NUMBER 17 SPRING 2009
THE PROFESSIONAL “HOW-TO” MAGAZINE ON COMICS AND CARTOONING
$6.95 IN THE U.S.A.
BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY INTERVIEW & DEMO
Scott Pilgrim TM & ©2008 Bryan Lee O’Malley
WORKS ON B.P.R.D.
PLUS: MIKE MANLEY AND BRET BLEVINS’
THE PROFESSIONAL “HOW-TO” MAGAZINE ON COMICS & CARTOONING WWW.DRAWMAGAZINE.COM
VOL. 1, NO. 17 Editor-in Chief • Michael Manley Designer • Eric Nolen-Weathington Publisher • John Morrow Logo Design • John Costanza Proofreader • Eric Nolen-Weathington Transcription • Steven Tice Front Cover Illustration • Bryan Lee O’Malley
DRAW! Spring 2009, Vol. 1, No. 17 was produced by Action Planet, Inc. and published by TwoMorrows Publishing. Michael Manley, Editor, John Morrow, Publisher. Editorial Address is P.O. Box 2129, 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 2009 by their respective contributors. 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 and historical purposes with no infringement intended or implied. Envy Adams, Lost at Sea, Scott Pilgrim, and all related characters ™ and ©2009 Scott Pilgrim • B.P.R.D., Hellboy and all related characters ™ and ©2009 Mike Mignola • Red Raja ™ and ©2009 Guy Davis • Metropol ™ and ©2009 Ted McKeever • Batgirl, Batman, Dr. Sivana, Mary Marvel, Supergirl ™ and ©2009 DC Comics • Captain America, Daredevil, Nova, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, The Thing, Wolverine, X-Men ™ and ©2009 Marvel Characters, Inc. • Flash Gordon, Johnny Hazard, Secret Agent X-9 ™ and ©2009 King Features Syndicate, Inc. • Conan ™ and ©2009 Conan Properties International, LLC • Tarzan ™ and ©2009 ERB, Inc. • Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser ™ and ©2009 Fritz Leiber • Pan’s Labyrinth ™ and ©2009 Picturehouse • This entire issue is © 2009 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 Canada. FIRST PRINTING.
The Super-Awesome BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY Interview!!! Interview with the creator of Scott Pilgrim
GUY DAVIS Marquis of the Macabre Interview with the artist of B.P.R.D.
The Super-Awesome BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY Gallery
COMIC ART BOOTCAMP
Full color gallery
“Breaking Down the Masters” by Mike Manley
THE SUPER-AWESOME BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY INTERVIEW FOR WORLD SUPREMACY!!!
Interview conducted by Jamar Nicholas and transcribed by Steven Tice
ith the latest graphic novel of his hit series, Scott Pilgrim, selling out, and a film underway of said character in Hollywood featuring all the rock ’n’ roll, 20-something slacker lifestyles, and super-ex-boyfriends it’s known for, it seems the world is going BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY’s way.
JAMAR NICHOLAS: What kind of material were you reading as a kid? What influenced you? BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY: As a kid I was really into Calvin & Hobbes. I always tell the story of how I got into comic books because we didn’t have cable, so I couldn’t watch Transformers, and I discovered the Marvel Comics version and the rest is history. I was really into Marvel comics through my youth, then jumped to Image when that happened, and eventually got disillusioned with that stuff in the mid’90s and got really into manga and anime. From there I branched out to a lot of different stuff. Jeff Smith’s Bone and Zander Cannon’s Replacement God were a really big help in that department. The other thing was video games—I was always pretty deeply into them when I was younger, and that probably helped the Japanese aesthetic creep into my system.. JN: How old are you? You’re under 30, if I’m not mistaken. BLO: Yeah, I’m turning 28 in February. JN: Wow, man. That’s pretty neat. You seem to be really far ahead in your career at a young age. BLO: I think I just got lucky, hit at the right time. JN: Tell us a little bit about your background. Where were you born? Do you have siblings? Is anyone else in your family artistically inclined?
electric guitar, painting, bookmaking and stuff. We used to play music together, but now I live pretty far away from them. My dad is French-Canadian and my mom immigrated from Korea when she went to college, which is where they met. JN: All of you are creatives—you don’t see that a lot. BLO: Uhh... yeah. They’re both collegeaged, so I can’t really tell you what they “do” yet. JN: Were your folks artistic? BLO: Yeah, my parents always encouraged that stuff. My dad used to paint a lot and he likes to sing. My mom isn’t too artistic. When she was in teacher’s college I remember she had to create a children’s book for a project, and she got my dad to draw it for her. JN: Did you want to be an artist when you were young, or was there something else? BLO: Nah, I always wanted to draw. There was a brief, pretentious period, maybe in senior year of high school, where I wanted to be a writer, but I gave up on that pretty quickly, probably because I couldn’t stop doodling in class. JN: Was your family supportive of your art?
BLO: Yeah, you know, they kept all the little scraps of paper I ever drew on, which is kind of impressive. They recently brought all that stuff BLO: I’ve lived my whole life in Canada and I was born out to my house so it wouldn’t be cluttering up in London, Ontario. I have a younger brother and sister, theirs anymore, which is nice both of whom seem like they’re going to become teachand also kind of overwhelmers at this point, but they’re still in school. They’re ing. And annoying. Anyway, at both musically inclined and my sister, Stacey, most there were gentle prodalways did a lot of painting and stuff, but I guess dings from my parents to get a real they’re not “going pro” with it or anything. My job, to finish college, to have a backbrother (the youngest) Eddy is a great up plan, etc., but I didn’t feel like wastdrummer and has taught drums to kids Bryan’s somewhat mod take on Batgirl. ing my time on a backup plan. BATGIRL ™ AND ©2009 DC COMICS since high school. My sister dabbles in
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A double-page spread from the Lost at Sea graphic novel. LOST AT SEA ™ AND ©2009 BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY
JN: Did you go to art school? If so, where and what kind of experience was it for you? BLO: I didn’t go to art school. I went to university for Film Studies, which I thought might be applicable to my studies of comics, but it didn’t really pan out for me. I couldn’t stop doodling in class, so I failed all my tests, and I wasn’t interested in the college social life, so eventually I left. The way I look at it is, I gave up on everything else except drawing comics. I’ve been drawing comics since I was a really little kid. I always finagled it so I could do comics for projects in school, instead of whatever. I remember filling an entire notebook with a long fairy-tale comic in third grade, and I was still substituting weird art-comics for film projects in university. But I was a bad student in university, and I dropped out after less than two years. I actually quit after my first year, then I tried again a year later and only lasted three months or so. JN: How was your family about that? Did they support that? BLO: They’ve always been supportive. After I dropped out the second time, I told them I was going to California to hang out with my comics-making friends, and they were okay with that, too. I stayed there for about six months in 2001 working on
Last Shot and some Udon stuff. JN: Seems like you were spared the “you'll be eating dinner out of the dumpster,” hard-luck horror tales that most families have in those situations. BLO: Yeah, I had a good family to help me out along the way. They helped out with the tuition and stuff even though I dropped out, and I tried not to lean on them much during my starving-wannabe-comic-artist years.
BREAKING IN JN: So when did you officially start doing comics work? 2001? BLO: Yeah, I lettered Last Shot, which came out through Image, and I did some mostly-uncredited ghost work for Udon, and then I got introduced to the Oni Press guys and started working my way up. JN: You were lettering at Oni too, right? BLO: Yeah, I still am! I’m lettering Local. I think that’s the last one, though. Brian Wood asked for me and Hope [Larson] to do DRAW! • SPRING 2009
and I like the line they give me, so I keep using them. JN: I think Erik Larsen uses Pilot Razor pens for linework. I’m also digging those little [Faber-Castell] Pitt pens lately. Recently, I found these jewels in an art supply catalog, Marvy brushpens, that have a disposable tip, but they can’t hold up to real battle. You ever try messing with crowquills? BLO: Yeah, I have some Japanese replaceable-nib felt pens, but they seem so fragile. I use them for things like ruled lines that have to taper. I tried it in high school, but I gave up. Now Hope is addicted to the Deleter G-pen nibs, and she says I’m not allowed to use them right now, so I defer to her. JN: Ha! Are you hard on your tools? BLO: Nah, I’m good, it’s just that she doesn’t want me to be copying her. She’s very protective. I’ll use them in a few years after she’s dominated the field, you know? JN: Remind me later, I’ll get to talking about you two as a working couple. That’s interesting. Anyway, I think I tried those Deleter nibs before. I know I really dug the inks. I got a couple of bottles at some anime con here in the States.
BLO: Yeah, I used to be addicted to the Deleter inks, but I eventually gave up on them because they’re a pain to procure. The Koh-i-noor gave me a similar finish to the Deleter 1 ink, and the Pelikan is kind of along those lines, too. I like a slightly thin, matte ink. JN: Can you explain the numbers on the Deleter ink? I never figured it out. BLO: I can’t remember. There was a description somewhere. The 1 is matte and thin, the 2 was thicker and shiny. I can’t remember what the 3 was like, and I never tried the others. I think I did a lot of kinda dry-brushy stuff with the 3, actually. JN: What are you doing your finished pages on? Plate Bristol? Give us names, too—the process junkies like name-drops. BLO: Just the Strathmore stuff, the smooth in the yellow pads. I’m a cheapskate. They started doing this wind-power envirofriendly stuff too. JN: The green pad! BLO: Yeah, the green with the wind thingy on it. We have a bunch of those, and a bunch of the yellow, too. We actually
Character sketches of Lynette, Ramona, and Stacey from the Scott Pilgrim series. SCOTT PILGRIM AND ALL RELATED CHARACTERS ™ AND ©2009 BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY
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then I can kind of plan the scene around the angles I know I’ve got down. But there are also plenty of locations that are totally fictional. Most of the characters’ apartments and stuff are kind of cobbled together from various pieces of my old apartments and friends’ places, so that’s half and half. JN: Do you consider yourself a “modern” cartoonist or a traditional, “old school” type? BLO: I think I’m somewhere on the cusp, because I kind of scoff at the kids drawing comics with their tablet PCs, and I’m always talking about how you gotta use a real brush and real ink if you want to be serious. But I don’t know. I’m somewhere in the middle. I use the computer almost all the time, but I generally like having my pages inked on the paper, as close to finished as possible. JN: If you don’t mind, take us through the process of creating a 200+ page graphic novel. Is your procedure the same for say, a 24-page floppy? That’s a lot of pages to juggle, so walk us through that if you could. BLO: It really is too much to hold in your head at one time. What I’m learning now is to break it down into manageable chunks, as if I was actually doing issues. My chapters in Scott Pilgrim tend to be around 30 pages, so that works for me. If you’re looking at the whole thing as one big job, it’s exciting at first, but after 40-50 pages it becomes totally overwhelming and you just start to shut down. It’s like you’re pushing a broom down a hall that goes as far as the eye can see in either direction. I think as more people start doing longform graphic novels we’ll come up with more and better coping strategies, but right now I’m just learning by trial and error. JN: So, are you beginning with a full typed script? Do you work with strips of ideas then begin the writing process? Plot outlines into thumbs? Also, since you said you’re finding yourself working chapters at a time, are you finishing the pages then, or doing everything in stages?
A sampling from Bryan’s sketchbook. ©2009 BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY
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BLO: I’ve always used a full script. With each book, the scriptwriting process becomes more developed— more thought, more drafts, more editing. As a result, each one has taken longer to write. My current script style is pretty much exactly like a film screenplay, focused on dialogue with pretty basic descriptions of setting and action. On the new book—Scott Pilgrim Vol. 5—I’m breaking down each chapter into pages on a printout of the script, then doing thumbs and pencils for the whole 30-page-ish chapter over a period of two weeks or so. Then I spend another couple weeks inking, then I go back to the script and start again on the next chapter. That’s the theory, anyway. So far it’s working out, but
B.P.R.D. ™ AND ©2009 MIKE MIGNOLA
Marquis of the Macabre
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Interview conducted by Mike Manley and transcribed by Steven Tice DRAW!: What are you working on today? GUY DAVIS: Today I’m inking the first issue of the new B.P.R.D. storyline, “The Garden of Souls” and it’s turning out to be my favorite B.P.R.D. series to work on yet—but then I always say that with each new storyline. DRAW!: Tell us a bit about growing up and how you became interested in drawing comics for a living. GD: I guess I was always scribbling and drawing when I was young. My father did painting and sculpture as a hobby so I grew up with artwork being done around me, and my parents were always very encouraging and supportive of me drawing all the time. When I graduated in ’84 I wasn’t really sure of what I wanted to do with myself—just that I wanted to do something with my artwork. I thought about looking into storyboard work or film design, but around that time I started working on a local fanzine (Fantastic Fanzine) and they became Arrow Comics which led to my first job penciling a fantasy comic called “The Realm.” So I just sort of fell into drawing comics, and each company and project sort of opened doors for another and I kept at it for 20 years now professionally. DRAW!: Did you go to college or have art training or art-related jobs before comics? GD: No, there was no outside schooling or art-related jobs before I started doing comic work. I’m pretty much self-taught; the only art classes I had were in high school and they were all useless. I learned the most just by jumping into doing comics from start to finish and then learning by seeing my mistakes glaring back at me in print. DRAW!: Our mutual buddy—and your writer on B.P.R.D.— John Arcudi, tells me you are a really fast artist, churning out several pages a day. Is this true? I know maybe you won’t want to really truthfully answer, as an editor might be reading this interview. [laughs] GD: John’s a great guy (and writer), but I can’t really churn out seven finished pages a day. I can pencil comfortably four pages a day and in a pinch anywhere from six to eight, but I pencil for myself, so it’s loose work. Inking takes me longer and I like to try to do at least two finished inked pages a day, more if deadlines are knocking. But these are on separate days, not all in one! Penciling one day, inks the next.
I’m sure there are a lot of faster artists out there—and I'm in no race. I just try to get done what has to be done for deadlines. I actually have slowed down a bit, but I can’t spend too long on a page or I feel the art gets stiff or overworked if you know what I mean. DRAW!: So what B.P.R.D. are you doing right now? GD: Right now I’m working on The Black Goddess. I’m finishing that up, which is the one that starts this month, so I had a pretty good lead-time on it. This starts next week, actually. This week was the first of The Wild Hunt #2. I did a back-up in that, which Mike wrote. And then I’m doing two other back-ups in issues #3 and #4. DRAW!: And that’s for the Hellboy miniseries that Mike’s drawing now? GD: No, it’s for the Hellboy that Duncan’s drawing, The Wild Hunt. DRAW!: Duncan Fegredo. The first issue of that miniseries is coming out, so, since we’re conducting this in January, it will be out in January. GD: Yeah, that’s coming out on the 14th, so I guess you want me to mention what I’m working on; it would be finishing up Black Goddess. DRAW!: I’d like to talk more specifically about your working methods. You pencil, obviously, more pages in a day than you ink. I was just wondering if, when you did that, if you tried to break it down, like, “I’ll do this sequence this day,” or, “I’ll do this sequence or section this day”? GD: Yeah. Y’know, I always jump around when I pencil, and when I ink. In laying out that I do it in the order of pages. I mean, if I take too much time at the beginning, it’s going to look rushed at the end if I’m running out of time, whereas, if I start or end with the middle, or this or that, it sort of all mixes
B.P.R.D.’s base of operations in the Colorado Rockies. B.P.R.D. ™ AND ©2009 MIKE MIGNOLA
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together when it’s finished. I actually don’t sit down and say, “Okay, this I’ll pencil.” A lot of times it’s just whatever page I seem inspired by to draw. Like, “Oh, today I feel like drawing apes, so I’ll draw a couple of ape pages,” or, “I’m getting behind, so where’s Johann? He’s easy. I’ll do him real quick.” DRAW!: Do you do this because John is giving you a full script, or is it Marvel style where it’s a plot, and you go through and break the whole book down as little thumbnails, and then jump through to doing pen or pencils? How do you go about breaking that down?
GD: Thumbnails first. Whether it’s a plot or a script, I work the same way. I go through John’s script and read it through once, and then the second time I read it through I’ll make really small scribbles for me saying this is what I’m seeing as far as the breakdown in my head for this page. And then I go on to the cheap, lined notebook paper and basically pace out the pages based on the script. “This is where parallel would be horizontal, Abe will be on this side, Johann’s on that side, and we need this much room for dialogue.” It’s really rough, because a lot of times, when I actually get to the actual page, and the dimensions are different than the little squares I was just scribbling out, I’ll rework things. DRAW!: Oh, because the proportion of your design then changes from your initial— GD: Yeah. DRAW!: So you read through the script, and then you do quick, little thumbnail notations on the script that you later take to another stage—or do you go right to the full page? GD: No, I take it to the second stage. The first scribbles are just, like, for the second read-through. The first read-through is sort of like feeling out what’s going on in the story, just reading it for the enjoyment, and the second read-through is visualizing in my head what each page should look like, and that is when I make the quick, like.... I mean, these are, like, one-inch high doodles, just saying, “Okay, three horizontal panels. This page needs to be broken into ending on this page and beginning on the next page.” And then from there I go on to the lined paper, the notebook paper, with thumbnails that show just, like—I mean, they’re crude. It’s stick figures and scribbles. I put notations above everybody’s heads. The scribble with the A above his head is Abe and things like that.
Guy’s thumbnail sketches for pages 1-3 of B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess #1. B.P.R.D. ™ AND ©2009 MIKE MIGNOLA
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DRAW!: So would I be correct in saying this is almost like a beat breakdown of the
Guy’s turnaround designs for the well-dressed B.P.R.D. field agent (above) and his weapon of choice (below). B.P.R.D. ™ AND ©2009 MIKE MIGNOLA
script, so X amount of pages, X amount of panels, this is who is in the panel, who has to speak first? GD: Yes. And then that’s always approved through everybody. I send those notebook sketches to Scott Allie, Mike and John. And they go through it and they say, “Well, maybe take a look at the layout for this,” or, “This is fine.” It’s pretty straightforward. DRAW!: How much feedback do you get from Mike on the book? GD: On B.P.R.D. proper, I mean, Mike looks it over, but usually he gives more feedback on the pencils and inks. Scott and John will give feedback on actual layouts and stuff. But Mike sees everything. If he sees something, “Make sure that you do...,” like for The Black Goddess we have these monsters that we’ve seen before. “Make sure they match the cover that I did for The Warning,” and this or that. So he’ll chime in. And, obviously, when he sees the inks, if I missed a detail, he’ll let me know. A lot of times something that Mike and I go back and forth on is the initial design, because
when I get the start of a series, I get to have a breakdown of what happens in the five issues. With The Warning, there were the giant robot monsters that destroy Germany. I knew those were coming up, so I’d start sketching those out, and then I’d send them to everybody, and some to Mike, and Mike will say, “Oh, maybe go this direction with it.” He’ll send me these scribbles through a fax. I’ll do these designs, and I’ll be, like, “Brilliant!” And then I’ll throw them to Mike and he’ll go, “Well, how about this direction?” And it’s a totally opposite direction, or it takes my designs in a different direction. And they’re perfect. He’s got such a great imagination. I just hit myself in the head, “Why didn’t I think of that?” DRAW!: How is that? I mean, you’ve been in comics for a while. How is it working on a property that was created by another artist? Mike’s a great artist, and he’s still active and involved in the property. It’d be like if you took over the Fantastic Four, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are no longer writing or drawing the book, but you’re sending them your layouts. How does that affect your process or your thinking? DRAW! • SPRING 2009
Guy’s pencils for pages 2 and 3 of B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess #1. The pencils are somewhat loose, with few blacks indicated. B.P.R.D. ™ AND ©2009 MIKE MIGNOLA
GD: You know, I don’t know how it affects my process from the beginning. I don’t do things thinking, “Okay, this has to be....” It’s not like there’s pressure, “Okay, I can’t screw this up. This will just have to be something that Mike will love.” I just go through and, when I read a description of something that needs to be done, I give it what I think it should look like. I try to keep it, obviously, in the realm of Mike’s universe. I’m not going to treat it like The Marquis as far as monsters, because I know how his designs and stuff have that Hellboy Universe feel. I think it’s great that he, obviously, goes over all this and chimes in, because it makes it stronger and it gives it his stamp of approval. I give it his look, which it should have. Mike’s great to work with. He’s very open-minded about the direction of certain things. And if he doesn’t like a certain thing, then he’s right. It’s usually wrong, and then we work it out, and it’s always a stronger design. But I like the fact that he’s hands-on with these designs and the book. DRAW!: That must be gratifying—I mean, it’s always gratifying as an artist to have another artist look at your work, because it’s great to have a fan appreciate your work, and it’s great to have editors appreciate your work, but I know I always feel like, when another artist really appreciates those little things that you really tried hard on, you really feel like the hard work paid off. 24 DRAW! • SPRING 2009
You know what I mean? That person’s really connecting in a way that, I don’t know, with some background or something that the average person might not have seen that little battle won. They read it and enjoy it, but they don’t necessarily notice those little nuances that go into it. So, yeah, I would imagine it would be gratifying to have the guy who created Hellboy like your stuff. GD: Oh, yeah. Like I said, he’s got an amazing imagination, because if you even look at, like, in the back of the trade paperbacks, we start putting out all these design sketches for stuff. I know with Garden of Souls with the Victorian cyborg, that was one of the designs that went through the most that we’ve ever done back and forth, where I’d do a sketch, and he’d say, “Well, try this.” And I would try something else, and it goes back and forth. Just like evolution. You can see when you start seeing Mike’s sketches, it’s just, here’s something of mine, if it’s tapping into that well of imagination that you just then run with. You’re like, “Okay, now I see what you’re saying as far as the shape,” and then I can just pick it up from there. DRAW!: Right. Well, it’s pretty obvious is that your creative process working on this book is a collaborative one—it’s really very liquid—whereas, very often, if you’re doing your standard
In the above cover design for B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground #1, Daimio is front and center, but is reliant on a red tone to separate him from the rest of the cast. In the final design (right), he looms large in the background, and while the background remains red and the other cast members are still in tones of blue, Daimio is colored in his normal manner, which not only separates him from the cast but also prevents him from blending into the background. B.P.R.D. ™ AND ©2009 MIKE MIGNOLA
interpret. When I first started doing stuff, I always hated the idea of putting whiteout on a page. Although that’s ridiculous, because who cares? So once I got over the fear of actually making a mistake with the inks and going back and redoing it just to get it right, that was fine. DRAW!: Yeah, some artists don’t like whiteout. I know Al Williamson and Ricardo Villagran, who I’m friends with, both those guys, they would use a razor. They didn’t like to use whiteout. They would take a razor and take off whatever mistake—an electric razor or a straight razor—and they would basically just scrape the surface. But you had to have a really good piece of paper in order to do that. If you used a student grade or something like that, the paper would probably just tear. GD: I’ve seen Dave Cooper originals—I mean, that guy doesn’t even make mistakes. It’s just amazing that there’s all that fluidity to his line and there’s no whiteout. At least on the pages I saw. Maybe a few have whiteout on them.
DRAW!: How long does it usually take you to go through and pencil the whole book once you’ve laid it all out, and you go back and start doing your figures? GD: Usually the notebook thing takes a day, the blacking out and just saying, “This is what the layout looks like.” I’ll do that in a day. The actual penciling, a good pace, I could pencil all 24 pages in four days, five days, at a comfortable pace. If things are tight—I mean, one issue of Garden of Souls I did in two days. That’s not really cutting any corners, that’s just staying up a lot later than I want. DRAW! • SPRING 2009
(above) Even the Thing knows that rock beats scissors. (next page) Guy created this character, the Red Raja, for an FACA online tournament. In the tournament, different artists’ characters would go up against each other one-on-one, with the winner of each round chosen through an online voting process. Needless to say, the Red Raja came out on top. HELLBOY ™ AND ©2009 MIKE MIGNOLA. THING ™ AND ©2009 MARVEL CHARACTERS, INC. RED RAJA ™ AND ©2009 GUY DAVIS.
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BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY ART GALLERY!!!
ENVY ADAMS ™ AND ©2009 BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY
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DRAW! • FALL 2008
ENVY ADAMS ™ AND ©2009 BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY
BREAKING DOWN THE MASTERS elcome to another installment of “Comic Art Bootcamp.” In this visit to our basic training camp we are going to study the work of some Master Cartoonists to analyze formal aspects and fundamentals of their approach to the art and craft of cartooning to see where they have commonalties and differences in the way they approach their work. The hope and purpose of this exercise is that we will begin to be able to take apart the work of these great cartoonists, find out why what these artists have done works, and learn how to take what they do and add it to our work to make it better. This is something I did as a young artist, though not in as clear and cut a fashion at times. Several years ago I read an interview with Jack Kirby, the Godfather of comics, These Kirby layouts were done for other artists to finish. Here we have (left) a page of the and in that interview one thing he said real“Captain America” story from Tales of Suspense #70, done for George Tuska, and (above) a ly, really stood out to me. He said, “One page from Daredevil #13, done for John Romita. man can be a school for another.” What a great and true statement; it rang so true to me as a young cartoonist, as I was always studying other cartoon- hunting in the old comic shops, used bookstores, and libraries around Ann Arbor, where I grew up, in search of any kind of ists, like one would study subjects like math or English for book with info on how to be a better artist, drawing lessons, etc. school. I was very serious about it; I really tried to pick apart the As I began to very seriously study artists, I came to see how work of the artists I admired—my “art heroes,” as it were. They they fell into very clear camps or styles, and how one artist were really my main education, along with any good book on used the same sort of way of drawing or inking, etc., or was cartooning or drawing I could find, such as the long out of print clearly influenced by another, though I had never thought to put books on drawing by Andrew Loomis. I had no real art teachers it in such a succinct and crystal clear statement as Kirby’s. For to teach me anything about comics or even figure drawing, so it was the self-study course of hard knocks. I spent a lot of my time instance, it was very evident to see how the artists working at
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DAREDEVIL ™ AND ©2009 MARVEL CHARACTERS, INC.
By Mike Manley
Marvel all worked in a way that tried to emulate the energy that Kirby had in his work, the clear staging and dynamic acting and figure work. One would never confuse Gene Colan’s work or Gil Kane’s or John Buscema’s for that of Kirby, but you can clearly see that they were also sort of speaking the same language. I think Buscema spoke the closest to Kirby’s voice, though with much more naturalistic drawing, and he was coached by Stan Lee to do so. In fact, he worked over Kirby’s layouts in his early return to Marvel in the ’60s. In this article I have picked artists I really admire and in some cases continue to learn from to this day. Comics, like any popular art form, is not immune from the fashion of the day, the flashy current style or new wave of what’s hot. In the ’90s it was the Image style which came in and in many places unseated the styles of drawing and storytelling which had been standard since the ’50s and Marvel’s rise to popularity in the ’60s. As a commercial artist it’s impossible to totally ignore the waves in the pool. You have to navigate the choppy commercial waters. The danger is that one can lose one’s sense of direction and base, then you operate in the fickle current, pulled along chasing this way or that. The result is usually an art disaster and burn-out for most—or worse, that uncertainty of how to do the job, how to proceed. As a young cartoonist I had to navigate these choppy waters and often chased and grasped at false things in my quest to be a professional and earn my way—make my bones, as they say. But I always came back at the end of the day to the artists I admired, as they seemed to be able to tackle every problem. And then there were a handful of new artists coming up, contemporaries who also seemed to be drawing from these same root sources. My hope is that you will be able to use this article as a way to start your own quest of discovery of the roots and fundamentals in your work and the work of the artists you admire and study, using them as Kirby stated, as a school for your own education.
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X-MEN ™ AND ©2009 MARVEL CHARACTERS, INC.
X-MEN ™ AND ©2009 MARVEL CHARACTERS, INC.
The X-Men panels (left) done for issue #12, were finished by Werner Roth from Kirby’s layouts. The X-Men #17 page (below) shows Kirby’s layouts, Alex Toth’s finished pencils, and Vince Colleta’s inks. Toth was unhappy with this process, as he felt that he and Kirby were incompatible.
METROPOL ™ AND ©2009 TED MCKEEVER
There is not much to say about Mike other than Hellboy, his crowning creation to date. Mike has always been on my short list of contemporary cartoonists whose work I must buy, and I admire his work greatly. His work, like that of Toth, might seem so easy to some, but that ease also comes from hard work. I remember bumping into Mike at the DC offices one day back in the ’90s just after his latest book, Gotham by Gaslight, came out, and he was showing me a bunch of great pages. I was really struck by this one page and a pose of Batman, and Mike told me, “I drew that damn cape 20 times to get it right.”
One of my favorite jobs Mignola worked on was the series of back-up stories he did in the Metropol series at Marvel. I think Mignola was really working here stylistically towards what he world perfect later on Hellboy: the heavy chiaroscuro balanced against the white and the thin pen line and very little rendering or turning of form. The work was very open, yet full, and if we can look at it in some regards as being similar in line language to what Toth was doing—thin contour, bold blacks. For instance, though the hand firing the gun in the second panel is closer to us than the figure’s face, Mignola didn’t alter the line weight by making it bolder to push it closer to us as one might conventionally in comics. Instead he took a more graphic approach and eliminated the blacks from within the gun flash. Though the black patterns are bold and powerful, it’s the white that makes this page. Mignola didn’t think of the white as simply empty space—his white areas or space have just as much weight as the black. The white space is “filled” space. That is design taken to a higher level.
If you simplify this page down to basic shapes, you’ll notice how boldly the design of the eye path is.
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EDUARDO RISSO AND JORGE ZAFFINO Okay, by now I hope you all are starting to get the idea of how you can analyze and take artwork apart, break it down into its formal elements. Moving on, I chose two more examples of artists working in a similar visual vernacular: Eduardo Risso and the late Jorge Zaffino, both Argentineans. As a bit of back story it’s to be noted that the Argentine artists, as with both Zaffino and Risso, apprentice to older artists under the studio system, much like what happened here in the Golden Age with Eisner’s studio, etc. The older artists, like Alberto Breccia and the Villagran Brothers, were very heavily influenced by the classic American comic strips more so than comic books, thus they drew more heavily on the influences of Alex Raymond, Hal Foster and Milton Caniff. We can see here ideas and lessons, ways of working, passed down from generation to generation. Most fans reading comics today think of Risso as being a very modern artist—and he is—but much of the language he uses is old, so it’s what you do with the knowledge that matters. It’s the intellect out of which a mature style births. The Risso page is from his recent black-andwhite Logan mini-series for Marvel. Let’s analyze this page, shall we? Here Risso also employs a thin, unbroken, unwavering contour line to delineate the figures, and he spots his blacks in a bold chiaroscuro. The rendering serves as a texture on the figures, such as hair, but he doesn’t employ it as a way of rendering the turning of form—yet his forms still turn. Why? The forms turn because the contours carefully overlap and go in and out and around the forms in a sculptural sense describing the turning of the volumes in space. So, while there is essentially no rendering to turn the form (light to dark), Risso employs what I call form-contour drawing, and, like Mignola, the whites in his panels and pages are as important as the blacks. WOLVERINE ™ AND ©2009 MARVEL CHARACTERS, INC.
To create the illusion of form drawing, the contours accurately give the figure or form a sense of volume turning and a sense of dimension. By correctly drawing the forms wrapping around or overlapping each other, you can prevent the drawing from being “flat” and create a drawing that has a convincing sense of volume in space. Rendering alone will not create a convincing sense of volume if the forms are poorly drawn.
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CONAN ™ AND ©2009 CONAN PROPERTIES INTERNATIONAL, LLC
JOHN BUSCEMA AND AL WILLIAMSON While we have been talking about the formal qualities of delineating form or figures and their environments, let’s now switch to a broader view—the page as a whole, as a unit. I have chosen here a few John Buscema page roughs and pages in various stages of completion, some of which he abandoned or redrew. The great thing for me about seeing these layouts
is we get to see Buscema’s thinking, what he thought was important as far as not only how to tell the story, how to break down the pages into panels, or the flow of the panels for the reader, but the breakdown or the priority in his development of the figures and the backgrounds, the gestures and eye path. DRAW! • SPRING 2009
The thing that is hard for the younger artist to see here in this rough work is that this is the most important stage, and the work is just about perfect at this stage. The only thing Buscema or any artist can do from this stage is to make the drawing prettier, but if the page isn’t working here, then no amount of fantastic rendering can save what’s wrong. This is a big hurdle for many artists as they can be so seduced by a style or a certain finish that this stage of development of the page is given the least amount of care in their rush to get to the rendering, to drawing the figures in the cool style they want. These rougher pages were placed under Buscema’s final pages on a light box where he’d go over and do his final, cleaner drawing. The main lesson we can take from this is to pay special attention to this part of creating a comic book page, so that when we get to the final stage we can enjoy the fun part of rendering up things with the confidence that we have laid out a strong page, and that the storytelling and eye-flow will work. Buscema is clearly an artist who draws his inspiration from the great generation of American comic strip artists,
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TARZAN ™ AN D ©2009 ERB, INC.
In the Silver Surfer #1 pencils (above), you can see that Buscema at one time penciled rather tightly. As time went on, he loosened his pencils dramatically, as with this example from Marvel’s Tarzan #1 (right).