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.
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.