Archive for the 'Comic Book Art' Category

Apr 08 2011

“Uhh, sure, Spidey, but wouldn’t it be easier for you to come to me?”

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Spiderman street art

Kurt Wenner, a former NASA employee, now uses his mathematical skills on things that people actually care about. Like Spiderman optical illusions! Speaking of Spiderman…
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7 responses so far

Aug 04 2010

Demotivational Poster: Pink Batman

Batman Demotivational Poster: Pink Batsuit

As if the nipples on the Batsuit weren’t bad enough.  To be fair, though, it was the 1950s (Detective Comics #241).

4 responses so far

Aug 01 2010

How to Design a Logo for a Comic Book or Graphic Novel

1. Use a style appropriate to your series. Ideally the title identifies something about the series even before the viewer reads the title.



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Jul 20 2010

Rocking the iPad with Fingerpainting and Ironman

I also liked this one of Ironman.

3 responses so far

Jun 29 2010

Some tips on dealing with unpleasant-teammate situations

I saw this today on LinkedIn:

I paid a name artist five months ago in advance for a pin-up for [series name].  In fact, I’ve had several artists, mostly old friends… all consummate professionals.

Just this one artist, who seems to be a bad actor. At the time he said contact him in two weeks and he’d give me an update on the status. Two weeks later I emailed him — nothing. I’ve been emailing him every few weeks very politely at first. Still no response at all. My last couple of emails were more strongly worded and in my last one I told him I’d be telling everyone I know on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and on our blog about it and name him by name. Hell, I’m thinking I’ll put out a press release, too.

What do you think? Does he get away with it, and I have a lesson learned, or do I go nuclear on his ass?

Don’t go public about backstage drama.  It can only make the situation worse.  First, verify what you can. Is he actually being delinquent? You would look like a damn idiot if you accused your artist of going AWOL and it turns out that he was actually in an emergency room after getting hit by a car. (It happens).  At the very least, do not stumble into a slander lawsuit until you actually know (rather than suspect) what is going on!

If you have an editor/publisher, address any concerns to them and discuss whether you need to replace your artist.  Unlike publically accusing your artist of fraud, replacing your artist does not open you up to a slander/libel lawsuit if it turns out his absence was totally innocuous.  If you don’t yet have an editor/publisher, make the determination on your own.  It will cost you time and money and you’ll probably have to scrap most of the work by the original artist.  It’s highly bothersome and usually unprofessional for an artist to go missing for several weeks, but switching to another artist may well be a cure worse than the disease.

Finally, besides getting back at your original artist, going public doesn’t actually help you in any way.  It certainly doesn’t make it any likelier that he’ll come up with the art for you.  It may raise questions about your professionalism and will probably make you look inept.  (Don’t give yourself a reputation for workplace drama).

Some other general ideas to minimize problems with your teammates:

  • When you work with freelancers, pay no more than half upfront and the rest on completion. This increases the artist’s incentive to complete the job.  It also limits the amount of money you lose if everything goes to hell.
  • Work out a schedule ahead of time. I’m not sure what the case was above, but making your expectations clear is usually helpful.
  • Maybe exchange phone numbers. You may be uncomfortable asking for this if you’ve never actually met your freelancer.  However, when you’ve committed yourself to paying somebody thousands of dollars, I think your business relationship is strong enough to justify this request.  (At the very least, as a matter of customer service).
  • Business etiquette: when should you call (rather than e-mail) your freelancer? Since a call is more intrusive than an e-mail, I would only call if your artist hasn’t responded to an urgent e-mail within 1-3 weeks.  For example: the artist misses a deadline by more than a week (without explaining why) and doesn’t respond to an e-mail requesting a status update.  If you call your artist, politely remind him about the schedule, ask if there’s anything you can do to help*, and ask about when he thinks he can have the art in to you.  *Unless he needs clarification, there probably won’t be, but offering is still friendly.

One response so far

Jun 09 2010

Doing Comic Book Covers Well: 5 Tips

1. Market what you have.  The genre should be clear at a glance and the artistic should be consistent with the mood and content.  For example, if the story is a grim and macabre horror, you’d probably want something that suggested what danger(s) the protagonist will face.  Some possibilities that come to mind include a creepy mansion looming in the background, fog obscuring something sinister behind somebody, some supernatural creature, etc. 

2.  It needs to stand out at a distance of 10+ feet.  The single most important audience segment for most comic book covers is prospective readers browsing through a comic book store.  Before they examine the product, you have to grab their attention.  Bold color combinations are one effective way to do so.  I find that scenes involving motion (particularly extraordinary motion, such as a Batman karate leap) tend to be more eye-catching.  Obviously, it helps if something interesting and/or unexpected is  happening.  More on that here.  Finally, the title/logo should be legible across the room (at least 10 feet). 

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2 responses so far

Jun 05 2010

Some features of Adobe CS5 that may help your comic book…

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

Unfortunately, it’s $200 for the upgrade.  Ouch.  Nonetheless, some of the features look like dynamite. Here are some that might help your comic book work.

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Apr 22 2010

If you want a good artist for your comic book script, paying on-spec is not realistic

I saw this today on a comic book forum: “searching 4 artists who want to draw my comics’ covers. its NOT be a paid Job, but ur name will be mentioned with the artwork, and yes, it will commence our long term professional relationship.”

Artist: “Umm, how about you commence our long-term professional relationship by paying me? Also, why would I want to work with a writer that writes worse than I do?”

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2 responses so far

Feb 09 2010

The colors are ready! What do you think?

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

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17 responses so far

Feb 09 2010

How to Find an Artist for Your Comic Book

1.  Most artists won’t work with authors that write worse than they do. When you post your job listing on a website like DeviantArt or LinkedIn, you will be judged on the quality of your writing.  I’d recommend proofreading it. Avoid extraneous details that won’t matter to an artist.  Also, list your published works, if any.  (Experienced partners are usually less risky).


2.  The more specific, the better. “John has adventures” says much less about the art you want than “Haxley is a barbarian that has to mangle his way to the throne.”   If you have a two-sentence synopsis, use it.  For more advice on doing two-sentence synopses, please see this.


3.  What exactly do you need from the artist? If you’re doing a color comic with just one illustrator, you need pencils, inks, colors and letters.   How many pages do you need?  If you’re looking to put together a sample for publishers, you’ll probably want around 5 pages and possibly a cover.  Check the submissions guidelines for each publisher, of course.  If you’re self-publishing, you’ll need the entire issue, which will probably be 22+ pages per issue.


4.  Describe the sorts of characters and creatures you’ll need illustrated. Just regular humans?  A superhero whose power sets him on fire?  Supersoldiers in powersuits?  Fantasy creatures like griffins and dragons?  Werewolves and vampires?  Angels and demons?  Hydras and Zeus? Eldritch horrors?  Eldritch horrors tanning on the beach? Before you hire an artist, make sure he’s comfortable with every major character and the mood of the work.


5.  Will you need unusual props? For example, if you’re writing military sci-fi set in the 23th century, your artist will do a lot of exotic vehicles and weaponry.  If you’re writing a romantic comedy starring me, probably not so much.   Except for the Pimpmobile.

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15 responses so far

Feb 09 2010

Liz Argall has some advice about how to find an artist for your comic…

Check it out here!

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Feb 06 2010

Page 1 is colored!

Published by under Comic Book Art

What do you think?

Please see all five pages here.

13 responses so far

Jan 29 2010

Some tips on checking your comic book’s art

When your team is putting together the comic book, you need to identify potential problems as soon as possible. If you decide that there’s a problem with the outlines but you’ve already gone to coloring, you’ll have to throw out some coloring work and probably some inking. Here are some problems that you need to spot early.

1. Check for continuity. Are the dimensions of the room consistent? Are the characters consistently portrayed? Are the characters as tall and wide as they’re supposed to be? Also, in the toning and coloring stages, please make sure that the lighting sources are consistent.

2. Character placement. Does the placement of the characters make sense? For example, if two characters are walking somewhere but only one of them knows the way, he should probably be in front. Does each character have enough space to perform his later actions? For example, we once had to redo a page because we were boxed in by the walls–it was impossible to have a superhero drop behind a character that was leaning against a wall.

3. Are the character expressions consistent with their lines of dialogue? One particularly tricky area here is when the character’s emotions change dramatically mid-panel. If your script goes something like this, you’re screwed.

Panel 1.
WIFE, annoyed: Your boss kept you late tonight. What gives?
HUSBAND: I got a promotion!
WIFE, excited: Hooray!

Since it’d be very difficult to show the wife being annoyed and excited at the same time, this panel is pretty much doomed.  This is a problem that you need to solve before the page goes to your artist.  For example, you could break this into two panels so that she can emote her annoyance and excitement separately.

4.  Is the amount of dialogue consistent with the panel’s pacing?  For example, if you’re doing an action panel of someone leaping at an enemy, giving them 25+ words of dialogue will damage the pace.  No one can plausibly say that many words in the span of a jump. Too many words will make the action feel slower and less exciting than it should be.   As a rule of thumb, the more intense and involved the action, the fewer words you should use.

5. If something changes, like a character drawing out a prop or something, is it clear where the change came from? For example, if John is unarmed in panel 1 and wielding a gun in the next, readers might wonder where the gun came from.   You could solve that by adding an intermediate panel of him reaching for the gun, or by using motion lines to show that his hand is moving from where his gun used to be.  Alternately, just show time passing or the scene changing.  For example, if panel 1 shows us a police officer driving with his gun holstered, it’ll make sense if his gun is drawn when he gets out to storm a building in panel 2.  We didn’t see him draw the gun, but the situation has changed–now he’s in a much more dangerous situation.

6. If a character has a prop or accessory, does it appear consistently? It’s really easy to lose track of what each character is holding.  Be careful.

Did this article help? If so, please submit it to Stumble!

7 responses so far

Jan 20 2010

What do you think about these pencils?

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

Below the fold, I have uploaded Rebecca’s pencils for the five sample pages I’ll be submitting with my comic book script.  I really like how they’ve turned out!  What do you think?  (If you’d like to see the script for these pages, please see this comment).

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12 responses so far

Jan 17 2010

Here are my thumbnail sketches… what do you think?

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

I’ve uploaded the thumbnail sketches for my five sample pages on Flickr.  If you hold your mouse over a panel, you can read the panel description from the script. What do you think?

9 responses so far

Jan 10 2010

I submit within a month…

Published by under Comic Book Art

I sent out my script to Rebecca for thumbnails tonight.  I’ll submit as soon as the five sample pages are fully inked, colored and lettered (preferably within 2-4 weeks).  Below, I’ve included the script for the five pages, 27-31.

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16 responses so far

Jan 04 2010

Popular Themes in Comic Book Covers

Characters doing a usual activity in a way or setting that is unexpected.

  • For example, someone would look pretty mundane smoking a cigar, but what if he were smoking right next to a corpse?  Probably much more interesting.
  • Holding an iPod is boring, but Thor holding an iPod raises an interesting contrast between tradition and modernity.
  • Many badass detectives and criminals carry guns, but it’s distinctly more disturbing if it’s a kid holding a massive sniper rifle… with a Kennedy campaign button.
  • A guy holding a briefcase is the epitome of dullness.  But a guy handcuffed to a briefcase or a mutant alligator holding a briefcase is more striking.

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One response so far

Nov 30 2009

Prospective Colorer #2: C.H. Sinn

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

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7 responses so far

Oct 26 2009

UPDATED: Please Help Me Pick a Colorer! (New Candidates!)

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

Page 20, panel 1 inked and colored/shaded by Rebecca

I’m a few days away from completing my first issue’s script and I’m gearing up to complete the art sample for publishers.  This is the sort of style I’m going for– realistic with mild stylization.  Phoenix Wright is another example of that. 

Unfortunately, the artist that did the coloring here (Rebecca) isn’t actually available to color the comic because it would take too much time and she’s already doing the comic’s inks.  So, barring some significant advancements in the field of cloning, I need to take on a colorer.  I posted on a few boards have gotten about 60 responses. 

In particular, I’m looking for…

  • Quality– is the portfolio consistently clean and competent?
  • Stylistic compatibility
  • Non-creepiness–the publisher may invite my colorer to promotional events, so I need someone that will reflect well on us.  Relatedly, here’s a professional tip to the two artists that included Sonic fan-art in their portfolios: Don’t. 

I narrowed it down to seven applicants so far.  Here’s a sample work from each.  What do you think?

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11 responses so far

Oct 15 2009

Colorists Needed

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

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2 responses so far

Aug 26 2009

How to Design Outstanding Superhero Costumes

Many first-time comic book writers mistakenly think that it’s okay to give their character bland costumes and let other factors make up for it. While other aspects contribute to the overall success of a superhero, the costume is critical because it’s the first thing a reader sees. Don’t blow your only chance at a first impression by making your hero look like a bum. Here are some tips to design effective and stylish costumes.

1. Keep it functional. When a costume doesn’t feel practical, it will probably make the character seem less realistic and/or competent. For example, if your hero wears a large cape, it’d be hard to believe that he never gets caught on anything. And if it doesn’t, the character may come off as a Mary Sue.

2. Be bold. Don’t be afraid to let your creativity flow when designing a costume. If you have a idea for something that could be interesting try to work it into the costume without compromising functionality. Personally, I prefer to start with an outrageous costume then take away until I find balance. Play with colors, patterns, styles, layers, and accessories until you find the perfect costume exhibiting style and functionality, but…

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97 responses so far

Jul 23 2009

Some tips for comic book artists interested in portfolio reviews

Published by under Comic Book Art

Randy Stradley, one of Dark Horse’s editors, has some portfolio review tips here.

I’d like to add a few of my own.

1.  Include a good mix of regular people, cities, cars, and trees/plants/landscapes. Many artists focus on closeups of superheroes and, frankly, that’s only one part of the art that goes into a superhero comic book.

2.  Show that you have a well-rounded grasp of human anatomy. In particular, a lot of artists have trouble with legs and feet.  If an artist’s portfolio didn’t include any shots that showed at least a bit of human anatomy from the waist down, I’d assume that the artist wasn’t ready yet.  Backshots are also sometimes a problem.

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Jul 15 2009

Writing Contest: What the Hell!?!

Joe Jusko did his best with a rather strange comic book cover.  Please describe what you think is happening in the issue.   Take as much space as you need.

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7 responses so far

Mar 16 2009

Cover Comparison for Savior 28

Check out these alternate covers for Savior 28. I’d like to know what you think.

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4 responses so far

Feb 25 2009

Comic Book Writing Tip of the Day: Sell the Next Issue

I’m very fond of Spiderman Loves Mary Jane, particularly the way it ends its issues. The last page of each issue wraps up the plot of that issue and foreshadows the next issue.  The cliffhangers are usually pretty strong and make the reader want to keep going.  For example, check out these sample concluding pages.

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30 responses so far

Feb 24 2009

Would you like to give me some stylistic feedback?

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16 responses so far

Feb 17 2009

I’d appreciate your design input… yet again

When we last left off, we were working on a cover for the first issue of Superhero Nation.

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4 responses so far

Feb 14 2009

I’d appreciate your design input… again

When we last left off, we were working on two main items…

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10 responses so far

Feb 07 2009

My Favorite Panel of the Day

Published by under Art,Comedy,Comic Book Art

From Ultimate Spiderman #10.

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Jan 27 2009

Care to offer some stylistic feedback?

Thanks, I’d really appreciate it.  Right now, the main thing I’m working on is character-design, specifically a mutant alligator that’s pretty much the Hobbes in a Calvin & Hobbes comic duo.

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17 responses so far

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