Thursday, July 30, 2020

Comic-Con Post-Mortem


This article in Variety may be the stupidest piece of journalism I've read in a long time. It concludes that Comic-Con@Home, the San Diego con organizers' valiant attempt to salvage something good from the plague flames, failed because the YouTube panels didn't draw millions of hits.

What the article misses is that Comic-Con International is a lot more than what happens in Hall H, the large auditorium that hosts the major movie panels and such. I've been to Comic-Con many times and never once set foot in Hall H. What *I* see is that the panel I did, "Comics During Clampdown," has been viewed 1288 times. I guarantee you that the same panel live in San Diego wouldn't have drawn one-tenth that. I've seen and done panels that had more people on stage than in the audience. I also hear that the Cartoon Art Museum's "Sketch-a-Thon" fundraiser I participated in did as well or better than it would have live.

My takeaway is that Comic-Con@Home was an admirable success. In a couple of months they put together not just 350-plus Zoom panels but long-distance versions of art exhibitions, cosplay displays, vendor outlets, the Eisner Awards, and everything they could short of the $5 rubbery pretzels. It was free and open to all, and the videos are online to view at your leisure.

No, Comic-Con@Home wasn't the same as being there. That's obvious. But I think it did a lot to keep the spirit and community of Comic-Con alive.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Comic-Con 2020: Virtually Like Being There

It's Comic-Con Week! In some parallel non-plague universe, 100,000 people are gathering in San Diego to celebrate comics. Just not in this one.

BUT! The Comic-Con folks are doing their best to throw a virtual convention, including literally hundreds of panels with hundreds of comics experts talking about hundreds of topics, including one that I'm on! Andrew Farago invited me to join a panel on "Comics During Clampdown: Creativity in the Time of Covid," with Keith Knight, Mari Naomi, Ajuan Mance, Thien Pham, Jason Shiga and Gene Luen Yang! We recorded it a couple of weeks ago and it went live on Thursday at noon.



What a line up! Despite all of us orbiting the San Francisco Bay Area, the only one I'd met before was Keith (comics people don't actually all know each other, it only seems that way). But I like and admire all their work so this was very cool for me. I also think we had smart and interesting things to say, but I'm biased.

Check it out, or one of the other 350 or so (no kidding!) panels available online HERE. Thanks Andrew!

Friday, July 17, 2020

A Matter of Perspective

"Beats Digging Ditches" Work in Progress: Some of my "Sixty-Second Sticky Doodles" that got the most feedback were on Perspective. Here's an example of two-point perspective that I did this morning. It'll be a nighttime cityscape in stark black and white.


The photo below shows the page on my drawing board with the two vanishing points, the dots on the pieces of white tape to the left and the right. Except for the lines that go straight up and down, every line in the drawing leads to one of those two vanishing points.



This is the pencil drawing. Next I'll ink it in black ink. I pencil in light blue pencil so I don't have to bother erasing; when I scan the art after inking, it's easy to make the blue color disappear, leaving only the clean black lines.

I really enjoy drawing perspective like this. It's a pretty mechanical--almost meditative--process, but it looks cool when done.

Here it is inked. This isn't finished: I'll add color (mostly shades of yellow in the windows), I plan to blacken many windows in a "crossword puzzle" look, and there's something in the sky I can't show you.


I wanted every building's structure and window pattern to be slightly different, like they were designed by different architects. I also wasn't too particular about every line being perfect. If you scrutinize, you'll find a lot of wonky lines. That's OK! I don't go out of my way to mess up, but I do think art should look like it was done by a human and not a CAD program. Little imperfections give art subliminal warmth.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle 60: Lettering

Lettering used to be a core part of every commercial artist's and cartoonist's training. Technology has made it obsolete--everywhere except comics. Today's supersized Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle is about the lost art of letters.



Also: if you're a fan of my doodles, please don't miss the last half of this one. All 60 of the Sixty-Second Sticky Doodles can be accessed by clicking on the "Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle" link under "Labels" in the column to the right. Thanks!

For my money, nobody did more to stretch the limits of lettering than "Pogo" cartoonist Walt Kelly. His lettering gave characters voices that you could hear clearly in your head. This is P.T. Bridgeport, a blustery barker who spoke entirely in circus poster script.

Also in "Pogo," Deacon Mushrat's Gothic lettering gave him the voice of an old stone cathedral, if old stone cathedrals had voices.
And I just like this simple example of "Pogo" chugging down a railroad track because the variation of size and weight in his lettering tells you exactly how this sounds. Imagine how much less interesting and informative this text would be if it were typed out in 16-point Comic Sans.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

My Robot Army Grows

This makes me very happy! Got an email from Cameron Jones, who just found and read "The Last Mechanical Monster" after seeing the Superman cartoon it was based on, and took me up on my invitation to build a papercraft Robot using the pattern I created. Cameron not only did a fine construction job, but also set up a little tableau putting my Robot face to face with his nemesis. Check out these pics (posted with permission)!




Wonderful! Made my week! Thanks, Cameron.

Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle 59: A Flour Sack

Cartoonists give ink lines the illusion of life, sometimes even if the things they draw were never alive at all. Today's Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle sees what it can do with a sack of flour.


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle 58: Pikachu

There are bigger, stronger, faster, fiercer and more powerful Pokemon than him, but when push comes to shove he's the one indispensable member of your squad. Today's Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle is Pikachu.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle 57: Rain

Like the good book says, "Rain falls on the just and the unjust" in today's Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle. I'm rooting for the just.



Rain by Will Eisner
Rain by Charles Schulz


Monday, June 1, 2020

Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle 56: My Daughters

My daughters don't always appreciate it when I post photos of them, but they never said I couldn't draw them. Ah ha! The Doodle Loophole! Today's Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle is of two important characters in "A Fire Story" and in my life.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle 55: Figure Drawing Inks

Resolving the cliff-hanger we left on yesterday, today's Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle talks about the often-misunderstood art/craft of inking, an important part of the traditional cartooning process.




And here's the completed doodle:



Thursday, May 28, 2020

Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle 54: Figure Drawing Pencils

Today's Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle is part one of a two-parter, describing the two-part process of penciling and inking. It's also a two-parter because there are some things that even I just can't finish in a minute.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle 53: A Brick Wall

It's been said* that some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it's a simple adventure story; others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe. Today's Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle looks at a brick wall.

*By Lex Luthor


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle 52: Chewbacca

Today's Sixty-Second Sticky Doodle asks two important questions: who's the best copilot in the entire universe, and who owes some kid out there $10 for selling him a terrible drawing? Answer: Chewbacca and me.