I’m sitting down right now, on my couch, on a Saturday afternoon. My spouse lured me here from my office room. She started play the film “Dear Mr. Watterson” and I couldn’t help but be drawn in (no pun intended) to the next room. She is pregnant and our baby boy is due in January. We are going to name him Calvin, after our childhood favorite comic character. So now you know why, on a Saturday afternoon in October, we are both watching this documentary intently.
I hadn’t seen the documentary until now, for whatever reason. I think its because I know a lot about what is being covered in the doc. I remember, when the film came out, that I wasn’t sure I agreed with the premise. Watterson didn’t want attention for himself as a person and wanted his comic to speak to the public for him. I knew all of that and I remember just thinking that the documentary premise was kind of crossing a line.
Watching it – its actually really good. I like the way that the filmmakers are educating the audience on the history and process of how comics work.
But that isn’t what this post is about. About halfway through the film someone mentioned a speech that Bill Watterson gave in 1989 at a comics conference. I immediately googled it, found it, started reading and then immediately realized a copy of the speech needed to be on MakingComics.com.
And, so, here it is. If I’m not supposed to have it posted on this site – please let me know.
“The Cheapening of the Comics”
A Speech by Bill Watterson
Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin & Hobbes) delivered the following speech at the Festival of Cartoon Art, held at Ohio State University in October 1989. Here he reflects on the Golden Age of comics, attacks the miserable state of modern strips, and suggests ideas on how the situation could be improved.
I received a letter from a 10-year-old this morning. He wrote, “Dear Mr. Watterson, I have been reading Calvin and Hobbes for a long time, and I’d like to know a few things. First, do you like the drawing of Calvin and Hobbes I did at the bottom of the page? Are you married, and do you have any kids? Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” What interested me about this last question was that he didn’t ask if I’d been apprehended or arrested, but if I’d been convicted. Maybe a lot of cartoonists get off on technicalities, I don’t know. It also interests me that he naturally assumed I wasn’t trifling with misdemeanors, but had gone straight to aggravated assaults and car thefts.
Have you ever wanted to ask your favorite comic creator a question? Maybe listened to a podcast and thought, I could ask a better question than that? Well, here’s your chance.
We at MakingComics.com are working on designing a new Gutter Talk project (which may potentially be unveiled as a panel at San Diego Comic-Con International 2018 – yes, THAT Comic-Con) and both the questions and the guests will be determined by you. We’ve been so blown away by the overwhelming positive response by learners in our “How To Make A Comic Book” Coursera course that we’ve decided we want you to be the center of what we are doing next.
This was written as a response to one of my students in the “How To Make A Comic MOOC” within our new “MakingComics.com” Slack online community.
I know that the challenge is to write within 16 panels for the course assignment. I also know its good for me to write within that constraint. But, I have a much longer comic in mind. Why is it so hard to write within a 16 panel constraint? (paraphrased question).
Concision is key! I’m also a person who likes longer form better as well. However, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is how to hone in on that feeling of “done-ness”. Without crafting a feeling of completion you can run into the bigger roadblock in the creation process – not knowing how to finish. Small projects are really key.
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“…it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
Rocky Balboa’s inspirational speech to his son in the 2006 installment into the Rocky franchise is definitely the inspiration for this show. There’re a lot of projects I work on right. Art, design, and educational experiences I am currently slaving away over. I spend a lot of time, and incur a good deal of mental anguish, trying to figure out what the “right” thing to do is as a day job. When Rocky talks about taking hits, in my context that is all about my own personal demons regarding my design process. My own shadow/devil on my shoulder telling me I’m wasting my time.
Last month, I’ll be honest, I almost considered #ComicFuel a waste of my time. Three episodes in and I was ready to give up.
I almost didn’t finish episode 3. Even during the process of doing it, I didn’t want to finish it. I did finish, barely, and then I swore to myself that I wasn’t going to do another episode the same way again (if I did another episode). So I called Adam and asked him to record a quick episode where we powered through a ton of questions. It turned into a longer episode.
As I sat down with Adam Greenfield this week to record the fourth episode of #ComicFuel I was reminded why I do this. Sure, this episode is WAY too long ( cough-2hoursand14minutes-cough ), but who cares? I got to sit down with my friend and answer some student questions and talk about how to practice art. In my ideal retirement scenario I would spend every day doing this.
I was reminded that MakingComics.com is the purely “good” thing that I have in my life. For me this is the one sacred space in this whole universe where everything we do is just good. We aren’t always active, or on time with our products, and they aren’t always produced with the kind of quality I’d like – but at their core they are good. We’ve made decision after decision to not turn this into a project that will go anywhere (i.e we are staying here for good). It isn’t a startup business – it is a public service. That is what makes it “good”. It hasn’t been tainted by the threats of being economically unviable – because it isn’t.
I thought I was done after my 2 hour session with Adam. Then…
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There is not a place we can turn where current events are not effecting our every day lives. I feel incredibly honored to unveil the first episode of comic fuel to feature Ulises Fariñas and Lucy Bellwood as cohosts. Ulises and I jump right into the questions and geek out on what is important to think about when inking – both digital and traditional. We then go into great depth discussing “style” and how it is actually an incidental occurrence in your art as opposed to a measured goal. Lucy hops in during question three to talk about how to think about drawing background art in your panels.
Ulises and I cap the entire episode off with a very important discussion regarding how race and equity is reflected in the comic industry. In fact, in writing the show notes for that segment, I was delighted to find several amazing articles that dealt specifically with how the comic industry is connecting to these important topics.
This episode also includes some amazing borrow audio clips from Jason Brubaker, Ven. Robina Courtin, and art educator John Spencer. Such an amazing third episode. Easily the hardest I’ve worked on yet. Hopefully I can keep it up!
[Tweet “ComicFuel Episode 3 was awesome!”]
Let me know what you think of the show by tweeting @patrickyurick
Please consider supporting us so that more episodes of the show can be released by donating at $1+ to the show on patreon: https://www.patreon.com/makingcomics
Check out our Patreon explainer video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4TBhT_m2RQ
Jump times to go to different parts of the podcast:
- (00:00) Show Opener
- (00:43) Introduction to Show
- (10:10) #ComicFuel Break #1: Not A Delicious Chocolate Cake” by Ven. Robina Courtin
- (12:40) Question 1: Inking
- (24:40) #ComicFuel Break #2: “Growing A Tree” by Jason Brubaker
- (28:17) Question 2 & 3 Style
- (51:46) Patreon Ad
- (52:12) Questions 4: Backgrounds
- (54:58) #ComicFuel Break #3: “Can’t Live Without Art” by John Spencer
- (1:00:00) Show Closing – Race & Equity in the Comics Industry
- (01:23:00) How can you, yes you, contribute to the comic fuel cause?
- (01:26:00) Show Outro
Questions answered in this episode
(jump-to specific question times listed below)
- Josh: What are some good resources to improve your digital inking? I feel like I know the basics, so beginner books aren’t really teaching me anything new. I’m completely self taught, and would love to learn some subtly with my inks.
- Maya: How do comic artists deal with improvements in their style while making a comic book? Should a comic artist keep a consistent style? If so, how much should one practice style before starting to make comics?
- Michael, Poland: What are the elements of style of particular artists if I want to use their style in my own work? I usually think of such elements as: the coloring method used (with computer or water colors), shading, …. but what is it that distinguishes the one from the other? There are general groups of artists (e.g. European, Asian, …) who have similar style – how come they can be grouped – what is the key?
- Jasmine: How often would you focus on comic backgrounds? Are details like that important?
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Holy MOLY, what a whirlwind of amazingness it has been in the time between the release of episode 1 of Comic Fuel and Episode 2! We have had a thousand people download and listen to the episode and I have enough questions that I have to wait for another four episodes before I can put out another call for questions. Wow.
In this episode, episode 2, we’ll discuss project management, the comic creation process, coloring comics, penciling comics, and hosting comics online. The questions came from places like Ireland, India, Brazil, California, and Indiana. For legit #comicfuel we’ll hear about why we do art from Stephen McCranie, transitioning into fame and what is at the core of what artistry is really about from “How I Met Your Mother” actor Josh Radnor, and we’ll also hear about the art of really listening by famed audio producer Chris Watson.
Questions answered in this episode (jump-to specific question times listed below)
- How many pages should a comic issue be to be printed?
- How long would it take to make a comic by yourself; scripting, storyboarding, art and lettering; and self publish it?
- How do you keep up momentum on making comics?
- How long does it take for a comic book artist to make a comic book?
- What is the step-by-step process I should go through to choose colors that will look good?
- What kind of colors can i use?
- Am I just not being patient enough with myself, or am I trying to fit too much, too zoomed out, into one panel?
- What websites are best for starting to post a webcomic?
Another big announcement is that I spent a lot of time this month creating the Comic Fuel Podcast Wiki (http://comicfuel.wikidot.com/) which will serve as a repository for all questions, notes, and links that are mentioned in the show. Check it out. It took me FOREVER to make, but I’m really proud of it.
The show notes for Episode 2 are at: http://comicfuel.wikidot.com/wiki:episode-2
Plotting out perspective for comic book page/panel composition is paramount to building great art. One of the hardest elements of composing perspective for a panel is getting all of the measurements just right so that all of the angles for your environmental elements within your panel come out right. Sergey Kritskiy’s perspective tool allows you to create amazingly accurate grids for your comic within seconds.
Do you have a long form project in mind? Are you ready to pull the trigger and start the journey? Well, believe it or not, there are some really important things to know and do before you start. But don’t just take my word for it either, sometimes you need to work for 20 years in an uphill battle before you can get something important through your thick skull. I know, because that is how it was for me.
So, here is my simple list of things to consider before starting your comic project. (more…)
Inking may be one of the most misunderstood disciplines of the comic art world. All it involves is tracing over lines that have already been drawn, right? Well, there’s a bit more to it than that; the craft is actually quite complicated with its variety of tools and methods to complete the given task. (more…)