I did an “Ask Me Anything” session today, here’s a condensed version. Thanks everybody! And sorry to those whose comments and shares got dumped. For some reason, the Ask Me Anything feature in Tumblr didn’t show up correctly on my website import, so I condensed it into a single post to avoid those problems.
MATTJBATT asked: WITH PUNKS - WHAT’S THE PHOTO PROCESS? HOW MUCH OF THE PHOTO DO YOU TAKE AND HOW MUCH IS FOUND?
99% of the images in Punks are photos I take and are staged here in the studio with me or with friends. The various images of Abe are public domain shots from Archive.org and various historical websites. On occasion, I’ll pull a celebrity or a specific hard-to-find image from Google that sort of works with what I need for that particular moment. From the research I’ve done, as long as the work is “transformative” and applies a ”new aesthetic with creative and communicative results” it’s considered fair use. I never grab a photo and present it as a photograph, and imply that I’m the photographer. It’s always transformative and used in illustration of a fictional and satirical storyline. We’re also a comedy book and we’ve got the benefits of humor and satire on our side. Photo collage as a creative art form is well established, so I think we’re good. :)
ANONYMOUS asked: WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR SHIRTS MADE, CAUSE CHAMBERLAIN SHIRTS HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE MOST COMFORTABLE IN RECENT MEMORY?
I haven’t done shirts in a few years, but I like to use American Apparel and I typically print with Downtown T-Shirts here in Lafayette.
STUDIOVERTEX asked: HOW WOULD ONE GO ABOUT GETTING INTO COMIX AS A DIGITAL COLORIST? I CAN DRAW AND HAVE AN ART BACKGROUND, BUT I THINK IT WOULD BE A FEW DECADES FOR ME TO BE ABLE TO DRAW FAST ENOUGH AND WELL ENOUGH TO BE EVEN CONSIDERED. I THINK BEING A COLORIST IS SOMETHING I MIGHT ACTUALLY HAVE A SHOT AT (EXPERIENCE WITH ILLUSTRATION AND DIGITAL WORK) BUT DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT IT. CAN YOU RECOMMEND ANY RESOURCES (TUTORIALS, BOOKS, ETC) THAT MIGHT HELP ME ON MY WAY? AND HOW DO I APPROACH THE INDUSTRY ABOUT IT?
A good place to start would be to hit YouTube and watch a variety of tutorials to get a grasp of how different people do it. There are a TON of techniques used, the right technique depends on the look you’re going for. Techniques are only helpful if you have solid fundamentals, so good color theory, understanding form, perspective, the dynamics of light, shadow, shade, and warmth, and solid computer skills are a MUST. It’s also important to understand the capacity and pace required for professional work. You should be able to color one solid page a day, but will likely need to do multiple pages a day to earn a living as a colorist.
There are also production guidelines you’ll need to learn to work with, resolution, color mode, black levels in the lineart, trapping, etc. Should be plenty of good info out there with the right search terms. There’s also a lot of bad info out there on coloring, bad tips on resolution, etc. Look to working professionals for the best advice, aspiring colorists on message boards and such will sometimes give bad information that can cause major problems in the printing process.
I would also spend time studying some of the best working in comics today like Dave Stewart, Matt Hollingsworth, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Patricia Mulvihill, Chris Ware, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, too many to name them all. Pay particular attention to their color palettes, maybe use Kuler to scan and sample some of their colors to see how they fit into the color wheel (I still do this myself). Also pay attention to how color impacts the story being told. It’s not just about pretty colors, the top colorist in comics earn their living by being good storytellers.
As for getting work in comics, you may want to get started by approaching a few anthology editors for high-res tryout pages, and that’ll let you test the waters and start meeting people. You may not get a project right away, but keep working and sending out samples of your work and you’ll find it gets much easier over time. A warning: avoid using bad lineart in any of your coloring samples, that will reflect negatively on your work. Find top notch artwork to color with, and using the right search terms you should be able to dig up plenty of great pages to color.
I wouldn’t jump into any big projects right away without getting a taste of a few smaller projects so stay on the hunt for 5 to 8 page stories. It might take some time to figure out what works and most importantly, what type of projects you’d like to do, then go after it!
Some links that might be helpful:
ANONYMOUS asked: DO YOU WORK DIGITALLY OR DO YOU DRAW EVERYTHING?
I do a lot of both. PUNKS is digital photography, printed out, then assembled using traditional paste-up techniques using an old photocopier, X-Acto blade, glue, and tape. The finished art is black and white, so I scan it and do all the colors and the lettering digitally, as well as all the book design work.
SWEETS was entirely hand-drawn, but was colored and lettered digitally. I do the bulk of my client illustration work digitally lately because client work usually requires more revising. I don’t find a major speed advantage with either, but I do prefer creating artwork traditionally because for me, it’s a lot more fun. There’s also a collector’s market for original artwork, so that’s a bonus.
ANONYMOUS asked: WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? WHAT PAST CHARACTERS AND STORIES ARE INFLUENCING YOUR CURRENT OR EVEN FUTURE WORK?
Currently reading THE STRAIN from Lapham and Huddleston at Dark Horse, the CHEW Omnivore addition from Layman and Guillory, and I re-read all the Darwyn Cooke / Richard Stark PARKER books from IDW. I’ve also been making my way through the CREEPY ARCHIVES from Dark Horse. Reading lots of work-related stuff, too.
ANONYMOUS asked: WHAT ARE SUPPLIES, IF ANY, DO YOU HAVE TROUBLE WITH WHEN CHECKING YOUR LUGGAGE WITH TSA?
My main computer is a Mac pen tablet designed by MODBOOK [ http://www.modbook.com ] and it’s not a typical computer, so that one probably gets the most attention with the TSA. They love to “swab” it. Pens and paper rarely get looked at, but I have had pens pop in my suitcase and ruin some clothes, so I ALWAYS double bag them with zip locks before I fly.
ANONYMOUS asked: I LOVE SEEING SKETCHES TO FINAL ART STUFF. DO YOU PLAN TO PUBLISH A SKETCH BOOK OR ART BY KODY BOOK?
I’ve published several sketchbooks through the years, usually under the title “Lagniappe“ - which means a little something extra. Like a baker’s dozen. Haven’t done one in a few years but I’ll likely do a new one for 2015, sketches have been stacking up lately.
THEPRAFAITREPORT asked: HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO DO THE WORK ON PUNKS?
Since I also work on other projects, I can typically do 1 or 2 pages a day on PUNKS, but I can do as many as 7 if needed. If the early issues perform well, I’ll be shifting more and more time to Punks and away from other side projects. That’s the plan, anyway. Still, we’ll be on schedule because it goes much faster than traditional drawing. On SWEETS, I was spending about 1.5 to 2 days per page with some other work in-between.
ANONYMOUS asked: I BOUGHT THE SINGLE ISSUES OF SWEETS BUT I DIDN’T BUY THE COLLECTED EDITION. ARE YOU DOING A HARDCOVER WITH MORE STUFF IN IT?
We do not have plans to publish a HARD COVER of Sweets at this point, but down the road it may be a possibility. Sales were good on the singles and the trade, but not good enough to fund a hardcover outright. In the end it’s all about supply and demand. If demand is high enough for a hard cover, we’ll certainly supply one. Time will tell.
ANONYMOUS asked: WHERE CAN I BUY THE ORIGINAL FIRST ISSUE OF PUNKS?
The original first two issues of PUNKS have been sold out a long time ago. I think I may have about 4 or 5 of each around the studio in my archives.
You may be able to find some of them on eBay, but keep in mind we ARE publishing the old stuff as bonus material in the back of every new issue of PUNKS. My advice would be to add PUNKS to your pull list at your local comic shop, and you’ll get it all, and slightly larger than the original books!
ANONYMOUS asked: WAS PAP SMURF THE LEADER?
I met him at the candy store
He turned around and smiled at me
You get the picture?