I have it on good authority that you can now get a print copy of LSA from The Beguiling in Toronto! G’wan down!
(Fist-bump to my TCAF partner in crime Laura for making this happen!)
I promised you all I’d show off some of my TCAF swag, so here goes!
“DemonTears” by Bernie McGovern
Hic & Hoc Publications, 2012
“Pocket Full of Coffee” by Joe Decie
Retrofit Comics, 2012
A day in the life of British diary comic artist Joe Decie and his family. Before Joe takes his son out to the park, he fills his left coat pocket with ground coffee beans to lift his spirits. I’m normally not one for diary comics, but I’ve always been a fan of Joe’s dry wit and beautiful watercolour drawings.
“Revolver” Vol 1 by Salgood Sam
Spilt Ink, 2012
Ex-Marvel artist Max Douglas, aka Salgood Sam, draws this mindblowing series of shorts. Each one invokes that feeling of being lost, of searching for and recapturing that feeling of…what, exactly? Those special fleeting moments where we are really truly at peace. Through it all, Douglas’ virtuoso drawing technique grounds us in these lost distant worlds.
“The Silence” by Bruce Mutard
Allen & Unwin, 2009
The story of Choosy McBride, a Sydney art dealer and her partner Dmitri, a painter struggling with his own demons, as they follow the trail of an elusive painter from Northern Queensland. It’s one part mystery story and one part commentary on the value of art and the gallery scene. The enigmatic painter exhibits in an abandoned church known only as “The Prayer House”, where anyone is free to come and take his or her paintings. Choosy is aghast that this artist would simply give their work away, and is determined to find out who they are to introduce their work to a wider audience. Dmitri, however, suggests that she might only be thinking of her best interests, and not the artist’s – he or she obviously doesn’t want to be found, and is perfectly happy to give his or her work away.
(I was reminded of my visit to “The Museum of Everything,” a gallery of outsider art in London. Someone had written a comment in the guestbook suggesting that the artists on display were unfairly marginalized, had created their work only for themselves, and that exhibiting it went against their wishes. At the time I was outraged, but – he kind of had a point. But does art exist without an audience of some kind? Or if there truly was an artist who created breathtaking work anonymously only to give it away, is that the purest form of art there is?)
This is the kind of book that really sticks with you long after you’ve read it. Check out more of Bruce’s work and purchase his books on his website here.
“Saskatoon’s Saturday Morning Life Drawing Group” by David Collier
Wolsak & Wynn, 2013
David Collier – the man, the myth, the legend! With a body of work spanning almost 3 decades, David Collier is never seen without his sketchbook. This is a collection of drawings from a Saturday morning life drawing group done during 1997, when Collier was residing in Saskatoon, my hometown!
A drawing of my friend Lloyd Mattson also appears in this collection!
After being nominated several times, Collier finally won a Doug Wright Award this year for his latest book “Hamilton Illustrated.”
“EVIL #1” by James Edward Clark
Evil Comics, 2013
A rip-roaring pulp adventure starring luchadore Samson the Destroyer in a battle with the Space Thunder Death Cult and the Notorious Desert Mercenary Skeleton Motorcycle Gang. Samson must rescue his love Maria before the Space Thunder Death Cult sacrifices her at midnight, unleashing demons and bringing about the apocalypse!
James didn’t have a table at TCAF, but was going around showing his work off and selling these for $5 – I am a sucker for slick, retro, 4-colour artwork and luchadores, so how could I refuse?! This comic is a hoot and I can’t wait to read more.
Check out more of James’ work on Tumblr here. (mildly NSFW)
“Not Sex Advice With Chandler Moses” by Chandler Moses
A short collection of hilariously naughty cartoons by Chandler Moses. Check out more of her work here (NSFW!)
This is another of those odd text pieces I wrote a while ago. Either it will make you think, or it will grievously offend you… :V At any rate, here it is!
Some Thoughts On Style
Many young artists will find themselves wondering “What style should I draw in?”
I think this is a dangerous trap that no one should ever fall into.
Why? Because we should all try to develop our OWN styles. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with learning techniques from your favourite artists, but I think you’re doing yourself a disservice if you try to emulate them too closely. Joe Kubert once said (and again, I’m paraphrasing) that “style” is just another word for the way we see and interpret the real world. Your “style” will, over time, emerge from drawing the world around you, not from copying the work of others.
“BUT IT’S MY STYLE”
Oh, yes, I went there.
There are hundreds of thousands of different ways to draw a hand. But you can never truly draw a hand – even a rubbery cartoon hand – if you don’t understand how a REAL hand works.
Never use “But it’s my style” as an excuse. If someone points out that your drawing of a hand looks broken, that’s not a stylistic choice. That’s a legitimate mistake. Be grateful that someone took the time to point it out, and aim towards drawing a better hand next time. Don’t worry – you won’t have to compromise your style to do so.
“BUT SO-AND-SO DRAWS REALLY WEIRD AND NOBODY COMPLAINS”
Let’s take a look at Adventure Time. Why Adventure Time? Because I happen to think that its wacky noodle-limbs style is extremely appealing. Is it realistic? Not at all. But if you analyze it a little more closely, you’ll see that Pendleton Ward et. al. still follow some basic rules.
The characters in Adventure Time always have the same proportions in every shot (except for when Jake is using his stretchy powers, of course). They don’t suddenly grow to 50 feet (again, unless Jake is using his stretchy powers) or have one hand larger than the other – because that would be jarring and yank us out of the story. If they DO, there better be a good reason for it! They’re always following the model sheets – even when they’re pulling really strange faces, they’re always recognizably the same characters. They don’t suddenly become Finn’s cousin twice removed.
Even through all the zaniness of the show’s style, there’s still an element of natural weight to the whole thing. The characters move in mostly natural ways, when standing they don’t look as if they’re going to tip over, and so on.
The laws of perspective are still very much adhered to – objects still diminish in size with distance, there are still horizon lines and vanishing points, and so on. Everything still looks very solid and believable, as though it were constructed of 3D shapes – even though it’s two dimensional animation drawings.
So while the Adventure Time style looks deceptively simple, it’s not. All the animators and layout artists and character designers involved still had to learn the basic rules of anatomy, proportion, and perspective before they could break them.
“I WANNA DRAW MANGA!”
Great! You still have to learn the rules.
I’ve got no beef with manga or young artists who are influenced by the manga style, but I do think that it tends to produce very flat results. Go back and read what I just wrote about Adventure Time. You’ve still got to learn the rules before you can break them. I cannot stress enough the importance of drawing from life, and learning to think of objects in three dimensions. Every character and object can be broken down into basic shapes. Two books that will help you with this a great deal are Preston Blair’s Cartoon Animation and Glenn Vilppu’s Drawing Manual.
(As an aside, one of my favourite manga artists, Naoki Urasawa, actually draws quite realistically – while still using many hallmarks of the “manga” style such as motion lines. He’s also got some of the best character design I’ve ever seen. Study his work, it’s worth learning from.)
I’d also advise you not to draw your comic so it reads from right to left. It’s true that most translated manga reads from right to left, but this is because it was originally drawn for an audience that DOES read from right to left. Flipping it so it reads from left to right is often more trouble than it’s worth, and can destroy the integrity of the original work. If your comic is in English, there really isn’t any reason to draw it this way, as English speakers read from left to right.
Drawing your comic so it reads from right to left won’t make your work more authentic – just as buying a Wacom tablet, Photoshop, or Copic markers won’t instantly make you a better artist… (but that’s a topic for another post)
In short: Manga is great, but it’s much better to learn from other sources as well – you can still incorporate manga elements into your OWN unique style.
It can be tempting to draw in a simpler style because you think it’s easier and takes less time. My own style is very labour-intensive, and I confess I’ve thought of doing this myself.
But you know what? I could never do that, because it would be a betrayal of everything I’ve worked for. It wouldn’t be “me” any more. Worse, everyone would be able to tell that I was just faking it – because a simpler style isn’t what I’m used to, and so I’d never be able to do it as well as those who have worked hard to develop their skills working in that style.
On the other side of the coin, you can get caught up in wanting to draw more “realistically” because, for whatever reason, you think you should.
Number one rule? DO WHAT YOU ARE MOST COMFORTABLE WITH. What is most true to yourself. Rob Guillory wrote a fantastic post about this a while back. Read it. Study it. Think about it. Hard.
If you’ve been drawing in a simple style all your life, that’s what you should stick with. If you can’t help adding wall-to-wall details to everything and you’ve been doing that all your life, then you should keep doing that. Don’t change your style based on what you think is easier or what you think other people “want” to see. What we WANT to see is the pure, unadulterated YOU!