At a recent conference at the University of Iowa, I drew a six-panel comic in front of six 25-minute sessions of middle- and high-school kids, one panel at a time. It was a chance to talk naturally about the order of work, the materials needed, and to show all the behind-the-scenes action.
I had the pleasure of meeting Howard Chaykin last week in Minnesota for the MCBA’s SpringCon. I was particularly interested to hear that he’s been teaching in an unexpected venue: the Marvel Bullpen. He and Klaus Jansen spend 3 days every 6 months in the Marvel offices giving what-for to 5 artists under contract with Marvel.
Kevin and Zander have collaborated on a number of comic books. This wouldn’t be unusual, except that they’ve developed an intensive style of collaboration, where each works on every stage of the comics, from conception to layouts (thumbnails), to pencils, to inks. Like French authors (who famously use a similar system) Dupuy & Berberian, they’ve evolved a consistent combined style where you really can’t tell where one’s work ends and the other begins.
This ambitious activity combines life drawing with cartooning by having students draw live models directly into narrative scenarios in sequeqnce on a single sheet of paper. A major goal is to see how the spontaneity and expressiveness of life drawing might be harnessed into the service of comics—comics teachers observe all the time students who don’t have the skills yet to draw from their head, or who are too caught up in a particular drawing style, yet when they draw a human figure from observation they can produce lovely, confident drawings.
Comics are a character-driven medium, so if a character looks and acts exactly the same as all the others—superheroes wearing spandex, alternative types exuding negativity—then something is gravely wrong. Wrong and boring. As someone else put it: “we need to do violence to the cliché, create havoc with the tried, the tired and tested”.
Nick Bertozzi is an amazingly talented and prolific cartoonist, a teacher, and a good friend. I was thrilled when I saw this post about the process he used to make his new book Lewis & Clark over at the First Second blog, and asked if we could repost it here. If you’re in NYC, come celebrate the book release with Nick at Bergen Street Comics on Friday, Feb 25. Matt and I will be there, too!
Hothouse student Lisa Anchin worked intensely this summer toward mastering the language of comics and visual clarity. The first run through of her thumbs felt slow and confusing, but Lisa showed total commitment to revision, as tough as it can be, and remade her story until it’s clear, compelling, downright exciting ride. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
James McMullan, a wonderful illustrator and poster designer who Matt calls the “guru” of figure drawing at SVA, launches a new 12-part series in the online version of the New York Times to encourage adults to return to their drawing roots.
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