Will Eisner Week 2014


For a link to the events happening across the country click here.


For more on Eisner, here’s a clip from the 1987 documentary, The Masters of Comic Book Art – introduction by Harlan Ellison.

Next up is an excerpt from a piece I did for the Will Eisner web site back in 2010 examining Eisner’s The Dreamer.

  • Will Eisner published “The Dreamer” in 1986. It tells the story of the burgeoning comic book field in the 1930s; a story Eisner was quite familiar with having lived it. In Will Eisner’s own words, “Intended as a work of fiction, (The Dreamer) ultimately took the shape of a historical account. In the telling it, it was inescapable that the actors would resemble the real people. Their names, however, are fictitious, and they are portrayed without malice. It all comes out of the cluttered closet where I store ghosts of the past, and from the yellowing memories of my experience.”

    The excerpt from The Dreamer (pages 22-32) introduces us through a series of vignettes to the Eyron & Samson bullpen (a play on the Eisner and Iger Studio name. Lou Fine becomes “Lew Sharp,” Jack Kirby becomes “Jack King”, etc).

    Eisner deftly uses quick defining moments, narrated by “Eyron” to give us a clear idea of who these characters are. Then the spotlight is turned on the central character as he has an after hours drink with his secretary where romance is in the air. Dancing between the words and the pictures Eisner ends the sequence wordlessly, rain falling, as our protagonist ends up the solitary figure at his drawing table… pursuing his dream.

    The ability to know how much to say with words and how much to say with a glance or gesture is illustrated here beautifully and worth careful consideration.

The Dreamer: pages 22-32
Click on image to go to slideshow.


For Eisner’s work on The Spirit, check out this previous blog post.
Featuring the reprint editions masterfully done by Warren Publishing.



Last but not least, if you have the opportunity, pick up
Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist.


Fantastic documentary that includes Eisner’s “Shop Talks” with the likes of Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Neal Adams and many more. HIGHLY recommended.

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Flash Gordon in India

I recently found some Flash Gordon pages of mine online (courtesy of The Lost World) that had been reprinted in comic book format in India.

I dug out the original Sundays (circa 1996) so you can see how they were cut and pasted to fit into a vertical comic book page.

Filmmaker Alok Sharma was kind enough to provide the following added info:

    This is in Bangla, one of the Indian languages. Flash Gordon was published in eight languages in India by Indrajal Comics and Comic World; Hindi, English, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, Bangla and Gujrati.

    Flash Gordon was one of the most popular characters in the 70s-80s and still enjoys a massive fan following in India.

Click on the artwork to enlarge.

FG-S190 2

Original Sunday pages.



Click on the artwork to enlarge.

FG-S192 1

Original Sunday pages (minus the drop panel).




I am woefully ignorant of many of the outstanding cartoonists in other countries.

That said, here’s Alok Sharma once again with an article he did on the father of Indian comics, Uncle Pai (1929-2011).

Circa 2009 - the Mint Lounge Click to enlarge.

Circa 2009 – the Mint Lounge
Click to enlarge.


If Flash Gordon isn’t in your local paper, you can check it out online at…


A yearlong subscription to all of King Features’ comics (new and vintage) plus two years worth of archives for every single strip is a pittance at $19.99 a year. Unsure? Try a 7 day trial subscription for free.

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Flash Gordon by Brian Bilter

Today’s Flash Gordon (2/23/2014) originally ran on November 4, 2001.
The art assist is by Brian Bilter.


Shown below are the pencils followed by my inks.
As with Mark McMurray, Brian was always gracious enough to give me free reign if I wanted to change anything.

Pencils - Brian Bilter

Pencils – Brian Bilter

Lettering & Inks - Jim Keefe

Lettering & Inks – Jim Keefe




If Flash Gordon isn’t in your local paper, you can check it out online at…


A yearlong subscription to all of King Features’ comics (new and vintage) plus two years worth of archives for every single strip is a pittance at $19.99 a year. Unsure? Try a 7 day trial subscription for free.

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Comics – Tools of the Trade

With Comic Kingdom’s recent spotlight on cartoonists’ tools of the trade, bumping up this post from April of 2013…


Addendum to Jim Keefe’s lecture for the Graphic Novel Illustration class
at the University of Minnesota – 4/1/2013.
Class Instructors: Rowan and Bly Pope


Can’t stress enough that this is the equipment I currently have that works for me
(and my budget).

I love pen and ink so I personally don’t see the need to invest in a cintiq at the moment, but that’s not to say I don’t use digital (as seen by the intuous5 shown below) or that I wouldn’t down the line. Find what what works best for you, but don’t get mired down in the familiar. Try new tools (cutting edge and old school) and keep experimenting.

15″ MacBookPro and Artograph Lightpad A940.

intuous5 Touch Medium pen tablet.

Mustek A3 2400S flatbed scanner.
Nice and big so it fits the pages I’m working on.

Drawing and Inking Materials:

One of the better book out there regrading this subject is Drawing Words and Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel & Matt Madden.


Chapter 8, Inking with a nib pen, is worth the price of admission in and of itself. If you want a world of knowledge go buy it. I’m going to concern myself here with the tools I’m presently using.

Side note: There’s a number of other books I could recommend – but that’s for another post…



From left to right…

3h for light sketching and blocking in shapes.
2b for tightening up drawing.
Pental Twist Erase with HB lead for a clean line.

Kneaded eraser.
white drafting eraser.
X-acto knife (for removing ink by cutting away layer of bristol paper).
Whetstone for sharpening X-acto blades.

Triangle, ruler and T-square.
Tape to hold art in place.
And above tape, piece of paper to have under your hand when penciling or inking.

I also have a larger T-square and ruler – but the smaller size comes in pretty handy.

From left to right…

B6 and C5 lettering nibs.
Japanese G NG-3.
Hunt 513 EF.

Winsor & Newton (In partnership with Blick) Round #1.
Winsor & Newton Series 7 #2.


From left to right…

Kohinoor Rapidograph 2/.60.
Kohinoor Rapidograph 1/.50.
Presto fine point correction pen.

Inks, Paper and Odds & Ends

Ink Paper

For inks I love FW’s black acrylic for how dark it goes down, but lately I have been using Speedball super black as it’s comparable and comes in a big bottle (thus saving me money).

For Flash Gordon I used both 1-ply and 2-ply vellum. Of late I’ve been using 2-ply smooth (or plate).

Underneath is an Alvin green cutting mat – very handy for not only cutting, but for tacking things up as well.


Last but not least…
Inking templates: Circle, oval and a set of french curves.
Erasing shield (bottom right hand corner).
Ames guide for lettering (to the left of erasing shield).

Not pictured.
For inking, a water jar, rag, paper towels and some scrap bristol are also a necessity.

I can’t stress enough that the items listed above are not the only ones I own or use. For instance, I have a number of different inking and lettering nibs, the ones pictured are just the nibs I am currently using the most. Check back in a year and you’d probably see some slight variations in what’s shown above.


Parting Thought: Getting the Work Done

Colleen Doran has a great blog post in regards to time management which I found essential reading. Check it out.

For my parting thought I’m actually handing it over to Zak Sally. First met Zak while teaching at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He’s a great teacher in that he has the rare ability to make lightbulbs go off in your head where you didn’t even know you were in the dark in the first place. Here he talks about one of his favorite artists,
Kim Deitch.

Kim Deitch at his drawing board.

Kim Deitch at his drawing board.

    Kim Deitch, he puts in 40 hours a week. He doesn’t put in 40 hours dicking around… Not time thinking about drawing. Not time thinking about when you’re going to draw. Not time drawing but then you get up and look for reference. It’s straight up time sitting there working on it is what he marks down. That’s huge for comics people. It’s putting your ass in the seat and keeping it there. It’s amazing the stuff you can do in an hour if you’re working the whole hour.”

- Zak Sally from Documenting the History of Minnesota Comics
by Britt Aamodt and Barbara Schulz.

All for now – deadlines looming…


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John Romita Artist Edition Volume 2


Just got this in the mail the other day.

Designed by Randall Dahlk, it’s another home run as far as IDW’s Artist Editions go. Check out Randall Dahlk’s blog for a behind the scenes look.



This particular edition got me to thinking about the time frame that Romita did this work.

The issues in this collection are from around 1972. Jack Kirby has been gone not even two years and Romita is now the go-to guy for Marvel, jumping from Spider-Man to the Fantastic Four to Captain America and then back to Spider-Man…

Amazing Spider-Man #69 - February 1969

Amazing Spider-Man #69 – February 1969

Fantastic Four 103 - October 1970

Fantastic Four #103 – October 1970

Captain America - June 1971

Captain America #138 – June 1971

Amazing Spider-Man #108 -  May 1972

Amazing Spider-Man #108 – May 1972

During this time in the early 1970s, Romita is also doing art direction and handling spot and sequential art on a myriad of other projects.

Aurora Comic Scenes mini-comic drawn in 1973 to go with the model kit it depicts.

Aurora Comic Scenes mini-comic drawn in 1973 to go with the model kit it depicts.

What amazes me about the work spotlighted in this Artist Edition is that you can tell the speed he has to attack these issues because of deadlines (blue line, white out, paste-ups). At that speed you’re walking the high wire without a net, and the artwork is still stellar!

Amazing Spider-Man #114 -  November 1972

Amazing Spider-Man #114 – November 1972

If you’re a Romita fan, than this is definitely a book you want to pick up – I can’t recommend it highly enough.

And if you want to check out more of Romita’s artwork online, be sure to check out Mike Burkey’s web site: Romitaman.com


A wealth of Romita art, and where most of the art in this Artist Edition came from!


Ending with a pic of John Romita and his wife Virginia hard at work in the mid-1970s.


Here’s wishing them peaceful deadline free days from here on in!

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You’re So Party – Let’s Go Dancey!


Art by Jim Keefe.

Move over Miley Cyrus and Lorde.
Hillary Forth is set to knock you out the top 10 with her next smash hit!






For more, check out Medium Large by Francesco Marciuliano.



If Sally Forth isn’t in your local paper, you can check it out online at…


A yearlong subscription to all of King Features’ comics (new and vintage) plus two years worth of archives for every single strip is a pittance at $19.99 a year. Unsure? Try a 7 day trial subscription for free.

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Sally Forth – Photo Reference

Sometimes to get the right pose for a character you’re drawing you need to take some photo reference – and 10 times out of 10 the model who’s usually available and works the cheapest is yourself.

Along these lines, one of the artists I’ve always looked up to is Al Williamson.


Williamson took reference shots of himself constantly to nail down a drawing. The following pic is from the book The Art of Al Williamson with the corresponding drawing from his adaption of the 1980 Flash Gordon Movie.


For the EC comic books from the 1950s,
Al’s friends would lend a hand as well…



Suffice it to say, Williamson had the build to pull off
the heroic shots he wanted to capture.


And following in this grand tradition, the following is the photo reference I used to capture the shot I needed for Ted for the January 24th Sally Forth strip.


And the finished strip…


Maybe someday I’ll post the photo reference I took when I was doing Flash Gordon – suffice it to say I wore pants on my head a lot less…

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