Sunday, September 9, 2007

Getting Started in Comics

I guess I've been at this long enough now that prospective artists now contact me wondering, "How do you get started in comics?" Some guy recently on my comic board jumped in with a recommendation that you make a graphic novel because that's where the money is.

Uh, no.

Telling someone who is considering doing comics to write and draw a 96-page epic graphic novel is akin to telling a kid who's showing up at the town pool for the first time how to try out for the Olympic free style 200m race. Or telling someone at a mini golf course how to navigate the 9th tee on the pro world circuit. Or convincing someone who's showing up to a school board meeting how to run for congress.

Here's how you get started in comics.

Here's the big secret.


Pick up a pencil and start drawing on a piece of paper.

If all you've got is a few sweet looking pinups, all that other stuff is way out of reach yet, and all it's going to do is flood you with a bunch of confusing info that you WILL NEVER NEED unless you pick up your pencil and draw on some paper. Worry about printers, publishers, copyrighting, ancilliary rights and everything else later, because it doesn't matter at all right now, and will matter very little even in the future compared to your artwork.

(FYI- I recommend finding the right graphite or lead pencil which will usually NOT be the #2 pencil everyone uses to write with. I use a 2F for lighter lines, and an HB or 6B for the heavier lines, when I'm just pencilling, but get a bunch of pencils (most art or craft stores sell a full range of pencils as a cheap set). Experiment with a non-repro blueline pencil along the way too when you're ready to start playing with ink. As for paper, I use Bristol paper and prefer vellum finish, which has a texture and doesn't smear as easily, but you might like smooth better, just as you'll need to find what size you're most comfortable with. Oh, very important, use a white Magic Rub eraser or a kneaded eraser, not those stupid pink ones that will smear your lines and destroy your paper.)

And that's how you get started in comics.

Graphic novel... oy vey.


Eric Merced said...

I read this post and I too disagreed with the comment. Especially for a newbie. I don't think it is the way to start. Rather, as you suggested, the way to start is to pick up a pencil and draw draw and draw some more. But you can add to that the research aspect of it that is all to important. You know how many guys out there want to become professional comic book artist and get payed like the pros and yet they can't even draw the human figure correctly. This falls under two catagories.
1. Lack of research. i.e. Learning anatomy. Learning how to use your equipment like pens and what paper to use.
2. Lack of practice. No one can become good with just a few hours a month on the drawing board. This is something you have to sweat to get good at.
I think the greates service an artist can do to himself is to recognize their weaknesses and go after them to perfect them. Once they do that, then they can start taking the choice of becoming a professional more seriously. Starting out with a graphic noven when you draw one page every two weeks and then it takes you 2 more weeks before you can get around to inking that page is not being realistic at all.

Kneon Transitt said...

I have all sorts of really expensive pencils and inking paraphernalia at my disposal.

My all-time favorite tool is still the trusty Bic mechanical pencil. You can get a pack for like 2 bucks. And the erasers are THE BEST.