Working Professionally as a Cartoonist


A few things that I’ve learned over the years that have crystalized through teaching…


• Devote your time to sharpening your art skills AND your business skills – trends, networking, contracts, etcetera all.

• Don’t pigeonhole yourself to one small aspect of the art form, like limiting yourself to just comics. Remember that Michelangelo wanted to devote himself to sculpture when he was commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel.

• The people who succeed are generally the people who are working their asses off. Surround yourself with people like this, people who commit themselves fully and are getting their work out into the world. They’ll generally be better than you which is a GOOD thing – that way the bar keeps getting raised.

• Working hard isn’t enough, you have to work smart as well. You have to create work that’s marketable – that will suit the needs of someone who will then pay you.

• Working long hours with no sleep to meet deadlines isn’t the answer. Your career is a marathon, not a fifty yard dash. Eat right, exercise and sleep regularly like your parents told you to.

• Start now (yesterday is even better). Research the jobs you want, look at the submission guidelines (and follow them METICULOUSLY), then work up samples that will blow the competition out of the water. Follow Steve Martin’s advice to those aspiring to enter the entertainment field – “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

• To cap this off… If you treat your skills as a hobby then that’s where they’ll stay, as a hobby – and that’s FINE as long as that’s your conscious decision – but if you want to have it as your career then you need to get on board and on track.

And that’s…
The-More-You-Know

For more info, check out the following links:


Comics – Pricing your Work

Things to Consider When Commissioning Artwork

Work for Hire – The Fallout

Homage or Swipe?

Cartoon Art Scams

Getting a Portfolio Review


Comics – Tools of the Trade

Making Comics – The Assembly Line

Comic Book Inking Tutorials and Videos

Recommended Books on Drawing & Cartooning

Smudging

Using Reference

Procrastination

When you wish upon a star…

Motivational Misinformation

Working From Home


Convention Prep – AHHHHH!!!

Networking and the High Cost of Comic Conventions

Mike Wolfer on Fan art/Homage art


Graphic Novels

Comic Book Podcasts

Intro to Anime – sorely needed…

Adventure Strip Finales


And last but not least, The Business of Cartooning.
This page has a number of subcategories, including…

1 Comic News Blogs
2. Contracts
3. Resources/Articles
4. Print On Demand Publishers
5. Self-Publishing Resource Articles
6. Convention Resources
7. Cartooning Schools and Organizations
8. Financial Aid

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I started these posts after teaching Comic Art at the
Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Here’s the biggest thing I learned teaching there.

Hammerstein

…and a special thanks to Professor Barb Schulz, head of the department, for giving me that opportunity.

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Sally Forth for August 18, 2019 – Process

Showing a little process for the Sally Forth Sunday page that ran for August 18, 2019.

In a recurring background sometimes I’ll draw it once and then drop it in using Adobe Photoshop. Also for that last panel Sally’s body holds the same pose as the previous panel so copied and pasted that as well.

And here’s the finished page.

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Irish Comic Book Characters & Graphic Novels

Road to Perdition

First one off is the graphic novel Road to Perdition written by Max Allan Collins, with fantastic art by Richard Piers Rayner.

Set during the prohibition era of Al Capone and Elliot Ness, the protagonist is Michael O’Sullivan, a ruthless but honorable enforcer of Irish mob boss John Rooney. When he is betrayed – resulting in his wife and child being murdered – O’Sullivan sets out to protect his only surviving child and exact revenge. 

In 2002 it was adapted into a film starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman.

Follow up graphic novels by Max Allen Collins include On the Road to Perdition drawn by José Luis García-López and Steve Lieber, and Return to Perdition drawn by Terry Beatty.

Black Canary

Black Canary with Zatanna.
From the Paul Dini graphic novel Bloodspell drawn by Joe Quinones.

From Banshee to Siryn to Silver Banshee it seems like many Irish comic book characters have superhuman vocal traits – drawn from the old Irish folklore of the Banshee. The Black Canary is no exception.

Created by the writer-artist team of Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino, the Black Canary is a master in hand-to-hand combat. Her superpower is the canary cry, an ultrasonic vibration when she screams that can disable an opponent.

Daredevil

Daredevil was created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett – and later retooled by Wally Wood.

While growing up in the gritty Irish-American neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, Matt Murdock saves a pedestrian by pushing him out of the way of an oncoming truck but in doing so is struck by a radioactive substance that falls from the vehicle.

His exposure to the radioactive chemicals blinds him, but also heightens his remaining senses giving him superhuman abilities.

The Netflix series Daredevil draws heavily from Frank Miller’s take on the character.

I HIGHLY recommend the acclaimed graphic novel Daredevil: Born Again by writer Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli (pictured above).

Secret Agent X-9

I’m sneaking a comic strip character into the mix here…

Secret Agent X-9 was created by writer Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon) and drawn by artist Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon) and first ran in newspapers on January 22, 1934. In the 1960s it was written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by Al Williamson and relaunched as Secret Agent Corrigan.

Though never referred to as Irish, when I wrote and drew a cross-over story between Secret Agent X-9 and Flash Gordon in the year 2000, my version of X-9 was always an Irish-American.

And when X-9 and Flash first come face-to-face, I had no other than legendary EC artist George Evans draw the page…

And last but not least…

Captain America

 Captain America was created by the legendary team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 1941. The iconic cover of Captain America punching Hitler in the face came out a full 8 months before the United States even entered the war.


From a 2016 Buzz.ie article by Ruairi Scott Byrne:

While Captain America may be a representation of the ultimate American, it turns out that the Marvel superhero is actually just a good ole Irish lad at heart.

Chris Evans, who portrays Cap in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has revealed the character’s deep Irish roots and how his own Irish family made him a better man.

“There are a lot of similarities between us. I was raised a good Catholic Irish boy at heart, so was ‘Cap’,” the actor told the Irish Sun. “Our sensibilities and ideologies come from that. That sense of morality, very much stems from that.”

“The difference is Cap was first generation Irish. His folks actually came from Ireland, they came over at the turn of the last century. Yeah, I read all this in the notes, Marvel sends it to you, they want you knowing your research.

“So everything he knew from a young age was Irish. And that’s a big part of who he is, that moral code he lives by, you know, you could totally call him Captain Ireland,” he said.

Evans hails from Boston and revealed that ‘being a good catholic boy’ helped to teach him his manners.

“My heritage is a little more diluted, there’s Italian but we were definitely an Irish Catholic house. I’m a good Catholic Irish boy. And I like to think I’ve held onto that.

“I think my attitude is very reflective of that. I like to be direct and to the point but also polite and respectful at the same time,” he added.

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Sally Forth – Gamera

Sally Forth drop panel for August 4, 2019. Original art and then colored version. The insects are very much Bissette/Totleben inspired from their Swamp Thing run.

And a quick thumbs up on Facebook from Stephen Bissette himself!

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Sally Forth 7/28/2019 – S’mores

And here’s the inspiration for the aside in the first panel.

My daughter Anna with a fudge brownie s’more at Itasca State Park in Minnesota.
Circa 2010.
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Thomas Nast (1840-1902)

Thomas Nast – circa 1870s

Thomas Nast was an illustrator and cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly. In his 30 year career with the magazine (1857-1887) Nast drew approximately 2,250 cartoons.

From 1863 through 1886 he contributed 33 Christmas drawings to Harper’s Weekly. In those drawings he created and popularized the modern image of Santa Claus.

Merry Old Santa Claus by Thomas Nast
Harper’s Weekly January 1, 1881

Nast is also widely credited for exposing the corruption of William M. Tweed who ran New York City’s Democratic political machine at Tammany Hall. When Nast died in 1902 the New York Times eulogized him as the Father of the American Political Cartoon.

Harper’s Weekly, January 6, 1872

Harper’s Weekly, August 19, 1981

Harper’s Weekly, December 25, 1981

The following video from Ric Burns’ epic documentary of New York spotlights how Thomas Nast’s pen took down Boss Tweed.


Thomas Nast drawings were printed using wood engravings. Here’s a short video of artisan Chris Wormell showing how it’s done.


Thomas Nast at his Desk circa 1880 – From the Museum of the City of New York. 

Portrait of Thomas Nast, 1902.
Pirie MacDonald Photograph Collection New York Historical Society.

For more on Thomas Nast I recommend the following links.

ThomasNastCartoons.com

A Salute to the Man Who Created Santa

Thomas Nast Takes Down Tammany

Thomas Nast: Father of the American Political Cartoon

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum

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