Childhood is Like a Punk Rock Song

When I drew this comic last year, I ditched my trusty Rapidograph for more expressive brush pen lines and pencil scratches. I recently went back and colored it. Hopefully the results are somewhere between a Xeroxed punk zine and a coloring book. Or like a guest appearance by The Clash on Sesame Street.  

Would you like an 11"x17" print of this or any other comic on the blog? Click here for details on ordering. 

Drawing in Painter 11

This might have been obvious to other people, but for the longest time I was using Painter to strictly color and paint different things (or try to). From looking at different tutorials online I realized that you can also create some really dynamic sketches and pencils using the pencil tool/brush. The reason being that Painter is meant to specifically react to the levels on pressure on the Wacom/drawing tablet.
I did some of these today and am really liking the way that this has come out (and that is saying a lot because I never like anything that I do...pretty self critical). Woo!

Twin Blog

My twin brother Gavin also fashions himself an artist/blogger. This makes sense: we've been copying each other our entire lives. He draws concert posters for his own band, South Sea Island Magic, which can be found at If that wasn't enough, he blogs for his architecture firm, el dorado architects. Here's his latest:

Six Million Dollar Man 2

More practice

Six Million Dollar Man

Steve Austin. The Six Million Dollar Man.......Just for fun...

Using Google SketchUp in Your Work

So I hate drawing backgrounds. Inanimate objects such as buildings and cars and such are things that are necessary to know how to draw, but they are def. not as much fun as say..aliens and zombies..robots, etc. etc. etc.

I discovered that you can use a program such as Google Sketch up to render objects such as buildings and vehicles and then print it out and draw and paint over them, or...import these assets directly into another program and then work from there.
It's free and although it takes a lot of practice to the get the hang of it, there are tutorials that you can watch to guide you along. you can get it here:

To show this example, I did a 3-D example of lettering that I then brought into Painter and then added paints, etc. to after.

1. In Sketch up, use the 3-D text tool to render any object that you like. You can export objects as images to use in other programs.

2. Then bring the object into a drawing or painting program and then begin to add effects over the image. In this case I added flames and smoke.

3. There are obviously many other things that you can do between Sketch up and other programs and this is just the start. Keep practicing and you will find new ways that work for you in no time.
This week on Comic Tools: Reader Question

Hey Matt,

I've recently read the Scott Pilgrim comics and become interested in drawing comics. I've always been a hopeless drawer though so i got a book to teach me some basics and it's really helping so far, but it doesn't teach anything about comics. I found your blog very useful but its hard to find somewhere to begin. Are there any books out there you'd recommend to teach basic comic drawing?


Short answer:

Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics
Scott McCloud's Making Comics
Jessica Abel and Matt Madden's Drawing Words and Writing Pictures
David Chelsea's Perspective! For Comic Book Artists

Read those and do all the assignments suggested in them, and you'll have just saved yourself 4 years of college. I wish I were more than a hair away from kidding.

Long answer:

To get good at comics you'll have to read a lot of comics, and learn to steal. I don't mean imitate- that's like stealing someone's jewelry by hoisting their house into the back of your pickup and driving off. It doesn't work and you look like a moron doing it. You must learn to steal- and I use that word deliberately- the very best parts of what works about your favorite artists, and throw away the rest. You must learn to avoid taking on the bad habits of artists you like, the way you might avoid contracting AIDS. It's so easy, SO easy, to look at a great artist, imitate (meaning copy totally) their art, including it's weak parts, and then defend those weaknesses for decades as the inspiration you got from a great artist, instead of a cheap, hacky trick that both you and the artist you got it from should be shamed of. Jack Kirby was insanely inventive and kinetic and used blacks like no human being before or since, but he basically drew humans with 2 not very good faces and just slightly more expressions. Dave Sim has an incredible work ethic and is a proficient inker and letterer, but his people are ugly, stiff, and insensitive. Moebius and Frank Quitely are some of the best draughtsmen on the planet, but they draw distracting and freakish baby faces on everyone and sometimes their art can be lifelessly static.

Everyone's style is a combination of all the things they're best at, and attempts to either avoid or cover the evidence of everything they suck at. Mike Mignola once confessed to a class I was in that he doesn't draw cars because he hates drawing them and uses lots of shadows because he sucks at perspective. You'll eventually form your style by lazily covering up all the things you suck at; don't add to that all the things your favorite artists suck at.

This counts ten thousand times more if your art is Manga influenced. Every single one of my manga influenced artist friends will back me on this: if you take your cues by imitating your favorite manga, you will spend years of your commercially crippled career painfully stripping your art of the shortcuts that, by sheer necessity of how fast those artists must produce, makes up 1/2 to fully 9/10ths of the art of any given page of manga.

If you ever find yourself thinking "Oh, finally, this art looks like something I can actually draw!", put the book down and never look at it again. If bikes are hard for you, fill a sketchbook with people on every kind of bike you can find reference for. If hands are really tricky for you, never, ever draw a panel without showing both hands of every person in the panel. If shoes are tricky for you, don't do another damned thing until you can draw everything from sneakers to dress shoes convincingly. Learn to draw brick walls that don't look like cinderblock walls. Read a lot of good comics, look at a lot of good art, read a lot of good books, and learn to steal the very best from all of them. And don't imitate.

And now, some links for this week!

Andrew Loomis made the best art instruction books for illustrators and cartoonists ever made, and you can download them in their entirety, for free, online!

For young or beginning artists who want a warm, earnest, supportive place to get input on their work, there's few places better than the Flight Forums. Professionals from the books and others who just hang out are always watching to give advice to all those who seek it.

Why has Alec Longstreth given up on rapidographs and pigma pens? Find out!

Listen to Dean Haspiel.

Remember how I was talking about absorbing the worst shortcuts from people's work? Here's a great example. Ha, "Dreamworks brow."

Next week, another eraser showdown!

Kansas: Land of Zen

This comic was drawn in anticipation of a long drive I made this week from Kansas City to Denver. I think Kansas was mad at me, because I had to navigate my Honda through a snow and ice storm that spanned the entire state. However, the terrible weather did make the trip anything but boring.

Thumbnailing from Movies

One of the best tools for learning all about cutting and staging film is to draw thumbnails while watching a section of a film.

So whenever I do this I put a DVD into my computer (or DVD player) and then "step through" a sequence or section of a film. I usually have a reason why I've picked that particular clip, and it usually relates to something I'm working on.

Then I'll draw a small thumbnail to represent each scene. If it's a short scene I'll usually pick a "key" frame from the scene - an image that best describes what the scene is about. Or is it's a long scene, I'll draw more images - whatever is necessary to get the idea of what the director has done with the staging and the camera work (if there is any).

Studying film this way forces you to really grasp what is happening in minute detail. Having to "transcribe" what is happening onto paper forces you to really notice every little thing about each scene, and you can learn a lot more about filmmaking than you can if you spent the same amount of time just watching films.

Recently I picked something rather unusual to thumbnail - this trailer from the video game "Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood". I picked it for a couple of reasons - I'm working on an action scene at work (and this is defintiely full of action), and also because it's in a widescreen ratio instead of the regular screen ratio I'm more used to working in (as is the film I'm working on). So I was hoping to get some inspiration for staging dramatic action as well as some inspiration in composing shots for a widescreen format.

Now usually I would never thumbnail from a trailer because normally trailers aren't continuity....they're snippets from all over the film, not meant to work in context with each other. But this is different...this trailer is built like a piece of film and all the scenes are in continuity. First off, I have to say that it's done in a really over-dramatic style. It's super pushed, doing things I consider, for example, the push in on the villain at 0:38 where he goes into slow motion (pretty cheesy!) and the moment where he draws his sword at 2:09 and then kisses it. At least I think he kissed it. His lips seemed to pucker a tiny bit. Anyway, again, pretty cheesy...but hey, that's just my opinion. I like it when people push the boundaries and go over-the-top, it helps you figure out where your own personal tastes lay, and makes you realize what you think is too much. Other than that, I really like the dynamic staging of this piece and I got a lot out of thumbnailing it.

For example, I really like how they don't over-explain a lot of see guards falling down out of Ezio's path (Ezio is the assassin, the guy in white) but you don't really get a good look at exactly what's taking them out (you can see arrows in a few shots, but the filmmaker doesn't feel the need to make it hyper clear that they are being shot by arrows by an offscreen presence). I like that approach, and you clearly get the meaning of what's happening: they're being taken out by some unseen force, and I like the way it comes across visually: they seem to be falling out of Ezio's path through no effort of his own, which makes him seem almost God-like. That's a cool effect, I think. (the audio is used to explain most of those actions. If you watch it with the sound off, you'll see how little of the arrow impacts and sword cuts you actually see. Most of it is carried by the sound of swishing arrows, sword swishes and meaty impact sounds). When I board, I tend to have an impulse to over-explain everything so that the audience doesn't get confused. But sometimes the details aren't important, just the overall effect of what is happening. And the meaning at the end is very clear, when you see the other assassins come out and stand next to Ezio - clearly, they are his companions and they have been helping him all along. So even if, somehow, you were confused about who was taking out all those guards earlier, by this point, you'd get the idea.

Another thing: I think in animation we tend (at least I know I do) to think of shots that start, then an action begins, that action finishes and then you cut to the next shot where the next action begins. That way of thinking can be beneficial for animators because it gives them a scene with an entire action in it. It can be frustrating for animators to try and divide the same action over several different scenes. But I like how in this clip, the actions begin in one scene and then finish in the next shot (or the one after that), or that sometimes you never see the action actually finish, you move onto the next beat when it's clear that a beat is over. I like that, and when I was boarding my most recent assignment I tried to do that more. It creates more excitement, if you do it right. Then the rhythm of the cuts can be surprising and unexpected instead of plodding and predictable. But you have to do it judiciously.

Also the camera never stops moving in this clip, which can add a lot of excitement to a scene when it's done with restraint and reason, to compliment the action that's happening. Too many times people just move the camera to move it and the effect becomes tedious or makes you seasick. But I liked the restraint in this clip and I thought the camera was always moving in a way that added to the impact of each moment.

One more thing: for the most part, Ezio and his nemesis are placed in the center of the screen which gives them a place of power. In scenes where Ezio is not in the center, you don't see his face, or only parts of him, and he's usually bigger onscreen than anybody else. All of these things are great devices to make a character feel powerful on screen.

A couple more words of advice about doing this exercise:

Don't worry about doing perfect sketches. They're just for you, and it's just a learning tool. But don't just scribble them out, either, put enough into them that you are actually getting enough down that you are seeing the patterns and getting down how the staging and cutting is working. Be precise, but don't spend too much time on each individual drawing. You want to do them fast enough that you can see the cutting patterns over several scenes, and if you spend an hour making each sketch perfect, you won't ever get the feel of how several scenes are linking together in a row.

Pick good filmmakers, of course, and pick good scenes. At least in the beginning, stick with filmmakers that are known for preparing in advance and being meticulous about controlling what you see on screen. I would suggest directors like Hitchcock, Spielberg, Lucas, James Cameron, Kurosawa, etc. I spent many hours thumbnailing sections of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" when I was first learning about boarding. The truck chase is a particular favorite of mine because there are many changes of screen direction at the beginning that are handled well.

Here are some from my recent session, if you're interested....this is about the first 2/3rds of it and admittedly they're not very beautiful to look at, but like I said, they were for my own benefit and not really to show anyone (check out the scribbled out mistakes). A grey marker is always helpful too for throwing in a bit of tone, but not necessary (and I didn't have one handy).

The important thing is to get something out of it and learn!

And one more piece of advice...if you're a student of film but not an artist; and you absolutely don't want to try to draw your way through a scene, try watching the clip without sound. this will allow you to focus on the visuals and concentrate on the cutting and staging without the distraction of the audio.

Lastly, for fun, here's Toby Turner's "literal" version, which is very funny. He thinks the villain is actually smelling his sword, which makes even less sense than kissing it. I think I see his lips puckering a tiny bit so I vote for kissing it. Either way, it's weird, right? Anyway, enjoy!

From Paris: Jean Cosentino

I was in Paris recently, passing through a gallery expo in Le Marais, and came across the work of an artist I thought was beautiful and appropriate with our concept. Linking directly to his images, and hopefully the attention will be appreciated!

All work of course is copyrighted Jean Cosentino at


We made COMIC BOOK COMICS #5 solely because we love you.
CLICK ON IT for bigger image.

Discography of Your Favorite Band

Album artwork offers a glimpse of the great, mediocre, and ill-advised moments of a band's career. Click here for details on ordering as a poster, or email Because comics, like album artwork, should be viewed in large, printed form. If you want, I'll throw in a complimentary mixtape of what this fictional band would sound like, had they actually existed.
The biggest event in Comic Tools likely to happen this year or any other happened last Sunday, with Jim Woodring exhibiting his enormous pen, it's dripping tip gleaming in the light, to over 100 assembled men, women, and children. Woodring found the 25 pound black wooden shaft awkward and difficult to maneuver, and eventually resorted to just working with the tip, which produced much happier results.

Okay, enough dick innuendo. (Heh, in YOU end-o.) Seriously though, you have no idea how much I wanted to photoshop truck balls onto this thing. Or make a super-nerdy comics in-joke by having the tip going through a slice of pizza.

Dick jokes aside, I really, really love that this thing exists. It's actually really fascinating to me that his learning to use this thing wasn't all that different than the process I go through picking up any ordinary pen.

He had two nibs made, a steel prototype, and then a brass-plated, hand-engraved model, seen here:

Beautiful, right? But it turned out that that nib was actually a bit too stiff, and the steel nib was more flexible, so Jim put the better looking nib away in favor of the more practical prototype:

(The brass nib in the bucket of shame. click on this image for Glenn Fleichmann's great flickr set of this event.)

Jim Woodring and Nibbus Maximus

This happens to me all the time, when one nib will just be too damned stiff, and I have to chuck it and move on to another one in the box.

Here you can see Jim making the first lines with the stiffer brass nib, and all the dripping and control problems he was having:

Jim Woodring - Nibbus Maximus from Gavin Lees on Vimeo.

At first he was cautiously getting a feel for what marks it could and could not make, and the frist drawing was pretty shabby looking, which always happens to me while learning a new tool.

But amazingly, not too far into the demonstration, Woodring's inking with the pen from Land of the Giants was virtually indistinguishable from his regular inking. Here he is inking a drawing with the Nibbus Maximus:

And at the end of this video you can see him inking with his regular pen:

The man clearly has a feel for the nib as a broad concept, and when you change the parameters, like size, ink thickness, and flexibility, he just has to take awhile to readjust his technique before he's mastered it as he would any other nib. It's way, way more interesting to watch than I thought it would be, and watching him have to struggle to adapt to the tool gave me insights into how any artist adapts to nib pens.

Many have pointed out that new Seattle transplant Scott Kurtz was at the event (as seen in the below photo), and I thought I'd take this opportunity to say what spectacular resources the podcast Webcomics Weekly (which he co-hosts) and accompanying book How to Make Webcomics (which he co-wrote) are. My good friend Erika Moen helped make herself a successful independent artist and businesswoman based on concepts she learned from these resources, and anyone who has a webcomic, are is looking to start a webcomic, would do well to buy the book and start listening to the podcast from episode 1.

Jim Woodring and Nibbus Maximus

Two additional things Woodring posted on his blog that I thought were cool, a guide to how nibs were made in the old days:
(Click to see larger.)
And this drawing of a frog being hit by lightning:
(Click to see larger.)
I notice that Wooding is wearing the exact same shirt and suit that he was wearing when I met him at an art opening, and I wonder if he's like me, with only one nice outfit that he just uses over and over at any vaguely fancy event.

In unrelated news, Dark Horse posted this really fantastic back and forth illustrated dialogue between editor Scott Allie and artist Guy Davis on the latest BPRD cover. It's a perfect example of an editor doing their job right, taking an okay idea and molding it into a great one, making the artist look good, and strengthening the narrative impact of the imagery.

Below, a special treat for you: A progression from Guy's thumbnails, to his pencils, to his inks from one of my favorite pages in that issue. Click to see it in all it's glory:

See you next week!

to lengthen, cut

Robot Manny Vol 1 Page Preview

Just a quick preview page of Robot Manny vol.1 due out in April.

Public Salon TV Appearance

I haven't been able to post as much work lately as the past couple of weeks have been kinda busy.
However last week, I actually did a tv panel appearance to discuss the painting that I did for the LITM Dark Matter Bright Future Show. The taping took place at the Symposia bookstore (which is the last Used Bookstore in Hoboken).

When I got there there were two other folks there ahead of me, one guy was a poet, and another guy was a spiritual Buddhist. We were also joined by a "green" engineer/artist and the founder of Community Development International, who I have to say was probably the most impressive of the bunch (they do relief work and charity for Haiti).

The discussion took place in a semi-circle that mainly focused on social issues, poverty, hunger politics, etc. I contributed what I could, but kinda stayed away from the heavy political issues.
At the end of the show I plugged LITM, and the piece that is hanging up until the end of the month (see: previous entry Dark Matter Bright Future)

It was pretty fun, and the show ended a lot sooner than we all realized.
the show will be broadcast Thursday evenings (8 to 9 pm) on Public Access Cable’s channel 19 on Cablevision. I'm not sure if you can see it in my area, but there will be a You Tube clip soon, that I will post when it's up.

Public Art

Inspired by some of the fine public art in Kansas City, MO. Except the last panel. I just wanted to draw some  Yuko Shimizu-esque mushrooms.

A Treeblogging Abstract Comic

This abstract comic was created as part of @Platea's "Project VIII: Tree-Blogging."  It uses source material from here, here, and here.  You can find the protocol for Treeblogging here, as well as other useful commentary on the project in recent posts at that site.  Feel free to join the project, posting linked work here (only if it is content-appropriate) or elsewhere. 

LITM Dark Matter-Bright Future Show

Hey all,

Just a few pictures from the LITM show "Dark Matter Bright Future" (see previous entry).
Overall the show was a success from a turnout stand point. The group show which doubled as a fund-raising benefit to protest the construction of an oil pipeline in JC featured many local artists, working in all types of media. Below are just a few of the shots from the evening. It was a lot of fun, although compared to the other pieces featured, my piece was really really small. So I will need to work a little bigger next time. 

Opening exhibition wall:

A couple of shots of my piece "Embankment Oil Refinery":

A couple of shots of the LITM crowd:

Group show flier:

As a quick follow up, I also got invited to be on a guest panel, for a local TV show called the "Public Voice Salon". Which is awesome! More news on that soon. Happy New Year All!!!

Story, in Fifteen Minutes

So at work I volunteered to help a group of seventh graders with their animated films. They get two weeks (!) to make a thirty to ninety second film, and they asked me (and fellow board artist Raymond Persi) to sit with them and help them with their storyboards, as well as talk for fifteen minutes about the basics of story.

So how do you boil down "story" into fifteen minutes?!? Also I only had an hour or so to prepare. So here's what I said to them, some of you might find it interesting (but also familiar).

I boiled story down to three "C's" for them. The first C I talked about is "CLARITY".

This one is particularly important for them because they are working within a very small box, in both the length of their film and their "production schedule". When making a short film clarity is of the utmost importance because you don't have time to explain a lot. If you're trying to make a film about an exotic planet where all the rules are different from Earth, by the time you've acclimated the viewer to your world and explained all the rules, your film is over.

So I always suggest that short film directors look at TV commercials for inspiration as how to tell a thirty-second story clearly and succinctly. Great commercials are made with a ton of economy, discipline and smart choices. Also, many times they start in a very familiar situation so that the audience gets oriented quickly and knows exactly where we are....then you can take a leap into "the fantastic", if that's what you want to do, or turn the everyday on it's head for comedic effect.

These four Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee commercials are good examples (I only showed the first two to the students). There are some great commercials out there, and admittedly these aren't necessarily the most amazing mind-blowing examples, but then again I didn't want to show anything inappropriate to the seventh grade audience so I went for the safe subject matter.

Clarity is tougher than most people realize I think, even us "professionals" have a hard time with this. It's easy, once you've thought through your idea, to think that your drawings are explaining what's inside your head, but the viewer doesn't have the benefit of hearing your thoughts. The drawings (and eventually, the animation) have to carry it all. That's a very tough limitation, and you need to keep your "objective eye" s that you can step back and look at your work once in a while and see it the way fresh eyes will see it. Or find someone you trust and bounce it off them once in a while.

Okay, the next two "C's" are CHARACTER and CONFLICT. You've probably heard all this before, but it's all vitally important, and it's basically what we spend all our time talking about in the story room while we craft movies at Disney.

Basically, the "CHARACTERS" part means that you should always strive to create characters that are original, entertaining, appealing, and that the audience can empathize with...meaning that they like the characters and are willing to root for them to get what they want. Then the audience will care when your characters end up in....

...CONFLICT, which of course is the heart of all storytelling. Without conflict you don't really have a story. In general, the bigger the conflict, the more that is at stake in your movie, the bigger the odds against your characters, the more interesting the story.

So if you have characters that the audience is actually rooting for, and conflict that seems almost insurmountable that they have to resolve to get what they want, then you have a great story.

Also, one last thing: a great story is one that ends by resolving the conflict in an unexpected way that the audience doesn't see coming. But I don't know how to make that idea start with a "C" so I'll just tack it on.

Easy, right? Two weeks should be plenty of time, right?

In all seriousness, I had a great time working with the students and hopefully they will enjoy making their films and be happy with their end results. Whether a film takes two weeks or five years to make, the elements that make the film great remain basically the same.

This week on Comic Tools: Take care of your wrist!

Robin Bougie is one of the nicest men I have ever met in comics. Much like the also famously sweet Scott McCloud, he's spends most of his time as a creator helping other creators, publishing their work, using his own prominence to bring good work to light, and talking openly about his experiences as a creator. For years now he's had problems with his drawing hand, as has his wife Rebecca. This is the second time he's posted this video of injury-preventing hand stretches:

When he first posted it I was drawing a lot of comics myself, and getting terrible wrist pain. These stretches helped me a lot. From his post:

Do these stretches before you start, and once an hour, every hour, while drawing. Please don't fuck your shit up like we did. If you're a writer and typing a lot, it couldn't hurt you to do the same.

Think of yourself like an athlete, and for them stretching before they take part in their sport is absolutely VITAL in order to prevent injury. We, as artists, absolutely have to start thinking this way as well -- especially if we're in our thirties or older when our bodies aren't willing to put up with the crap we put them through.

I'm having a lot more trouble staying pain free because I started doing these stretches stuff AFTER I strained my arm, and I know now that it's much better to be preventative and begin doing them before you do permanent damage. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE!

More information about RSI here:
Your wrist is no less a comic tool than your pen, unless you intend to learn to draw somehow without it. Take care of it. Don't hold El Corazon over crocodile-filled water with your wrist.

By the way, unless you have a really high tolerance for fucked-up, disturbing sexual imagery, do NOT click to see the other entries in his journal. Don't say you weren't warned.

Oh, and I really liked this comment to the youtube video:
"This has helped me quite a bit. For those that loose faith in humanity...visit Youtube every now and again. The fact that people take time out of their lives to help people like this is a testament to humanity"
I actually mainly watch youtube videos by people who have taken time and effort to teach others, but it's still odd to me to see someone associate youtube with MORE faith in humanity. Probably because any video, of any thing, will eventually get a comment calling the poster a fag or questioning their skills. This comment made me think that maybe I should focus more on the fact that I've gotten an amazingly thorough education on a few subjects on Youtube, and less on guys in their parent's basement looking for things to call faggy while their tiny penises heal from over masturbating.

Also, in perhaps the biggest Comic Tool news of all time, Jim Woodring will be demonstrating his enormous, 7 foot nib pen. Here's video of the nib:

He's using it in public for the very first time today, and I'll post video of that when it becomes available. I have no idea how the hell this thing is supposed to work, but you can bet I'm drooling to find out and see what he can do with it.

See you all next week!

The University of Awesome

This is just like where I went to college, only more awesome. As always, I'm selling prints of this drawing to put up in your seedy dorm room or give to your wayward college-age son/daughter/hippie. Click here for details or email me at

We've reached coffee-table book status!

Or, I should say, the status of "book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone." Not to mention that, according to Anne Germanacos (whose short-story collection, In the Time of the Girls, looks mighty interesting), the anthology is "gorgeous and fascinating". Why, thank you!

Dark Matter Bright Future Art Show and Other News

So it's been a busy couple of weeks with the holidays coming and going, I haven't had a lot of time to post work lately....but I will post some stuff as soon as I can.

For now here is the latest:

1) Dark Matter: Bright Future:
Tomorrow is the opening of the Dark Matter: Bright Future show at LITM in Jersey City.
The opening is a benefit to protest the construction of a gas pipeline in Jersey City/Hoboken (no fucking thank you)! You can learn more about the benefit and show on the LITM Facebook page:

You can learn more about the issue here:

2) Mega Man Tribute Contest:
Still working on my piece for the Mega Man tribute contest..(deadline is in a few weeks....) I am in the middle of working out the tones, and will need to start on the color soon. It's taking a while, but hopefully if I keep at it I will turn out something awesome. If you want to enter it's not too late, you can enter the contest here. 
I can't post the piece for a long while, but once I hear, I will def. give a peek.

3) MOCCA FEST 2011:
Still working on this one...still taking a while, but I will post the progress for this one as I go.
LOOOTA work to do as of yet..
Here is the link to MoCCA Fest 2011:

More work to do....oh..and Happy New Year all!!!!

worn carbon fax

Reader Question:

I'm following your comics tools blog lately and I want to know if there is a post on Paper/Bristol Board.
I want to buy bristol board at Blue Line Pro but I'm not sure if I should take 2ply or 3ply. It's a 10$ difference. I'm from germany and we don't distinguish by ply we only do by weight.

Could you give me advice?

Thank you so far


Bristol is a fast-dying form of commercial grade paper that is still used by many cartoonists and illustrators, although not nearly as much as it used to be, the result of which has been a steep and ever worsening decline in variety and quality, as it's no longer profitable for mills to manufacture for anything less than astronomical prices.

Bristol is made by laminating thin sheets together with glue, creating thicker sheets, as opposed to producing a thicker sheet from the get-go. This is what the ply of bristol refers to; 1 ply is a single sheet thickness, 2 ply is two sheets glued together, and so on.

I see no particular reason to get more than 2 ply bristol. Because of the gluing process, thicker bristol isn't less prone to buckling than thicker bristol, unlike with other kinds of paper, although is is more resistant to denting. Which would matter if you were using your art as a car door. In my experience all it does is add weight to your portfolio.

This week on Comic Tools: Preparation Links

Sarah Glidden shows us how she made her wonderful watercolor comic pages. Of particular interest to me was her use of a glaze of color under SOME, but not ALL parts of the images. I've seen cartoonists like Lucy Knisley use washes of color, usually yellow, over the whole image, but the way Sarah uses it is interesting, because she uses it to compartmentalize different parts of the ground from each other.

On this example page, she uses a yellow wash to separate the foreground from the midground and background, and blue to make a background sink deeper into shadow. You can't always see these glazes of undercolor in the final panels, yet this subtle technique makes her painted panels organized and easier to read.

Friend of Comic Tools, Jason Little, wrote this fantastic post about his artwork and writing process leading up to his fantastic latest book from Dark Horse, Motel Art Improvement Service. There's so much to love about this post, like his accounting about how the story started as a misguided diatribe about the health insurance industry, or how he originally wanted to serialize the story in a series of regular comic books. He was talked out of both ideas, and the result is better for it. It's the comics equivalent of a wife saying to her husband, "You're not going out looking like THAT, are you?!"

I must say though, I love this panel from when he was contemplating doing the book in only two colors of ink to save printing costs. It shows what a master of print Jason is, that if you don't have an eye that looks for such things, you don't immediately notice this panel has only two colors. It looks so lush.

Aaron Renier talks about his process writing and drawing Walker Bean in this Newsarama interview. I have seen art from this book, and it makes me shake with jealousy just thinking about it, it's so good.

Friend of Comic Tools Chris Schweizer posts artwork frequently to his blog, and it reveals that he one one of the ballsiest inkers and loosest pencillers I have ever seen in my life. Seriously, his pencils are often less resolved that a game of connect the dots. I don't know how he does it. Here, he posts one of his most detailed penciled panels (still absurdly under rendered), and here he shows off some gorgeous setting sketches for a story. The amazing thing is, that panel isn't even his finished inks- for his comics,he renders what look like finished inks in marker, then scans them in, prints them in blue, and inks in brush over that. But I've seen him ink drawings straight from pencils that loose that looked no less finished, to my eye. Insane.

Here we have a great example of everything I stand against in art teaching, in this excerpt from How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way:

See how easy it is? Just draw a stick figure, then add cylinders, then fill it in with years of painstaking anatomical study and direct life drawing knowledge, not to mention expert knowledge of lighting, drapery, and character design. Jesus Christ, why don't they just show you a white sheet of paper and say "Just add characters here with a pencil! Pause the tape while you practice doing that."

My thanks to my good friend Emily Felger for sending me a new keyboard.

Enormous Glasses

Special thanks to my elementary school classmates who unknowingly lent their yearbook pictures for the first set of panels in this comic. Here's some of the painful reference material...