Thursday, July 27, 2006

Stick by Jeffrey Metzner

So we see Flicka and have a great time ... then once we returned home I got to sit with a little book my sister sent me, Stick by Jeffrey Metzner.

Stick is a collection of one-page panels of -- get this -- stick figures posing like famous paintings, movies frames, moments in history, and scenes from stories...


These moments are exquisite in their stick-ness. Jeffrey Metzner is BRILLIANT.

Thank God for sisters. And hilarious writer/artists like Metzner!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Orphan Works Act -- If You Needed Convincing --

Geez louise this is angry blog-post day.

If you STILL need convincing as to why the upcoming Orphan Works Act of 2006 would ROB YOU of YOUR VERY OWN Copyright to the very work you as an artist create --

let me direct you to the Testimony of Illustrator Michiko Stehrenberger, whose artwork was deliberately stolen by a tobacco company for use in their advertising.

This should scare you:

Her work was stolen via her SENDING OUT A PROMO PIECE which the company then scanned in, removed all identifying information and didn't intend to compensate her for until she took them to court.

It cost her almost $100, 000 to defend her right to her own work.

Related Links:

I Wrote My Senators re: Orphan Works Act
Orphan Works Act Update

Dump The Orphan Works Act of 2006

Your Senators and Rep

Our Nashville Senators and Rep

The Orphan Works Act Infringes On Your Copyright!

Orphan Works Bill: Worry about Art Copyrights

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I Wrote My Senators re: Orphan Works Act

I wrote TN Senator Alexander, TN Senator Frist and my TN Representative Jim Cooper at both their Nashville and their Washington DC offices just about a month ago. (Previous posts linked below do further link to a website where you can get their addresses.)

Earlier this week I got a letter(!) back from the D.C. office of Senator Lamar Alexander! YAY! I was so excited -- (I think this might be my first set of letters written to Senators ever...)

My letter to him was acknowledged!

Ok, so I got a form letter. Sure my last name was misspelled (everybody wants to add a "s" to "Well".) Sure the form letter didn't even form-letter-acknowledge the right general topic... but that's okay. I understand how much work it must be to process the volume of incoming mail, so I'm just glad to get the acknowledgement. (I just hope they FILED it in the right stack.)

Let's defeat this Bill before it crushes the American Citizen's Copyright.

Related Posts:
Orphan Works Act -- Update
Your Senators and Reps
Our Nashville Senators and Rep

Dump the Orphan Works Act of 2006!
The Orphan Works Act Infringes On Your Copyright!

Orphan Works Bill: Worry about Art Copyrights

Orphan Works Act -- Update

Off the Graphic Artist Guild website:

National Arts Organizations are so concerned about this Orphan Works Act of 2006 being pushed through Congress, they have now formed a coalition:

Coalition on Orphan Works
Advertising Photographers of America
American Society of Media Photographers
Editorial Photographers
Graphic Artists Guild
Illustrators Partnership of America
National Press Photographers Association
Picture Archive Council of America
Professional Photographers of America
Stock Artists Alliance

Please please please, if you're an artist and make your living in any way, shape or form from creating artwork and photography, it's urgent that you to write your Senators and Representatives to protest this Orphan Works Act! This Orphan Works Act of 2006 -- if it's allowed to pass -- WILL RENDER YOUR AUTOMATIC COPYRIGHT TO YOUR OWN WORK NULL AND VOID!

Do you understand what I'm saying? People will be able to cherry pick your artwork and use it at will to create merchandise and they won't even have to pay you your "going rate"!

Sounds impossible doesn't it? They couldn't be THAT inconsiderate, can they? Well it isn't, and yes they can. And they will if you don't stand up and say something right away!

Please don't make one of my future blog entries a rant at how shocked I am this HORRIBLE THING PASSED. We can change this!

Make it your business to send a letter out to your Senator and Representative by Monday. Please. (Again off the GAG site, here are additional Senators you can write to:

"It is especially important for Californians to take action, because Howard Berman (CA, 28th), the Ranking Minority Member of the Subcommittee, and Subcommittee member Darrell Issa (CA, 49th) are particularly sensitive to concerns of visual creators.

In addition, Reps. Bob Goodlatte (VA, 6th) and Howard Coble (NC, 6th) seem interested in helping our cause. Further, Rep. John Conyers (MI, 14th) is especially responsive to the needs of writers."

Let's do this!

Related Posts:
Dump the Orphan Works Act of 2006!
The Orphan Works Act Infringes On Your Copyright!
Orphan Works Bill: Worry About Your Copyright

Monday, July 17, 2006

Your Comics Portfolio: 14 Bits of Advice

The Comics Art Portfolio advice from Andrew Pepoy (link no longer works), other comics professionals on The Drawing Board forum (that link is gone, too) and from the So You Wanna site are all very useful.

Now I'm gonna give you my list and add a few tips most people don't really talk about.

1. Put the work in a portfolio case.
Pepoy mentions this... and to back him up, loose pages means you are NOT READY. It looks unprofessional and it's hard to handle. Please take the time to respect your work enough to put it in a case.

It doesn't have to be an expensive leather case. It doesn't even have to be the type with a handle. There are book-shaped, bound portfolios with a set page count that are quite reasonably priced. They can be found at any art supply store.

PS: stick to a 9 x 12 or 11x14 size. Bigger than that and you'll come off like an art student (and maybe you are but you want a JOB, right?). Make photocopies or print outs of your work so it'll be small enough to fit. Don't bring original art if you can help it.

2. Put your resume on the opening page of the portfolio. It's part of the presentation.
It looks like you know what you're doing. It'll look professional. It'll look like you really want a job.
Include it if you've done illustration work for hire, and include sample printed books or tear sheets if you have them. If you're new at this, don't worry and don't include it.

2A. (Print that resume on nice paper. Make sure there are no typos in it!) (And if you're not including it cause it's your first job, please do make a nice business card with your contact info on it. More on that below in #10.)

3. Arrange your portfolio in some kind of order.
There are all sorts of ways to arrange your portfolio. Pepoy's list had good pointers. Here is yet another way:

Put the resume first.
Follow it with the copies of art.
If you have any of your artwork printed in flyers or ads or in comic books already, place all that stuff together after the art. It'll look good to have printed samples.

10 - 15 pieces total is good. Make sure there is at least 4 pages of sequential art in there. (if you don't know what "sequential art" means, you're not ready.)

4. Only include art on the discipline you want to work in.
This was mentioned on the SoYouWanna site under "KNOW YOUR SPECIALTY". But it bears repeating. In other words don't show "a little bit of everything". It comes off like you're unfocused.

If you wanna pencil, show your pencils. If you wanna ink, show inks.

5. If you want to work in mainstream comics, don't include x-rated art samples.
We don't really talk about this too often ... and it always surprises me when some guy comes up to the table with a portfolio of this stuff. I think it's just for the shock value, but just in case you are honestly genuinely mistaken:

Don't do this. People might be polite to your face but if you offend the wrong person you may never work in that particular editor's office. Ever.

It's unprofessional for mainstream comics, and simply inappropriate since it's not going to prove you can tell a story in comic book form.

6. Know what you're there for. And pay attention.
If you don't know what you're there for, the reviewer isn't going to be able to read your mind. There's also going to be an entire line of people standing in front and behind you.

So know what you're there for. Are you there for a job, or are you there for a review and feedback? Maybe a little of both ... ?

Remember to pay attention and listen to the reviews happening ahead of you when you are close enough. You might learn something.

7. Be Polite when you approach. Speak up and speak clearly. Shake hands.
When you finally get there, introduce yourself. Listen and know who you are speaking with and getting reviewed by.

You'd be surprised at how many people WANT to get a job in comics and then sabotage themselves by being total jerks to the people potentially hiring when their stuff gets reviewed!

8. As you get reviewed, have the courtesy to listen.
Don't interrupt. Don't be defensive. Don't sulk if they turn you down.

Listen. Learn. Get better. Come back to the next Con.

Most people will not walk away with a job after a portfolio review. (SOMETIMES it happens but VERY RARELY.)

9. Don't take the review personally. Learn how to improve your artwork.
When I was breaking into comics and would get a table at a New York Con with my studio mates (between '87 - '92) my friends would get their art portfolios reviewed by VERY FAMOUS COMICS ARTISTS (not naming names) who would THEN proceed to absolutely shred their work apart. And rudely, too. (I don't think there's any need to be rude at a review.)

Today those friends both freelance from their own studios and make a living with their art. They let those mean spirited reviews roll off their backs and just got better where they needed to. (Heck, and the stuff they do now PAYS a LOT BETTER than comics work does! hahahahaha to the mean comic book guys!!)

Making art feels very personal, but when you're looking for work as an artist you enter a whole different ballpark. When you show your artwork in order to get hired, it's now about business. It's not about you. It's all about whether the art is what the publisher (READ: deadlines) needs and is looking for.

Even if they DO reject the art this time, it doesn't mean you'll never get a job in comics. It doesn't mean your work stinks (to say it politely). This is ONLY about being ready for a job right now. This is NOT a personal critique.

It might be as simple as you're not ready to work professionally just yet. It might mean you need to work on your backgrounds and get more reference, or get better at anatomy or at inking line weights or at color depth.

Or it might mean you are ready but the art looks like everyone else that already works for them, so you really need to knock the ball out of the park with something really great and imaginative to impress them.

Or they're just not hiring NOW and they'll keep your card in file ... ! (keep sending them samples. You never know when they JUST MIGHT NEED YOU...)

If you have a good reviewer, they will tell you exactly what you're missing and what to work on. And if they are a reviewer worth their salt, they'll be able to convey that feedback in a constructive way that doesn't belittle you or your work.

A lot of this is about having the stomach to handle rejection. (Don't worry, this happens to novelists and painters, too.)

10. Make sure you have a business card on hand and some sample packets ready.
Maybe you'll use them. Maybe you won't. But it's better to be prepared.

Some editors may not want to take photocopies of your work at the con. Don't worry. If they like your work, they may instead ask you to mail samples to their office after the convention. If this happens, TAKE THIS OFFER SERIOUSLY AND GET THEIR BUSINESS CARD. MAIL THEM PHOTOCOPIES when you get home!

I can't tell you how many artists mess it up right here because they never follow up!

If there's no follow up, they won't remember you from the other 100 portfolios they saw that day (let alone weekend). And if you don't follow up, it means you don't care. At the very least, have your business card on hand. If they have your card and get your package when they're back at the office, they will remember you.

11. If the editor/reviewer says he can't give you feedback don't push him for feedback.
Don't be pushy. If he can read art, he'll tell you when you come back to be reviewed. If he's leaving, he can tell you who else at the table can review you.

If you stopped by at a bad time, make it your business to come back.

But if he says "he doesn't know how to critique art" believe him! I've heard more bad advice given out by non-artistic editors who don't know how to direct artists (yeah, you wonder how they get hired too, huh? I do.) and usually this happens when they get pushed by someone who is Anxious for a Review From Anyone Behind the Table.

12. Don't use pornography as anatomy reference.
A few years ago at a NY Comic Con I overheard one editor tell a newbie artist to use porn as anatomy reference (!) That editor no longer works in comics.

It's just not professional to use x-rated stuff as reference. Why?

a. The anatomy will look weird. The pictures are doctored, and the proportions are faked via surgery or Photoshop.

b. The poses are unnatural. If you think putting a costume solves "the problem", it doesn't. People don't sit or pose or stand like that in real life. Really.

I'll even spare you the why it's bad from a spiritual angle this time (the root word of pornography is "porne", which is Greek for "prostitute". You figure it out.) So let me instead appeal to your greed for fame and fortune as a popular comics artist:

c. Use inappropriate reference for your artwork and you WILL cut off an entire section of your potential fan and readership base.

Go take a real anatomy class at an art school and draw real naked people in a normal art classroom setting. You'll learn better. (And it won't set the rest of our collective teeth on edge.)

13. If you want to work in comics, know what you can handle.
Comics means publishing means deadlines. You will be expected to keep deadlines. Knowing you can meet them will make a difference to your publisher.

How much can you draw a day? You have to know this when you bring in your portfolio.

To get a monthly book you have to be able to pencil one page a day MINIMUM.
To get a monthly book you have to be able to ink one page a day MINIMUM.
To get a monthly book you have to color 2 pages a day MINIMUM.

You have to be able to meet these minimums -- and don't be shocked -- but know you're probably going to be working freelance at about $10 an hour if you're breaking in as a penciller. (Inkers and colorists make less ...)

14. A lot of women work on staff in comics.
You may be under the impression that the comics industry is dominated by men, and that may be largely true for the higher profile artist and writer side of things. But a surprisingly large number of women work on staff in production, as editors, assistant editors and in other departments that are not immediately obvious to the public. This might really help you with points 5 and 12.

It will help you stick with it if you love the field and the potential it holds as a storytelling medium.

Good luck. Have a great show!

A Comics Portfolio for the Convention ...

This week's comic-con (although I am nowhere near it) has put me in a comics mood!

Back when I lived in New York City (home to Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Archie Comics) and I was considering drawing mainstream comics for the above mentioned Marvel, DC or Archie (back in the late 80s early 90s) there really weren't a lot of resources to gather information from.

The conventions were the main place to get feedback on your art. And a lot of the times feedback could be brutal ...

But nowadays there's loads of places to find great info and learn how to draw this stuff. There's the Joe Kubert School of Cartooning, and some colleges now offer comics art in their curriculum. There are also TONS of HOW- TO books on cartooning, making American-style comics or Japanese-style comics (called "manga") and etc., etc., etc, ...

There are comic book news sites, comic book publisher sites, comic book creator sites, comic book communities of all sorts, comic book Amateur Press Associations (APAs), comic book retailers, conventions, blogs, etc., etc., etc,. All online. All relatively easy to find. You can become SO PREPARED to work in this field if you want to!


In short, it's fabulous how you can learn the craft of comic book making all without even leaving the comfort of your own home or going very far from your drawing table ...

So you'd like to work for the comics companies or in animation or toy design or etc.,? There are opportunities to get your work reviewed at the San Diego Comic Convention:

Here are some good tips for the portfolio review process courtesy of Andrew Pepoy and the Comic Con site. [2014 update: Link is no longer in service.] Andrew Pepoy is comics inker (15 years and counting now). He wouldn't remember me, but he inked comics for us when I was on staff for Milestone Media. I remember him being a sweet guy.)

Here are more great tips on Prepping a Comics Portfolio from