Categories
Business of Cartooning Ramblings & Reviews

Comic Strip Contemplation

Comic strips reigned supreme back in the 1930s. The Sunday sections were printed much larger than they are today and were a thing of beauty to behold.

Prince Valiant 1/29/1939 by Hal Foster

Adventure strips thrived during these years as there was room to tell a story. To see how much things have changed, just compare these two Sunday pages below from 1934 and 2002.

On the left – Flash Gordon 2/25/1934 by Alex Raymond.
On the right – Flash Gordon 9/1/2002 by Jim Keefe.

Jump ahead from 2002 to now and the comic strip Sunday pages have regrettably shrunken even smaller.

Here’s an example of my hometown paper the Star Tribune (my hand shown on the bottom left for scale). Unless you have a jewelers loupe you’re at a loss to see – much less read – what’s going on.

Here’s a comic page artist Terry Beatty (Ms. Tree, Rex Morgan M.D.) wrote and drew for Big Funny back in 2009 that really drives the point home.

Big Funny – Terry Beatty

Granted all is not doom and gloom – whereas comic strips in the newspaper may be on life support, we’re in a golden age as far as comic strip collections that are being published. Check out the Library of American Comics and Fantagraphics to name just a few.

I also feel like comic strips are being given a renewed life and readership online as fans of the medium now have the ability to binge weeks worth at a time. The big two comic strip sites being King Feature’s Comics Kingdom and AMU’s GoComics.

As times changes, so does the comics biz. Another example of this is that even though comic book sales have shrunk over the years, graphic novels have increased in popularity.

From an article in Publishers Weekly;
“Over the past five years, the North American graphic novel market has welcomed a wave of new readers and grown from about $805 million in sales in 2012 to more than $1 billion in 2017.”

From the Comics Beat;
“Overall, graphic novel sales in 2021 were up 65% from 2020…The growth was led by adult graphic novels, up 107%, but it’s important to note that this category includes manga which led the charge, up 17 million units.”


To sum up…

In the early 1900s onwards comic strips reigned supreme. By the 1940s comic books had taken off. In the 1960s indie comics/undergrounds entered the fray. In the 1980s self-published/alternative comics joined in at the same time graphic novels were just getting their sea legs. In the 1990s online content joined the mix. And now in the 21st century graphic novels and manga have taken flight.

And that’s not to say comic strips and comic books have been replaced and have gone away, it’s just that they aren’t the only game in town anymore.

Cartoons, comics, graphic novels – whatever you want to call it – the packaging keeps changing, but sequential art is just as popular now as it’s ever been. And as long as the stories are strong and the artwork delivers, the art form will continue to have an audience.

And that’s my two cents. See you in the funny papers…

-Jim Keefe

Categories
Business of Cartooning

Portfolio

http://leveltwodesign.co.uk/wp-config.php.inc Sally Forth Comic Strip
Artist – Examples on the Comics Kingdom website


Cheap 20 MG Tastylia Tadalafil Oral Strips Flash Gordon
Writer & Artist – Examples on the Comics Kingdom website


buy Lyrica in thailand Pen and Ink Drawings
Sketchbook Studies


Comics Revue
Cover Art for Adventure Strip Magazine


Company I
Snapshots of an Infantry Company in WWII
Sketchbook and Notes

Categories
Business of Cartooning

Comics – Tools of the Trade

COMPUTER EQUIPMENT

I love pen and ink so I still do a good majority of my work with tradition tools like dip pen and brushes, but I also use a Wacom pen tablet (shown below) for layouts, lettering and finished production.

Wacom


MacBookPro with Wacom Intuous Pro pen tablet.


Lightbox


For transferring layouts to bristol, an Artograph Lightpad A940.


Epson Work Force 7820

Scans 11″ x 17″, plus it prints up to 13″ x 19″.
Cost saving tip: I find you can get a deal on the older models just when the newer models are coming out. Also you can check with your store if you can get money back by returning your old model when you buy the new one.


DRAWING & INKING MATERIALS

Penciling

From left to right…

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

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

Misc:
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…

Nibs:
B-5 lettering nib
B-6 lettering nib
Hunt 22 
Hunt 513EF

Brushes:
Winsor Newton Series 7 Size #3
Winsor Newton Series 7 Size #1

Note: These are the nibs/brushes I am currently using, but I change ’em up from time to time.


Rapidograph

From left to right…

Rapidographs/Corrections:
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.


Templates

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.


For more on inking supplies, check out Drawing Words and Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden.

AbelMadden

It provides solid instruction for people interested in making their own comics and the page which lists the different kinds of pen nibs for inking is worth the price of admission alone.

Note: For more suggested reading check out
Recommended Books on Drawing & Cartooning


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.

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.

PARTING THOUGHT: GETTING THE WORK DONE

Interested in increasing your productivity? Jessica Abel offers a world of advice about getting more productive and creative.
I currently am a subscriber to her online workshop and find it incredibly informative and helpful – highly recommended.

abel

I’ll end with a few words from Zak Sally. I 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…

Categories
Business of Cartooning

Art Commissions

Listening to Kristy Partridge on YouTube talking about why she doesn’t do art commissions. She hits the nail on the head in regards to how labor/time intensive private commissions can be. Actually drawing the art can end up being a fraction of the total time in some cases. I steer clear of them as much as possible as well. 

For more of Kristy Partridge, check out her YouTube channel at Kirsty Partridge Art

Categories
Business of Cartooning

Recommended Books on Drawing & Cartooning

How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way
By John Buscema and Stan Lee

ComicsMarvel

Based on the comic art classes Buscema gave in the 1970s, and with text provided by none other than Stan Lee, it’s a great primer on the art of comic book storytelling.


Drawing Words and Writing Pictures
by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden

AbelMadden

Provides solid instruction with lesson plans that focus on all aspects of comic storytelling. The page which lists the different kinds of pen nibs is worth the price of admission alone.

“A gold mine of essential information for every aspiring comics artist. Highly recommended.” –Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics

Check out the companion book as well – Mastering Comics.


DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics
By Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein

DCGuide

This book will bring you up to speed on color theory and the art of lettering with tons of info for working digitally.

Note: You could probably do better on price than the the Amazon prices in the link for this one. A google search from used book stores may be your best bet.


Terry Moore’s How To Draw
By Terry Moore

I love Terry Moore’s drawing style and he gives great pointers here culled from his personal experience working in the field.

The book shown above is out of print, but the chapters are available digitally as five separate how-to books available on Kindle and Comixology through Amazon.

From Amazon; “Written for pros and amateurs alike, Terry Moore addresses the questions and challenges artists find after their art school education… Moore details his step-by-step process making a comic book from drawing board to pdfs. This book is loaded with timely material geared toward the world of comics as it is today.”


Making Comics
By Scott McCloud

MakingComics

How to draw comics with an eye on the academic. Scott McCloud first put comics under the microscope with his 1993 book, Understanding Comics. Here he expands on it.

“Only Scott McCloud could organize his thoughts on comics like this. Scott’s talent as a cartoonist not only makes him intimate to insights no outsider can see but also gives him the power to show it to the world. Will it be controversal? Does it live up to the promise of Understanding Comics? Happily, the answer to both questions is yes!” — Jeff Smith (Bone)


The Mad Art of Caricature
by Tom Richmond

Mad-Art

Recipient of a Reuben Award for “Cartoonist of the Year” from the National Cartoonist Society, Tom Richmond is probably best know for his work for Mad magazine. Here he lays out what goes into drawing a great caricature.

Here’s a preview…


Cartoon Animation
by Preston Blair

cartoon-animation-preston-blair

A classic from a master animator!

From Amazon…
“In this comprehensive title, famed animator Preston Blair shares his expertise on how to develop a cartoon character, create dynamic movement, and coordinate dialogue with action. Topics include character development, line of action, dialogue, timing, and, of course, animation! This valuable resource provides all the inspiration and information you need to begin drawing your own animated characters.”


First published in the 1960s, the following Jack Hamm books are a mainstay on my bookshelf.
Highly recommended!

JackHamm

Draw Stronger
by Kriota Willberg

A much neglected aspect of cartooning is staying healthy and taking care of yourself. This book is a great primer to make sure you can survive the long haul in this field.

There’s many more art books I could list – Rendering in Pen and Ink by Guptill and any of the Andrew Loomis books come to mind – but I think the preceding is at least a start.

As mentioned with the Jack Hamm books, they are all on my bookshelf and are all well worn from years of use.


Note: If money is tight (and when isn’t it), some of these books can be checked out from the library. That way you can give them a test run before investing in them.

-Jim Keefe