Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2002 Captain America mail-in

For years despite wanting to draw comics I never drew comics. I drew sketches and pin-ups, anything but actual comics. I had the idea that how you 'broke into' comics was to mail in samples and keep mailing them in until you proved your desire or fortitude or something. So I put off sending anything off. I felt like once I started sending work in I had send in samples every month and I didn't have that in me, not yet. But the 2002 had changed all that. Meeting C.B. Cebulski and getting good feedback from him had fired me up. It all seemed possible, I could make this happen. C.B. had given me his card and I would make it happen. But I did the worst thing I could possibly do, I didn't follow up with C.B. Oh, I drew pages and sent them off, but I didn't tell him who I was or how we met or anything. I just sent him the same letter I sent every other editor. Dumb move and only a little good luck would fix that. Here's the next sample I sent off. This seems to me to be a step backward from my previous art and I was tempted to switch the two and show I got better and better all the time. But I know this was done later and art isn't digging a ditch, with continual progress. It's something you keep against all opposition even if sometimes the thing holding you back is yourself.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

2002 San Diego Comicon: Thing vs Wrecker

I'll always think of the 2002 San Diego as kind of a turning point for me.

In 2002 the SDCC was a lot smaller then it is now. I went to the con with two friends, Dave Nelson and Richard Jenkins. As an example of how much different the con was, the three of us split a hotel room across from the con (behind the new ballpark) for $69 a night!

This was an amazing time to be attending the San Diego Comicon and I am grateful I was able to attend it before it got huge.

Dave is host of Better Than Fiction, a podcast I cohost and Richard was drawing the comicbook SkyApe. Richard and I both brought art to show to publishers.

If you go to a comic convention now, to get your art looked at by a major publisher you drop copies in a box. They will look through them and pick the people they think are close. These go onto a list and if you're on the list you get a time and you get ushered back in the bowels of the convention center to a one on one meeting with and editor.

In 2002 it didn't work like that. You stood in line or ran to a table to sign a list. Then you got to meet with an editor, sometimes with a huge crowd around you while they talked about what you needed to work on.

I much preferred the old method. Yes, it was a pain and sometimes you stood in a long line, but I got valuable feedback in those days and it felt much more satisfying then just dropping a envelope in a box.

I understand why they do it this way, but I liked the old way.

I had a pro badge based on my work for Acid Jaxx, despite never getting paid or published it qualified me for a SDCC Pro Badge for several years after that. Ironically, I've saved way more in admission to cons from that work then I was ever going to be paid!

Since I had a pro badge I was able to get to the Marvel table and get on the list fairly quickly. Richard and I both signed up for a late afternoon review. At the time Marvel was in or near bankruptcy and so their booth consisted of an 8ft table mixed in with the other small press booths. I don't think they had any sort of banner. It was basically a spot for their talent to do signings and them to look at portfolios.

When we went to our review there was a few people in front of us. C. B. Cebulski was looking at portfolios, which was good because (you may remember) I had gotten a kind note from him for my last mail in submission.

When we went up to the table, C.B. told us he had to leave for a panel and asked if we could come back later in the show.

To make a long story short we went back about 30 minutes before the show closed and he looked at Richards first. I don't know what he said, but I think it was positive. Then it was my turn and he really seemed to like my work. He pointed out some stuff to work on, but he gave me his information and told me to keep in touch!

I guess I thought he was being nice or something so, while I was very happy, I didn't really make much effort to stay in touch after the con. I sent him work, but I just sent him the same form letter I sent everyone else. This was dumb thing to do.

However, the next spring something I never thought would happen  happened and that all changed.

Monday, June 16, 2014

2002: Wolverine in Paris mail-in submission

After my Daredevil sample, I decided to draw a Wolverine sample. Not sure why I picked Paris, but it seemed like an exotic spot for a comic sample. I also like the old style, but cutting edge at the time, zip drive. I was trying to find my 'style' and I think these pages showed a lot of Frank Quietly influence on what I was doing. I don't remember how response was, but I know I got a response from a new to Marvel Assistant editor who went by the initials C.B.

2002: Daredevil vs Kingpin mail-in

At some point it became obvious to me the Acid Jaxx comic wasn't going to become at real thing and I had pretty much given up on getting the 3d animation job so I resolved to turn my attention back to drawing submissions. I didn't really have access to any scripts, so I modified the Spider-Man script I used for San Diego and drew this. I tried to follow the advice I had been given in San Diego. For example, I started collecting books on New York City and used that as reference. Also, I specifically remember Mark Chiarello (of DC Comics) telling me to show more 'height' in the last panel, so you got sense of the danger. So I tried to do that. I don't remember how the response was to this sample. I know at the time I'd send out 50 -60 sample packets and get back 7 or 8 responses. But the real important thing about this sample was I got back in the habit of producing work.

Friday, June 6, 2014

2001/2002: I got my first paying job Acid Jaxx!!

I guess the tryout went well because sometime in the fall of 2001 I was offered the job drawing Acid Jaxx, starting with issue #2. It was awesome, my first paying comic job! I was excited! The only problem was the writer didn't have the whole script written. He was sending me several pages a month.

In the end, the project ground to a halt and I stopped getting script pages and he stopped answering my email. I think he last email to me was something like. "I would never bail on an artist. I am having trouble finding an inker. I will contact you with the inkers address soon." And I never heard back.

However, there is more to this story and later on Acid Jaxx will resurface.

These are all the pages I could find, but I think there may have been a few more. At the pace we were working this kept me busy fall/winter of 2001 and 2002.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

2001/2002: I was offered the chance to tryout for my first paying comic.

Last post I talked about trying to learn 3d animation for a job someone was dangling in front of me. Well the job never materialized and after over a year I realized that it was never going to happen. I think 9/11 may have had something to do with it, who knows?

In the fall of 2001 after the 'job offer' seemed to vanish I spent a lot of time posting art in online forums for comic creators. Through this I was approached about drawing an ongoing comic for a very small company called Destiny Valley.

I was only offered $20 a page, but I didn't care. I was excited to be offered the chance to work on any comic, much less making a few bucks. I've never worried about the money, I figured if I did good work everything would work itself out.

To get the job I had to draw 3 pages of a tryout of a character called Devine Wraith.

2001: The year I didn't go to the SanDiego Comicon, but my artwork did.

The last entry I talked about going to SDCC and how when I got back I was approached by someone about a job doing 3d animation and how I spent the next year or so learning 3d animation to try and get  job that never happened.

However when the summer of 2001 rolled around I started thinking about the convention and not going. At this point I still was pretty lukewarm about drawing comics and so I decided to skip '01. However online I met a writer, Marc Bryant, who was putting together a book of 2 page stories he was going to give out at the convention to showcase his writing and some of his concepts.

When he invited me to be part of this I jumped on it and I drew "Seventh Son" a story about a guy who sees demons.

I think Marc came back with some sort of gig, but I never heard a peep about this and so I kept working on 3d animation.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

2000 My First San Diego Comic-Con

In 2000 my wife and I decided to attend the San Diego Comic-con with my buddy Dave and his wife. I had been fair response to my mail-in samples, but they were brief. We had always wanted to attend the big con and so I drew these pages.

First I showed them to Mark Chiarello of DC comics. He had a notebook with examples that he used to illustrate his advice. For example, one thing he told me was my backgrounds looked faked and he showed some examples of cityscapes done right from his notebook. He told me I had lots of work ahead of me, but I had potential.

Then I signed up for a portfolio review from Marvel and Chris Claremont and Len Wein looked at my pages. They were encouraging, but like Mark they told me I had a lot of work ahead of me.

After the con I was approached by a former coworker who was working for a place that did 3d animation. He tried to get me a job there so I spent over a year learning 3d animation and trying to get a job with his company. While I kept drawing comic samples periodically, it was a distraction that never paid off

Which is too bad because things were starting to get good. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The '90s: Iron Man Sample

 This is the last of what I consider my early attempts at drawing comics. I know I mailed off more samples then this and I also filled several sketchbooks, but this good sampling of where my skills were in the early days. Most of that stuff has been trashed long ago and rightly so. Despite the poor quality of the art, it was the best I could do at the time and since this is a history of my journey, I think it's important to show where I started.
I tended to lump all this early stuff together and so the actual order might be a little different
I don't know where I came up with this plot, but I thought it was kinda funny to imagine Tony Stark sitting around watching TV and seeing Namor tearing up Manhattan. I remember I mailed this off and I got good response. Back in those days I'd send off about 50 packets and I'd get back about 10-15 response letters. It was expensive to send out samples, but I think you got a lot better response when you mailed in art.
Also, there was something exciting about coming home to find a response letter or two in your mailbox. I never got hired from any of that, but the responses I got were encouraging. Maybe they were just being nice, but it was enough to keep me working.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The 90's I joined an APA and drew FIGHT!!

Sometime around now I joined an APA. In the days before internet forums, an APA was a way to share your art with a small group of people. You would create your pages and mail them to a 'moderator'. They would collect all these and create spiral bound copies for all the members and mail them out. You paid a fee to cover costs and were expected to comment on other members contributions in the last issue.

The APA I joined was in a state of disarray and eventually folded. I sent in all the previous pages, plus this. This was the last thing I sent to the APA and I don't thing it ever got sent out. It was a neat thing to be a member of, but it only lasted about 6 months after I joined before it folded.

I have no idea where the idea for this came from, I know for a fact I hadn't read or seen Fight Club when I created this, but who knows.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The '90s: My Fantastic Four Samples

Encouraged (maybe too much) by the response to my Wonder Woman sample I decided to drew more samples. Next I drew a Fantastic Four Sample. Only two things stick out about this sample in my mind. I had never draw something smashing thru glass, but I had read where John Byrne said when you drew something breaking glass you drew three times the glass then whould actually be in the window. Or something like that.
The other thing was I was trying to figure out how to draw stuff and so I drew Johnny Storm in a way that was very inspired by the prince from Alladin.
I still got lots of response from these pages, but the one I remember was one of the Marvel Editors told me my figures looked too 'cartoony' and Marvel didn't publish cartoony art! I've heard other artists say they got similar feedback.  

The '90s: So I decided I wanted to try my hand at drawing comics...

Sometime in the late '90s I decided it would be cool to try and draw comics. I had read comics as a kid, but stopped reading them around the time I turned 16. When I was in art school one of the instructors was also a comic artist named Mike Kennedy. Being around him got me interested in reading comics, but it would be several years after I graduated before I would try my hand at drawing comics.
This is my first attempt at drawing real sequential pages. Based off a story from when John Byrne was creating Wonder Woman, I gave my wife the comic and asked her to write a sample script for me to drawn.
I made a huge list of all the editors I could find in the books in my local comic shop and mailed off copied. I used to mail out 50 - 60 packets with every sample. I still have fond memories of the process of putting together all those packets. I must be crazy, but honestly the sense that any one of those packets could be your breakthrough was pretty exhilarating. Sending off emails isn't really the same.
Amazingly, I actually got lots of feedback to these pages. Nobody hired me, but it was surprisingly encouraging, especially considering how terrible these pages are.