Went to comic store after an appointment. Not one comic interested me enough to pick up. Not. One.
This means...if you interest me enough...I just may buy yours.
Went to comic store after an appointment. Not one comic interested me enough to pick up. Not. One.
This means...if you interest me enough...I just may buy yours.
Here are two amazing sites to help you in your creation process:
Comics are dead. Long live comics.
I can barely look at a comic book anymore. Blood, guts, gore, anger,vitriol, spatter, evil, malevolence. Piss poor coloring - pink, purple, green and mud. Unhappy people, doing unhappy things. Lack of hope. It's all gone.
Heroes aren't good. The baddies are more evil than evil, but they're just misunderstood. And the ends always justify the means.
Knock-offs, rip-offs, re-cycled, regurgitated, and shovels digging ever deeper towards the pit of hell.
Dear comics: I'm done.
I now appreciate the off the beaten path, and things that have heart and soul...so...
Some advice for you would be creators that are "Christian":
1. Keep it short and sweet. There is no longer any time for you to create giant universes, ongoing lengthy series, or to baby your projects to perfection. Being succinct, and cutting out all the chaff in your story is key.
Do one-shots. 24 or 48 pages should suffice.
Do single page or short stories 3-8 pages
Use digital as your starting point
Create immediate and achievable goals
2. DO IT NOW:
If you haven't been watching the times - if you want to get something out there - do it now. If you are dying to get a project out there do it. Do it now. Soon, this will be something that you won't care one whit about. Surviving will be more important.
3. Make your project something you'd be proud to show Yeshua. Do as He directs.
4: Also, be relevant, and if possible, timeless. An maybe choose or include topics that are informative and useful:
a. Like how do you dig a well?
b. If you were out in the woods how would you build shelter?
c. If people needed to learn how to do x, y or z can you incorporate that into your story somehow?
d. Perhaps find fantastic missionary stories
e. Other life skills that could be useful etc.
4. If you are aware of your talent level and know you aren't the best artist or colorist or writer in the world -but you have an idea "that must get out there" see suggestion #1 above and then do one of the following:
a: Hire the right people to make your project work. And pay appropriately.
b: Do it yourself - BUT KEEP IT SIMPLE - and don't try to do things that are beyond your skill set. I would rather read a comic that has very simple and believable shapes and objects, than one that tries to fudge "excess details" trying to be "realistic" with hatching etc. Make the object look like the object, and usually that's enough.
c:If some of your skills aren't there - such as perspective or foreshortening, come up with a style that is clear and consistent - so long as your telling the story with clarity and consistency, it should be passable.
d: If there is something in the process you can't do - find the person who can help you. COLORING IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST ISSUES.
e: FIND A PROOF READER. Period. No ands. If's. Or buts. Do this. Even if you decide to go with art that's questionable, coloring that's problematic - have a real proof-reader read your book. There is nothing worse than reading badly written dialog or having typo's spread throughout a book.
f: IF you must do it your self, go look up or buy professional fonts and read up on how to do proper word balloons. (There are free ones out there for the indy creator).
f: MAKE YOUR STORIES ABOUT:
1. Hope/Joy/Heaven/Beauty/Jesus/Salvation/Grace/The Bible etc.
3. Fun/Funny (of course be relevant to the nature of your tale, so if is serious, then so be it - but I miss the joy.)
4. Use bright joyful colors. (or be color appropriate to the mood and setting - but lean to the brights as opposed to the muds).
5. Possibly lean to true stories as opposed to "fantastic" or "fantasy". Or at least ground them in the true.
6. Bring nature back! Trees, animals, outdoors.
g: Make sure comics are not your god/idol. If you realize that comics have taken over God's position in your life, then consider what that means and what you may need to do to rectify that situation.
I'm sick of the sick. Let's breathe life back into comics. The true life. The abundant life. AND DO IT SOON.
Bryan Hibbs, long time retailer, analyzes the comic book numbers for 2011.
If you want to get an idea of numbers for books - as in how much you might be able to make off them - so you can understand what kind of costs need to be considered to make them.
Consider the following: Average Sale Per Title: 488 (copies) Average $ Per title: $7,334.91
To me this tells me - you might be able to get 500 people to buy your book. And you have to make your book for dramatically less than $7000/book to make any money.
THIS IS A VERY SIMPLISTIC RUDIMENTARY UNDERSTANDING EXTRAPOLATION of how this really works (this is the average across 750 titles so will not be reflective of individual titles and that includes comic books, graphic novels, and other comic related items).
But, taking those average numbers, and seeing that's what the market is doing - sales of 488 copies/title and approx $7000 in earnings per title is what you might expect if you get your title out there. (With proper promotion, word of mouth and other things).
IF 7K per book is all that is being earned, then oh boy. It might just cost 7K to get a print run done. Yerk.
NOW - if the Lord directs you to work hard and give your stuff away, or to use it in other ways outside of the "Traditional Market System" GO DO IT - just let this be a sobering slap upside the head as to what this means. I know for me it was.
SO - takeaway from this:
1. FOCUS your product on a select demographic, and find as many alternative places to sell or promote your stuff. GO GLOBAL.
2. If you feel your comics are MORE MINISTRY TOOLS than a traditional to market product - then gauge your approach accordingly. Analyze and consider how you want to reach the people with the message, and who you are trying to reach and where. Remember, sometimes our "cool idea" might be great to us as individuals, or to a select North American audience, but the kid in India may not relate to it in any way. Consider alternative ways of telling stories to other audiences (if it's relevant to do so).
3. Consider all the cost factors that might be applied - printing, distribution, production - and consider how many people you think you can reach. There are many options available to save money and figure out how to get your costs down - such as Print On Demand (select the right people), Minimal digital print runs, go digital first...amongst others.
DISTRIBUTION CAN BE AN ISSUE. Especially for the small publisher. To deliver a book might cost more than the book itself. IF a book costs $3 for purchase, but to buy it from you and it costs $7 to have it shipped, that might be an issue. So if you can offer more than one book, or additional value added with the book - it might cost the same to ship for one as it is for two or three. So scrutinize all avenues and options for yourself and your end user so you don't get stuck on this.
p.s. There is nothing worse than doing a traditional print run of 1000+ books that costs 3K+ and you can't get rid of your books. (Note - Arbitrary numbers and will differ according to a variety of factors and is not taking into consideration any production costs)
...From a previous DC Editor who happened to write a thesis on this topic. READ.
...full front shot at least once in your comic.
I have made a discovery - attempting to draw other peoples characters for pin-ups or for contests, or just for fun:
Artists, for some reason, don't draw their entire character - or obscure them with things blocking their legs, lower half, mid-section, or arm or position them at odd angles...
This makes the character extremely difficult to draw.
So, PLEASE!...at least in one panel somewhere - anywhere in your comic, (the earlier in the book the better) draw your character head to toe, as unobstructed as possible, and in a fairly bland pose*. If you can slip in a front shot and a back shot even better.
*Don't kill the acting to do this, but just see if it can be squeaked in.
This does a few things:
1. As a reader, it allows me to appreciate what the character fully looks like. All the details of their outfit, their hair, their look. It also firmly establishes or cements the character in my mind, so I can either accept or reject how they are portrayed through the rest of the story.
2. As an artist, it allows me to know what the character actually looks like! There's nothing worse than getting half shots, mid-shots, obstructed shots, feet only and all things things are scattered across pages - but no shot of the whole - this makes it very difficult to figure out what the character actually looks like. Is the belt here or here? How tall are they? Um...does that sleeve work like this or this?
There of course can be some educated guesses, but sometimes things to need to be more or less exact.
I think it would also be appreciated by the general audience too, because then they are assured, that their favorite character is a whole thing.
So help a brother out - and I'll keep this in mind for my own creations too.
Read this on Bleeding Cool where he lists three things in the digital space. Take a look if interested. Only done a cursory look, but it could be interesting.
Something you can try, if you get stuck, is to just use one core shape for every aspect of your character.
E.g. Can you make a lion completely out of squares and rectagles
How about a hippo out of triangles? A bear out of circles?
What about a human? You don't have to use "straight edges and sharp jagged corners, but use the core shape to inform every thing about that character - and see what happens.
The character Design of UP! used this - Old Man was all squares, the boy was all spheres, the bad guy triangles.
Give it a shot and see what happens. It's really fun if you take a typical roly poly thing and use squares.
Acting In Comics
One of the easiest (and paradoxically most difficult) thing to do in comics to create life in your characters is to make them ACT! ALWAYS put an expression on their face - an action, or make their body language really obvious.
I've seen numbers of comics, even by the pro's where the faces look like wooden planks, and all the background characters are standing around preening or posing - but NOT DOING ANYTHING.
Give all your characters an agenda. Even if it's as simple as having a background character looking up at something that no one else is. Make them all operate as if they have something they're supposed to be doing logically in their scene. OR have them acting out in their scene, but considering their options for 15 panels from now...
Expression and body language. For everybody - even if it's slight. The biggest challenge is figuring out what do with peoples hands. Always try to find something for them to do. (Although the persistent constipation look is not an acceptable alternative.)
I GIVE UP. Current comic coloring is for the birds. No joy. No life. No hope. ALL MUD. MUD, MUD, MUD. I keep viewing CBR.CC's promo's in the hopes that there will be something, ANYTHING that isn't some form of shiny over glossed mud. Reddish pinkish purple and greenish hues dominate the books.
If I didn't know any better, I'd think there were only two people who color comics in the entire industry. In the last two weeks, maybe two books in the coloring department stood out.
And why isn't anyone using Painter, or MyPaint or some equivalent to color books? Printing is at such a level and we have all these fantastic tools - but no one is using them...
Sigh...if anyone would like some brights, I'm available as always at...http://www.ihorace.com
Because of what I see, hear and gleanings from the Holy Spirit I think time is short - so us comickers in the Christian sphere may need to completely re-evaluate what we are really doing with comics, how we make comics and what the outcome is supposed to be.
I am slowly coming to the conclusion: THE MESSAGE MAY BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE ART.
BUT - Consider that THE ART IS PART OF THAT MESSAGE. And if your art fails to convey the message - then the actual message might be missed.
Marshal McLuhan made the quote, "The medium is the message"- I don't completely agree - since message can transcend the delivery mechanism - but I think his point was, when you are sending your message, then the entire package and delivery is part of that message.
So what does this mean in practical terms of producing comics?Below are some thoughts - these are food for thought and can be discussed, disagreed with, altered, applied or not, as one sees fit.
1. Make your message (or the Message God has given you) clear, concise and succinct.
2. In order to save money and time deliver your comic DIGITAL FIRST and go to print only if demand is there. (There is still strong merits to the printed product - but the cost factors are potentially steep. If all else fails, it can become fire-starter.)
3. NAIL DOWN YOUR AUDIENCE SPECIFICALLY. Teens? Kids? Kids from ages 4-7? Young adults? If you try to get everyone, you won't reach anyone. If you focus, that means you only have to concentrate on getting your book to a select audience. It will also mean you can focus on making your work age appropriate.
To make life easy for yourself consider some of the following:
a. Avoid making giant universes with a bazillion characters. Nobody has time to invest in all the characters, and you don't have the time to create all the back-stories, histories and it will take forever for you to promote and try and get out there. Notable attempts at this: Valiant, and Ultraverse.
This goes back to being concise - focus your story*. I especially like stand alone issues when it comes to new characters or ideas - this means I can have a contained tale - and then pick up the next book when or if it comes out. Andi if it's done well, then re-reading is a joy. Al Hartleywas a master at this. I read and re-read his books - fast, sharp, to the point. His stories MOVED.
b. Make your core idea easy to understand.
c. IF you have an ongoing idea consider doing:
By focusing on single stories, this will allow you to get your stuff out faster, give you more flexibility in execution, delivery, and will allow you to not get bogged down in a universe that you might have fallen in love with, but no one else cares. I think for the most part, in this day and age, the message is more important than our self made worlds. (This was a bitter pill for me to swallow once).
d. Really think hard about who you as an artist/creator are capable of reaching. You may really really really want to reach the Marvel/DC audience, but if you really look deep in your soul, and realize your drawing is better suited for 10 year old girls then adjust accordingly. OR you might really want to do kids stuff but all your work is darker and more edgy...you might want to alter your style or just go with the gut and do stuff for teen boys or young adults.
e. Get the people/children the Big Boys don't have. This means make comics for kids. Make them for women. Make them for the 10 year old girl who loves ponies. That means you can carve a niche for yourself where they aren't and you don't have to fight with two 70+ year old geezer behemoths who are ugly and decaying.
f. Make your books look nothing like the competition. It's the only way to get noticed.
*Focusing the story - now I have to be careful here. A lot of Christian comics (dare I say most) end up being like a bat over the head with their "preachiness". There is room for the Preachy comic - but do consider a way to get the point across without browbeating. Sometimes, if Christian, there might no be any "Bible Thumping" in the book, and it's just a good story - then do that to the best of your ability.
If you need fonts for your independent book consider Blambot - lot's of freebies for independent books and paid ones too or Comicraft- paid fonts -prices vary - but prime fonts. I have bought fonts from both vendors, and have been thoroughly satisfied. DON'T USE COMIC SANS! At bare minimum go grab "Zud Juice", "Anime Ace" or "Mighty Zeo 2.0" from Blambot.
If you really want your book to be a tangible product consider using KA-BLAM or ComiXpress. These are Print On Demand services, and from what I can see is their prices are quite reasonable for small print runs.
If you need design, layout, consultation or packaging help, I am available for a fee.
So, again: The Medium is the Message, and if your Medium is Comics - what is the message that you portray. And would you be willing to buy your own book?
CAVEAT:All of the above is for discussion - and if the Holy Spirit leads you to produce stick figures or rocks that talk, or whatever, DO IT.
That's all for now.
One way to get out of the doldrums of being locked into the technical aspects of art is to make your entire approach a "Visual Philosophy" - or a persistent representation of a thought.
What does this mean? This means instead of being stuck on "is this a hand?" or "is this a foot?" and "does this go here or there", can you make your visuals always represent a consistent concept.
So can you make your drawings, lines, shapes and forms always be "joyful". Or how about always "miserable"? You can make your "joyful" visual philosophy have sad characters, or your "miserable" visual philosophy have happy characters - but using a persistent "Visual Philosophy", the core emotion or idea will exude through your lines, shapes and forms, informing the reader of the emotional impact you are attempting to convey.
This can allow you to come up with some very creative visuals. The "Visual Philosophy" doesn't have to be relegated to emotions or feelings alone. It can also be used to inform just the shapes you create.
So some ideas: What if you were to draw all your characters and backgrounds with (and you are only allowed to choose one):
If you take an idea like this, and then apply it consistently across the board to your visuals, you can then create alternative styles and approaches to your art and it will definitely look different than what everyone else is producing.
Give it a thought. If you have trouble drawing hands...then maybe making everything rubbery might be the way to go...what do rubber hands look like? Or how do you draw whispers? And what does a whispers feet look like? Or a dresser or a car, or a house, or a person drawn as a whisper? Get it...? :)
Think about it - try it. See what happens. And if you do - and you get results, post them here, I'd love to see what you come up with.
Sort of building on previous things posted - here's some more "thinking" that can be applied - to any style and approach:
And more thoughts on coloring:
A few more notes on coloring: Just looked at the latest batch of covers to come out on CBR this week of Jan. 9, 2012 - and it's all MUD. IF you are a colorist out there, do consider adding some classic pop to the mix. Or at least bring a little bit of life to the book you might be working on. Everything lately looks like a nuclear meltdown. Maybe it's a reflection of the times we live in - but we of faith live in JOY, LOVE, PEACE - maybe it should reflect in the colors of our work. One thing I know for sure - is if you take this approach, it will stand out.
A simple trick to make your characters or objects immediately feel more grounded and like they are occupying a "space" is to ALWAYS draw a horizon line into your picture. Even if you will erase it later.
What happens when you draw a horizon line - even without perspective being considered, you now have "marker" for distance or space. The Horizon Line will make you "know" your character/object needs fit in this approximate area. And once you have made sure that one character or object is placed, you can figure out how other things can be put in relation to it - either in size or distance.
You can draw it very lightly if needs be. But ALWAYS put one in - even if you don't want to play with "perspective".
Try it - and you will be kind of astounded.
...where I vent about comic book coloring.
This is just something for contemplation. I was wondering why I've been rejecting the current crop of comics on a mass scale - even when the artist is someone I like. Then I started noticing a trend...the comics are all colored Pink/purple with green and mud/brown/ airbrushed to death...that's just the covers.
The interiors are for the most part just as bad. No distinctions. No brights. No contrasts. And a lot of Pink/Purple/Green - especially at DC. Lots of browns. I understand muting colors lessens the blow - a European thing - but they knew/know how to make distinctions and have a mute with a pop color on top.
I just can't handle the coloring. There might have been something to the old school method of coloring comics where they only 64 or so colors to work with (maybe less? Maybe a few more?)
Take a look at this current crop of covers. Look to see which stand out. They are few and far between. And when Archie comics are the ones that stand out, and not because they are done right, comic books of today have issues. (C'mon! Just use flat colors! And use them wisely - that is all.)
SO if you are a colorist or want to color a comic and you want to stand out in the marketplace DO EVERYTHING OPPOSITE TO WHAT YOU SEE BELOW. Make a clear readable logo. Avoid excessive noise on your cover. Make sure to have the main story point be obvious.
Anyway... below a bunch of covers all together so you can see what sticks out what doesn't. Analyze them, consider them and think how you can be effectively different.
After looking at my previous post, I kind of realized I went on a tear - and thought, perhaps we should start at the basic basics...
The reason I propose this, is if we can consider the very core of what it is we as artists are doing - it can become freeing in our approach to creating.
Sometimes we get all caught up in techniques or "How To Draw Like Someone Else" or the tools, or the x, y or z - but forget what the essential thing is that we are doing. How to's don't necessarily teach us how to "Think" or "Explore". (Do note I'm not saying these things are bad).
So, what is art?
ART IS: Putting marks, shapes and forms on an output device* until the form(s) created is/are to your satisfaction. Use OBSERVATION and CAREFUL THOUGHT to place these things.
That's it? Yup. That's it. And if the shapes aren't to your satisfaction...then keep working at it. Notice, I don't tell you what tools to use. I don't tell you how to use them. Use whatever is available and create. Go.
There is a little more to it, and the idea can be expanded on a little (actually a lot) - but then it turns into a giant diatribe - and I would have nothing left for my next post.
It's a start...let's begin here.
(*Output device = paper, board, canvas, wall, house, car, digital space, t-shirt etc.)
Preamble: For some reason this has been on my heart and mind - and maybe it will help somebody here on the CCAS Boards.
I've been having personal artistic epiphanies in the last few months, and even though I've been doing "Art" for 20+ years these little nuggets have helped me in creating better work now. I will be adding ideas every now and then. (Now if I can just get the speed epiphany, then I will be set.)
Argh! You scream. The art just doesn't look right - but you're on a deadline and you need to get the thing out the door.
OR you're an amateur, or a beginner and you know you're not quite where you want to be, or you have produced a comic, but you can't put your finger on why you're slightly shy about presenting it to the world at large.
The anatomy is off; the faces look funny; things on the page don't look quite right...and a thousand other little nit-picky things...but you pick up the pencil and keep on chugging - but nothing looks better, or worse, it just all looks the same...HELP!
STEP 1: STOP.
STEP 2: Breathe.
STEP 3: Pray. Think. Now consider.
The following is a method for THINKING. What has happened in the world of Art or Comic making is what I will now dub the "How To School" has kind of taken over - but it forgot to suggest "Here Are Some Methods of Thinking".
This crystalized when looking at a bunch of top notch artists blogs. They all work in the animation industry - and their stuff is eye-popping. But what stuck out to me was that they were all interchangeable. Change the name of one guy with the other, and very few would notice the person changed.
This told me something: At a certain point putting lines and shapes on a piece of paper can be done by anyone - and anyone can reproduce another person's look. So if anyone can put lines and shapes on a piece of paper, then why is it that you or me isn't out there with them?
So begins our journey.
These are not commandments. They are not set in stone. They are up for debate - if they help great. If you wish to add to it great. If you think of something else that helps you, or an idea that isn't on this list pops into your head GREAT!
1. Stop emulating the world. Emulate God. And his creation. Essentially - stop copying or making art that looks like someone else. You might really dig their style or approach - but that is them, not you. Consider the hope and life that God provides - let that permeate your work. Use real life to influence your work.
2. CLARITY ABOVE ALL ELSE. Make sure your images are clear and easy to read - or the idea makes sense. Either per page, per panel, or in a static independent shot. This doesn't mean you have to have clean Tintin looking lines or shapes - it just means can someone understand what they are looking at.
3. Consider the overall INTENT of your work before you start. Do you want to display Joy? How do you draw joy? Anger? How do you draw anger? Hope? Love? Peace? Apathy? Can you make the intent permeate through your line? Can that permeate your work. INTENT can also mean - is this fictitious? Whimsical? Funny? Truthful? Is it supposed to be a manual? For fun? Serious? etc. How does fun look? How does this is a clear teaching manual look (eg. airplane safety card)? (This has a part 2 see point 6).
4. OBSERVATION IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
Taking the time to look - and I mean really look at something and analyze how it shaped, or formed, and look at it for a period of time before moving the pencil, you will draw better than if you just dive in and start putting down marks. This goes for drawing individual items - to composing a page.
5. Art is the creation of Carefully Observed* or Carefully Considered* shapes and forms on a piece of paper, until you reach a sense of satisfaction of the final outcome.
Put another way: There is NO SUCH THING AS A LINE - ONLY SHAPE AND FORM. Use the pencil to make SHAPES. SHAPES. SHAPES. FORM. FORM. FORM. Living, interacting, breathing, dodging, weaving SHAPE AND FORM.
This does not mean you need to be a slave to perfect anatomy or to details or to absolute accuracy of the car, truck, flower, building etc. It means get things in the right place. (Though learning fundamental structure is still of huge benefit).
When starting out - don't get caught up on specific details - get your shape and form down first - and really work at those forms being in the right spot.
Carefully Observed* vs. Carefully Considered* - Sometimes you might observe a real thing - like your backyard, reference material, a photo, or a mug. This is "Observed" as in you looked at it, studied and analyzed it, and then put it down on paper.
Carefully Considered is you may not have a reference to work from - but you put shapes on paper - now you have to consider how do they work best on that page interacting with each other. Keep shoving, pushing and erasing until it looks like what you want.
6. Sometimes all you need is to make your Character and INTENT of that character one and the same.
What does a character named "Apathy" look like? What about "Awesome Power"? Can you make every form, shape and attribute reflect that concept? Toss anatomy out the window for now and just create that shape or form. Sometimes a character doesn't need fingers or toes...How about "Rage" or "Deceit", or "Perplexed" or "Serene" or "Kindhearted".
7. If stuck, always ask or draw...what if...
...There is more that has popped into my head - but this getting long.I may have rambled, but I just had to kind of vent it out - I may go back and edit this for clarity and/or adjust - but there are some more "Thinking" things that are still in my noggin somewhere.
Hope this helps.
So I decided to do my pages in 3D (or at least one of them).
I may do radically different approaches. I still think there's a few pages left in the Prodigal Son thing. If anyone wants to add a page mention it in the Prodigal Son thread.
Anyway - here's the sculpt, a work in progress. If anyone has insights or commentary have at it. The shoes and hands need some serious work - but it's coming along.
Should I go with "more realistic hair" or sculpted hair?
I'm finally getting my pages done for the Prodigal Son - And the opening shot is the home office...just wondering if there was a way to make a full vertical page more cinematic...
Below is a link to some really good pointers to keep in mind:
Please, subscribe to get an access.