Certificate candidates will rewrite, refine and present their graphic novel concept for critical review. They also will develop strategies to complete their work and promote it for publication, whether through self-publishing or through a publisher. Participants also will discuss such professional practices as searching for an artist (writer or illustrator) to collaborate with, developing a support group, fan base and more.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Class #6 Aug 15th

ANDY FISH: (8/15/2016 18:24) Hey All-- starting in five minutes
ANDY FISH: (18:24) Sally won't be with us, she's still in Boston.
ANDY FISH: (18:29) All right let's get started
ANDY FISH: (18:29) hopefully Matthew is back and just forgot to remove his step away symbol
ANDY FISH: (18:29) So this week you focused on collaboration
ANDY FISH: (18:30) What were your findings?
ANDY FISH: (18:30) Good, bad, productive? Harder than you thought? Easier?
ANDY FISH: (18:30) Try to explain without throwing someone under the bus
ANDY FISH: (18:30) although if that has to happen so be it
Emilie Samella: (18:31) I think it went a lot better than I expected
Rachel Neales: (18:31) It was easier then i thought.
Matthew Ferguson: (18:31) It was good, the communication was good too. It went well all around.
ANDY FISH: (18:32) Now Matthew you dealt with a time difference-- how was that?
Matthew Ferguson: (18:33) Surprisingly, not too bad. There was one time I didn't get a file sent to me, and I would have to be sure to check my email beffore going to work, but it went well, it was a cool experience
ANDY FISH: (18:33) The reason I mention this
ANDY FISH: (18:33) is because more and more publishers are overseas
ANDY FISH: (18:34) so this becomes a real possible thing you would face
ANDY FISH: (18:34) on a regular basis.
ANDY FISH: (18:34) When I was in Japan last year
ANDY FISH: (18:34) it was amazing to me the amount of email that I would not have to get involved with.
ANDY FISH: (18:34) The first email would come in while I was asleep
ANDY FISH: (18:34) saying something like 'we need a file desperately-- please respond!"
ANDY FISH: (18:34) then
ANDY FISH: (18:34) Where are you??
ANDY FISH: (18:34) Then wait we found it
ANDY FISH: (18:35) and finally disregard those messages
ANDY FISH: (18:35) Were I in the same time zone I would have wasted hours on emails like those
ANDY FISH: (18:35) so while it
ANDY FISH: (18:35) is good to be reachable
ANDY FISH: (18:35) it's not a bad idea to only check your email a few times a day
ANDY FISH: (18:35) so that clients can work out problems on their own.
ANDY FISH: (18:36) For those that expected this to be hard
ANDY FISH: (18:36) have you collaborated before?
ANDY FISH: (18:36) And did you find it strange to draw someone elses story?
ANDY FISH: (18:36) And to have someone else draw yours?
Matthew Ferguson: (18:37) I found it cool to have someone else draw my story... It's fun to see other people's drawing styles
Rachel Neales: (18:37) I never collaborated before. I was strange at first but it was cool to see someone elses art style.
Emilie Samella: (18:37) I'd never collabed before. I thought it was really cool to see someone else's interpretation of my story
ANDY FISH: (18:38) The best way to collaborate is to relax your expectations
ANDY FISH: (18:38) and not get a crystal clear image of your script when you write
ANDY FISH: (18:38) that way the art is a nice surprise
ANDY FISH: (18:38) You want your artist to have some contribution
ANDY FISH: (18:38) rather than just be a machine that draws
ANDY FISH: (18:39) Ok, so as we continue this week
ANDY FISH: (18:39) your final assignment is to get what you consider your final page to me
ANDY FISH: (18:39) for some of you, you are already there.
ANDY FISH: (18:39) Does it mean redraw? Only if you feel it's needed.
ANDY FISH: (18:39) You want to turn in the best page you can.
ANDY FISH: (18:39) You also want to get me a half a paragraph outlining your plan for your career
ANDY FISH: (18:40) You want to let me know your strategy
ANDY FISH: (18:40) because the only way you will crack this business is with a plan and persistence
ANDY FISH: (18:40) Decide your own career path and then follow it.
ANDY FISH: (18:40) Anybody go to Boston Comic Con this weekend?
Matthew Ferguson: (18:40) Nope
Emilie Samella: (18:41) too far for me
Rachel Neales: (18:41) Not me.
ANDY FISH: (18:41) Emilie where are you?
Emilie Samella: (18:41) western PA
ANDY FISH: (18:41) Yes that is too far
ANDY FISH: (18:41) You've got some good sized shows near you.
ANDY FISH: (18:41) Eventually you'll all want to get yourself to a show and get your work seen by publishers
ANDY FISH: (18:42) Boston is not good for that-- no publishers
ANDY FISH: (18:42) For the east coast-- pretty much New York Comic Con is it.
ANDY FISH: (18:42) And west coast San Diego
ANDY FISH: (18:42) Midwest - C2E2 in Chicago
ANDY FISH: (18:42) so one of those three would be a good place to get your work seen
ANDY FISH: (18:42) not necessarily set up-- just attend with your portfolio
ANDY FISH: (18:43) going forward, as you get ready to do that
ANDY FISH: (18:43) reach out to me for advice
ANDY FISH: (18:43) just because the class ends doesn't mean you can't still ask me things.
ANDY FISH: (18:43) So part of your final is to send me a paragraph detailing what your plan is to go forward
ANDY FISH: (18:43) As for scheduling
ANDY FISH: (18:44) you had mixed results last week
ANDY FISH: (18:44) anyone try it again?
ANDY FISH: (18:44) if so, how did it go?
Matthew Ferguson: (18:44) It's been good
Emilie Samella: (18:45) I think I've gotten better with the schedule- better at keeping breaks short
Matthew Ferguson: (18:45) Normally on my days off, I'd sleep in, but I've been getting up early to work on comics, and I feel productive
Rachel Neales: (18:45) I tryed to stay to a schedule but, it didn't work this week.
ANDY FISH: (18:45) Good to hear
ANDY FISH: (18:45) although not for you Rachel
ANDY FISH: (18:45) So keep at it
ANDY FISH: (18:45) keep trying
ANDY FISH: (18:45) keep on point and schedule
ANDY FISH: (18:46) you'll see it will eventually work if it hasn't
ANDY FISH: (18:46) and if it has, it'll get better as you get going
ANDY FISH: (18:46) I cannot express how important this is.
ANDY FISH: (18:46) BAM-- there's the big one-- QUESTIONS?
ANDY FISH: (18:46) Pertaining to class, careers, the industry, taxes, etc-- let 'em fly
Matthew Ferguson: (18:46) I have a few lined up
ANDY FISH: (18:47) Go for it-- and if anyone else has some start typing
Matthew Ferguson: (18:47) So this has to do with references... how important is it to a comic book artist?
Emilie Samella: (18:47) best and worst part of working in comics?
ANDY FISH: (18:48) Matthew-- EXTREMELY important
ANDY FISH: (18:48) and it ties in to Em's question--
ANDY FISH: (18:48) probably the worst part is the deadlines
ANDY FISH: (18:48) and from there, when you get a script and there's not enough reference attached.
ANDY FISH: (18:48) For instance
ANDY FISH: (18:48) with Spider-Woman
ANDY FISH: (18:48) the script calls for a lot of Alpha Flight and Sheild Equipment, bses and ships
ANDY FISH: (18:49) that's bases
ANDY FISH: (18:49) and while the editor attached a lot of stuff
ANDY FISH: (18:49) there's still a lot we have to look up
ANDY FISH: (18:49) Which slows things down.
ANDY FISH: (18:49) But reference is essential
ANDY FISH: (18:49) you can tell when something is drawn well, the artist used reference
ANDY FISH: (18:50) When it's my own project and I have more time, I'll spend a week or two on photo shoots
ANDY FISH: (18:50) or trolling for reference pics
ANDY FISH: (18:50) but when a script comes in and you have 20 days to get 20 pages penciled and inked
ANDY FISH: (18:50) there is not a lot of time for research
ANDY FISH: (18:50) The best part?
ANDY FISH: (18:50) Being pretty much your own boss.
ANDY FISH: (18:51) Setting your own hours
ANDY FISH: (18:51) if I want to take a Tuesday afternoon off it's not a problem
ANDY FISH: (18:51) I like not having to commute
ANDY FISH: (18:51) although I get cabin fever sometimes and have to get out
ANDY FISH: (18:51) I start my morning everyday at 6 and go for a run
ANDY FISH: (18:51) which gets me outside
ANDY FISH: (18:51) and helps me to establish in my head what I have to do that day
ANDY FISH: (18:52) It can be tough to explain to people what you do for a living
ANDY FISH: (18:52) or that you actually get paid for doing it
ANDY FISH: (18:52) I'm dealing with a bank right now trying to get a mortgage on a new house
ANDY FISH: (18:52) and they don't really understand how I know I'll keep making money when I don't have an actual employer
ANDY FISH: (18:52) despite the fact that I've been doing this for 12 years.
ANDY FISH: (18:52) So that can be a challenge
ANDY FISH: (18:52) when family finds out you work at home
ANDY FISH: (18:53) that can often lead to "hey so and so can drive grandma to the doctor wednesday because they don't have to be at work"
ANDY FISH: (18:53) so a lot of making sure people get it is involved
ANDY FISH: (18:53) Any other questions?
Matthew Ferguson: (18:54) I guess this kind of ties into the reference question again, but what is your approach to drawing backgrounds? I admit I use Google Sketchup and use 3D models to get perspective on some scenes, but still seem to struggle with making convincing backgrounds.
Rachel Neales: (18:55) Me too.
Rachel Neales: (18:55) About having a hard time with backgrounds.
ANDY FISH: (18:55) SKetchup is actually used by Marvel comics
ANDY FISH: (18:55) so there are a lot of artists that use it
Matthew Ferguson: (18:55) Go figure, ha
ANDY FISH: (18:55) Nothing wrong with using it
ANDY FISH: (18:55) it's obviously better to learn perspective
ANDY FISH: (18:56) however when you have said 20 day deadlines
ANDY FISH: (18:56) that's not always easy to do
ANDY FISH: (18:56) so everything helps
ANDY FISH: (18:56) You should use it to help speed things up.
ANDY FISH: (18:57) The Marvel version is cool, because it has the Baxter building, Dr Strange's house, etc all designed in it
ANDY FISH: (18:57) you can swing around and move it and then cut and paste it in your backgrounds
ANDY FISH: (18:57) I think most artists refuse to admit they use reference because fans think they can draw everything out of their heads
ANDY FISH: (18:57) which is false
ANDY FISH: (18:57) when Alex Ross showed the photos he uses to make his paintings
ANDY FISH: (18:58) there was an outcry from fans
ANDY FISH: (18:58) but anyone who looked at Ross' work and didn't know he was using photographs is silly
ANDY FISH: (18:58) So NO reason you shouldn't use it.
ANDY FISH: (18:58) You SHOULD NOT however
ANDY FISH: (18:58) use someone else's work
ANDY FISH: (18:58) so no tracing someone else's drawings
ANDY FISH: (18:58) that would be swiping
ANDY FISH: (18:59) you are better off looking at the way someone does it, and then arrange your own shot
ANDY FISH: (18:59) Did that answer it?
Matthew Ferguson: (19:00) I guess I'm thinking more along the lines of, how can one get better at making convincing backgrounds? I'm sure there's lots of different approaches?
ANDY FISH: (19:00) Absoulutely
ANDY FISH: (19:01) You can take photos
ANDY FISH: (19:01) You can look at other artists work
ANDY FISH: (19:01) Mike Mignola for example
ANDY FISH: (19:01) only draws backgrounds when characters aren't talking
ANDY FISH: (19:01) so that they don't distract
ANDY FISH: (19:01) he learned that from P. Craig Russell
ANDY FISH: (19:01) Other artists I know use only full backgrounds ONCE per page or per scene
ANDY FISH: (19:02) and then include only ELEMENTS of the background in the continuing panels
ANDY FISH: (19:02) so maybe you have a full room in the first shot to establish where you are
ANDY FISH: (19:02) and then as we go through the page we see the edge of a picture frame in one panel
ANDY FISH: (19:02) and a lamp in another
ANDY FISH: (19:02) you don't have to load the page with backgrounds
ANDY FISH: (19:02) and it actually can work against it when you do.
ANDY FISH: (19:03) Another trick is to hire a background artist
ANDY FISH: (19:03) there are a lot of artists that do that
ANDY FISH: (19:03) they have an assisstant who only draws in backgrounds.
ANDY FISH: (19:03) Now not everyone of course, but a lot
ANDY FISH: (19:03) especially the japanese artists
ANDY FISH: (19:03) myself-- I like drawing the backgrounds
ANDY FISH: (19:03) and I try to put something in each one that either makes me laugh
ANDY FISH: (19:03) or makes it interesting
ANDY FISH: (19:04) I tend to draw the background first
ANDY FISH: (19:04) get it out of the way
ANDY FISH: (19:04) and then the main figures, which are more fun
Matthew Ferguson: (19:05) I don't think I've ever tried drawing a background first, I always just did a bit of both. I'll have to try that
ANDY FISH: (19:05) In the pencil stage--
ANDY FISH: (19:05) draw your room walls either really lightly
ANDY FISH: (19:05) or with a thin blue pencil
ANDY FISH: (19:05) then draw all the perspective lines to it
ANDY FISH: (19:05) so you create a grid
ANDY FISH: (19:05) then draw your background details in the grid
ANDY FISH: (19:05) that can really speed it up and make it a lot more fun
Matthew Ferguson: (19:06) Cool, thanks Andy :)
Matthew Ferguson: (19:06) Another question, this is kinda of a braod one
ANDY FISH: (19:06) Go for it
ANDY FISH: (19:06) anyone else too
Rachel Neales: (19:07) How many pages do i have to be able to make a week to have a career in comics?
ANDY FISH: (19:07) Depends on your needs
ANDY FISH: (19:08) so let's say you make $150 a page, which is about what you'll get from a smaller company
ANDY FISH: (19:08) if your rent is $300 a month
ANDY FISH: (19:08) you'll need to draw two pages a month to pay your rent
ANDY FISH: (19:08) which would mean a half a page a week
ANDY FISH: (19:08) if your rent is $3000 a month-- multiple all that by 10
ANDY FISH: (19:09) so it really depends on your budget
ANDY FISH: (19:09) BUT
ANDY FISH: (19:09) a company will also expect pages at a certain rate or they won't come back to you.
ANDY FISH: (19:09) All the big companies work at a deadline of about a page a day
ANDY FISH: (19:09) so five pages a week minimum
ANDY FISH: (19:09) Most of the artists I know can do up to three pages a day.
ANDY FISH: (19:09) This weekend (Friday and Saturday) I had to get seven pages in
ANDY FISH: (19:10) and I made it
ANDY FISH: (19:10) so the faster you are, the more work you will get
ANDY FISH: (19:10) but of course fast can mean sloppy, and you don't want to be sloppy
ANDY FISH: (19:10) which is why the schedule thing is so important
ANDY FISH: (19:10) so that you can get regular with your page output
ANDY FISH: (19:10) I know a lot of small press comic artists who are making less than 20K a year
ANDY FISH: (19:11) they get to work on books they love
ANDY FISH: (19:11) and at a pretty leisurely pace
ANDY FISH: (19:11) but of course at 20K you'll need roomates
ANDY FISH: (19:11) and you won't be eating steak every night
ANDY FISH: (19:11) Now if you can do five pages a week, and your page rate is $300 a page
ANDY FISH: (19:11) you're pulling in $1500 a week
ANDY FISH: (19:11) which is enough to eat pretty well
ANDY FISH: (19:12) keep in mind, you have to pay your own taxes
ANDY FISH: (19:12) either 4x a year or annually.
ANDY FISH: (19:12) so you have to write a check to uncle sam for about 30% of your pay
ANDY FISH: (19:12) Matthew did you have another question?
Matthew Ferguson: (19:12) Is there a step-by-step process for breaking in to the industry, or does it depend on one's goals? Like if an artist wanted to work for someone versus working for himself?
ANDY FISH: (19:12) Rachel does that answer yours?
Rachel Neales: (19:12) yes, thank you
ANDY FISH: (19:12) Matthew-- the second one
ANDY FISH: (19:13) while there is a process that most people follow
ANDY FISH: (19:13) that doesn't mean its the same for everyone.
ANDY FISH: (19:13) And absolutely, we all have our own goals.
ANDY FISH: (19:13) If for example, you feel you are destned to draw Spider-Man
ANDY FISH: (19:13) you would focus on Marvel
ANDY FISH: (19:13) and only Marvel
ANDY FISH: (19:14) but it's healthy to not get stuck with goals like that
ANDY FISH: (19:14) rathter, just be happy to work in the industry
ANDY FISH: (19:14) Working for yourself you'll still need to establish your name.
ANDY FISH: (19:14) My first self published book sold about 900 copies
ANDY FISH: (19:14) which netted me a profit of about $900
ANDY FISH: (19:14) not much there.
ANDY FISH: (19:14) My second sold about three times that
ANDY FISH: (19:15) and my third topped 20,000 copies
ANDY FISH: (19:15) my next to last book, Dracula, sold 38,000 copies
ANDY FISH: (19:15) so it's a matter of getting a good mailing list of fans and people who will buy your work
ANDY FISH: (19:15) But again-- as I said persistence is key
ANDY FISH: (19:15) as is productivemess
ANDY FISH: (19:15) you don't have time to waste
ANDY FISH: (19:16) and you have to keep your eyes on the goal
Matthew Ferguson: (19:16) I see. Would you recommend making a smaller book when starting out to establish your name rather than make your 'magnum opus'?
ANDY FISH: (19:16) It's easy to get discouraged
ANDY FISH: (19:16) Absolutely
ANDY FISH: (19:17) it's like you're feeding me questions Matthew
ANDY FISH: (19:17) For two reasons--
Matthew Ferguson: (19:17) haha
ANDY FISH: (19:17) and a Magnum Opus is the project your REALLY REALLY want to do
ANDY FISH: (19:17) first-- your freshman book is going to be flawed
ANDY FISH: (19:17) no doubt about it
ANDY FISH: (19:17) you're just learning the ropes
ANDY FISH: (19:17) and it's not going to sell very well.
ANDY FISH: (19:17) Your sophomore offering shouldn't be the opus either
ANDY FISH: (19:18) wait until book #3 to do the story you REALLY want to do.
ANDY FISH: (19:18) The sales will be better
ANDY FISH: (19:18) your work will be better
ANDY FISH: (19:18) and trust me, when you do that #3 book
ANDY FISH: (19:18) you will look back at book #1 and grimace
ANDY FISH: (19:18) and then you will send me a case of champagne for saving you from throwing away the opus.
ANDY FISH: (19:19) patience is probably the most important component in freelance
ANDY FISH: (19:19) as well as a thick skin.
ANDY FISH: (19:19) You will face a lot of rejection.
ANDY FISH: (19:19) When I went to SVA in New York
ANDY FISH: (19:19) one of the best art schools for comics
ANDY FISH: (19:19) instructors like Will Eisner and Klaus Janson
ANDY FISH: (19:19) the BEST guy in my class was amazing
ANDY FISH: (19:19) he was getting all kinds of work while he was still in school
ANDY FISH: (19:20) then he hit one editor who didn't like his work
ANDY FISH: (19:20) and it devasted him
ANDY FISH: (19:20) he quit and works for Verizon now
ANDY FISH: (19:20) he just couldn't handle the idea of someone not liking his work.
ANDY FISH: (19:20) you can't be that fragile
ANDY FISH: (19:20) think about the artists working today
ANDY FISH: (19:20) and how many times you've said or thought "I don't like so and so's work"
ANDY FISH: (19:20) did you hope that they would hear about that and quit?
ANDY FISH: (19:20) of course not
ANDY FISH: (19:21) so the criticism is just that-- someone doesn't like your work.
ANDY FISH: (19:21) No biggie
ANDY FISH: (19:21) I personally am a big fan of John Romita Jr's work
ANDY FISH: (19:21) and a LOT of people don't see why
ANDY FISH: (19:21) but what does that matter?
ANDY FISH: (19:21) There will be people who like your work and people who don't
ANDY FISH: (19:21) move on.
ANDY FISH: (19:21) The healthiest of us just think of this as a job.
ANDY FISH: (19:22) I've been working now for 12 years
ANDY FISH: (19:22) very unknown, and I like that.
ANDY FISH: (19:22) I have a core base of fans, 50,000 followers on Twitter
ANDY FISH: (19:22) but my work mainly appears in library collections
ANDY FISH: (19:22) rather than comic shops
ANDY FISH: (19:22) I personally like that, because I don't love superheroes
ANDY FISH: (19:22) and I don't love fans.
ANDY FISH: (19:22) I just see this as a job.
ANDY FISH: (19:22) A cool job, but a job.
ANDY FISH: (19:23) And an art form.
ANDY FISH: (19:23) My real desire was to be a movie director
ANDY FISH: (19:23) but there are a lot of hassles with that.
ANDY FISH: (19:23) So comics are a close second.
ANDY FISH: (19:23) More questions?
Matthew Ferguson: (19:23) I have the book 'Ink', and it links the similarities with comics and movie shots.
ANDY FISH: (19:24) Great book, I highly recommend it.
ANDY FISH: (19:24) One of my favorites
ANDY FISH: (19:24) Panel Discussions is another that's really good.
ANDY FISH: (19:24) If you're on a budget-- get my book HOW TO DRAW GRAPHIC NOVEL STYLE
ANDY FISH: (19:25) I stole the best of all those other books and put it in that one ;)
Matthew Ferguson: (19:25) I have your book, bought it from Amazon :)
ANDY FISH: (19:25) So you get like ten books for one.
ANDY FISH: (19:25) Cool and that's not a sales pitch
ANDY FISH: (19:25) I don't get royalties on those
ANDY FISH: (19:25) I got paid up front.
ANDY FISH: (19:25) More questions?
Matthew Ferguson: (19:26) Would you be open to critiquing any projects we work on in the future? I can imagine you're a pretty busy guy.
ANDY FISH: (19:26) Of course
ANDY FISH: (19:27) My advice and my friendship is endless
ANDY FISH: (19:27) you have a friend in the industry
ANDY FISH: (19:27) Now having said that-- if you email me and you don't hear from me
ANDY FISH: (19:27) email me again-- you are not bothering me.
ANDY FISH: (19:27) I get a lot of email, and stuff gets missed.
Matthew Ferguson: (19:27) Fantastic, thanks!
ANDY FISH: (19:27) I'm happy to help
Matthew Ferguson: (19:28) I appreciate it
ANDY FISH: (19:28) Allright-- so if that's it-- it's been a pleasure
ANDY FISH: (19:28) send in your pages if you've not done so
ANDY FISH: (19:28) let me know your future plans
ANDY FISH: (19:28) send me your portfolio pieces when you are ready (can be years down the road)
ANDY FISH: (19:28) and stay in touch
ANDY FISH: (19:28) my email is andy@andytfish.com
ANDY FISH: (19:28) and my cell is 508 901 7813
ANDY FISH: (19:29) Ok dokey?
Matthew Ferguson: (19:29) okee dokee artichokee
Emilie Samella: (19:29) alright, thanks for everything :)
Rachel Neales: (19:29) Yes, thank you.
Matthew Ferguson: (19:29) Thanks Andy, great class
ANDY FISH: (19:29) All right- I'm happy to help!
ANDY FISH: (19:30) Have a good week, my responses will be slow this week, I'm in Chicago for Wizard's show
ANDY FISH: (19:30) but reach out

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Class 5 Collaboration!

ANDY FISH: (8/9/2016 18:23) Hey folks-- starting in a few
ANDY FISH: (18:28) And there's Matthew!
ANDY FISH: (18:28) I don't think Sally is coming in, because she's traveling to Boston for Comic Con.
ANDY FISH: (18:29) Are we ready to get started?
Matthew Ferguson: (18:29) Yep!
ANDY FISH: (18:30) Great-
Rachel Neales: (18:30) i am
ANDY FISH: (18:30) These last two classes are all about COLLABORATION
ANDY FISH: (18:30) Collaboration goes all the way back to the very beginnings of the comics industry.
ANDY FISH: (18:30) Back then, it was too much work for one person to do everything
ANDY FISH: (18:30) so an assembly line method was created.
ANDY FISH: (18:31) One person wrote the story, full script
ANDY FISH: (18:31) another drew it in pencil
ANDY FISH: (18:31) handing it off to the next who lettered it by hand
ANDY FISH: (18:31) then the next member of the team inked the pencil drawings
ANDY FISH: (18:31) and the final member of the team colored it for publication.
ANDY FISH: (18:31) That method exists today.
ANDY FISH: (18:31) Although often to a lesser extent
ANDY FISH: (18:31) almost exclusively, inkers have been cut out.
ANDY FISH: (18:32) most new pencilers are hired and expected to ink their own pages digitally.
ANDY FISH: (18:32) But MOST comics are done by creative teams
ANDY FISH: (18:32) a writer and an artist
ANDY FISH: (18:32) that's what we're going to try here.
ANDY FISH: (18:32) I don't want to loose focus on your individual goals
ANDY FISH: (18:32) so if you have a sample packet you are trying to put together
ANDY FISH: (18:33) continue to send that to me so I can help tailor it
ANDY FISH: (18:33) Here are the teams
ANDY FISH: (18:33) Sally is doing the work of two people
ANDY FISH: (18:33) You'll notice some names not here in class, that's because we have several students who follow along via the blog
ANDY FISH: (18:33) and the class transcripts
ANDY FISH: (18:33) You should have gotten the email of your partner over the weekend
ANDY FISH: (18:34) if you didn't, make sure you reach out to me ASAP
ANDY FISH: (18:34) Here's how it will breakdown
ANDY FISH: (18:34) You EACH will write a story
ANDY FISH: (18:34) you EACH will draw a story
ANDY FISH: (18:34) you just won't do both for the same story
ANDY FISH: (18:35) Each team produces two full pages
ANDY FISH: (18:35) the writer is responsible for the story
ANDY FISH: (18:35) the plot or the script
ANDY FISH: (18:35) all dialogue
ANDY FISH: (18:35) the artist comes up with the character designs
ANDY FISH: (18:35) and all of the visuals on the page
ANDY FISH: (18:35) writer of each gets final approval
ANDY FISH: (18:35) Now that doesn't mean you can't collaborate
ANDY FISH: (18:35) an artist can suggest some dialogue
ANDY FISH: (18:35) a writer can doodle some character designs
ANDY FISH: (18:36) etc
ANDY FISH: (18:36) because it is... (drumroll)
ANDY FISH: (18:36) ...collaboration.
ANDY FISH: (18:36) HOW you work is up to you.
ANDY FISH: (18:36) You can do a FULL SCRIPT
ANDY FISH: (18:36) i.e. panel descriptions
ANDY FISH: (18:36) full dialogue
ANDY FISH: (18:36) everything is there in the written stage
ANDY FISH: (18:36) or you can work the plot method.
ANDY FISH: (18:37) Which was made popular by Marvel comics in the 1960s
ANDY FISH: (18:37) So with a full script-- as an artist you have everything described to you.
ANDY FISH: (18:37) Let me show you an example
ANDY FISH: (18:37) hold on while I convert a page to a jpeg
ANDY FISH: (18:38) Ha-- okay-- script looks like this
ANDY FISH: (18:39) Page one panel 1-- man walks over to a park bench and sits down
ANDY FISH: (18:39) page one panel 2 Man feeds pidgeons
ANDY FISH: (18:39) MAN: Here you go fellas, eat up!
ANDY FISH: (18:39) Page one panel 3- Pidgeon looks up at him, the others are eating.
ANDY FISH: (18:39) Page one panel 4- PIDGEON ANGRY
ANDY FISH: (18:40) PIDGEON: Hey man, what is this shit? You kidding me?
ANDY FISH: (18:40) Page one panel 5-- Man leans back on the bench, in shock.
ANDY FISH: (18:40) Full script leaves little to the imagination of the artist
ANDY FISH: (18:40) what is the advantage to this method?
ANDY FISH: (18:40) The writer maintains control.
ANDY FISH: (18:40) What he (or she) writes will be on the page.
ANDY FISH: (18:40) What is the beneft to the artist?
ANDY FISH: (18:41) The hard work is done. You don't have to figure out shots too much.
ANDY FISH: (18:41) What is the detriment?
ANDY FISH: (18:41) It' takes longer for the writer to write it.
ANDY FISH: (18:41) It takes some of the creativity away from the artist.
ANDY FISH: (18:41) A plot looks like this:
ANDY FISH: (18:42) City Park-- man walks over to a bench, sits down and starts feeding pidgeons. One of the pidgeons starts to complain about the food and the man is in shock.
ANDY FISH: (18:42) That's all the artist would get.
ANDY FISH: (18:42) He (or she) would decide how many pages or panels this would be.
ANDY FISH: (18:42) Then once the art comes back drawn
ANDY FISH: (18:42) the writer then writes in the dialogue
ANDY FISH: (18:42) What is the advantage to this method? Obviously it's quicker for the writer.
ANDY FISH: (18:43) It also gives the artist some freedom
ANDY FISH: (18:43) and it makes for a more interesting collaboration
ANDY FISH: (18:43) because as a writer you aren't sure what you're going to get.
ANDY FISH: (18:43) When the Fantastic Four first met Galactus
ANDY FISH: (18:43) Jack Kirby drew in a figure on a surf board
ANDY FISH: (18:43) Stan never mentioned the idea
ANDY FISH: (18:43) and he was surprised when he saw it.
ANDY FISH: (18:43) and used it in the story.
ANDY FISH: (18:43) and thus was born The Silver Surfer.
ANDY FISH: (18:44) So HOW you do this is completely up to you.
ANDY FISH: (18:44) Either method.
ANDY FISH: (18:44) You could even try both since you have two projects.
ANDY FISH: (18:44) BUT that is completely up to you.
ANDY FISH: (18:44) I personally prefer the plot method
ANDY FISH: (18:44) but that's because I am also a writer.
ANDY FISH: (18:45) So this is how it will break down assignment wise
ANDY FISH: (18:45) this week you will contact and work with your partner.
ANDY FISH: (18:45) I am the editor of the project.
ANDY FISH: (18:45) Just like with a real editor, if communication breaks down between you two, I need to know.
ANDY FISH: (18:45) You will develop character designs, a setting and work out a script or a plot for BOTH of your stories
ANDY FISH: (18:45) TWO of them.
ANDY FISH: (18:46) They are due to me Sunday night.
ANDY FISH: (18:46) Don't rush ahead but don't be afraid to really work together.
ANDY FISH: (18:46) I'm hoping the experience is a postiive one.
ANDY FISH: (18:46) Collaboration can be fun
ANDY FISH: (18:46) and it can be frustrating.
ANDY FISH: (18:46) For example
ANDY FISH: (18:46) I am working with a company who teamed me with a writer.
ANDY FISH: (18:47) This writer was very unsure of himself
ANDY FISH: (18:47) so they asked if I would help him write.
ANDY FISH: (18:47) Which I agreed to.
ANDY FISH: (18:47) They paid me a handsome retainer up front
ANDY FISH: (18:47) and I waited for the script
ANDY FISH: (18:47) or the outline to come in.
ANDY FISH: (18:47) I got three sentences
ANDY FISH: (18:47) and in a back and forth
ANDY FISH: (18:47) I worked up a 22 page comic book from those three sentences.
ANDY FISH: (18:47) Then we repeated for the second project
ANDY FISH: (18:48) this time, same deal, they paid me up front
ANDY FISH: (18:48) and the writer sent me a few scrawled ideas.
ANDY FISH: (18:48) This time I asked for more
ANDY FISH: (18:48) and he promisted to get it to me.
ANDY FISH: (18:48) I just checked the email yesterday
ANDY FISH: (18:48) the last time I heard from him was 2014
ANDY FISH: (18:48) so I met with the publisher
ANDY FISH: (18:48) and they wanted to pay me again, I just want the writer to try and write something.
ANDY FISH: (18:49) So that would be an example of frustration.
ANDY FISH: (18:49) It can go either way.
ANDY FISH: (18:49) NEXT week
ANDY FISH: (18:49) after you get your assignment to me on Sunday night
ANDY FISH: (18:49) we meet Monday at 630
ANDY FISH: (18:49) We will discuss your progress
ANDY FISH: (18:49) the ups and downs
ANDY FISH: (18:49) your findings, etc.
ANDY FISH: (18:49) We will cover ANY questions for your portfolio
ANDY FISH: (18:50) Through email we will choose final images for your portfolio if you have that project in mind.
ANDY FISH: (18:50) You will then begin the final art for your collaboration project.
ANDY FISH: (18:50) Due to me by the following Monday.
ANDY FISH: (18:50) This second week I'll be traveling to Chicago
ANDY FISH: (18:50) but I will still be reachable.
ANDY FISH: (18:50) BUT the biggest thing I can advise about collaboration:
ANDY FISH: (18:51) you don't have to like your partner, but it helps.
ANDY FISH: (18:51) You DO have to communicate with your partner.
ANDY FISH: (18:51) You don't have to like the story you're given.
ANDY FISH: (18:51) You do have to give your best effort to turn in a professional page.
ANDY FISH: (18:51) It's both exciting and nerve wracking to work this way.
ANDY FISH: (18:51) There is a good likelihood you'll be hired by a company and your first assignment won't be your dream project.
ANDY FISH: (18:52) So it's good to get used to the compromise of collaboration.
ANDY FISH: (18:52) Questions?
Matthew Ferguson: (18:52) Any limit to panels on the one page?
ANDY FISH: (18:52) No sir.
ANDY FISH: (18:52) If you were working for Marvel Comics they frown on more than six panels per page.
ANDY FISH: (18:52) But that's Marvel.
ANDY FISH: (18:53) If you're writing a story-- keep in mind that if you ask for a stadium with 100,000 football fans
ANDY FISH: (18:53) that's a lot of drawing
ANDY FISH: (18:53) but you should not be afraid to challenge your artist
ANDY FISH: (18:53) and they should not be afraid to challenge you.
ANDY FISH: (18:53) More questions?
Matthew Ferguson: (18:54) How long does a publisher have to be in business to be considered, I don't know, promising?
ANDY FISH: (18:54) That is an excellent question.
ANDY FISH: (18:54) For my money, I would say 75 years or more.
Matthew Ferguson: (18:55) haha
ANDY FISH: (18:55) Short of that-- I want some upfront money.
ANDY FISH: (18:55) Which is not ridiculous to ask.
ANDY FISH: (18:55) As the very least, ask for the voucher system.
ANDY FISH: (18:55) which means you get paid as pages are turned in.
ANDY FISH: (18:55) So you do pages 1-3-- you send them in and you get paid.
ANDY FISH: (18:55) That way if they aren't going to be able to pay you
ANDY FISH: (18:56) you will have a good feel for that by the time you're working on page 6
ANDY FISH: (18:56) assuming they need the usual 10 days to respond to a voucher.
ANDY FISH: (18:56) The worst thing that can ever happen is to do a full book and then there's no money.
ANDY FISH: (18:56) Or worse, several books and there's no money.
ANDY FISH: (18:56) There are SEVERAL companies out there right now that are operating like this.
ANDY FISH: (18:56) Bluewater is one that comes to mind.
ANDY FISH: (18:57) They reached out to me to do an Adam West Comic book
ANDY FISH: (18:57) and then Adam's agent asked me to do it
ANDY FISH: (18:57) so I did, but when they balked at paying me up front
ANDY FISH: (18:57) I was suspicious right away
ANDY FISH: (18:57) I turned in half the book and refused to go any further until I got paid.
ANDY FISH: (18:57) and it worked.
ANDY FISH: (18:57) But i've heard from several creators they got screwed over.
ANDY FISH: (18:58) They asked me to do the Billy Mumy book too- and I didn't want to have to hassle with getting paid.
ANDY FISH: (18:58) A small company like Moonstone
ANDY FISH: (18:58) he doesn't pay much, but he tells you that upfront.
ANDY FISH: (18:58) And he does pay what he promises
ANDY FISH: (18:58) which to me, is perfectly fine.
ANDY FISH: (18:58) IF I know what I'm getting into I'm ok with it.
ANDY FISH: (18:58) But honestly, trust no publisher
ANDY FISH: (18:58) they aren't the enemy, but they aren't on your side either.
Matthew Ferguson: (18:59) Hmm, good to know... I guess I'm still learning to not be afraid to talk about payment with people when it comes to my artwork
ANDY FISH: (19:00) That's a big fear a lot of people have.
ANDY FISH: (19:00) But just remember, it's just business.
ANDY FISH: (19:00) When someone comes to me ans asks what my rate is
ANDY FISH: (19:00) I respond with what is their budget for a project
ANDY FISH: (19:00) because it's silly to agree to do something for $4K when they were thinking $80K isn't it?
Matthew Ferguson: (19:00) True
ANDY FISH: (19:01) You can even preface it with, ok now the hard part-- let's talk money.
ANDY FISH: (19:01) Even better than just assuming you're getting paid only to find out you are not.
ANDY FISH: (19:01) I personally like to work out these kinds of details in a hotel bar at conventions.
ANDY FISH: (19:01) People seem to be willing to spend money when they've had a few whiskey sours
ANDY FISH: (19:01) that's honestly the biggest reason to do conventions
ANDY FISH: (19:01) the after parties.
ANDY FISH: (19:02) which are just business meetings
Matthew Ferguson: (19:02) Cool, thanks :)
Matthew Ferguson: (19:02) One more question
ANDY FISH: (19:02) Most comic book creators have a bit of social anxiety too
ANDY FISH: (19:02) that includes editors
ANDY FISH: (19:02) so if you're the kind of person who doesn't like parties you won't be alone in that feeling.
ANDY FISH: (19:02) Fire away Matthew.
Matthew Ferguson: (19:04) So if I was asked what my rate is, what would be a good place for a beginner? I know you said to ask them about their budget, but what if they don't really have one?
Matthew Ferguson: (19:04) Or does it depend on the artwork style?
ANDY FISH: (19:04) It depends on the amount of work you have to do.
ANDY FISH: (19:04) And this goes for everyone
ANDY FISH: (19:04) you should break down exactly how long it takes you to do a page for real.
ANDY FISH: (19:05) Let's say you're pretty fast and you can do a full comic page in about five hours
ANDY FISH: (19:05) if you're getting $100 a page you're now pulling in $20 an hour
ANDY FISH: (19:05) that's not bad, but it's not amazing either.
ANDY FISH: (19:05) so you either have to get more money, or get faster.
ANDY FISH: (19:05) there's no third way.
ANDY FISH: (19:06) But you do this calculation so that you know what your bare minimum page rate is.
ANDY FISH: (19:06) because if you're making $6 a page doing comics, you might want to opt to work at Wendy's instead
ANDY FISH: (19:06) because I think they give you hamburgers for free as a bonus.
ANDY FISH: (19:06) But when you ask about a clients budget
ANDY FISH: (19:06) there are only TWO responses they'll have
ANDY FISH: (19:06) and again this is all experience:
ANDY FISH: (19:06) 1. They will give you a number-- which is always kind of funny
ANDY FISH: (19:07) because it'll be something like "we were thinking $500-$1000."
ANDY FISH: (19:07) Well, I'm not going to go "great! $500 was what I was thinking!"
ANDY FISH: (19:07) I'm going to come in with $900
ANDY FISH: (19:07) 2. They will say "We hadn't thought about it."
ANDY FISH: (19:07) That's not a great response.
ANDY FISH: (19:08) Because if they haven't thought about it they likely don't have much for it.
ANDY FISH: (19:08) Try to hold them to it
ANDY FISH: (19:08) but if they insist on you coming up with a number use your calculation rate.
ANDY FISH: (19:08) So for me for example, I absolutely have to make $60/hour.
ANDY FISH: (19:09) so that' means if a page takes me five hours I have to get what, $300 a page.
ANDY FISH: (19:09) Now when I estimate how long a project is going to take
ANDY FISH: (19:09) I almaost always screw that up.
ANDY FISH: (19:09) It's NEVER shorter than you estimate
ANDY FISH: (19:09) so I try and over compensate
ANDY FISH: (19:09) and add in time
ANDY FISH: (19:09) so if I think something is going to take me two weeks, I tell them three
ANDY FISH: (19:10) But trying to get them to reveal the budget is HUGE.
ANDY FISH: (19:10) True story:
ANDY FISH: (19:10) So I'm sitting with this client and we're talking about a project and I spit out I'd do it for $11K
ANDY FISH: (19:10) they respond that's great- they were thinking $45K
ANDY FISH: (19:10) so I just lost $35K on that project
Matthew Ferguson: (19:10) Wow
ANDY FISH: (19:10) and don't think I didn't think about that amount EVERY single moment I was on that project.
ANDY FISH: (19:11) Also try and ascertain that a project is right for you.
ANDY FISH: (19:11) Recently I had a company come to me
ANDY FISH: (19:11) they wanted to start a new horror comic line
ANDY FISH: (19:11) and they wanted me to helm it
ANDY FISH: (19:11) I'd have to draw and write a lead story each month, about 10 pages
ANDY FISH: (19:11) and oversee the line
ANDY FISH: (19:12) which would mean I'd get to hire a ton of artists for it
ANDY FISH: (19:12) friends, students ready to work, etc
ANDY FISH: (19:12) I saw this as a great opportunity.
ANDY FISH: (19:12) They offered me $80K 2x a year
ANDY FISH: (19:12) so the pay was fine.
ANDY FISH: (19:12) But then the first script from the publisher came in
ANDY FISH: (19:12) and it was typical women as objects horror stuff
ANDY FISH: (19:12) which I'm not about.
ANDY FISH: (19:12) You know, the girl is followed, gets home
ANDY FISH: (19:13) see's the guy through the peephole on her porch
ANDY FISH: (19:13) so what does she do?
ANDY FISH: (19:13) She takes a shower.
ANDY FISH: (19:13) Nope.
ANDY FISH: (19:13) Not for me.
ANDY FISH: (19:13) I tried to convince them this was not the way to go
ANDY FISH: (19:13) and had to walk away from the project.
ANDY FISH: (19:13) even though everything else about it was great.
ANDY FISH: (19:13) So sometimes you need to just go with your instinct
ANDY FISH: (19:13) and walk way.
Matthew Ferguson: (19:13) Because you don't want to be associated with a bad script?
ANDY FISH: (19:14) I don't want to be associated with a company that perpetuates the idea that women are only mindless victims
ANDY FISH: (19:14) and that script that the publisher wrote
ANDY FISH: (19:14) was a sort of theme setting for the whole line.
Matthew Ferguson: (19:15) haha, the outline sounded lame the way you decribed it. I like your long, detailed answers, truly insightful, thank you
ANDY FISH: (19:15) Happy to offer them
ANDY FISH: (19:15) Experience is an amazing thing.
ANDY FISH: (19:16) I wish I could go back in time and ask Will Eisner or Jack Kirby questions I later ran into.
ANDY FISH: (19:16) I never really mined the experiences they had.
ANDY FISH: (19:16) Any other questions?
Matthew Ferguson: (19:16) Nope
Matthew Ferguson: (19:16) not now anyway
Emilie Samella: (19:16) i have a question ill email you after
ANDY FISH: (19:17) Great- I will look for it Em.
ANDY FISH: (19:17) All right-- so you have your collaborator
ANDY FISH: (19:17) reach out to them
ANDY FISH: (19:17) work on your stories
ANDY FISH: (19:17) start fleshing things out
ANDY FISH: (19:17) and hopefully this is a fun and rewarding experience.
ANDY FISH: (19:17) If you're in the Boston area and you're hitting up the Comic Con this weekend have fun!
ANDY FISH: (19:17) All right?
Matthew Ferguson: (19:17) Cool cool

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Aug 2nd Class #4- Reaching Out and the TEam Up Begins

If you wanted to be a pro baseball pitcher you probably wouldn't send game films of your high school days to the New England Patriots would you?   Comics are similar.

Comics and graphic novels are not a genre, they are a form of literature which features multiple genres inside its category.

If you're hoping to get your work published by a main stream comics company you need to do your research to ensure that the company you're sending into publishes the type of comic book you're offering.  If you're doing a hard boiled adult content heavy detective story you are going to be wasting your time sending the pitch into Archie Comics, whose offering is much more all ages and geared towards humor.

OK, Archie has their new dark line, but you get my point.

Each publisher has their own submissions rule, some accept samples, some don't.  Give their individual policies a read through.


The list is constantly changing, constantly fluid as publishers come and go, but it's a start.

You should be able to access company contact info on their website, if that fails they will have a required post office address on the inside indicia of any book they publish.

Wikipedia which is not always reliable, offers you information at your fingertips, so it's a decent place to start.  At the very least they will include the company background.

Which you should read through in case you are not familiar with what they publish.

It might also list high level company officers, but you're going to want editors and junior editors rather than publishers and CFOs, so do some digging.

Do a bit of diligence too, try to find a second source for names and addresses to ensure that what you've found is accurate.

Again, as I've said before you may want to call the receptionist and ask for the name of the editor that works on a book you know with that company, and or their assistant. 

That will give you a name to address your samples to.

You can usually find submissions information at the bottom of the company website.

In this case, looking at the DC website they have a thing called TALENT SHOWCASE.

This is a new program that they implemented that new creators can apply to, if chosen you are sent to a "school" they are running to groom you to the "next level".  

I'm not sure if there is a charge for attending, I'm told their is but I have no way to confirm this.

You've got a two part assignment:

PART ONE:  Do some research, find TWO companies that you think would be a good fit for your project and get the name of the editor or assistant editor that works there.

You can use DC, MARVEL or IMAGE comics as ONE of your choices but not both, I want you to dig a little deeper.

Whomever you choose, I need to know WHY you think they would be a good fit-- in other words, "my project is very close in spirit to SONIC THE HEDGEHOG so I think taking it to Archie would be a good fit."

PART TWO: Next week we do a collaborative class, you'll be writing a one page story and one of the other students will be drawing it for you.  I'll pair you up.

I want you to spend your class homework time this week on coming up with some ideas as to what that one page story is going to be.  Start with 3 or so and whittle down your choices.  It doesn't have to be a grand epic, it just has to tell some kind of story.

You'll be creating a full script for that one page next week, but you want to get the hard part, character designs, basic plot idea, etc, all done this week.

PS-- Figma Figures released these anatomy figures from Japan...

The top ones aren't available in the US until late Fall , the Manga style ones on the bottom are available now.

You can buy them in a lot of places including Amazon and eBay -- I have them, they are essential for difficult poses.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Jul 26th Class #3 - GETTING ORGANIZED!!

NOTE: If you have an individual project that you feel is ready to submit to a publisher, or if you want to fine tune your samples you should be sending those to me between assignments so we can keep track of your progress and offer direction.

Creating a workable schedule to meet deadlines
If you needed to bring in more money than your current job allows what would you do?  You would get a second part time job. 

Treat your comics work that way-- like a second part time job. 

You couldn't accept another job and then not show up for your shifts right? 

Working for yourself is the same thing.

There will be no one to tell you to get to work, so you might as well get used to being your own boss.

-Work in 30 minute segments
-Set music to play without skipping anything
-Sequester yourself into a working only area


1- Take a simple calendar.

It can be a datebook or something you make yourself.

In this example, there are no dates only days.

Personal preference if you want dates on there.

2- FILL in your projected accomplishments.  In this case, I'm working Sunday and Saturday because I've set up some things during the week as you'll see in a second.

3- FILL in events-- in this case a Dentist appt on Wed a Birthday party on Friday and a cookout on Saturday.

Busy week.

That's why for this week I scheduled work on Sunday and Saturday, in the hopes that I'll still be able to get pages done.

4- Now at the end of each work day, fill in what you've got done.

This part is crucial because you need to know where you stand each and every workday.

In this case Thumbnails were done, so I write 'done'.

 5- I'm going to skip ahead a bit, so you can see on Tuesday's check in I'm right on schedule, everything is looking good.

You'll also note on Wednesday I'm projecting to only get a half a page done because of the Dentist appointment.

6- OK Wednesday night rolls around, it must have been a tough dentist visit because check in finds only 2 pages done despite projections of 2.5.

Now maybe that doesn't sound like a big deal, it's only a half a page.

It is actually a kind of big deal because the schedule is tight-- a page a day right now and I'm assuming that I have a "real" job here.  So I can't afford to fall behind.

I've also got that Birthday and Cookout, and if I want to go I have to be on schedule.

7- On Thursday things are looking bad-- still only 2 pages done, maybe someone got sick, maybe I got sick.  Who knows, but now I'm down a page for the schedule--

I'll need to evaluate the birthday party and the cookout.

8- By the close of biz on Saturday I'm still down pages-- in this case 1.5 pages-- there's a good chance if this keeps happening I'm going to miss my deadline.

If this was a one week deadline, I'm screwed.

9- OK good news-- it's a month deadline, bad news-- I'm still behind.

So we look at the whole month and you can see a few things--

no other extra events, and I didn't schedule work on Saturday or Sunday-- that's because A. I want a day off and B. I can get caught up if I fall behind.

10- End of day second Sunday I ended up working a half day and got another half a page done, but this means going into week 2 I am now two pages behind schedule.

This is going to take some work.

11- Skipping ahead, by the end of the week I'm back on schedule but only by working the following Saturday too.  So I'll need to stay on schedule the rest of the month, no excuses!

I really think if you're going to be productive you need a work area:

The space can be anything you like, but it should be a place that's comfortable for you to work in.
Good light is essential, so is a comfortable chair or a mat if you want to go with a standing desk.

A couple of weeks ago we experimented with music playlists-- the object is to get you to work more consistently and on a regular pace.

Working in 90 minute segments is the optimal choice-- so you set a playlist or choose TV binge episodes (as long as it's something ou won't get distracted by) and you work non stop for that designated amount of time.

Then you take a 10 minute break, pour yourself some coffee, take a quick walk, whatever, but it's important to stretch those legs and relax your creativity for 10 minute breaks after those 90 minutes.

Obviously, if you don't have 90 minute time frames set 60 or 30 minutes, but this will work.

While on one of these Active Work times:


That's all serious-- no kidding.  Treat it like you're working a shift at Dairy Queen-- you couldn't surf the web or check your mail if you were working the register.

This needs to be the same level of commitment.

Let's look at some workspaces, some are comic artist studios...

Homework: Assign yourself a part time schedule, be realistic about how many hours you can work.  The schedule you write yourself is due to me in the morning.  Then the following Monday I want a detailed and accurate report of how it actually went-- we'll tweak your original schedule and find something that works.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Jul 19, 2016 CLASS #2 - Create an individual course of action.

I've looked at your work and written to each of you individually-- as I said in yesterday's email my response time may seem a bit off, life is hectic right now, but have faith I will respond.

This week a few things to discuss as we talk about course of action.

A word on advice-- it can be overwhelming. 
Everyone will give you different success stories, different opinions, different options and it can cause you to lose focus and get yourself jumbled in your path.

Let's take this first bit of advice above.

I agree with the theory and disagree with the sentiment.

What is expressed here makes sense if you are shopping a graphic novel to a publisher.  Let's say you approach Chris Staros at Top Shelf with a half dozen pages of your new and amazing graphic novel, if he's interested he's going to ask you how many pages you have done.

Or more likely he's going to give you his card and ask you to come back when it's done.

So in that particular case, the advice is solid.

At this early stage in developing your career, it can also be harmful.  If you have a finished book that is less than professional, or flawed or has weak parts it can hurt your chances.

Does that mean don't do a finished book?  Of course not do what you want to do.  If you have a burning desire to do a graphic novel right now then go for it while the urge is there,  just don't pin your hopes on having a completed book opening doors for you.

You also set yourself up for failure if you have a weak skill in any of the many steps of producing a graphic novel.

If your lettering is weak, it can make your whole book look weak, and that could sink your chances of getting hired.

I've done a lot of conventions and I've seen a LOT of really bad self published work.  A LOT. 

It's the primary reason why editors don't actively walk Artists Alley-- they don't want to put themselves in a position to have to offer unsolicited criticism.

SO what do you do?
Produce AMAZING pages.
And then get them seen.

It's as simple as that.

Imagine yourself in a position of authority for a minute-- it could be a job where someone new is coming to you for advice, or back in high school and an underclassmen comes to you for something.  Those nerves that person displayed in talking to you was off putting wasn't it?

Editors deal with this all the time.  Comics are a unique industry in that the readership is built of fans and most of those fans want to be pros-- most of those fans will never make it.

We don't walk into Target and get tongue tied talking to a cashier because it's our dream of working at Target right?  Not to slight Target-- I'm sure it's a great place to work.

But most of us see it as just a job.

Comics are seen by many wanna be pro's as a secret club you have to gain admission to in order to get work-- and believe it or not there is a TINY bit of truth to that.


How do you get into the club?  Networking.

But Networking can often be confusing and actually hurt you if people pick up that you are actively trying to use their friendship for gain.

So what should networking encompass?  It could be as simply as writing some fan letters to a book you genuinely enjoy and then introducing yourself to the editor of that book should they be doing a convention near you.

I don't advise seeking unsolicited opinions of your work.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't carry a few pages in a portfolio with you as you walk the show, you never know when someone will ask to see your work.

And many cons offer PORTFOLIO REVIEWS which are events you sign up for, show your work and get some feedback.

Showing your work to other professionals on the floor? 

I don't advise it for two reasons:

#1 - The artists are there to make money, to sell their work, not to review your work and give you pointers.  This does not mean that many of them would not be happy to do it-- cons can be boring for artists sitting there so a quick look at your portfolio can be a nice break.

But resist the urge to seek opinions.

#2- What can the artist do for you?  If your work is really good are they couing to walk you over to their editor so that you'll get hired instead of them?

It's fine to network with artists you genuinely like but don't do so for the purpose of advancing your own career or in an attempt to get your foot in the door.


The rule of thumb is that if you want to get hired by Marvel Comics you show them pages featuring Marvel Comics characters-- you wouldn't show them Batman pages because they don't publish Batman.

This is pretty accurate but I can tell you right now, straight truth-- if the pages are REALLY amazing it won't matter who's on those pages.

But they have to be AMAZING.

AMAZING meaning...

Clear Storytelling-- you can tell what's going on in the context of the page without reading the word balloons.

Solid Figure work-- your characters look like they could exist.

Body Language-- reflects what is going on in the story.

Expressions -- same as above.

Backgrounds - full on textures, shadow and light, a well thought out and well executed story with all of the above and solid backgrounds will serve you as an audition for work.

Word balloons?  Don't need 'em, unless you are selling your work as a letterer.


I already mentioned Portfolio Review-- that's something you should take advantage of if the show you're going to offers it.

You could also consider tabling at a show.

The logistics and expense need to be considered.

I'd suggest doing your first show close to home to keep travel expenses down.  If your home happens to be in a big city then you have a pretty good chance of having a big show near you, but you can get a feel for what it's like to set up at a show regardless of size.

Your table should be set up with a portfolio of your original pages-- you'll want something to sell but unless you have full sized high res scans of your originals I wouldn't sell those since you'll need them for your portfolio.

You could make up prints or offer sketches and commissions at your booth but the bottom line is you just want your work to be seen.

While you're sitting there make sure your portfolio is open to your best page and keep it open to that.  After people look through it they may close it, pay attention to that and open it again after they leave.

Each show has different requirements for tabling-- some charge a fee, some don't, don't be afraid to negotiate.


All correspondence should be handled as business formal--  I don't care if other people will tell you that's too uptight-- you're looking to be hired.

Business formal means you address the letter to someone-- email or snail mail it doesn't matter.  You need a name.  It's not that hard to track down an editors name, they're listed in the credits page of the comics they edit--

and I'd suggest sending it to an assistant editor first, because the main editor is likely too busy to deal with an unsolicited sample packet.

It might take a bit more work to find an assistant editor name but you can ALWAYS call the receptionist of the company and ask them.

One trick I've never forgotten is be nice to the receptionist because they are the pulse of the company.

Business formal also means you're going to address the letter with a prefix-- males are Mr females are Ms-- it doesn't matter if they are married or not-- Mr or Ms.

I once found out the name of an assistant on a project I wanted to work on, and the name was of foreign descent and rather than address it to them by their first name (I didn't know whether they were a Mr or a Ms) I simply called the receptionist and asked.

I got the gig by the way.


Easy one-- go to a comic shop and either buy a stack of comics or go to Comixology.com and have a pen and a pad of paper handy-- start looking at titles and write down the names of the publishers of the books you like;


That only scratches the surface of publishers- find one that puts out work you think your style would fit or that seem like a good home for your project.

The 45 minutes or so of research you do here will pay off big in the end.

You have to KNOW which publisher is right for you and the only way to do that is to look at their other offerings.

From there spend some time researching that company's profile online-- find out who the editorial team is, look at what their submissions policy is.

Many publishers now won't look at ANY submissions-- and that is their official statement.

You can still send in samples but now it's even more important than before that the package is addressed to someone rather than just 'submissions editor' or 'editor'.

Make sure the outside of your envelope is professional looking, and short of that, make it interesting.  I used to send in my samples in bright orange envelopes so that they would stand out from the rest.

Even with a no submissions policy companies still get a lot of samples.

This might mean yours will come back unopened or will simply be thrown away, and that's something to contend with, but more likely it will get looked at and you'll get some kind of feedback.

This is where building a relationship with an editor can help, as you can ask them if you can send samples to them as your style progresses.  If they see something in you they will likely be happy to.

The bottom line thing to remember is this is a business and for editors comics are simply their jobs.

They want to successfully get books out on a regular basis or as promised and you being a professional they can count on should be the sense they get from the very first contact.

On the flipside of that-- you can cause them a lot of stress and difficulties if you are not professional with them.

Once you get hired, communication will be essential-- even if that communication is to say you're going to miss a deadline, the sooner you let them know the better.



That's where The Pitch comes in.

A pitch is a sales pitch-- you're trying to sell a company on your project-- trying to convince them this is the next big thing.

Hollywood has a method for pitching which combines two things you are already familiar with.

Star Trek was pitched in 1965 as WAGON TRAIN IN OUTER SPACE.

The Walking Dead could be considered a combination of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and a Soap Opera-- getting into the lives of the characters at a level or depth much deeper than the movie ever did.

The pitch has to be simple, it has to be concise, it has to sum up the project to the person you're selling it to quickly and so that they can get their head around it.

As part of your pitch should be the nuts and bolts:

Who is the writer? Who is the artist?

How many pages is your project?  Number of issues? 

Ongoing, limited or one shot series? 

What is the target demographic?  
What makes your project unique and therefore sellable?


And that's your assignment-- draft up a pitch for a project you're doing-- give me a cover letter (address it to me at Emerson College) and give me the pitch for it as well as the nuts and bolts.  That's all I'm going to give you for info.

It can either be a project you are actually working on or completely made up for this assignment.  Cover letter should be as described above.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Jul 13th- Class #1 - Getting Your Act Together

All right-- Portfolio Class!
Unlike the other classes you've taken here at Emerson both with me and Alex this one is different because it's not about lectures and instruction it's about YOU and offering you the guidance you need to get towards your goal.

Not everyone in the class will have the same goal, this is one of the primary reasons we like to keep the classroom small.  This is an almost 1 on 1 class.

Deadlines are strict-- due to me by Midnight the night before class-- so in a regular week that would be Monday at Midnight-- all class times and all deadlines are Boston time.

Communication is extremely important-- if you are falling behind let me know.
This is a practice you'll want to master, because keeping in contact with your editor is one of the best ways to keep getting work.

Many creators fall behind, and then disappear causing extreme amounts of stress for their editor.  It's better to face facts and tell your editor you are behind than it is to try and hide from them.

Working with publishers:
You'll need to match your project to a publisher and then convince them why they should publish you.  Hint: the idea of them making money will carry a lot of weight.

Publishers all have different working methods-- some pay a retainer, some pay a page rate, if it's YOUR project you should retain some ownership (all if possible) and negotiate whatever contract is proposed to you.

If you are hoping to work FOR a publisher, you'll need to prepare samples in the style of the books they are putting out.

If you are planning on self publishing, you'll need to explore the various options for that-- there are several print on demand companies and one of the biggest things you'll need to understand is business.  i.e. what does it cost you to produce a book and what kind of money does it bring in?  Are you making money or losing money (never the goal).

Self publishing also requires a solid understanding of marketing and self promotion, if you aren't very good at that you may want to rethink the self publishing thing.

Assignment #1
You will need to assemble your best pages which you want to use for your portfolio.
You need to choose a goal for yourself from those we just discussed.
You will need to develop a strategy to reach these goals.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Welcome to PORTFOLIO Class

Class will meet Tuesdays except for the first one which will meet on Wednesday July 13th-- see you then!