Archive for Comics
I’m continuing to pour a lot of my creative energy into comics. I’ve had a few things going on in that world.
First up, I’ve taken part in the third volume of Toronto Comics (the book seems to have dropped the “Anthology” part of the name). I wrote a story this year — “Lofty Aspirations” — but didn’t draw it. Instead, it was illustrated by Xan Grey, an amazingly talented artist, who’s been in the last two anthologies.
One of the things that Ty taught in his writing class was story maps. Basically, (in the form he was teaching us) they’re a simple device for planning a basic comic script. Obviously, story maps aren’t unique to comic writing, but Ty’s technique for using them is pretty specific to mainstream comics publishing.
Here’s an example of a story map that he filled out — I’ve seen this particular example used to provide a visual aid for his Writing Comics course. He also hands out blank versions in his class — I scanned one and redrew it in Illustrator because I like doing stuff electronically.
So, j00j suggested that I write something about comics. That’s a big topic for me, and has several dimensions. I mean there’s the whole “my history reading comics” angle, and the “comics I like” angle, and the “what tools am I using to make comics?” angle and even the “what comics am I working on?” angle.
So I’m gonna try all of that. But probably not all in one post. First, history.
I’ve said before that the house I grew up in didn’t really have many books. My parents weren’t readers, and I didn’t start reading until they taught it in school. I attended Rosedale Public School for nine years (kindergarten to grade 8 school). There wasn’t much distinctive about Rosedale. It was built in the mid-fifties, and had two classes of each grade. The classes for grades two and three laid out in an open concept in an area that surrounded the school’s library (although we never called it a library; it was apparently a “resource centre”).
Anyway, in grade three (1974/1975), the teachers introduced a reading period, and encouraged kids to bring books to read, and to show them off to other students. And that was how I was first introduced to comics. Several other kids had comic books. Popular books at the time included Richie Rich and Baby Huey and Hot Stuff, the Little Devil, but I was most fascinated by one comic in particular: Justice League of America #100.
This is a good set of links and interpretations about rates for comic book artists.
Generally, the good graphic novels fetch $100 – $300 per page, although professionals who have been in the industry for a long time can command as much as three times that amount. In fact, one elite illustrator commanded as much as $1,000 a page (on a 22-page comic book)! Most of the popular titles that artists, like David Cassaday, work on are monthly issues, which end up providing him with a six-figure salary. The back-end royalties on merchandise, trade paperbacks and movie royalties are also generous.
I’m starting the art chores on a new comics project, and I’m finding process to be an interesting thing to think about. First thing I did was spend a few hours putting together a template.
The page size for this project is different than the page size for the last project, so my template from that project doesn’t fit. Unlike the last project, this time, the book’s editors distributed a template, with page size, bleed and trim. And it’s just fine, but it has text and stuff on it, and I want something cleaner.
Back in, like, April I heard about a gang of folks in the Toronto comics scene who were gonna get together to make a comics anthology. Most of the people involved — maybe even all of them — had been through Ty’s comics classes, and folks wanted a nicely-printed collection to showcase our work. So we chipped in on printing costs and accepted a unifying theme (“Toronto!”) and then rolled up our sleeves.
I’ve been experimenting with Manga Studio recently. There’s some stuff about it that I like (vectors and raster on the same drawing!), but every once in a while, I’m gobsmacked by the dumb. Like this:
If you turn on the canvas rulers, it marks out the measurements in whatever unit your canvas uses — I tend to go with inches. But it doesn’t give you, say, eighth-of-an-inch increments. It’s whole inches. Yargh.
Sure, I can switch over to cm or pixels, but why?
I just noticed that, last month, the Digital Comics Museum managed to get its hands on a complete copy of All-Negro Comics #1. This is an extremely rare, and fairly important comic. I wrote about this comic a few years ago on my Dreamwidth account.
As I said, the book is fairly rare. The copy that DCM is now hosting was scanned from a physical book that, it appears, was sold for about $5,400. That’s nothing compared to, say, Detective Comics #27 (Batman’s first appearance — one copy sold for $2.5 million). Collectors suggest that there might be fewer than 100 copies still in existence of Action Comics #1 — the first appearance of Superman. But some people think that there may be no more than 10 copies of All-Negro Comics #1 remaining. The DCM scan helps archive the material.
Sadly, as I said the last time I wrote about this book, only one issue of this title was ever published. The publisher, Orrin C. Evans was basically shut out of the comic industry when no one would sell him paper to publish the second issue.