Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"A page a Day"

Jack Kirby is estimated to have drawn somewhere between 24-25,000 - yes you read that right, twenty-five-thousand pages, not to mention creating and sometimes writing the stories for hundreds of characters over his career. I'm not sure if this credit is finished pages or including breakdowns which he did for almost every comic artist during his time at marvel, because of his explosive in-your-face storytelling.

The saying is that you have to be good enough to finish one page a day to be a professional comic book artist. And logically that makes sense, 22pg comic and with a one-month deadline and 28 days in the month, minus weekends and give a little leeway for big pages or laziness is about right. And when you start out in comics you start working and say "hey, I can do that. It's not impossible" That is when you are in highschool or College and if your not in class then you just have a bunch of time to kill and if you can avoid watching reruns on tv or playing video games then you're doing pretty well. have most of your free time. But if your anything like me you have a job, you have bills, you have homework, class, a girlfriend, friends and you have to take care of stuff like hygiene, food, dishes, laundry etc. And after you leave college you will also have loans hanging over your head for the next 20-30 years, if your lucky. Which means you will probably be working a part if not full-time job for at least your first few years into your professional comics career. Add on top of this if you have kids in the near future, get sick often, blah blah blah. So you can see how quickly you need to become faster than a page a day to make a deadline for a monthly book.
Tom's been talking about how volume counts, and it makes sense - (the more you draw, the easier it is next time and the quicker you find and correct your weaknesses). He's mentioned some people work too fast and others too slow. And his take is that while your in school, you should not be playing to your strengths but facing your weaknesses and getting help on them. If all you wanted from college was an expensive pat on the back then ignore me. But its just been something we've been talking about a lot recently.
For me specifically I have to work fast because i already have to have a job and I have no doubt that if i could dedicate more time to it i would probably be where i want to be by now. But with everything i already have and how many outside projects i have going all i can do is focus on quantity and facing those problems I haven't concurred or "creatively avoided" as i like to say. It's no wonder the running motto in comics is "when in doubt black it out" and artists like Todd McFarlane are famous for doing things like inserting random smoke or FX to hide a difficult or ugly portion of a drawing, and he is not the worst example by far just one of the more famous, *cough* Rob Lifield *cough* .
Manga is this side of the coin and it shows that to a large and growing amount of readers that "volume counts." Backgrounds are close-to-none and speedlines, caricaturized easy to read and repeated expressions, similar compositions and cool looking angles and fx take the place of intentional thought-out and time-consuming aspects. Even inventions like Zip-a-tone were invented, and artists usually who wrote/lettered/drew and inked their own books (as opposed to assembly-line American style) took on unnamed assistants who's strengths were their weaknesses - all to save time and so they can stretch a story on to take up most of their lives to complete and end having worked on multiple phone-book sized works. Osama Tezuka, you could call him the manga/anime Jack Kirby, and as his bio on this website describes he is "Dubbed "The Human Dream Factory" by manga authority Frederick Schodt, Tezuka produced an estimated 150,000 pages of comic book art, 21 animated series, and 500 individual manga and animation stories."
So I'm not saying one is better than the other or that the artists like Bernie Wrightson who take years to complete select master-works at a speed slower than painting are any more/less talented than people like Kirby or Tezuka I'm mearly stating that as I get close to graduating it becomes clear how different people in this industry across the world have used their time in it and what they seemed to have valued based on their accomplishments.

*On another note, (the reason I wrote this) I drew and inked my super-hero page for Faber Castell Yesterday and colored it today and realized though I had a while to think/thumbnail the page actually drawing and inking it only took about 8/9 hrs (but it was pretty much straight-through next to dinner) and only about 4/5 hours to color, today, (try making a brown with only red, yellow and blue). But I love the page and am really really proud of it, as it seems I am more and more with every project. I'm sad that they want the originals but I have scans and will post them after I'm allowed to in a few months. I got to use my old character from way back that I've now dubbed "THE OSPREY" (which is a bad-ass plane/helicopter by the way -> google it.) You can see my old maquette and turnaround designs for him in my first post for Vitamin Z, here. But it was my first paid gig for a sequential art page! Though I cant say it was published per say, but it was the only time my hand has hurt from working on a page and it was probably all the small lines and me bearing down for control and strait lines with the tech-pens.

And finally now I go on to design and paint a mural for Carter Ink here in Georgia, design my next tattoo and try and get aired and finish all 11 episodes of my "Terra Novus" Radio Drama, though its future as was planned seems uncertain, but I'm exploring alternative routes to get it out there.

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