Did I mention that I joined an art studio? There’s a cool bunch of folks who have a studio called The Comic Book Embassy. It happens to share space with the Comic Book Bootcamp, which is where I did all the most-recent comic book courses I took. At the beginning of the month, I joined the studio to give me a space to focus on my comic-creation.
Early September wasn’t the best time to do that, mind you. I’ve been tied up with the film festival, so I’ve barely had time to do more than just drop in to the studio and take a coupl’a items there. On Tuesday, one of my few nights without a film, I planned to drop some things off at the studio, but I was turned away by the police. They’d blocked off an entire section of Spadina Ave., which is a pretty unusual occurrence. They weren’t letting cars through; they weren’t letting people on the sidewalk; they weren’t letting people at the studio/bootcamp leave the building. This ended up being the subject of Ty’s Bun Toon this week.
At the time of the lockdown, there were numerous news stories about a sighting of people with a sniper rifle on the roof of one of the Spadina buildings. The situation ended around 10pm-ish, with the discovery that some kids were playing parkour and had a toy rifle. Nonetheless, news outlets don’t seem interested in clarifying just how non-threatening the situation was.
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.
I popped in to FanExpo yesterday, and I got to see the final, printed issues of Holmes Inc #4. Keiren was staffing the Comic Book Bootcamp booth, and had a number of issues available (but not as many as she expected due to the printer having a slight case of being terrible and unreliable. And boy was she smack-talking them).
I’ve been waffling about posting my final pages. The editor-types don’t want me to post all pages (’cause, hey, people should get the book if they want to see all the pages). But here are a couple.
One of the things that’s weird to work with in the Holmes, Inc. class is the extremely compressed story-telling. In many ways, this writing feels like Golden Age comics: full stories are being told in a small number of pages. The folks who are doing both writer and artist duties have 5 pages to work with; people who are solely-writers or solely-artists have 7 pages. That’s not a lot of story-telling space. And, in particular, I find this degree of compression makes it hard to give things nuance.
And one of the consequences of that, is a reliance on story-telling shorthand. Characters are simply “bad guys” or people who give us information. Cute kid. Evil, but less-than-effective henchmen. Kidnappee. Mm.
Last night, was another Pitch Night. Each of the writers for the Holmes, Inc. class had to come with three pitches for a story. After we presented the three ideas, Ty would typically eliminate one of the three (but not in all cases) and then the class would vote on which of the remaining two pitches they liked better. As the night progressed, Keiren was also keeping a running tally of which characters were being represented to ensure the book had sufficient balance and coverage of the principal cast.
It was interesting to see the different styles that the creators brought to the table. Some people wanted big, bold stories with giant monsters and/or larger-than-life villains. Others wanted time travel, or alternate dimensions. Some stories were leaping off from stuff in a previous book (Book 3, in particular, ended with a cliff hanger). I can’t think of a single story that was pitched solely as a mystery. Partially, I think, the story-pitching session brought out people’s love of playing with comic book tropes.
Another thing that interested me was the way past classes had such a presence in the room. People in the room were fluent with a rich backstory of the universe that had come out through past iterations of this course: the history of the evil Chaos family, and the significance of the ARTI suits and so forth. I think I’m one of only a couple of people for whom this is the first time taking this class, so I was coming at this a bit new.
I was also the last one to pitch, so by the time I was pitching my stories, we’d already run the gamut of monsters and time travel. I’m sure that my ideas seemed banal in comparison.
I tried my hand, this weekend, on a particular technique for digital inking using Illustrator. I started with a pencil sketch by Jack Kirby (published in one of the Jack Kirby reader books).
I scanned the image and popped it into Illustrator, then saturated it with blue, to make it easier to differentiate the pencils from the inks. I downloaded a specific Illustrator template from Cartoon SNAP, and tried out their inking brushes. Here’s an image in progress:
Comics classes are keeping me on my toes, these days. I finished up my “Drawing the Human Figure From Your Head” class on Monday (excellent, excellent class, by the way… I’ve taken both life drawing and constructive drawing during my cartooning program, and this class really clicked in a way that the other classes did not). Both this class, and the one before it (“Heads, Hands and Faces”) went at a bit of a breakneck pace — my head was full by the end of each night.
Last night, I started the intense workshop class, “Holmes, Inc.” There are something like 15 of us, and the end result of the class is gonna be an anthology of stories involving the “Holmes, Inc.” agency — the descendants of Sherlock, Mycroft and Dr. Watson. Last night, Ty also suggested that they’re a bit like the S.H.I.E.L.D. of their universe, too, which made me go, ah, yes, of course! This will be the fourth issue of Holmes, Inc. — each of the other three is available for free (as in beer, not speech 🙂 on Drive Through Comics. There is a lot of variation in style and experience in the various stories, but they’re fun to read, running the gamut from egotistical displays of deduction to monster-fighting to moral quandaries.