Draw #9 Preview

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How to create a comic from script-to-print by MIKE MANLEY See the process from pencils, inks, & coloring to lettering, printing, and distribution! PLUS: Illustrator tutorials with


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ALBERTO RUIZ Thief of Time TM & ©2004 Danny Fingeroth & Mike Manley

PVP’s SCOTT KURTZ Bringing characters to life with

TOM BANCROFT and ROBERT CORLEY Product reviews with

ANDE PARKS NOEL SICKLES, Father of realistic cartooning by







FALL 2004 • VOL. 1, NO. 9


Editor-in Chief/Designer • Michael Manley Publisher • John Morrow Logo Design • John Costanza Proofreaders • John Morrow & Eric Nolen-Weathington Transcription • Steven Tice



For more great information on cartooning and animation, visit our Web site at: http://www.drawmagazine.com

Front Cover Illustration by


Mike Manley

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ADVERTISE IN DRAW! See page 2 for ad rates and specifications. DRAW! FALL 2004, Vol. 1, No. 9 was produced by Action Planet Inc. and published by TwoMorrows Publishing. Michael Manley, Editor, John Morrow, Publisher. Editorial Address is PO 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 2004 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 workfor-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. Batman,Superman are TM and © 2004 DC Comics • The Dazzler TM and © 2004 Marvel Characters, Inc. • PvP TM and © 2004 Scott Kurtz •The Thief of Time © 2004 Danny Fingeroth and Mike Manley. This entire issue is © 2004 Action Planet Inc. and TwoMorrows Publishing and may not be reprinted or retransmitted without written permission of the copyright holders. Printed in Canada. FIRST PRINTING.

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Figurative interpretation by Bret Blevins

FROM THE EDITOR This issue of Draw! and the crossover with our sister magazine write Now! was more than a year in the planning and the making. And what could be more natural than a re-teaming of write Now! editor and old Darkhawk writer Danny Fingeroth and myself, I ask you? A DVD! Danny and I worked together back in halcyon days of the ’90s at Marvel on Darkhawk, with Danny on the writing and me on the art. When we both ended up working for the same publisher again some ten years later, both doing “how-to” magazines, it seemed like a great idea to combine the thrust of both of our mags to give the aspiring cartoonists and writers a complete overview of the creative process of a comic, from the script to the printed page, from the Pro perspective. Do a real in-depth coverage of our process. After some good give and take, Danny and I came up with our character The Thief of Time, and documented each step of the creative process which you can read about in write Now! #8 and in this issue of Draw! As Danny and I got underway and were working on The Thief of Time, preparing to have both issues of our magazines ready to premiere at this summer’s San Diego Comicon, I was contacted by Sputnik Studios from Toronto, Canada to see if I was interested in producing a “how-to” DVD. “Heck yes!” was my answer. A rapid series of e-mails and phone calls ensued between our publisher John Morrow, Danny, Sputnik and myself, and the deal was worked out. We would now produce a “how-to” DVD covering our process and filming me live as I drew. This also meant we had a very short time to do this in order to get everything done to debut the DVD in San Diego. As you know by now, Draw! #9 was delayed in order to produce the art for the DVD shoot and John and I decided it was best to concentrate on the DVD. Shane McCracken, Jeremy McCracken and cameraman Sevan Frank piled into their car and headed south to my studio here outside of Philadelphia to film the DVD. Danny came down for an afternoon to shoot our discussion on scripts and plotting for the DVD, as well. Over the next three days in the humid Philadelphia summer, the swell guys from Sputnik filmed over 40 hours of video here in my studio documenting my working process, and the result is the How to Draw Comics from Script to Print DVD. I’m really proud of how it turned out! But the race was not over yet. As the Sputnik crew headed back to Toronto and their editing suite, I still had to finish the rest of the art and do extra work on the lettering and coloring segments and some extra voiceovers, as well as finish the rest of the The Thief of Time comic which had to be held off till the filming was done. So now you hold in your hands the fruit of all of our labors: Draw! #9, the second part of the crossover with write Now!, containing the complete The Thief of Time comic inside. The DVD premiered with great success in San Diego and the Chicago Con, so much so we are already planning several more DVDs on drawing featuring some of your favorite Draw! contributors. I also want to say thanks to this issue’s contributors Tom Bancroft, Rob Corley, and Scott Kurtz, who was interviewed by new Draw! interviewer and fellow Philly cartoonist Jamar Nicholas. Be sure to check our Jamar’s weekly web strip Detective Boogaloo— Hip Hop Cop on moviepoopshoot.com. Big thanks to Alberto Ruiz, Ande Parks, my pal Bret Blevins, and to my brother Dave and his friend Antony Bell for doing the music on the DVD, and of course to Danny and John. A tip of the hat to Ryan D’Angelo for redesigning the Draw! website, and of course you the readers and supporters of Draw! magazine. See you in February!

Mike Manley, Editor

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TALKING THIEF OF TIME Danny and Mike discuss the creative process


PART 2 What follows is the conclusion of the conversation between Write Now! editor Danny Fingeroth and myself (begun in Write Now! #8) outlining how we came up with our Thief of Time character. We discuss what issues we were dealing with as we tried to make something original yet not completely unfamiliar, mixing genres to come up with new takes on well-traveled archetypes. Combined with the notes and e-mails printed in Write Now! #8 we pick up on the conversation in this issue as we conclude the discussion of our creative process. Danny and I had a lot of open, honest, back and forth discussion, which is essential to the creative and collaborative process. —Mike Manley [SPOILER WARNING: Details of Thief of Time are discussed here. It’d be impossible to not do so when discussing the creation of a new character.]

ABOVE: This was the original penciled version of the cover to the Thief of Time comic. In the beginning I was thinking of this as being maybe a comic in a slightly more humorous vein. I later repenciled the figure of Heather Brascomb after Danny Fingeroth (my co-creator and writer) defined the characters and the feel of the series more. We decided against a humorous or more cartoony feel in favor of a more straight-forward adventure. RIGHT: My initial quick sketches or drawings of the character. The first image that popped into my mind was a female thief being chased across the rooftops of some European city, pursued by ninjas. These were done quickly directly with a brush and ink, and it ended up being the gem of the idea that became the cover image. I flopped the direction of the sketch to read better for the cover.

DRAW! • FALL 2004 3


MIKE MANLEY that we have to put a limit on Heather’s time travel abilities. Otherwise there’s no problem the person can’t solve by simply saying, “Well, I’ll go back five minutes before that event happened.” Danny Fingeroth: That’s right. We had this discussion about how time travel stories can become incredibly complicated, and the question always comes back to, “if you can travel through time, why not just keep going back in time until you get it right?” That’s actually the premise of Groundhog Day, I suppose, which is in a way a time travel story.

ABOVE: The final penciled version of the cover for The Thief of Time. On this page and the next page are some of Mike’s rough sketches and designs for the thief’s costume and appearance. This is the second half of the Write Now!/DRAW! crossover conversation phone discussion between Danny Fingeroth and Mike Manley. The first half ran in Write Now #8.

Mike Manley: In creating a drama, be it comics or a movie, etc., it’s probable all the paths that you’re going to walk dramatically have been walked by someone before. So, all you can do is try to put a little spin on the ball. There’s been a zillion stories about pirates, or about private eyes, or guys flying through outer space, starship captains, and super-heroes. Nothing is really going to end up being completely unique. I mean, you hope your idea is fresh, but in genre fiction most ideas have probably been tried now. So with Thief, my concern, visually, was try to do something that’s interesting for the reader and that’s fun for me to draw. A story, that even if it’s time travel, not a unique idea certainly, has something that’s a little different in some way. Some kind of hook. In one of the conversations we had we discussed 4 DRAW! • FALL 2004

MM: We initially said, okay, it’s going to be a thief, and we decided we’ll make the thief a female character. Then we talked a little bit about the movie Entrapment, which was about a burglar, and looked at the elements that worked in that, and then we started talking about time travel. I actually went on the Internet and spent some time reading up on time travel. Some scientists believe there is a possibility, depending upon faster-thanlight drives or going the speed of light, that it is possible to do some form of time travel. There are others who believe there’s time travel possibilities via wormholes, or black holes. There’re a lot of different theories on it. So even though this is a fantasy, you still want to be able to have a layer in it that has some basis in science, so that at least you have some foundation on which to build a fantasy construct. DF: There was one logistical problem we came up with what I think is an elegant solution for. I was having our heroine have to literally travel to different parts of the globe by jet or something, to then go back in time so she would end up in that part of

COMICS the world when she time-traveled. And you came up with the pseudo-science mumbo-jumbo (and I mean that in a good way) about some kind of global positioning thing, where she could end up coming out in the correct geographical spot, which simplified things nicely. MM: Well, I figured since the Earth moves through time and space, and since she’s going to jump through time, the time-vest she wears would have to have some ability, maybe in conjunction with some machine, computer program, a guy working the machine back at the home base, tracking her in relationship to the Earth, so that you can say, “When I’m going through time to April 14, 1876, at 3:00 AM,” you would know exactly where the Earth would be in order to do that, or else you’d pop into space, because the Earth might be on the other side of the sun. DF: This new version of the plot felt more organic to me. Does it work better for you? MM: It does. And we were also trying to decide if the key time travel scene in her first story would take her to ancient Greece or medieval Japan. DF: In this case, I think it’s more what you’re in the mood to draw. The story point would be similar in either case, so it’s what’s more fun for Mike to do artwise? MM: So I settled on ancient Japan, because, for me, ancient Japan and samurai or are going to be more fun to draw. I went through step-by-step, reading the plot and wrote down what Heather’s key motivation is. The fact that she’s try-


ing to find her father, who invented this timevest that she wears, and he’s lost in the time stream. She wants somehow, to locate her father in the time stream and basically save him. And then we had a big, long talk about how there had to be some reason why she couldn’t just pop in two seconds before he turned the vest on and got himself lost in time, why didn’t she just do that? All of this is in my mind when I’m reading your plot that you just sent, which was really good. I was thinking, what if the dad’s time vest was damaged and maybe there was something wrong with it initially, a design flaw maybe, so that he keeps skipping through time like a stone thrown across a lake, and every time that he pops into a different time, he sends out a slight “ripple.” And that slight ripple maybe subtly affects time after that. So he’s sending out slight ripples in time, that are generated by the suit “punching holes” through time. And, since it’s a random thing and her brother Henry’s helping her track her father down, I was just thinking, maybe Henry’s job could be to track where his father goes when he’s using the vest. To see if there’s a pattern to the jumps in time that their father’s making as he skips through time, trying to triangulate where Dad will be next, so that he can say, “Well, we think that, based on this algorithm that I’m running”—some chaos theory computer program—“we predict our father will appear in 1776 in Malta,” or something like that. DF: Yeah. From The Time Machine to The Terminator to Back to the Future, to just about any time travel story, I think you just have to establish the rules of time travel and figure the audience will be willing to go along for the ride as long as the story points are compelling enough to make them want to. Otherwise, you go into territory where you’re trying so hard to explain how and why DRAW! • FALL 2004 5


MIKE MANLEY wrong, she could really screw something up.

Some character studies of Heather that explore her personality and stylistic approach.

DF: You know, this goes back to our original discussion, the way that you even said, “Why doesn’t she go back a week and invest in whatever stock went up the following week? Why would she have to be a thief?” Which is why I put the message for the father in there. Because we’re back to that same thing, why go to such elaborate means just to generate money if you can know how future financial markets are going to turn out? MM: Well, here’s the other plot idea I had in relating to the father. Maybe via his skipping through time, he’s sort of set himself up financially or science-wise. Maybe he’s trapped, maybe there’s some reason why he can’t take the vest off, maybe it’s bonded to his skin, whatever. So he’s always going to have to jump through time. DF: Because if he takes off the vest, he loses any hope of ever getting back to his home time.

of something that’s impossible in the first place, that you end up sabotaging your story. Let’s face it, what do people remember about Back to the Future? The time-traveling DeLorean and the fact that Michael J. Fox had to make sure his parents got together so that he would be born, which, when you think about it, he must already have succeeded, or else how could we be watching a movie about his character in the first place? But you don’t think about that as you watch the movie. You just take the filmmakers’ and characters’ words for it that what they’re trying to achieve—the McGuffin, as Hitchcock called it—is important. MM: Sure, the more logically you set it up, the more chance the reader or viewer will buy into it. DF: Agreed. MM: I did think, at the end, in our story, having the father show up was kind of a cool thing. Now, we could have some reason that that happened, we’ll to work that out, because we have a limited amount of space with the initial comic. DF: That was definitely going to be the cliffhanger. Because, as you were just saying, he pops in and out of time. There could be a pattern to it, but one that maybe they haven’t quite figured out. Now, does he want to be rescued? That’s another issue. MM: Basically, the main thing for me as an artist working on the story with you was to figure out logical parameters within this fantasy construct so if this person can travel through time, they can’t just simply solve every problem they encounter by just going, “Oh, well, I’ll just dial back before that happened, ding, problem solved!” So there should be some reason that every time they actually go into the time stream, there’s a real possibility that if they do something wrong, they could really screw up the present. I think it would be a good thing to have it set up at the beginning that there was a real consequence every time Heather jumped through time, and if she did something 6 DRAW! • FALL 2004

MM: Right. And maybe he hasn’t been able to fix it because he doesn’t have the 2004 technology to repair the vest. Or maybe he’s working on it, it’s going to take him a while in the past to gather the materials he needs to fix the vest or something. Like a stone skipping through time, so you never know where the next skip will send you. DF: He has to triangulate where he’s going to be. So now the question still comes up, why is she stealing stuff in the past, if it’s not to find clues for him? If she’s on an assignment from the Emperor of Japan, that’s one thing, that specific favor, or maybe he has something she needs. MM: That’s a cool idea. Maybe she’s trying to track him, so maybe by stealing this mask from the past and delivering it to the emperor of Japan in the future, he gives her some photograph or some information about where her father was in Japan at some point.

BELOW: My thumbnail breakdowns. This is where it all starts as I sketch out thumbnails based on Danny’s plot. These will go through a refining process but I want to get the visual images in my head down as quickly as they occur.

he vision and talent of Noel Sickles transformed and expanded the possibilities of narrative comic strip art in fundamental ways that are still apparent in current comic books and graphic novels. After this accomplishment he left the cartooning field to spend several decades as one of the grand illustrators of his generation, and ended his career painting historical western images for galleries across the Southwest. Sickles invented a technique combining naturalistic drawing, cinematic storytelling and realistic lighting that invigorated the art of newspaper story strips and gave birth to the melodramatic visual intensity of adventure-themed comic books. In his Scorchy Smith strip work we see the first aggressive melding of cinema camera techniques with static narrative drawing. Before Sickles, Hal Foster had created spectacular realistically drawn narrative sequences in his Tarzan strip work, but his vision was a more formal theatrical sensibility. Foster used no speech balloons, enclosing dialogue within captions, and his compositions were rooted in classical salon art and early magazine illustration traditions. The quality that was new in Sickles’ work was a convincing impression of spontaneity, as if the viewer were witnessing the events in motion. This sense of immediacy in Sickles’ work was his special gift, and it invigorates LEFT: An illustration from Life Magazine. all his images. As a ABOVE: A young Sickles. RIGHT: The young teenager Sickles power and moody atmosphere of Von haunted the public Schmidt’s high-contrast line drawings inspired libraries and studied all Sickles to introduce a similar approach to the the artwork that newspaper strip. Sickles pushed the simplifiappealed to him, from cation of detail further and eventually broadthe old masters to conened the tonal range by introducing a temporary newspaper mechanical gray tone that allowed him to cartooning, but he also play white edges against the gray, creating a

sketched from life constantly and gradually coalesced his vision into a personal approach to solving drawing problems. He began his professional career before the age of twenty, cartooning for local businesses and newspapers—in the early work reproduced here his skill and adroit mastery of then-common pen-and-ink styles is remarkable. In those days reproducing photography on newsprint was difficult, and newspaper artists were often visual reporters, drawing people or scenes to accompany a news story. When the opportunity to take over the comic strip Scorchy Smith came along, Sickles used it as a vehicle to develop his natural way of visualizing dramatic narrative images. At first he was required to imitate the style of the strip’s creator John Terry, who produced, in Sickles’ words: “...the worst drawing I had ever seen by anybody.” In the early Sickles example reproduced here, the evidence of Terry’s crude rendering technique is evident, though Sickles cannot hide his own mastery of form, arial depth, perspective, and storytelling. Already we see here an important element of Sickles’ revolutionary contribution—a flawless, spontaneous sense of objects and living forms existing and moving through real space, and a intuitive mastery of viewpoint and rhythm of scene choice—called “shot flow” in visual storytelling parlance. Sickles wanted to “...bring the art out of the page.” He combined the pacing, cutting and camera mobility of the black-and-white movies of his day with a graphic treatment inspired by a set of illustrations Harold Von Schmidt created for Willa Cather’s “Death Comes for the ArchBishop.” (See examples below.)

remarkable impression of depth and air in his pictures. In the early strip below Sickles is still imitating the crude parallel line rendering of his predecessor John Terry, but his marvelous sense of spatial accuracy is already evident—look how surely the weight of the speedboat rides the heavy water—indicated so simply you can count the lines!

DRAW! • FALL 2004 23


This is the second in a series of articles by animators Tom Bancroft and Rob Corley on the subject of “Bringing Characters to Life.” This article will discuss the second step: expressions and posing. While we are traditional animators and the examples given will focus mainly on that style, we believe these articles will contain information that will apply to the video game, special effects, comic book and comic strip industries, to name a few. ––Tom and Rob

Frank and Ollie’s Illusion of Life and Richard Williams’ book The Animator’s Survival Kit. These are excellent books and should be a permanent fixture in any character/story-driven artist’s reference collection. EXPRESS YOURSELF! Hey, all! It’s your friendly neighborhood animators Rob Corley and Tom Bancroft from Funnypages Productions here. Thanks for the great response to our first article last issue on “Character Design.” This next article in our series of articles touching on the finer points of animation is entitled “Expression and Posing.” Back in the early days, when an animated character had to show a particular expression it rarely went beyond a few basic designs, such as lines above the head to show surprise or tears pouring from the eyes to show sadness. These tricks worked for many years on the old shorts, but as audiences became more sophisticated the animators soon learned that they needed to bring something more to the screen and to their characters. One of the most important things we learned at Disney was to avoid the “cliché.” Try to avoid using the first idea, expression, pose, etc. you come up with for your scene. Some artists/ animators lose an important opportunity to really push themselves as artists and—ultimately—their scene to the “next level” by settling for the easy way out. It’s time to lock up that old toolbox of tried and true tricks or formulas and start really growing artistically. Now we’re not saying that your first idea ain’t pretty, but it’s always nice to flex your artistic muscles from time to time. You never know, you just might surprise yourself. Ok now, you may be asking, “Where do I start if I can’t think of anything else to do for my scene or drawing?” Only through observing life around you will you be able to bring something new and fresh to your arsenal of creative talent. Watch people and observe how they act, how they move and react to their environment. Peoples is such crazy animals, and nine times out of ten you will walk away with a library of information and material that could make your art/animation SING! Some of the suggestions that follow are based on our personal experiences and can also be found in a number of books on the subject of animation. One of the most obvious would be 34 DRAW! • FALL 2004

LET’S EMOTE! (No, Rob, that’s not what you put on toast.) First things first. Let’s concentrate on the face. Normally, when you approach drawing a character, you should never separate the thought process between the face and body. This is because they are so integral to one another and the emotion you are trying to convey. That said, we do it here for ease of reference and to concentrate on finer points. Later, we will add the all-important body to “push” the expressions. Your character must be real to you. You have to be able to relate to what your character is going through in order to capture the right pose or expression for your scene. What is your character thinking or feeling? Are they happy, angry, or confused? Use a mirror and “act” out the character’s mood or acting. Study your own attitude and ask yourself: “Does this pose feel right? Does the drawing I’ve created feel the way my face feels?” Choosing the right expression will make or break your scene or drawing. SOME BASICS: Let’s go over some fundamental principals first. Here is a basic cartoony face with no real emotion. (fig. 1) Not all characters have cheeks and even pupils (like more “limited-style” characters) but for these examples we are using a more realistic design to show more subtleties that can be achieved. The thing you need to notice on all of these examples is the “change” in the drawings. Making sure there is a clear “change” from one emotion drawing to the next emotion drawing is vital.



We can see this by using this “happy” expression example. In (fig. 2) there is little difference or “change,” it may be overlooked.

In (fig. 3) there is no escaping the change in attitude: notice how that when the mouth goes up it pushes the cheeks into the lower “lids” so that there is a compression on the eyes? The eyebrows go up. There is even a slight stretch upward on everything on the face.

TWO, the Eyelids. The lids are more the “Supporting Cast” in the overall emotion of the eyes but really help “push” an emotion. It should be noted that, though not shown, the compression of the cheeks below the eyes help create some of these eye expressions. (fig. 6)

In subtle acting, all these things are very important. (fig.4) is an optional “push” if the character is “very happy.” As soon as a character shows teeth, the level of emotion increases.

THE “EYES” HAVE IT They say that a person’s eyes are a window to their soul. In Rob’s case, his eyes are a window to how much sleep he got writing this article. For the purposes of a person creating characters that they want to bring to “life,” the eyes are the MOST important part of the expression. People look in your eyes for what you really mean or the context of what you are saying. In comic books or any print media, they are especially important as you don’t have a voice to hear to give more clues to the character’s acting. There are three main components to creating acting with the “eyes”:

ONe, and probably the most important, is the eyebrows. They are the key to how the eyes convey emotion. How the eyebrows compress and decompress the eye shape give the broad strokes of the emotion you are trying to covey. (fig. 5)

THree, is the Pupils. Eye direction can convey many subtle emotions. Psychologists say that when we are thinking of the past we look up and to the right, when we think of the future, it’s up and to the left. Either way looking up and to the corner of the eye “reads” as thinking. Looking down usually says you are remorseful. Pupils in the middle of the eyes reads as attentive. Looking up can say “Here we go again.” While looking left or right in succession makes the character feel paranoid or sneaky. Wall-eyed or cross-eyed pupils makes the character look like Rob. (fig. 7) TAKE YOUR “ORDER” PLEASE! Remember that you are creating a visual interpretation of a particular mood or attitude. For each attitude there is one key expression that will illustrate what your character is thinking or feeling. The thought process is revealed through the change of expression. What order and how many expressions you use will convey different things that your character is thinking—or not thinking. One example would be if your character is happy and suddenly becomes frightened but then becomes angry, you’ll need to plan out how you will get the best results as you move through each attitude. Timing in animation will help “push” what you are trying to convey but even in illustration the order and how many expressions you choose is vital. You’ll need to show that change from happy to frightened pretty quickly, but you may want to spend a few more seconds (or drawings) on DRAW! • FALL 2004 35




Importing photographic textures and effects to add dimension and excitement to otherwise flat vector art is a lot of fun and it couldn’t be easier. Adobe Illustrator lets you bring Photoshop generated bitmap images through its “Place” command, which can be transformed with a click of the mouse. In addition to textures, you also have the capability of placing inked drawings, blackand-white photographs and sketches for easy coloring and tinting. A bitmap file looks deceptively like a good old high-contrast, black-and-white image. Its magic, however, lies in its transparency properties, the “black” part of the bitmap is opaque and can be recolored at will, while the apparent “white” area is actually 100% transparent, allowing for a myriad of design possibilities.

HIGH SPEED COLORING JOB I scanned the above inked drawing as “line art/text” at 600 DPI, and saved the image in TIF format. After creating a new document in Adobe Illustrator, I placed the file by choosing “Place” from the File menu. By the way, most high-resolution TIF bitmap files are under a megabyte in size. NOTE: It’s important that you keep all TIF files associated with the work you are doing in the same folder along with the main Illustrator document as AI keeps track of the linked files’ location. I then locked the current layer (Layer 1) and created a second layer which I re-named “coloring” and dragged directly underneath. You should also keep in mind that you can change the default grayscale (black) bitmap to any custom, CMYK, RGB, or PMS color you wish, but you can’t fill the image with patterns or gradients.

DRAW! • FALL 2004 41



APPLYING FLAT COLOR AND/OR GRADIENTS With the inked drawing placed securely in the layer directly above, I drew the different shapes that make up the car with the pen tool in a carefree manner and the girl was drawn freehand using the pencil. Ellipses were used where appropriate and also to speed things up.

For this particular piece I offset the colored shapes a bit, but you can color yours as tight or loose as you want, knowing the black line or layered colors will overlap and hide any inconsistencies.


42 DRAW! • FALL 2004



COLORING A QUICK SKETCH After scanning in Grayscale mode, the contrast was improved using the level slider in Adobe Photoshop—Command+L (Mac OS), Ctrl+L (Windows)—and the image was inversed—Command+I (Mac OS), Ctrl+I (Windows). The mode was converted from Grayscale to Bitmap using the Diffusion Dither Method at an output of 600 pixels per inch.

These settings worked fine for this image, feel free to experiment.

In a layer directly underneath the bitmap image, I drew the “inner color” shapes using the pencil tool and added the logo.

DRAW! • FALL 2004 43

From the WEb to Print Comics, catching up with


PVP’s Scott Kurtz


Who better to interview one web strip cartoonist than another web cartoonist? Jamar Nicholas, who does Detective Boogaloo, Hip-Hop Cop over on moviepoopshoot.com, turns the mike on the always funny, sometimes controversial Scott Kurtz. Kurtz has turned his PvP internet comic strip into a critical and financial success. Interview by Jamar Nicholas, edited by Mike Manley

GROWING UP Jamar Nicholas: Where were you born? SCOTT KURTZ: Watsonville, California: salad bowl of the world. It’s Northern California near Santa Cruz. I still have family there. JN: Are either of your parents artistically inclined? SK: My dad is. He wanted to be an architect and studied as a draftsman. He’s more inclined to draw a building or a blueprint than a cartoon, however. JN: Did you draw as a kid? If not, when? Did you always want to be a cartoonist? SK: I always drew as a kid, but it wasn’t until my mom bought me the first Garfield book that I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist. My first comic strips were all about fat cats. That was in the fourth grade.

JN: Did you have any art-related jobs outside of comics? SK: I worked as a graphic designer at a couple of sign companies out of college, and eventually landed a job as a webmaster for KLTY radio in Dallas, Texas. JN: Were you always attracted to this type of material as a kid? SK: Yeah. My dad would bring me home comics from the newsstands after work and I was addicted to cartoons growing up. Around the fifth grade, I had this friend named Jans Dykehouse who’s brother seriously collected comics. We snuck into his room and read all the Byrne/Claremont X-Men he had. Afterwards we would run to the kitchen table and create our own comics on reams of graph paper they had. JN: What was it about cartoons that made you want to do them? I know that I used to like Garfield because of Jim Davis’ line-work, not necessarily his plots. SK: Probably the feedback. When I would draw super-heroes and show it to my dad, I would get anatomy lessons. When I drew a cartoon, I would get a laugh. Sure, in fourth grade, they weren’t the funniest jokes, but they were clever and the response on a four-panel cartoon was immense. Especially if it was about someone everyone knew or a topic we were just discussing that day. I didn’t get that, drawing super-heroes. The simple, less complex line art was something I was always drawn too. Never liked the rendering and crosshatching as much.

JN: Did you have any art schooling?

JN: What other comic strips did you study when you were that age? I used to read Doonesbury that early. I didn’t get any of it, but I was entranced with the art style.

SK: Just the normal art classes one would have throughout high school. I studied advertising art in college for three years before dropping out. I did take a cartooning class one time at the West Des Moines Civic Center but I never got much out of it.

SK: I didn’t discover Doonesbury until college. My newspaper had Garfield, and older strips I didn’t care for. But I could go to Waldenbooks and find comics that weren’t in my paper.

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SK: I remember having a heart-to-heart with my art buddy Scott Gordinier. He loved to draw, too. I would go over to his house and we would just draw super-heroes. He also had nudie-mags to reference for girl super-heroes. And I couldn’t get the hang of drawing super-heroes. But I was great at cartooning. It came natural to me. And I remember getting all choked up and deciding not to draw super-heroes and concentrate on cartooning. It was a choice I made in junior high.


JN: “The decision.” I remember that. I think a lot of strip cartoonists have had that talk with themselves. SK: I was heartbroken over it, because all my friends were making comic books and I was not going to be a part of the imaginary comic book companies we would create each week.

LEFT: An early cast drawing of the PvP characters. ABOVE: Kurtz’s website. BELOW: A Pin-up of Atari Nouveau.

Garfield was first, then a comic called SNAKE! Then came Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbes. That was the progression. JN: I’ve never heard of SNAKE!. Tell us about that. SK: You can probably find it online. It was this cartoon about a snake in prehistoric times. He was always lamenting having no hands. And the girl snake had huge boobs. I’m not joking. The art was similar to Garfield.

JN: They’re very different elements to doing strips vs. comic books. I don’t think people know how much effort goes into it and that both aren’t totally natural to each other. SK: I knew that the secret to cartooning was to learn to simplify and observe and those skills were going to take practice, and I couldn’t do both I felt. If I studied cartooning, I was giving up studying super-hero art. JN: But on the same hand, a lot of comic book people couldn’t tell a gag in four panels, either. It’s like developing a muscle. SK: Yeah, that’s the other thing. My buddies didn’t care about writing. They weren’t looking to create a complete package. They were just working on portfolio pieces.

JN: That sounds BC-ish. SK: But not as preachy. THE DECISION

SK: I didn’t really get into collecting comics until high school. My dad would bring me some occasionally, but I didn’t know the collector subculture existed. I didn’t know that people followed creative teams, titles, etc. I was taught all that after meeting some collectors. The first comic I collected was Alpha Flight and I started with issue 11. The ad for issue 12 had the whole team lined up and said “NEXT ISSUE ONE OF THESE HEROES WILL DIE!” I lost it. That was the longest month of my childhood. JN: So you didn’t want to be a comic book artist, growing up, then? Most people would think that everybody wanted to draw Spider-Man when they were young.


JN: You seem to have a direct sensibility tied to comic strips, with your timing and delivery. Did you have any comic book love growing up?

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JN: Let’s talk about family support when you were coming up.

LEFT: A pin-up of Skull the troll as the Dark Knight.

artist used the tree book for reference.

SK: My dad would criticize always and my mom would dote always. Dad would read a strip and nitpick. Do this, change that, add this. I would say, “What do you think of the joke? Don’t focus so much on one detail” and he would say, “Do you want the critique or not?”

JN: That’s great. You didn’t see what he was getting at then. SK: He taught me that cartooning is about breaking the rules of art, but that you had to learn the rules first before you can break them.

JN: Criticizing your art abilities, or the fact that you should be “doing something else”?


SK: No. He would never push me to do something else. He was huge on having a backup plan... he never discouraged me, but he was honest. JN: And mom? SK: Mom would laugh at the strip. Then I would look at her and say, “Do you get the joke?” and she would say, “No, but I can just tell it’s funny.” JN: A lot of creative people know what they want to do at a very early age. Usually the rest of your family unit don’t believe you until you’ve accomplished it. SK: Dad would always be realistic and tough on me. I would say, “I’m ready to be a cartoonist,” and he would say, “Not yet. You need to be able to effortlessly draw this with a couple of pen strokes. You’re not there yet, but you’re improving.” JN: That’s classic right there. “That’s nice dear.” My mother still does that. SK: And Dad was huge on art, having studied to be a draftsman. So he would push me to learn how to draw horses and trees and I didn’t want to do that. JN: Wow. That’s a huge plus, Scott. Some would kill to have that kind of person in their corner. SK: God, this one time.... He brought me a book on trees and told me to draw all the different bark patterns, and after 10 minutes I said, “ENOUGH! This is stupid. I don’t need this for drawing comics.” And he pulled a comic off my desk (the first one he grabbed), flipped through it and found this monster. He put the comic right up against the tree picture. I swear to god the skin on the monster was identical to the bark. It’s like the 58 DRAW! • FALL 2004

JN: Did you have any art books given to you at a young age from your parents? I think the How to Draw Comics The Marvel Way was a staple. That was back when the Borders didn’t have a whole section on comic art. SK: I bought that one myself. My dad had a stack of art books. Draw people, horses, trees, birds, dogs. All art books. Mom bought me a cartooning book that I hated. I think it was written in 1935. It had

all these flappers in it. JN: Did you actively try to use your dad’s books to work on your craft, or were they too “old” for you? SK: I used Dad’s books to draw when I wasn’t in a mood to draw cartoons. Or as reference. JN: What kind of school student were you? SK: Horrible. I had a very public rivalry with my high school art teacher. JN: Were you good when you were younger, then deteriorated? SK: I was good student through elementary. But I was distracted all the time. JN: So what happened? SK: I was too busy thinking about cartoons and comic strips. Ms. Allen was my art teacher and she hated cartooning. Hated it. She discovered a student named Andy who was brilliant with pottery. Just... really talented. And she practically adopted him. Like, he lived at her house for a while. And she gave him the kiln room—like, converted it into a private studio. JN: Couldn’t get away with that these days... SK: Yeah, these days she’d be in jail. He was from Korea and

his mom went back and he didn’t want to go. I’m sure it was all official and legal, but still. So she would give him preferential treatment, and enter him in all the art shows and that was total BS. And I hated him. I hated him with the heat of a thousand burning suns. And he hated me. Of course, when he introduced her to Manga, she was thrilled. Then cartooning was okay. So I got to enter a comic book into the big senior art show, and sparks flew when I won best of show over Andy’s pots. She hated me. JN: Do you still have that comic? SK: Somewhere, yeah. And, here’s the really sad thing: I went back to gloat afterwards. Here are my comics and take a look at my checkbook balance. And she was so small and frail and defeated. She cried and told me her husband died of stomach cancer, and I lost it. JN: That’s the opposite of what you wanted. SK: I realized it was time to grow up emotionally, I think. It was more important to focus on making good choices at that point. Life is short, you know? I was pissed, too, that day, because I felt she even robbed me of my gloating. Like... she





held me back for three years and I won, but I couldn’t spike the ball at the end. My personal victory was all I got. Which of course is enough. JN: When did that happen? SK: Early 2000. PvP was still small. It wasn’t like I had “made it” officially. But it was enough that I was full-time at that point. I had great teachers who all saw my talent (other than the one teacher that was paid to develop it). Yeah, my best teacher was Jeff Grim. He saw I was different. He wrote a recommendation letter that got me into college. It said, in part, “You won’t see Scott on the Dean’s list, but you’ll see his art making an impact on the students.” Basically, saying, “His ACT and SAT scores suck, but he’s still worth taking,” and that letter got me in. The college told me as much. JN: Wow. So did you go to a Liberal Arts School for College? SK: Kind of: UNT (University of North Texas). I took ad art for three years and dropped out. I was wasting my parent’s money and these teachers were bitter ex-ad execs. I thought... “Do I want to be a part of this world? Do I want to be this smarmy guy? Or some production monkey? What am I doing here?” JN: That’s very self-aware of you. So why didn’t you just finish it out for the degree? SK: My stomach would hurt every day going to class. I would skip class and it would hurt more. I had no clue what I wanted to be and all my choices seemed wrong. So I quit and got a job at a sign company my friend’s dad ran. And that’s where I met Angela [Scott’s Wife]. JN: Did your dropping out cause problems at home? SK: Yeah. My dad was devastated. Mom, just... she was a mom. More worried about making me and Dad happy and smoothing things. Dad never went to a full four-year university and his mom (my harpy of a grandmother) brow beat him constantly about it. He got a two-year associates degree and no matter how great a dad, or how great a provider, it was never good enough for her. So he was huge on me getting into a university and

ABOVE: A PvP daily strip from early on and a recent one (LEFT) clearly showing the evolution of Kurtz’s style and the development of the characters.

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