Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spider-Man and The Green Goblin: finally!


Maybe someone will like it.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Who? Pt III

More detail on Spidey here.

It does seem odd to do the full on process without showing the sketches that lead to this point. I may have to go back and scan them so we can really see the piece develop.

Also, I develop a Green Goblin sketch on a nother page and blow it up on the photocopier. I'm showing you the good one, not the crappy Goblin sketches....

I then do the shading work on the photocopy so that I can play with the lighting without losing the structure of the original drawing if i mess it up. But I kinda like this one off the bat.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In Discussion Of: Work for Hire and Working the Workers

Noah Berlatsky makes some interesting points in his Who Watches the Super Serfs post in reaction to Joe Quesada's comments on work for hire. Joe, for those who simply don't wish to click about 5 layers down to get to the quotes, points out that Work for Hire is just life under capitalism and that we should all just shut up about it.

And yet, there are very few other artistic forms where the creator is expected to give and give and give and get nothing back. The music industry is one, at least in the old days, where only the publishing was important. (Does it not depress anyone to know that a song, pick any song that has achieved a certain level of cultural fame, for all those times that you've heard it on the radio growing up, nothing goes back to artist's pocket book if he or she didn't write it? Music that we consider the soundtrack of our lives sometimes is created by an artist who receives nothing for the continued radio airplay. In Europe, at least, there has been a "performer credit" that paid the performing artist for decades).

By anyone's estimation, Siegel and Shuster should have been millionaires, but they didn't even get the working wage as they were fired off of the Superman books relatively quickly so that DC didn't to worry about fighting with two men who had an emotional investment. DC stole the greatest idea in the history of the medium and bailed on the inventors.

Is this any better or worse than some of what Tom Crippen points out in his rather depressing self-examination of his younger comic reading days, when he discovered that Romita and Buscema were not inspired artists gearing up for another exciting issue of Marvel Team Up, but were, in fact, workhorses, churning out yet another issue? Perhaps not. Since the result, in any case, is a depressingly mediocre product for the reader.

That workhorse/work-for-hire mentality has stuck us with a level of mediocrity that is rather hard to surpass unless one looks at television with a long lens. Another medium that started out in the mud and never climbed up any higher until recently and only by:
  • rock star mentality where one creator occasionally gets enough power to actually force through something interesting and innovative
  • sheer accident.
Whatever interesting work that a John Buscema might have done was long since crushed out of him. When teaching younger artists, "Hack away boys!" was what he told them. Joe Kubert is one of those few who came out the other side, with decades of work for hire, he still turned out Fax From Sarajevo late in his career.

Is there incentive for the creator to actually give a Marvel or DC anything other than to get a paycheck? Unfortunately, yes, there is, and much of it rests on the heart fulfulling its wishes to go play in the sandbox with all the favorite toys that one had growing up: The X-Men, The Avengers, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman. and the dream of getting a paycheck for actually sitting around doing what your parents told you was a waste of time: drawing.

But neither of them leads to a happy old age, to a pension, to anything other than a bad back. Ask Gene Colan where his long term health benefits are, or Dave Cockrum where his were. The lived the dream, but like the hourly employee at Taco Bell, the first day that they don't show up and make tacos, they don't get paid. And, as we all know, Gene and Dave made a hell of a lot more than tacos.

Tom makes the point, late in his essay, that he found himself "ground down" by the relentless quality of reading all the Marvels, til staring at the carpet was the equivalent of reading yet another issue of Thor. Many of the artists who have worked on a monthly schedule can attest to that feeling, and I realize that this has long since been about getting the product out on the stands, as opposed to getting a good product out on the stands. Would any other market want to actually cheapen their goods at that level? I guess if your business plan includes a built-in turnover of consumers, especially consumers who you consider to have no taste differential, then yes, cheapen the product all you want.

But not in this day and age. The business model has changed, or it should. Work can stay in print and, like an actual book, continue to entertain. Good creators should get paid well, great creators even better. And if the idea lives on, and there is money to be made, then the creators should continue to get paid. Quesada's idea of work for hire being the only way to go only works if you're going backwards from here. And I think that we're going anywhere but.

Monday, September 15, 2008

First Look: Bowen's Jack Of Hearts

Damn it, Randy Bowen's company does it again.
Just when I thought I was through with the figures (and as I write, I have a Cap/Red Skull combo on one shelf, Iron Man, Thanos, Warlock and Captain Marvel on top of another book case and a classic Iron Man flanked by Kang and Ultron over my shoulder), I check the Bowendesigns website and see that he's doing a Jack of Hearts figurine.

And Magog.

Dammit, now i have to get them now that I know that they exist. I was doing all fine and dandy without knowing that.

And I want the full-size Death Statue. Ooooh, yes I do.

Remind me to someday tell you my proposal to redo the Jack of Hearts from the early 1990's. He would have become what Nova became with the Annihilation storyline.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Who? Pt II

A little more done on this. Its funny, but somehow, once you just pencil in the webbing on his costume that suddenly "it looks like Spider-Man"! Its just somehow the one thing that really get the visual appeal going with the character.

Good old Sturdy Steve Ditko.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Your Friendly Neighborhood Who?

In the middle of working on a new commission piece.

I literally think that this is the first time that I've drawn Spider-Man since i was about 10 years old.

And I actually remember the costume without reference. Scary.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rene Angstrom: Anders Loves Backgrounds

Rene Engstrom, who draws Anders Loves Maria, has a great little post on backgrounds that I wanted to alert the great world of comicdom to.
For many it can be a pain to have to think of what to put in all that dang negative space. I totally used to over do backgrounds, unnecessarily. Your backgrounds should have a purpose. Generally they are used to set the atmosphere. You see these a lot in the comic's establishing panels. How to use panels are important, but also what you use for backgrounds is important.
I used to love doing backgrounds, still do, in fact, but I think thats the inker, the technician in me loving doing the work and getting a world that looks and feels real. I used to totally feel cheated by artists who consistantly didn't do the work to get the backgrounds right, or worse, didn't put in backgrounds at all.

And yet, I find myself analyzing who really puts in the work, and who is just better at suggesting the backgrounds. It was easy to get spoiled by someone like Marshall Rogers who had a background as an architect building a real Gotham City in his head and bringing it to life in Detective Comics. And yet, when I think back to the old Ross Andru Spider-men that I bought in the 1970's, I know now that he was a stickler for getting the backgrounds right, (i.e. showing Spider-man swinging the right way past the New York Public Library when he was going uptown rather than downtown) but somehow the world never felt nearly as real to me as Daredevil's New York. Mignola's Hellboys are perhaps some of the best work of suggested backgrounds since Milt Caniff. I totally buy the world that he's in, and I have only to start trying to dissect the backgrounds to realize how little information he is actually giving us.

But it works.

I remember John Byrne's worlds as being very real in his X-Men, and it was the Terry Austin inks on both that book and the Marshall Rogers Batmans that made me a stickler for using the ruler and getting backgrounds right, but now the storyteller in me is thinking that its a matter of focusing on the trees rather than the forest. My work on the Carnival pages is making me think just how much can be implied rather than said, but when you say, make sure that it really says "something". Marshall wanted his Gotham to be an actual character in his Batman books, and I am looking for the same thing in my story, but that doesn't mean putting in everything in every panel. Perhaps the hardest thing to do is to actually edit yourself in the drawing process.

And without looking back at those X-Men, I wonder just how much work John did on those backgrounds. Did he just imply it so well that my 14 year old brain filled in the Savage Land around Cyclops and Storm? I'm resisting the temptation to go find out.