#28 SPRING 2014 $8.95
The professional “HOW-TO” magazine on comics, cartooning and animation
MAKING A PROPHET
PRODUCER AND STORYBOARD ARTIST
DAVE BULLOCK REGULAR COLUMNISTS
JERRY ORDWAY & JAMAR NICHOLAS
PLUS! MIKE MANLEY AND BRET BLEVINS’
THE PROFESSIONAL “HOW-TO” MAGAZINE ON COMICS & CARTOONING WWW.DRAW-MAGAZINE.BLOGSPOT.COM SPRING 2014, VOL. 1, #28 Editor-in-Chief • Michael Manley Managing Editor and Designer • Eric Nolen-Weathington Publisher • John Morrow Logo Design • John Costanza Front Cover • Farel Dalrymple DRAW! Spring 2014, Vol. 1, No. 28 was produced by Action Planet, Inc. and published by TwoMorrows Publishing. Michael Manley, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Editorial address: DRAW! Magazine, c/o Michael Manley, 430 Spruce Ave., Upper Darby, PA 19082. Subscription Address: TwoMorrows Publishing, 10407 Bedfordtown Dr., Raleigh, NC 27614. DRAW! and its logo are trademarks of Action Planet, Inc. All contributions herein are copyright 2014 by their respective contributors. Views expressed here by contributors and interviewees are not necessarily those of Action Planet, Inc., TwoMorrows Publishing, or its editors. Action Planet, Inc. and TwoMorrows Publishing accept no responsibility for unsolicited submissions. All artwork herein is copyright the year of production, its creator (if work-for-hire, the entity which contracted said artwork); the characters featured in said artwork are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners; and said artwork or other trademarked material is printed in these pages with the consent of the copyright holder and/or for journalistic, educational, or historical purposes with no infringement intended or implied. This entire issue is ©2014 Action Planet, Inc. and TwoMorrows Publishing and may not be reprinted or retransmitted without written permission of the copyright holders. ISSN 1932-6882. Printed in China. FIRST PRINTING.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Eric Nolen-Weathington interviews the writer/artist about world-building and surviving in the real world.
RIGHT WAY, WRONG WAY—ORDWAY!
Shazam! step by step, from plot to finished art.
Mike Manley interviews the director/storyboard artist/comic book artist—what doesn’t he do?
comic art bootcamp This month’s installment: In with the In Crowd: Drawing Multiple Figures
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Farel Dalrymple Pop Gun Warrior
Pop Gun Warrior
Interview Conducted and Transcribed by Eric Nolen-Weathington
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A drawing from Farel’s sketchbooks. Artwork © Farel Dalrymple.
DRAW!: You’ve been pretty busy. FAREL DALRYMPLE: Oh yeah. [laughs] DRAW!: You finished up The Wrenchies just a few months ago, and Delusional came out recently. Let’s talk about Delusional first. What went into your editing process? How did you decide what to include and what to leave out, and how did it come about in the first place? FD: The book came about because Chris Pitzer from AdHouse contacted me. I had done some stuff for some of his books, like Project: Superior, and he just asked me if I was interested in doing a book with him. I had been thinking about doing a collection of sketchbook stuff and/or a comic book collection of all the anthology work I’ve done over the years, so I told him, “Well, I want to do this, and I want to do this.” He was like, “Why don’t we just do them together?” so I gave him pretty much everything I had. [laughter] I think it was around 500 pages, and I laid each page out sort of how I wanted it. He sent me back some PDFs of the design he did on it. A lot of things he blew up or repositioned; he added tones to certain pages. Since I was trying to finish up Wrenchies, I asked him to do all that stuff. [laughs] It was a lot of work for him. We went back and forth a couple of times. The book comes out at a little over 200 pages,
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so half the stuff I gave him, he didn’t use. I think most of that was sketchbook stuff. I think most of the comic stories I gave him, he used. A lot of the sketchbook material ended up on the cutting room floor. DRAW!: So he took over most of that process, and you were mostly just approving his designs as things went along. FD: Yeah. I gave him all the pages formatted, but he did all the design. He’s good at that sort of thing. [laughter] Generally I like doing my own design on things like that—or at least making it look more like me—but it was kind of a mishmash of art, and I really like the work that he did. He always produces really good books. He did James Jean’s art books, Paul Pope’s, Sterling Hundley’s—I really like the way that book looks. I figured he knows what he’s doing, [laughter] and I had other things to worry about. That’s what he does for a living, [laughs] so I trusted him and I was really happy with the results. It’s kind of neat just giving someone some artwork and seeing what they come up with. I mean, we went back and forth a lot on things, so he didn’t surprise me with anything. DRAW!: Was there anything you wanted to get in the book that didn’t make the cut?
a pretty big following, but it seemed more like an excuse to make a comic story. “I want to be involved in the next Meathaus comic, so let’s make a comic story I can put in there.” I don’t know if it necessarily opened any doors or got me any accolades, but there is a little bit of a rep, like you were saying, having the name recognition. Plus, there are a couple of other comics that kind of sound like it, like Dame Darcy’s Meat Cake. “Oh yeah, I think I’ve heard of that.” [laughter] But I’m glad I did it. The power you get from being around other people making stuff, it was neat just for that. It was a way to keep in touch with other artists. DRAW!: Did it demystify the process for you too? “This is a viable thing I can do.” FD: Exactly. It’s proof of your existence or something. “I did this.” DRAW!: What were you doing to make money? FD: The same thing I do now: whatever I can to survive. [laughter] I do a little more paid comics work now. The past couple of years I’ve be trying to figure out how to marry the money-making things with my personal work. I worked at an art supply store for while—Utrecht on 4th Avenue. I worked at an ad agency for a bit. I actually worked at a Flash animation company during the dot. com boom, and that’s where I met Brandon Graham. Chris McDonald and I both worked there, and I think Becky Cloonan might have worked there too. Urban Box Office was the name of the company, and they did all these weird Flash animation things that they hosted. I guess the idea was to sell advertising space. I don’t know how they were making any money from it, but there were a bunch of comics artists and animators who were starting out working there. LeSean Thomas worked there at the time. I worked there about six months, and then the bottom dropped out and I got laid off. I worked at a vegan restaurant for a while. I used to go into Bob Schreck’s office at DC and bug him, and he gave me work on Caper. That’s when I quit my coffee shop job—or at least cut back to working there one day a week or something. “I’m a professional now.” DRAW!: Schreck is good friends with Matt Wagner. The Grendel job came first, right? FD: Oh yeah! That was one of my first gigs. I like Matt’s stuff a lot. I think someone else was originally supposed to draw that, and the funny thing about that story was he told me to make the villain look like John Byrne. [laughter] I thought that was pretty funny.
That was my main instruction for the story, “Just make that guy look like John Byrne.” [laughter] That might have been through Diana Schutz, because she gave me some of my first paying work through the Autobiographix anthology. It had Frank Miller and a bunch of other guys in there. This was after I’d started doing Pop Gun War, and someone must have given her a copy of that—Jim Mahfood or someone like that I’d met at a show. She called me at work—I was working at a coffee shop in the East Village area—and said, “Hey, do you want to do this thing?” I was like, “Yeah, that sounds awesome! I get paid to do comics?” [laughter] That was the first thing, and the Grendel job was not too long after that. I must have met Schreck through Diana Schutz. DRAW!: Speaking of Pop Gun War, it was around the time the Grendel story came out that you received the Xeric Grant. They’re not doing the individual grants anymore, but how big was that for you at the time?
More from Farel’s sketchbooks. Artwork © Farel Dalrymple. Batman © DC Comics.
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A page from the sequel to Farel’s Pop Gun War, shown here in Farel’s inks and finished watercolors. Pop Gun War © Farel Dalrymple.
FD: That was huge. I don’t know if I’d be making comics without it. I’m very grateful for Peter Laird for establishing that. It makes sense they aren’t doing it anymore because of the whole crowdsourcing thing. It seems a lot easier to get money to do a comic than it used to be. Maybe not to get a page rate, [laughter] but at a time there wasn’t anything like that. I’d been working on the first issue of Pop Gun War, and a buddy of mine, Dan Zalkus, who is good about emailing me information about art and artists, told me about it. “Hey, have you heard about this Xeric Grant? You should apply for one of those.” So I went to their website, found out all the information, and saw that they wanted five copies of everything—I guess they had five judges—and you had to be 90% done with your book. I had almost all of it done, except maybe the last few pages were only penciled. So I sent them five copies of the photocopied book, five copies of my artist statement, and I slipped in one copy of the Smith’s Adventures book. There wasn’t anything in the instructions about it, but I thought they might want to see something I’d already done. I got a letter back saying they wanted four
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more copies of Smith’s Adventures. It was still under the deadline, so I sent those four extra copies off, and then I got the grant. When people asked me about it when they were applying for it, I’d tell them, “Just make sure you send five copies of everything.” [laughter] But I love that they had that grant. That was really cool of Peter Laird to share his Turtles fortune with the comic world. DRAW!: Do you think it helped you sell Pop Gun War? FD: I think there’s something to that. I remember they took an ad out in Previews, “Here are all the Xeric winners.” They used some of my art in that ad, so maybe that inspired people to check it out. I’m sure it didn’t hurt. I noticed that sometimes people would get a Xeric Grant and say, “Winner of the Xeric Award!” [laughs] It’s not really an award—well, I guess they’re awarding you money. [laughter] It’s better than an award to me, because it’s someone believing in your work enough to give you thousands of dollars to help fund it. It was way more validating than getting some accolade.
DRAW!: You were working mostly in black-and-white during this time. Were you doing any color work outside of your comics work? FD: Any color stuff I did at that time was oil painting. DRAW!: Were you still flirting with fine art? FD: Kind of. I didn’t really do much of it. I had painting classes, and I even had a class where I did a series of paintings on the “Book of Revelation.” I was still pretty religious at that time sadly. I was still oil painting. I would sit in on a lot of oil painting classes at SVA. I would use a print shop a lot too. I would make prints and etchings and different things like that, and I would use colors in monotypes. But I didn’t really start using watercolors—I mean, I did a little bit in school, but I didn’t color my comics until later. DRAW!: Was it just a matter of time and speed that you went to watercolor? FD: Yeah, it seemed faster to me than working in Photoshop. Photoshop was more of a learning process for me, and I would get really caught up in minutiae—zooming in on an image and saying, “Oh, this isn’t quite right.” But with watercolor, you can go pretty fast, and if you make mistakes, it doesn’t really matter. I mean, some people are pretty tight with their watercolors, but I felt with my style— DRAW!: It fits with the organic feel of your pencils and inks. It’s not a slick look, so the watercolor is a natural fit.
FD: Yeah, I agree. Plus it’s kind of fun to do—more fun than coloring on a computer anyway. [laughs] DRAW!: The coloring programs have really improved over the years. Have you ever tried duplicating the effect of your watercolors digitally with paint programs? FD: I’m not really interested in duplicating the effect. I think that’s when you get in trouble with Photoshop. Certain people are good at it. It lends itself to making things look old. Jim Rugg does that a lot with his comics, using screens to make it look like the old printing process. I know there are things you can do to make it look like paint, but to me it’s like, “I’ll just paint it then. Why would I do that on a computer?” Whenever I computer color things, the stuff I enjoy looking at and the stuff I like doing is really flat. I just like the way that looks. You have all this technology at your disposal, and all these tricks and tools, but keeping it really subtle and understated I feel is the way to go—like Dave Stewart’s coloring on Hellboy in Hell. Every once in a while there’ll be something vibrant, but for the most part there are just greys and browns—real subtle. I love that stuff. I feel like it makes the line art—especially when you’re dealing with someone as graphic as Mike Mignola—stronger. DRAW!: He has a brighter palette when he works with Darwyn Cooke, but it’s a similar approach. FD: Yeah. I recently got to see some of the pages he’s coloring for Craig Thompson’s new book, Space Dumplins, and that stuff looks amazing, and it looks different too from what he’s doing on Hellboy. DRAW!: Have you thought about doing some type of project down the road where the flat coloring might work better for you?
An example of Farel’s digital coloring. Artwork © Farel Dalrymple.
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with him. I’ll put him on the superhero team.” [laughter] There’s a guy in the book who’s this big, grey dude who wears jeans. He’s a scientist, so everyone calls him The Scientist, even though he has a name. That character came from a comic I was supposed to draw a long time ago. The guys who were doing the comic said, “We’re not into your design, so we’re going to go with another artist.” I liked the design though, so I used it.
Two more of the Wrenchies, Bance (left) and Tad (right). The Wrenchies © Farel Dalrymple
DRAW!: For something like Wrenchies, because it has a pretty big cast, how many of the characters came out of that sketching process, and how many came when you sat down to write the book? FD: Most of the characters in the book were used for something else originally, or I had thought about using them for something else originally. Like, the Hollis character was a character I used for the anthology stories I did for Chris Pitzer. The Wrenchies itself is inspired from a short story I did for the last Meathaus collection, S.O.S., and I’ve included that story as an afterword at the end. Most of the adult Wrenchies—because there are two groups of Wrenchies. It sounds so ridiculous. [laughter] The designs for the adult superhero Wrenchies came from a couple of old failed comic proposals back when I was still living in New York. Some of them are from a story I was trying to develop with Ann Nocenti, the writer. That project never manifested, but I used some of the character designs to inspire some of the guys in The Wrenchies. I guess it’s a mish-mash. I did some character designs in my sketchbook specifically for The Wrenchies, but there are a few characters from random other places. “I like this guy, even though I don’t know what to do
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DRAW!: Do the characters stick with you, or do you have to look back through your sketchbooks when you’re trying to flesh out the cast of a story? FD: It’s kind of hard to remember with that one in particular, because so much has changed since I originally designed him. But I feel like I had those drawings and some folders of different things I want to use one day, and I picked all that stuff out specifically for The Wrenchies. “Yeah, these characters will work well with the story.” I had some kind of attachment to the scientist character, and when I looked at him, I said, “I’ll use him as this guy.” I wanted a really smart person who invents gadgets, and something about the way he looked seemed antithetical to that type of character—he’s a big strong dude, but he never uses his size or strength at all in the story. He just happens to have this big robot body. I love stuff like that. Not to pat myself on the back too hard. [laughter] Maybe nobody else will like that. DRAW!: Going back to Omega the Unknown, the book got quite a bit of critical acclaim. Did you have more people coming up to your table at shows, or anything like that after the book came out? FD: I don’t think so. It’s kind of hard to tell. It didn’t seem like there was any big response that came out of it. Even at the time I was working on it, I didn’t get emails from anyone about it. [laughs] I don’t know how well it sold for Marvel— probably not too well. DRAW!: It must have done reasonably well, because they did a hardcover collection. FD: I don’t know what the deal was with that, because the production on that book is amazing. Paul Hornschemeier was responsible for that. We wanted to print it on matte paper, but that was the one thing Marvel insisted on—“No, we have to
have it on glossy paper.” But other than that, they let him do pretty much what he wanted, and it might have even gone over budget. But they haven’t done a paperback collection. You said it was critically acclaimed, but at the time it was coming out, I didn’t really hear much about it at all from anybody, including Marvel. [laughter] Considering the writer is a New York Times bestselling author—I’m not trying to slag Marvel, because I appreciate them, but I felt like they dropped the ball on promoting it. Maybe that’s just sour grapes on my part. [laughter] After the collection came out—maybe even a couple of years after—I started to get a lot of positive response to it, which was really weird. I mean, it was cool, I like the job I did on it, and I’m glad I got to work with Jonathan, but it was a couple of years later that I heard, “Hey, I meant to tell you, I really liked Omega the Unknown.” “Okay, cool, thanks. A couple of years after the fact, but thanks.” [laughter] At the time I was doing it, people were telling me, “This is going to change your life.” Maybe it did. Maybe that’s why First Second picked up The Wrenchies. “Oh, this guy’s doing work for Marvel. Let’s give him a book.” I don’t know, but no one said that. It wasn’t ever spelled out for me like, “Now that you’re doing Omega, your life is changing.” [laughs] It was cool getting to do it. I was and still am a fan of Jonathan, so it was awesome getting to work with him. And it was neat to fulfill a childhood fantasy of doing a series, even a limited series, for Marvel. I feel like people really didn’t know what to make of that book, because it had an indie vibe to it, but it was still Marvel.
DRAW!: It came out after Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules, right? So Marvel had already done something with a similar tone. FD: Guy Davis drew that, right? DRAW!: He penciled and inked from James Sturm’s layouts. FD: Craig Thompson did the covers, and he was supposed to be the artist on that. DRAW!: Yeah, he bowed out to work on Blankets. FD: That was a cool series. That was even more subdued than Omega. We actually had fight scenes and action. [laughter] DRAW!: We’ve brought up Brandon Graham a couple of times already, and Prophet has a pretty strong following. FD: Yeah, I feel like that is the most mainstream thing I’ve done in a way. I don’t know if it’s just the strength of Brandon Graham’s rep in comics, but I’ve gotten more feedback from those two issues of Prophet I’ve done than almost anything else I’ve done in comics—even my own work. It’s been good exposure. And they were fun to do too. I like working with Brandon, and I love science fiction. It’s pretty much Conan in space, and I like drawing space barbarians. [laughter] DRAW!: I’ve mentioned this to you before, but the book seems like it belongs to you guys—you and Brandon and Simon Roy and Giannis Milanogiannis—more so than it does Rob Liefeld. It doesn’t feel like you’re doing a work-for-hire job.
A finished panel from The Wrenchies. The Wrenchies © Farel Dalrymple
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The Right Way, The Wrong Way, and The
OrdWay ! The Power of writing and drawing shazam! by Jerry Ordway
n this installment, I want to show the steps I followed in bringing an issue of the Power of Shazam! from start to finish. A little back story will be helpful for any readers not familiar with my past work as a writerartist. One of my most enjoyable projects for comics was re-introducing the original Captain Marvel to DC comics readers. I created a fully painted 96-page origin story, The Power of Shazam!, which was published both in hardcover and softcover. A year later, I helped launch a new monthly series, as writer and cover painter, with artists Peter Krause and Mike Manley. With issue #42, I took over as penciler, in addition to my writing and cover painting chores. With any comic, you start with a script. At the time, the most popular method was to write a detailed outline, or plot, which gave the artist the ability to lay out each page to his own liking. The writer would then customize his or her dialogue (the word balloons) to the artwork provided by the penciler. In the situation on Shazam, being the artist as well as writer, I could get away with writing a barebones outline. As you can see from the sample pages of plot, I described enough for the editor, Mike Carlin, to know what was going to happen in the issue. We had previously discussed the direction for the whole yearâ€™s worth of stories, so none of this happened in a vacuum. For this particular issue, the plot was written a few months before I was ready to draw it.
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The Plot Thickens! (previous page and this page) The plot pages Jerry faxed—remember faxes?—to Power of Shazam! Editor Mike Carlin for approval. Power of Shazam! © DC Comics
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The time gap from my writing the outline until the start of drawing was helpful because it gave me the time to chew over the story beats and allowed me to second-guess what I’d written earlier. In drawing the layouts, I formulated the dialogue while I sketched. On the first two pages, I drew them at around 6" x 8" size, each on the clean side of a sheet of reused copy paper. I used a hard lead in my mechanical pencil, and scribbled in the shapes and forms loosely, creating a mess of lines in graphite. Once the motion of the scene looks right to me, I will “ink” the scribbles, picking out the shapes with a Sharpie permanent marker, or a fine-tipped Pentel marker for smaller details. Working with the markers allows me to be quite messy with my pencil, and refine the drawing in ink. Then I erase the graphite, leaving a relatively clean image to photocopy. Marker also insures that the lines you draw will be dark enough to show through when you put the photocopy under the sheet of two-ply Strathmore paper on the lightbox.
PRELIMINARY Examination Pages 3 to 22 were drawn smaller, with two prelim pages per sheet of paper. My only reason for doing so was to force myself to complete the layouts faster. I don’t know why it works for me, but I could do two pages on one sheet in the same time I was drawing one larger prelim on a whole sheet. The larger layout size had me drawing tighter prelims, which made the enlarging and tracing a bit more monotonous. For this monthly comic to be completed, I had to lay out the whole book in under a week, which left me about two weeks to pencil the pages onto the actual comic paper. Next I had to type up all the dialogue and captions, and mark up where the balloons fit, on accompanying copies of the pages. These were sent to the editor, who then sent them on to the letterer, John Costanza. Oh, and somewhere within that month I also had to reserve time in which to paint the cover and write another issue’s plot! The deadline was tight.
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Savage Brush the
Dave Bullock Interview conducted by Mike Manley and transcribed by Jon Knutson DRAW!: What are you up to these days? I think the last time we talked was when we worked on New Frontier, and then you were working on He-Man—the new-new He-Man. Dave Bullock: Well, we worked together in 2008 on JLA: New Frontier but last saw each other around 2000 when I was helping out on the He-Man series. He’s on his way back again I think.
Hasbro. They’ve come out with something new... I don’t know if they’ve announced it yet. I know there’s a new series, but I don’t know if they’ve mentioned the name of it publicly yet. But I’ve wrapped up with Hasbro, and now I’m doing some work for Valiant, and I’m helping out on a couple of little side projects that are pretty cool. DRAW!: Valiant—you mean the comic book company? DB: Yeah, I’ve mostly been doing some covers with them, but I’ve just started on an eight-pager with those guys.
DRAW!: So every ten years they dust off Castle Greyskull, and a new generation of kids get to…. DB: Well, they’re selling toys like crazy, I know. I’ve got a few of the new toys, so maybe it’ll be back with a new cartoon. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.
DRAW!: Let’s go back to the beginning. We actually worked on a lot of the original Batman toons back at Warner Brothers, and the one I remember specifically, was it “Heart of Ice”? DB: You were probably there before me. I was there doing some Superman shows.
DRAW!: And you worked on the adaptation of The New Frontier. DB: That’s right. I directed the toon adaptation of Darwyn [Cooke]’s great comic.
DRAW!: Bret Blevins and I started on the same show, Superman, which was the Lobo two-parter. DB: Yeah, you guys were there probably three months prior to me getting on board.
DRAW!: And then you did work on Transformers, or am I misremembering that? DB: Yes, I was on for the full run of Transformers: Prime, probably about five years or so, maybe even six I was with
DRAW!: Where were you before that? DB: I was in college! [laughter]
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DRAW!: Oh, really?
DB: Yeah, I was in college… You know what? I had actually done some work on the Fox Spider-Man cartoon. So I did put some time in on production, probably about a year prior to making the move over to WB. I had grown up a huge Superman fan, and when I saw a couple of images where WB was putting together a new Superman series, I figured I’d try to get involved. It was all about Clark Kent, and his story there. So yes, I went over to WB, and came in on a crazy episode with a demon called Karkhal. DRAW!: Yeah, I remember that. DB: You and I were on Dan Riba’s unit. I remember seeing you had done some really fun stuff with the demons flying around the Daily Planet there.
DRAW!: It’s funny, because so many people I know in comics want to work in animation, and almost everybody I know in animation wants to do comics, so there’s a real crossfeed back and forth. I think I was so burnt out on comics in a way that coming into animation was like a new territory, and I was very excited to do that. It didn’t seem to matter to me that my name wasn’t going to be out front. You still got your name on the credits as being the storyboard guy. Now, when you watch a show, they shove the credits over to the side and run them really super-fast so nobody can really read the credits anymore!
DRAW!: That was the show where a demon was turning people into other demons, or something like that? DB: Right, and you had a great Lois Lane demon. DRAW!: I enjoyed working on Superman. That’s actually when it seemed like the pressure was kicking up, and things were changing in the landscape of television cartoons. DB: Right, and I didn’t know any better, because I hadn’t been in it for too long, but that’s when cable started to really open up, and WB launched their own network. But I can tell you from my point of view, the explosions got bigger, and Lois’ skirt got shorter. [laughter] DRAW!: It wasn’t too long after that that Saban got out of making the stuff, and everything really changed. DB: The Lion King movie really blew up big, and opened up a lot of the animation. There was a lot more starting to happen. I guess that was the mid-’90s, about ’96. DRAW!: Yes, because I came on in ’99. I was still working for DC, inking Power of Shazam!, which was the last monthly comic book regular series that I did, and I stayed on that while I started doing the boards. When the boards worked out, I stopped doing the regular comic books. DB: Looking back, did you miss having your name directly on the front of the material as a comic book artist? I guess there are pros and cons to both, being a storyboard artist and a comic artist.
Dave revisits his Superman roots with a variant cover for Superman Unchained #2. Superman © DC Comics
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(this page and next) Dave’s storyboards for the direct-to-video Wonder Woman animated feature produced by Bruce Timm. Wonder Woman © DC Comics
DB: They want to cover themselves legally, but they don’t want anyone to be able to read your name. I’ve found all that stuff to be a lot of fun, no matter what I was working on. I’ve always sort of let my heart lead me to stuff that’s more project-specific, as opposed to, “Was it a cartoon or a comic book?” I think maybe that’s the key to trying to keep this stuff fresh for ourselves, as you’ve mentioned. DRAW!: One of things that also appealed to me was that I felt the comics had gotten away from the source material in a way, and at least at the time, the cartoons were really about the core of the character. That’s one of the things I enjoyed about Superman, was that it was really about Superman. DB: Yeah, I really have to hand it to those guys; they really had a smart set of heads on their shoulders when it came to boiling the characters down to their essence, and building them back up from a ground zero point. But they had the benefit of many decades of comic books under their feet to build upon—standing on the shoulders of giants. DRAW!: Yes, exactly. I think what I realize now, in hindsight, is that comic books tried to be more adult, in a way, and felt embarrassed by the fact that this material appealed to children. They tried to take the work and make it more adult, whereas the cartoons actually kept the characters in the core state of what was good about them, so they didn’t have to apologize for the fact that Superman should appeal to a tenyear-old boy. That’s who he was created for. They didn’t have to make people into prostitutes and stuff. I think, in comics, they felt like, “Superman is boring. He’s been out for a long
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time.” But when you take a character like that and make it more adult, you kind of lose the core of what the character’s about, and I think that’s why I liked the cartoon, because it’s Superman; it’s a pure version of that character. DB: That’s part of the trick of publishing, because it goes on, month in and month out, and you try to figure out as a publisher how do you keep this character fresh? I know as a young guy, when I went into Bruce Timm’s office for the first time, and they were interviewing me for Superman, the first question out of my mouth was, “Is he going to have long hair?” [laughter] I was more concerned with pushing the version of the character I had grown up with, and it didn’t necessarily fall into whatever was happening on a monthly basis in the comics at that time. But I see they’ve rebooted the entire universe in the past couple of years. Have you been keeping up with the New 52 at all? DRAW!: No, no. I will readily admit that I go into the comic book store every couple of months, I flip through stuff, and I usually put it right back on the shelf. DB: It’s a lot to keep up with. There are so many books, I think the idea that they started with a smaller line and continued to build on that was a good idea, but I don’t know; it gets tricky. We’ve all grown up with these characters, and different generations have different ideas as to who they are, and if it’s not your version of Superman on the stands, you’re less likely to pick it up. DRAW!: Oh, that’s true. I teach people who are generally 20 to 30 years younger than me, and I’m always interested in
names all the time on all the various shows. It’s sort of jump over here, jump over there. DB: Right, I think it’s all about what sort of filmmaking you best fit into as an artist. I’d always been more attracted to the super-jock type shows, and anything that had more of a cinematic staging. But more and more now, I’m seeing things have been heightened even more so. You’re getting shows like this new Ninja Turtles which has a lot of comedy and a lot of character along with a lot of action, and lots of characters on screen at once. DRAW!: I’ve never been a big fan of wanting to work on shows that had eight characters on it, because it just ends up being a lot of work. I mean, it’s a lot to do with just one character or two characters. You have to really love drawing to do this, because it takes a lot of drawing power to do a storyboard. DB: It is, and then when you start to compare it by saying, “Well, how much did I earn this week?” it’s sort of... “How many comic book covers would I need to do in a week to match that? One or two?” So I started looking at that as I got a little bit older, and it’s probably like what I said before, what keeps this fresh is that I try to dip a toe into one, some more illustration versus the storyboarding. But I do like working in both fields, and I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve been able to stay relevant with the technology and stay employed to some degree in both fields. DRAW!: That’s always an interesting fulcrum, because when you’re in the industry, and you’re working for Warner Brothers, and they decide, “We’re going to change from paper to digital,” you were able to get educated and carry on, because you’re working for them. Whereas if you’re freelancing and you’re on your own, you really have to buy that program and educate yourself in order to be able to stay employable, you know what I mean? If you go, “Hey, I’ve got my Post-It Notes and my Scotch Removable Tape, I’m ready to do my storyboard,” they’ll go, “Sorry, there’s no paper over here!” [laughs] You’ve got to go out and buy a Cintiq, which costs what, about two grand to buy the big rig, and you’ve got to buy Storyboard Pro, which I’d imagine is, like most programs, at least $500–1,000, so you’re laying out a couple of grand easy just to even get the job!
And, finally, the white highlights are added. Batman © DC Comics
DB: Yeah, absolutely. Nobody said it was cheap to be an artist! [laughter] You have expenses on either side. I guess a lot of guys buy their own paper if they’re working in comics, but then they’ll still at least need a scanner to get it to the inker, or ink it themselves and scan it and send it off to an editor, so there’s definitely some overhead on both sides of the fence. But yeah, it was a bit more with the Cintiq purchase and all that. But it’s part of having to stay relevant with the way the industry is moving. DRAW!: I just think back to when I bought my first computer four years or so before I started doing storyboarding, and how all those various storage devices and platforms and
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More of Dave’s storyboards for Kim Possible, this time the start of a fight scene. Kim Possible © Disney Enterprises, Inc.
DB: A lot of that has to do with the other talent that was on that production: the designer, Alan Bodner; Stephen Silver; and of course, Chris Bailey. Chris Bailey instilled in me the confidence to just go ahead and have fun with it. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was hot in the theaters at this time, so he would say, “Yeah, throw some of that parkour stuff in there!” you know, and make it cool. I think Chris and I hit it off immediately because we had a similar look to the way we drew. DRAW!: That’s very true, yeah. DB: I don’t think I ever commented on that, but we just had that in common, and we kind of knew we were kindred spirits. I think he was the kind of producer who would look to see, was this guy giving you 110%, and if he was, he would want to encourage it, as opposed to squash it. And by squash it, I don’t mean just give you heavy notes, I mean over-write a script, where the script is trying to overly explain every little moment that goes on. I would feel as an artist, “How do I fit in? Do I have a little bit of fun with that sequence?” especially if you got scripts that were long. The general rule of thumb is it’s a minute of film for every script page, so if you’re looking at a script that was 30-some pages, well how’s that going to fit into a 22-minute cartoon and leave room for the story artist to expand on beats, or gags, or action sequences? But in the case of Kim Possible, we were given a lot of freedom, or at least I was, and had a great time with it.
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DRAW!: That’s the thing about teaching, you also realize, “Wow, that cartoon was ten years old or more, and the students that I’m teaching are 20, so that was a big deal to them when they were growing up.” Maybe that was the cartoon that made them want to be an animator, or work in comics. DB: Oh, how neat! I find it goes the other way for me sometimes. When I talk to a younger kid, I’ll say, “Oh, yeah, just like Kim Possible,” and they have no idea. They just look at you with a blank face. They have no idea who the character is. DRAW!: Well, I actually found that out in a weird way this week. I’m teaching Visual Development class, so I’m having them do their style boards, and stuff for the project that they’re working on, and one of the students is working on something that kind of looks like Mad Max. I said, “Mad Max,” and who doesn’t know Mad Max? Well, maybe one person in the class had heard of Mad Max. I don’t think anybody had actually seen the film! That was such a big trilogy of films, and none of the students were aware of it. I’ll say, “The Highlander,” and they’re “Huh? What? Is that a Toyota?” So I tell them, “If you’re going to work in the business, you should be historically knowledgeable—not that you have to love it, but you should understand what came before.” I actually think that The Road Warrior is a really awesome film of the genre, and I said, “You should feed your brain with this stuff, because
In with the In Crowd
by Mike Manley and Bret Blevins
igurative artists—especially cartoonists, animators, and illustrators—in pursuit of their work constantly face a wide variety of challenges when creating visual narratives such as illustrations, comics strips, storyboards, and comic pages which depict the human figure in various scenarios. Composing pictures with even one or two figures can tax an artist’s compositional skills in getting the pose right, looking for a good angle, or choosing something that’s dynamic and visually interesting but also clear. The more complex the image, the more the artist has to pay attention to compositional issues such as being careful to avoid tangents. When you add multiple figures—let’s say four or more figures—into a scene or a single composition, then things can become complicated very fast. The complexity of the composition and the primary issue of strong and clear staging of the figures for good storytelling in the scene then takes extra work and planning to make the composition and staging both clear as well as interesting. Artists have wrestled with multiple figure compositions for hundreds, even thousands of years. With the invention of perspective in the Renaissance in the 14th century, artists were able to create pictures with the visual depth and complexity of real life and had a greater ability to make more realistic and illusionistic space. Multiple figure compositions have been with us since the beginning of visual art by humans, for they were seen in the cave drawings by our ancestors featuring hunters and their prey they hunted, animals that were important to them and their survival. These were mankind’s first stories. When we jump 20,000 years to Michelangelo’s great Sistine Chapel, ad we find another grand example of dynamic multiple-figure compositions telling stories of God and man and stories from the Bible and history. Michelangelo had the entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to play with his figures, but we humble cartoonists and illus-
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trators have a less grand canvas to play with, yet we still deal with the same issues of multiple figures in space as well as Gods of Thunder and figures of great ability. Team books— comics filled with teams of battling heroes—is a standard. X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Justice League are just a few examples of comics that have a lot of panels and pages featuring multiple characters fighting and battling each other. Some artists seem to revel in this type of comic. Jack Kirby, George Pérez, John Byrne, and John Buscema handled these types of comics with multiple-figure action well. But these types of comics can be a lot of hard work and the complexity of the compositions can trip up the artist as a result. In dealing with comics or illustrated stories that have many figures, you must work a lot harder at the layout stage. The type of script—full script or plot—also makes a difference in the amount of space the dialogue will take up. If it’s a full script then right away the artist knows who is speaking and how much room the dialogue will take up. If it’s a plot to be scripted later, that means the artist must plan spaces into the composition to allow multiple characters’ dialogue to be scripted later by the writer. Whether it’s a scene in a bar, the cabin of a starship, the hero’s secret hideout, or a restaurant, in team books we often have scenes with multiple characters sitting in non-action poses, talking away to reveal a plot or story points. Interior scenes with a group of characters are a bit more difficult due to the fact that you do not have the visual motion of characters moving in dynamic poses in the compositions, and often the interiors are smaller in nature, such as a kitchen table, so they are not always in spectacular settings. Then there are the battle scenes featuring multiple characters in grand landscapes fighting it out with each other. While these scenes offer the artist many opportunities to give the reader wild moments and spectacle, they also tend to be extremely complicated when trying to make everything not only clear but dynamic.
Here are a few concepts and lessons to learn from artists who handle this type of work well:
The Map Staging from above for clarity. One of the best ways to stage a crowd scene is to raise the camera angle up so we are looking down on the scene we are drawing. This gives us a landscape view of the scene, or what I call “the map.” In this great illustration by Albert Dorne for The Saturday Evening Post we can see Dorne has employed the map to help separate the crowd of kids cheering on the soap box racers. Dorne built the illustration in three clear groupings. The kinds in the foreground, the leading racer, and the kids behind the racer who mass together in a clear shape/layer. This helps keep the grouping of figures clear as shape masses. Dorne paid a lot of attention to the way each massed grouping laid on top of another to avoid tangents and shape/layer confusion. Dorne was an expert at this type of illustration and a leader in the field for decades.
Avengers © Marvel Characters, Inc.
Dorne also employed the perspective grid to work everything out like a stage in this illustration. By working out his perspective correctly, it allowed him to drop out the ground and still have the figures feel planted and not floating in space.
The map and grid is employed here in this splash page from the Avengers by George Pérez. Pérez built his career and appeal to fans on scenes like this. Pérez takes care to work out and layer each character on top of the other, almost like the old Colorforms puzzles where you laid each figure carefully over an intricate “Where’s Waldo” type of background. Fans enjoy searching his richly filled, multi-character scenes.
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ffective composition is the essence of a convincing image depicting multiSOHĂ€JXUHVHVSHFLDOO\LIWKH\DUHHQJDJHG LQ VSHFLĂ€F DQG LQWHUUHODWHG DFWLRQ 7KH simplest method to indicate a group is to line them up next to each other (top right). Simple variation of size suggests more depth and is slightly more interesting, but still doesnâ€™t suggest any relationship between the individuals, aside from proximity (bottom right). The key to a pleasing and convincing JURXSLQJRIĂ€JXUHVLVcarefully arranged overlapping. This involves all the basic elements of design: size, placement, shapes, rhythm (guided by the tenets of storytelling), viewpoint, character, situation, acting, mood, emotion, and body ODQJXDJHSRVLQJ 0XOWLSOH Ă€JXUHV DQG props) increase the complexity of the problems that need to be solved, but the IF YOU ENJOYED THIS PREVIEW, challenge becomes easier with practice. CLICK THE LINK TO ORDER THIS Avoiding tangents while achieving a ISSUE IN PRINT OR DIGITAL FORMAT! natural sense of gesture and attitude is the main task. It can be a bit like assembling a puzzle. In this example from a Batman Beyond storyboard (below), all the pet owners have been composed and drawn over a pre-existing background, in this FDVHDYHWHULQDULDQ VRIĂ€FH7KHSHWVDUHEHLQJDJLWDWHGE\D overlap, pains have been taken to ensure that nothing imporsonic disturbance only they can hear, so the distress of the tant is obscured. The size and placement of each character animals and the concern and confusion of the owners dictated has been very deliberately chosen to create a natural sense of the acting and posing. varietyâ€”tall or short, thin or heavy, different clothingâ€”and /RRNWKLVLPDJHRYHUFDUHIXOO\DQG\RXZLOOĂ€QGWKDWHDFK the dark shapes have been set against light shapes with great element has been staged for clarityâ€”where people or objects care to both create DRAW! #28a visual rhythm and add variety. FAREL DALRYMPLE shows how he produces Meathaus and Pop Gun War, director and storyboard/comics artist DAVE BULLOCK dissects his own work, columnist JERRY ORDWAY draws on his years of experience to show readers the Ord-way of creating comics, JAMAR NICHOLAS reviews the latest art supplies, plus more Comic Art Bootcamp by BRET BLEVINS and editor MIKE MANLEY! Mature readers only. (84-page FULL-COLOR magazine) $8.95 (Digital Edition) $3.95
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