation purposes, I've tried to keep things simple--no sounds, no flying things, no ads. Just a nice place to show off the pics and to keep up to speed with what's going on in my corner of space. Hope you find it to your liking and please LMK if there is anything that is not working or if there is anything that you would like to see (sorry, no porn going up at this time). We're still moving in the last bits of furniture in to the new space and I'll do my best to keep you updated as things come and go.
The site was created with diligence by my friend Kevin Cates (www.kevloucat.com). He made this place, built it with his own fingers, on his own computer--it is your computer, right, Kev?-- and I can report with confidence, that he has a very big patience button. So, if you're turning seven and would like to have your very own website just like me, Kev's the man with the means!
Come November, no one will underestimate Peter Parker, Spider-Man. With all of his other titles wiped away, the one and only original Spidey title, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN will reign supreme. The responsibility for that lofty position rests not only on the capable shoulders of the character himself, but also on the just-as-capable-if-not-more shoulders of his, dare we say it, amazing writers and artists.
One of the initial launch teams is none other than writer Zeb Wells and artist Chris Bachalo. Yes, we thought that'd get your attention.
Tom Brevoort, editor extraordinaire, has mentored his fair share of quality creators over the years, but Wells has singularly impressed him. "Zeb is the young gun, the baby of the group, and the guy who came to Spider-Man the latest," says the Executive Editor. "As such, he's the guy who's probably most in tune with how the readers of today relate to the character, and he brings a certain wit and charm to what he does.
"He's the most off-the-wall thinker in our band, I believe," adds Brevoort. "More apt to go down avenues the others may never have thought to explore."
Merry Marvel readers can currently catch Wells spinning his web of words in that slam-bang slam-a-thon known as HEROES FOR HIRE.
Who's Well's partner-in-Spidey, you ask? Well, we'll remind you: its Chris Bachalo, and man is he a Marvel guy through and through. Bachalo's been all over the Marvel Universe and his kick-butt, in-your-face art has been seen in X-MEN UNLIMITED, GENERATION X, UNCANNY X-MEN, ULTIMATE X-MEN, NEW X-MEN, CAPTAIN AMERICA and X-MEN. Whew! We kind of get the feeling he digs the mutants.
"I've almost completed [my] first issue," explains Bachalo, "and part of the experience has been a little weird as--and I've been doing this for 18 years--this is my first full issue in the Marvel 'superhero' universe. I worked on half an issue of HULK--my first work with Marvel--and part of an issue with DAREDEVIL. That's been about it. Or does GHOST RIDER 2099 count? So, it's a little odd not drawing mutants and Sentinel and the X-Mansion. Only, I'm not so far away from that world, as a certain mutant-enhanced Avenger is starring in this issue so a part of me feels at home."
Brevoort has quite a nice artistic comparison or two in mind when he thinks of Bachalo and his work. "Chris is a major stylist, who somehow hasn't managed to draw that much Spidey in his long career," he notes. "He's like that little bit of Ditko or McFarlane in our mix, a guy who comes at the page with a completely unique design sense, and who's fabulous at communicating the buglike attributes of the character visually."
Bachalo himself admits a rocky road when it comes to describing his own style. "Trying to put into words my style is always a bit complicated," he says. "To me, style is about a feeling, an intuitive response to the script and the subject matter. I haven't drawn Spidey much, other than in an 8-page story I did for the Marvel Universal them park comic and a few sketches here and there, but I've always had a pretty clear idea in my mind as to how I would draw him--since I was a kid, really--so I'm going with that.
"I would probably describe my style as being somewhere in-between the classic Romita incarnation and Todd McFarlane's version of the character," Bachalo explains. "I've been looking at a lot of Jim Lee's UNCANNY work too, for whatever reason, and applying some of what I'm learning there. Really great stuff by Jim. I'm finding it inspiring."
As we have learned, a multitude of comic book artists, perhaps even the great majority of them, believe the original red-and-blue Spider-Man costume to be one of the single most inspired designs ever in the 70 years of superhero history. Bachalo is of that fraternity, wholeheartedly. "I've always been of the opinion that the Spidey costume is the best ever created," Bachalo boldly states. "It's an outfit that's really hard to screw up. When Marvel contacted me last year to create a few new designs for his costume, I thought, 'What? You're crazy. How do you improve on that?' Joe Quesada did nice work on the Stark design, but I'm glad to be working with the classic.
"Spidey has become such an icon in the past several years with the movies, marketing and licensing," Bachalo says, recalling an interesting piece of found Marvel art. "I can't go anywhere without seeing his image on something. The other day I'm taking my six-year-old to school and the campus he's attending and I'm standing there admiring my shoes, I guess, when I noticed that one of the tiles on the walkway leading to the front door had Spidey on it. The tiles are of the custom-made variety that are created to raise money for the school. Y'know, contribute $100 and you can have your own personalized brick cemented in the earth for all time. It struck me that, taking into consideration all the stuff we're exposed to every day, that a kid thought it would be cool to put Spider-Man on his tile next to his name for all time.
"Now that's a pop icon."
And at the end of the day, Bachalo is calm and serene about handling such a pop icon as Spider-Man. "Well, this may sound a little dull, but it's really great to be working on such a terrific book with such a terrific character." he says, beaming. "The best ever, I think. I'm grateful that Joe Quesada and Steve Wacker thought of me for this and I hope that I do a really good job and that the fans and Zeb Wells, my writer, like the style that I bring to the book."
This site confidently and enthusiastically maintained with due diligence and excellence by Kevin Cates @ www.kevincatesdesign.com