Dave & Steve Kick Off 2011!

Orphans, Teachers, & Skating With Ink

First of all—HAPPY NEW YEAR, one and all! Here’s hoping 2011 is sweeter by far than 2010 was.

I’d intended to open this year with a list of everything I’d done here on Myrant alone, but—well, fuck that. It’s all here, accessible to everyone everywhere for free, 24 hours a day.

There’s a lot that went up in 2010, including my experiment with online serialized original comix (“King of Monster Isle”), multiple and in-depth serialized essays on comics history, movies, literary mash-ups, racism and hate movies, and much, much more.

A major part of the spring and early summer went toward struggling to comprehend what had happened to my late friend Steve Perry, and providing the only venue for Steve‘s own account of his final year of life, which frankly derailed my passion for blogging for a time. But I’ve been back at it, daily, since September, and intend to continue daily in 2011.

I can’t say I’ll miss much of 2010. It was a tough year, and tougher by far for many friends and loved ones, both those who survived 2010 and those, sadly, who did not. Here’s looking forward to 2011!

I must say the Center for Cartoon Studies was (along with life with Marge, and my now-adult children) the best thing about 2010, and I look forward to the new year at CCS. I’ve got my most demanding teaching schedule ever in the semester ahead, and high hopes for our senior class (with whom I’ll be working at last, co-teaching Senior Thesis with the great Alec Longstreth) and what lies ahead for everyone at CCS.

* I ended 2010, literally in its final hours, by terminating two ongoing experiments:

The first to end was the three-year+ local retail venue at the Quechee Gorge Village Antique Mall, where I’d sold over the three years literally thousands of items: CCS student and alumni comix and minicomics, my own (signed) comics, graphic novels, and books, vintage collectible comics and comix, DVDs, videos, original art, books, and all manner of weird shit.

I started it years ago in the hopes CCS or the students would take it over, but that never happened; in the meantime, local venues in White River Junction VT (home of CCS) have sprung up, offering the students in-town retail opportunities to sell their work to the public just by racking it, which prompted my decision to close up shop at the end of 2010.

By 4 PM, the booth was empty once and for all of anything to do with moi or CCS, and I’d broom-swept the space to ensure it was clean and ready for the next dealer to come along. It was a good three years, but never profitable.

* The other terminated experiment was comprised of two elements: something I’d announced here in the spring, and something I’d never announced publicly anywhere before this morning.

2010 marked the end of a two-year attempt to (with Rick Veitch) bring the 1993 Image Comics series 1963 back into print in a single edition (a year-long 2009 effort finally and definitively deep-sixed by Alan Moore early in the year). Truth to tell, Rick and I had been carrying that dream (and albatross) for the entire decade, entertaining numerous overtures from various publishers over the years. This one came closest to reality—we were so close!—and we thought we just about had it ready to go—but it wasn’t to be. Given Alan‘s clear wishes, Rick and I joyously let go of it all, and put it behind us.

It will never be, not in our lifetimes, at any rate.

The secret, related 2010 project was my ongoing attempt to revive my quartet of characters (N-Man, The Fury, The Hypernaut, and Sky Solo) with original 1963 publisher Image Comics for 2011.

After seven long months, still without a contract in hand, I pulled the plug at 12:02 AM this morning; there will be no Image Comics revival of my characters in 2011.

No worries; how can you miss what you didn’t even know was stewing?

It was a nice dream, but clearly there was no real enthusiasm or momentum from Image. Given the current market, where traditional print comics continue to dwindle in sales, I cannot blame them. However, the energies and interests of those who were eager and willing to work with me on what continues to be a non-starter should not and cannot be sustained, and I cannot in good conscious continue. It’s over.

* However, the announced Tales of the Uncanny – N-Man & Friends: A Naut Comics History Vol. 1 book from About Comics will see print later this year.

We withheld solicitation all this time in hopes of the Image Comics project working out, which might have lended some much-needed marketability to the venture; but sans that, we’ll simply wrap up work pending on the oversized About Comics volume, and get it out later this year.

Given the sorry state of the market, snap it up once it’s in print; I’ll make announcements here, once it’s ready to solicit and again when it’s actually in print.

So much for 2010.

On to 2011—with Dave Sim!
___________________________________________________________________

  • First of all, Part 2 of Dave Sim‘s and Cerebus TV‘s streaming video discussion of yours truly and whatever crazy shit went down in the past involving Dave and I went up online last night at Cerebus TV; here’s the link, check it out now, and no, as far as I can tell, there’s nothing archived, so if you missed Part 1, uh, I don’t know what to tell you.
  • But what I can tell you is that here on Myrant, I am archiving Dave‘s and my latest ongoing conversation, which proceeds below, without further ado.

    * Once again, continuing and picking up directly from yesterday

  • (right from here, with a little more to say to conclude my blather about “orphan works” and all that):
  • One last word, for now, about Creator’s Rights, Creator’s Responsibilities, and the Right to say “No”:

    * Following on discussion (see yesterday’s post’s comments thread, too) of the right of creators to walk away from, or divest themselves completely of, their work:

    I’m far enough along (as are my now-adult children) to see yet another permutation of how a creator or one creative partner removing themselves from not only the process, but from even being named, in conjunction with the afterlife of a finished body of collaborative work.

    It’s one thing when a partner insists on their name not being included in any form of the work. That is necessarily legally complicating, and can (especially in the case of work done with Alan Moore) mean work publishers would be overjoyed to run with loses all market value without the boxoffice magic of that unnamed creative partner.

    It is, effectively, a way of burying the work; as I’ve now seen first hand with 1963, it can also prevent anyone who had anything to do with the project from ever earning a nickel on their respective portion of the work ever again. C’est la vie.

    But it also has other consequences. That is, since Alan Moore has insisted his name not be mentioned in conjunction with any adaptations of completed past comics work (as is his right, and as protected by the European copyright law definition of moral rights), the simplest solution for corporate media giants dealing with such a demand is to simply remove the names of all the active creative partners.

    I was happy to see David Lloyd and Dave Gibbons cited by name in all V for Vendetta and Watchmen movie materials and merchandizing—their standing contracts obviously offered them some measure of protection, however discomforting is was or may be to be the solely named creator, which in no way reflects the collaborative nature of the source work—but the solution with Constantine was to simply go with the old 1940s serial byline: “Based on the [insert publisher's name here] Comic Book Series [substitute Graphic Novel today].”

    It was one thing when it happened with The Return of the Swamp Thing movie in 1989; we weren’t credited at all there (a bit of a relief, frankly, given the movie), but note too that my daughter Maia Rose was 6 years old then, and my son Daniel was 4.

    It was quite another when Constantine popped up in theaters in 2005, then on video and DVD and cable. My kids were confronted with, “If this is really based on your Dad’s work in comics, why isn’t his name on it?”

    This may seem petty, but it’s important to them; and in the coin of the realm of Hollywood, the credit is all that carries credibility. If my name isn’t on it, it doesn’t matter whether or not we got a share of the dough (on Constantine, we did; such was not the case on anything else movie-related I ever had a hand in, or that was based on something I had a hand in). The one time a movie producer ever asked about my past credits (fishing for my involvement on his own venture), and I mentioned I’d created the snapping-turtle TMNT villain that became Tokka in TMNT II: Secret of the Ooze, cited Constantine as being derived from my past work, and that I was the original publisher of From Hell, he came back about 10 minutes later (after an online search, no doubt), “who are you kidding?”

    My daughter has asked me for one of the original Tokka toys for her collection. I suspect it’s in part because that first run of Playmates toys were the only public evidence of my participation: only the first Tokka toys had the byline in fine print on the packaging, crediting me by name for having some role in the creation of the character. No such bylines exist on Constantine in any form.

    Personally, I don’t care, as a retired American comic book creator; DC still honors their contracts with me, and we did receive a handsome pay day on the option money for Constantine once the movie was a reality, and the surrounding print and merchandizing revenues from DC/Vertigo product.

    But as a parent, I most certainly do care. I’m seeing it play out with my own now-adult children.

    It’s going to be interesting to see where all this leads, down the road. I hate to evoke the spectre of Percy Crosby and Skippy, and how his family dealt with Crosby once his will as a creator got in the way of the family’s will for controlling Percy‘s creations, but we’re all witnessing from some distance what is arguably only a second act of a much longer play.

    It is a play that also necessarily involves family, and grown children, and legal and creative partners, and their grown children and heirs, and legacies, and works that may be abandoned today, but suddenly perceived as having potential value down the road, and Creator Responsibilities coming home to roost, whether those responsibilities were engaged with fully, shirked, ignored, buried, or torched.

    My dear friend Neil Gaiman asked me point blank in 2010, “If you and Rick had Alan‘s permission in 2009, why didn’t you just proceed with the 1963 reprint?”

    Moral and ethical qualms aside concerning handling a collaborative work without the primary name of a partner or his signature on legal documents, the potential can of worms down the road for legal nightmares emerging from the Moore legacy was enough for me to simply wash my hands of the whole affair.

    Given the legal hassles and perils I’ve already dealt with in my very minor orbit of Alan‘s work (how many times did I have to sign documents saying “I have no legal claim to [insert Taboo serialized graphic novel here] over the years?), and the increasingly untenable positions I see other, more prominent creative partners placed in regarding collaborative works with Alan, it was patently insane to entertain doing anything without Alan‘s signature. I’ve experienced first-hand what “whatever you think is best” culminates in. Once a signature on some legal release form or agreement was not forthcoming, there was nothing further to entertain. No, thank you.

    I’ve got only one set of 1963-related contracts signed by all three core creative partners, dating from 1998, legally dividing the property once known as 1963. Those are all I can legally, morally, and ethically act upon. The rest, per Alan‘s wishes, is to be discarded, abandoned, orphaned, earning nothing more for anyone involved.

    That’s all I’ll say about that for now, without really tearing into the issue.

    * Dave‘s next letter takes us in a fresh direction, appropriate to New Year’s Day:

    It’s startling and moving to read your “talking” in this way about teaching, Dave, and a great relief.

    Back in the 1980s and ’90s, you considered teaching comics a lost cause; you often told me so. At the time, I was only tutoring (my student Evan Carr was my greatest experience in that capacity) and occasionally doing talks in local Vermont schools, but you clearly considered it just another Bissette diversion from the Ideal Work.

    For me, it became the Ideal Work. I went from the occasional school chalk-talk or guest appearance to tutoring, and from there was invited to teach a storytelling workshop with an extraordinary group of southern VT/northern Massachusetts home-schooled students, a collective their parents maintained. That was the single most amazing teaching experience of my life prior to the Center for Cartoon Studies. The mind-blowing finale to that was when the students, on their own initiative and inspired by my humble role in the whole 24 Hour Comics legacy, completed a 24 hour 24-minute movie (!!!), including scoring the music! This was the single most energizing high from teaching I’d experience up to that point in time.

    It’s now practically a weekly experience at CCS, and I very, very much know this is the best possible thing I could be doing with my life at this point in my life.

    My excitement at Glamourpuss when I saw the first issue (and thank you, too, for the special unsolicited mailing of the zombie cover issue; I never thanked you when you sent it, which was my bad) was the gobsmacking fact that you were (a) doing an essay on inking in comics form, and (b) you were teaching. Of course, you’d been actually doing that for a long time—I was among your most bone-headed students, remember?—but you didn’t see it as such. Clearly, The Cerebus Guide to Self-Publishing (in all its incarnations and editions) was and is that, too.

    And a mighty fine, insightful teacher you’ve been in Glamourpuss, too. It was a pleasure to catch up last year on the whole run to date, and see where you took it (I don’t have a local comics shop, and finally just direct-ordered a set from your publisher and partners on this venture).

    That said, Dave, your account here of not only playing and making videos with your friends and their children, but of your finding such an effective teaching method in working with Mike on his inking, has fucking made my day.

    “I offer it as a teaching possibility” concerning the brush techniques is an invitation I will immediately act upon.

    Alec Longstreth (long-standing self-publisher of Phase 07, among other excellent comics creations) and Jon Chad (creator of Leo Geo and His Miraculous Journey Through the Center of the Earth, among others) pitch in with me in my Drawing Workshop class when we get into pen and ink and brush techniques; I do demos, but I am such an instinctive pen-and-brush artist that I found and find my demos only went so far. Jon offers the most intensive analysis of drawing with the nib I’ve ever heard or seen anywhere, and he is terrific. Alec is a far more articulate observer of the perils of working with brush than I am at present (as ever, I “go with the flow,” quite literally, and that, my students remind me regularly, is hardly a useful zen instructional) and he brought in the analogy (profered by another artist, whose name eludes me at present) of the hand as a helicoptor, holding the brush up from the page: it’s effective, but again, only to a point.

    Your skating analogy is spot on, and with your permission extended (thank you!), I’m going to run with that this very semester I’m teaching. Thanks, Dave!

    You know how many times I tried, in the past, to send you checks to repay the debt I knew I owed. You never, ever cashed them; you refused outright in 1993, when I fucking begged you over the phone to accept and cash the damned thing. “Give it to Maia and Danny,” you told me.

    I most certainly work week in, week out to repay that debt via my ongoing work at CCS. It is my honor and my privilege, and I’m lucky to have the job, too.

    You made my New Year’s Day with this paragraph alone, Dave. Thank you, and—whew!—what a weight off my back.

    Happy New Year, to you and yours; Happy New Year, one and all.

    ______________________________

    Sources and Links: Further Reading


    III: Dave Sim, Scott McCloud, Steve Bissette, Rick Veitch, Denis Kitchen, Erik Larsen, Mark Martin, Fernando Ruiz, and Al Nickerson Past Dialogues on Creator’s Rights


  • Ya Can’t Erase Ink: The Creator’s Bill of Rights website offers lengthy links to letters, interviews, and exchanges from 2005–2010 that predate and informs this current dialogue between Dave Sim and myself. Give it a read!
  • I also want to bring your attention to the home websites/blogs of my CCS co-instructors Alec Longstreth and Jon Chad, who I referenced in today’s dialogue with Dave:

  • Alec Longstreth is perhaps the most passionate comics creator, comics evangelist, and comics teacher I’ve ever known, and I’ve known some pretty passionate ones! Visit his website/blog and explore his work here.

  • Jon Chad is equally passionate and committed, and may be that rarest of breeds, among the most organized and disciplined of cartoonists I’ve ever known. He’s currently serialized his magnum opus graphic novel Bikeman here, too (almost 50 pages up already; sample page, below); check it out!
  • Tomorrow: Part 6 of Dave’s and Steve’s Ongoing Jabbering



    Discussion (19) ¬

    1. BobH

      I believe the normal operating practice for CerebusTV (which was disrupted by the Dickens reading he ran over Christmas) is that after a few days of running just the newest episode he’ll rerun all the recent episodes in a loop until the next episode goes up, so people can catch part one again soon.

      Don’t know if you’ve ever seen it before, but this Constantine profile from a 1992 issue of DC’s WHO’S WHO series is the only time I’ve seen a creator credit-line for the character in print. They did spell “Ridgway” wrong. Rick Veitch is also missing, but based on what you’ve posted before I think he was added to the creator royalty pool for the character a few years later.

      Good to hear that the TALES OF THE UNCANNY book is back on track, shame it got sidetracked for even a little while on what turned out to be a dead-end. If they weren’t interested they could just say no straightaway and save the delay. It’s up there on my list of books I’m most looking forward to in 2011.

    2. srbissette

      Thanks, Bob!

      Rick was added later. When the creator royalty first kicked in, Rick was on the “outs” with DC due to SWAMP THING #88, though John Totleben and I crabbed to DC about that. Once DC and Rick mended fences for a time after Jim Lee sold Wildstorm to DC (see how convoluted this gets?), the combo of that reconciliation and Alan Moore refusing any share of a CONSTANTINE movie payday (despite the fact he’d “deeded” his share of Constantine to Jamie Delano when the HELLBLAZER series started) and his insistance his share be divided amongst the standing co-creators meant Rick was finally cut into the royalty pool.

      And yes, Rick said “thank you” to Alan.

      Funny old world, in’t it?

      Re: UNCANNY: It made sense to hold off the book in hopes of soliciting it in the wake of an announcement of the Image deal; Nat and co-editor Tim Stout agreed wholeheartedly with me when I tendered that decision. Now, it’s just lost time; we’ll get back into it, incorporate some of the new work that was done for the hoped-for later projects, and wrap it up for later in 2011.

    3. Trevor Krysak

      That really is a shame about 1963. Obviously anyone can pick up a full run of the comics but it would be really nice have a collected edition to put on my bookshelf. Too bad you had to spend all that time and have it come to nothing. Alan Moore seems to have taken an isolating approach to a lot of people and situations over the years. I guess it makes him happy. It can be a bit puzzling to someone who reads about it here and there in the various comic news sites.

      All the best to you in 2011, Steve. I’ve really been enjoying this discussion between you and Dave Sim. Fun to be able to see you both explore the comics world and your history together. Thanks.

    4. Baldemar

      Saw the reference to “helicopter-hand inking” and remembered that I first saw the example used on Matt Bernier’s “Comic Tools” blog (quiescent for a spell, but recently more active).

      It’s the entry for January 17, 2009
      “Helicopter hand draws for you”

      and is at

      http://comictool.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2009-02-03T14%3A45%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=10

      You may have to scroll down a bit to that entry.

      On another topic, I’m finding this discussion of rights, especially with respect to multiple creators, fascinating. I was especially taken with the notion of including a “windfall rider,” in case a property suddenly becomes much more valuable, as a way of dealing with a potential future issue.

    5. Peter Urkowitz

      Yeah, that “windfall rider” idea jumped out at me too as one I had never heard before. Not sure what the mechanics of such a thing would be, but it sounds like a good idea!

    6. M Kitchen

      Happy New Year!

      This post is interesting for me on all different levels.

      The brush lesson Dave gave to me was incredible, but one of those things that is going to take a LOT of practice to properly implement so that the effect is seen on my comic pages.

      The other lesson (which WASN’T mentioned in the above fax) was on dialog bubbles. That was one of those “AH!” moments that just clicked. I showed Dave’s suggestions to my wife Erika (who is comic book illiterate) by showing her my original pages (that were confusing for her), and then showed them again, only this time with Dave’s tracing paper suggestions overlayed and suddenly she was able to read the page like a comic pro! “Oh, now I know how I’m supposed to read this. That is SO much easier”.

      What’s interesting about the movie Constantine is that I DO have a credit on that film (as Michael Kitchen – see IMDB http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0360486/fullcredits ). That said; in my “Clark Kent Day Job” of animation, I have never once received any sort of residuals, or profit sharing, or royalties, or anything of the sort. Once the animation work is done and that bi-weekly pay check comes in, that’s it. Nothing to show for it, EVER again. This is a BIG reason why I’m so keen on creating my own work, with my comic book SPY GUY. It is something that I create. I control. I own. Those pages are mine for as long as I’m here.

      Another interesting thing is I had this exact discussion with the guy who played Tokka in TMNT 2 while on the set of Superhero Movie (IMDB says his name was Kurt Bryant, though I don’t see him with a stunt credit on Superhero Movie… which is what he was there for. I have a call sheet somewhere, I’ll have to do a name check). We got talking about how in animation you see nothing on the back end (in any job I’ve had) and he mentioned that he still receives royalty money from TMNT 2 for his work in it. That fascinated me. Such a different world than the one I’m used to.

      Regarding teaching: In 2010 I did some “industry guest” mentoring at Sheridan College for animation. Sitting with students and going over their films and offering suggestions. An enlightening experience. It’s one of those things where both points of views stated above are correct. There are things that you absolutely can’t teach (you can talk about it, but having it sink in is another story). And there are things that you can teach (where the light bulb goes off and that person is changed forever). And for the aforementioned things that you “can talk about”, those are the ones where the light bulb tends to go off five or six years down the road and then the “AH! THAT’s what he was talking about” moment occurs.

      Finally, I find it interesting to see the both of you (Steve and Dave) erring on the side of generosity when it comes to compensation. My hunch is that if more people took this stance the world would be a better place. It certainly seems “the right thing to do”.

      Curious regarding SPY GUY: And The Case Of The Annunaki Artifact for INDY COMIC MAGAZINE #2, in which my children each created characters (to team-up with SPY GUY), to see how this could be a personal test case scenario, to dip my feet into this pool of Creators Rights, and how, in some point in the future if I’m ever to make money off these comics, they can be properly compensated for their creations. It’s also good for me and Blair to think this stuff through, as there are plans for a SPY GUY / POSSUM crossover in the near (?) future.

    7. Roger Green

      Additonally to the specifics of this discussion, my iron in this particular is as a librarian. Trying to find the balance between the limited exploitation of one’s creation (“exploitation” not meant pejoratively here) and the Disneyfication of the copyright law is proving impossible. Used to be that one could say, “Hey, Alexander’s Ragtime Band (or whatever) is in the public domain; have at it.” Now, Steamboat Willie is STILL under copyright.

      An actual question I’ve had to deal with: a street artist does a caricature for someone. Can the person use that art for their business logo? well, no, the artist could give permission. But how does one even find the artist? This gets into orphan works law, which I barely understand.

      I know this is a bit off the point of the discussion, but the whole topic I find fascinating.

    8. John Platt

      Almost Image? Alas. But I’ll pre-order the About book as soon as it’s listed.

    9. srbissette

      I applaud the “windfall rider” concept, and will be incorporating it into future contracts from my end.

      @Al: Thanks for posting the link and info on “helicopter hand” inking techniques. Mr. Longstreth gives all due credit to Matt Bernier in his lecture; I just couldn’t recall the name, nor did I have time to either contact Alec or dig out CCS handouts in search of the name. Thanks for redressing that lapse on my part.

      @Mike Kitchen: That’s what unions are for: making sure actors (in the case of the Tokka performer) are compensated for continual earnings from their work. That’s what animators need, though in post-Reagan “goddamned unions!” America (and I cite America rather than Canada because I’m here) the very concept of organized labor has become so demonized that it’s highly unlikely we’ll see change in that department until hell freezes over or the GOP finished its rape of the nation, whichever is finalized first.

      @Roger: Librarians are key to access to information, and to fair use laws being applied, despite the crippling force of corporate America trying to extinguish the very concept (except in its application to them).

      As for that business logo and the unknown street artist: the answer is NO, the business logo CANNOT use the art until/unless they track down the artist and PAY THEM FOR THE USE of the art as a logo. Those fees are outlined in the Graphic Artist Guild’s HANDBOOK for PRICING & ETHICAL GUIDELINES, now in its 13th Edition, which should be in your library, Roger. If it isn’t, try to get it and keep it in reach and on the shelves.

      If the person involved can’t locate the artist, they’ll have to contract/pay another one.

      “Orphan Works” is not yet law; its very concept, while applicable to the situation you describe, is abhorrent in many ways: it is, in one way, trying to address the problems the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act created by essentially eliminating public domain in our lifetimes, but it’s also trying to sanction business and corporate theft of art/media for their own use, and leaving it on the artist/creator to chase what would then be, essentially, legally sanctioned theft of copyright.

    10. srbissette

      @Mike: PS—copyright your children’s characters in THEIR names, and make this a learning process for ALL of you. It’s one of those amazing “teachable moments” you hear about, but too few of us ever act on.

    11. M Kitchen

      Good call Steve. Will do.

    12. Jesse Herndon

      BobH – They actually no longer do CerebusTV like that anymore. It’s just the newest ep for a week solid. Presumably, though, they’ll do a week of all the reruns again eventually, as they’ve done in the past, but with so many episodes in the can (the 44th just aired and Dave was just shooting #53) I guess it’ll be a while until it.

      So, Steve – What’d you think of Dave’s impression of you?

    13. BobH

      Thanks for the correction, Jesse. Didn’t notice the change in how CerebusTV was run. Can’t say I understand it, but I guess the important thing is that Dave Sim does.

    14. Max Southall

      As of 4 PM Pacific, http://Cerebus.TV will be running both Part One AND Part Two, back to back, to better enable the context for this “Spirits of Independence Reunion” discussion.

      Originally, the link at the show’s site had the link to the Comicon discussion at

      http://www.comicon.com/ubb/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=580851#Post580851

      But we’ll add a link to here, as well.

      Any and all donations to the CerebusTV project are welcome, either via the Donate via PayPal button at the site, or by contacting Dave Sim directly to donate via VISA or Mastercard (or even a check) at the contact link.

    15. Jesse Herndon

      BobH – What do ya know? They changed gears and as of now, “The Irrepressible Steven R. Bissette” part 1 is now rotating back to back with “Vark Thing: Bissette Part 2″. By popular demand, it would seem!

    16. srbissette

      Indeed; see Max’s comment, above, Jesse!

    17. Roger Green

      Just FYI – I told person I referenced earlier that he needed to find the artist or use something else. Now whether he actually FOLLOWED my advice, I have no idea.

    18. Matt Aucoin

      Another great post. Dave’s reference to inking with a brush as skating really hit home. Before attending CCS I had always just drawn my comics with a UniBall pen or something like that. I’d tried using dip pens before but they were too hard to master and ended up going with the dead line of a Uniball or Pilot. It’s something I regret now, having lost years of inking practice, but what can you do?

      Once seeing your inking demo with a Windsor Newton, Series 7 water colour brush, Steve, I was amazed. To use the skating reference, you were skating all over the goddamn page. I couldn’t keep up, I didn’t know what you were doing. I tried inking that way, at a fast pace, but it ended up looking like crap. A large part of the problem was my under drawing, I just didn’t know what I wanted the brush to describe.

      After Charles Burns’ inking demo at the school last year, I vowed to learn the brush again. I wouldn’t use it for any of my final pages (well, maybe I snuck it into a few). I got the old Pentel Brush Pen for $12 and refill it with my own ink (even though your supposed to pay like 5 bucks for a new ink replacement…) I do a lot of sketching with the brush and a lot of small illustrations to get myself skating. It’s getting better with time. Using a cheap brush pen like that, which always keeps its point, helps shake off that intimidating feeling I often would get before putting any kind of ink to paper. Uncertainty makes the strokes look like “walking on ice”. Confidence helps the strokes skate.

      My next chapter of Percy & Grimm (I’ve only 5 pages to finish the first chapter) I’m going to switch from multiple sized techincal pens I’ve been using and go back to the brush and G-Nib dip pen. I’ve been practicing for a while, it’s time to jump in.

    19. Randall Drew

      The thing I got most out of your inking demo vs Alec’s Steve, was your approach of “throw out everything Alec just showed you, screw that helicopter stuff” I have NEVER felt comfortable using that grip. Watching you accomplish similar line weight control with a traditional pen/pencil grip encouraged me to keep trying it, and slowly but surely I’ve become much more able to keep a consistent line or change my weight as I skate around the page. There’s still so much growing to do, but knowing that a lot of inking is just “going with the flow” will keep me with the brush forever. I also love the “never throw out a brush” lesson, so many marks can be made with “beater” brushes!

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