Monday, January 29, 2018

Emerson Graphic Novel Program on Hiatus but Classes are not over.

Head on over to I'm offering a full year course that gets you everything you need to improve your skills at making comics and graphic novels.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Last Class Transcript

ANDY FISH: (4/18/2017 18:32) Back when we used to do these classes on the Emerson Campus
ANDY FISH: (18:32) this last class was always chill
ANDY FISH: (18:32) I either brought donuts or pizza
ANDY FISH: (18:32) so have an imaginary slice and sit back
Daniel Haddock: (18:33) I'm eating chicken.
ANDY FISH: (18:33) Dan sent this chicken stained sheet in
ANDY FISH: (18:33) Nicely done
Daniel Haddock: (18:33) HAhaha1
ANDY FISH: (18:33) Give it a read through
Daniel Haddock: (18:34) I really laughed out loud with that one.
ANDY FISH: (18:34) So Dan's recommendation on SIN CITY
ANDY FISH: (18:34) is one I would share
ANDY FISH: (18:34) but it's also important as you look at work you like
ANDY FISH: (18:34) to see what inspired the creators
ANDY FISH: (18:34) and in this case, Miller was looking at the work of European Artists
ANDY FISH: (18:34) like Moebius
ANDY FISH: (18:35) to come up with this more stark style
ANDY FISH: (18:35) He also recommended this one, which is taking a minute to load
ANDY FISH: (18:36) Now the interesting thing here
ANDY FISH: (18:36) is that TRENCHER is ALSO inspired by the works of the Eurpoaan Comic artists
ANDY FISH: (18:36) Give his notes a quick read
ANDY FISH: (18:37) Now a series that would combine both these two styles
ANDY FISH: (18:37) would be Frank Miller's RONIN
ANDY FISH: (18:37) which explores an experimental art style
ANDY FISH: (18:37) but features beautiful colors
ANDY FISH: (18:37) by watercolor artist Lynn Varley
ANDY FISH: (18:37) Definitely worth checking out
ANDY FISH: (18:38) Here's Dan's page
ANDY FISH: (18:38) and you can see that he is influenced by Sin City in his own work
ANDY FISH: (18:38) This is really well done and nicely thought out
ANDY FISH: (18:38) we get the reflected glasses
ANDY FISH: (18:38) which helps to define the character
ANDY FISH: (18:38) and we see the headphone strings
ANDY FISH: (18:39) so this is a character lost in his own world
ANDY FISH: (18:39) great capture
Daniel Haddock: (18:39) Thanks.
ANDY FISH: (18:39) BUT
ANDY FISH: (18:39) if we look, your proportions are slightly off
ANDY FISH: (18:39) you've got his hands about one hand too long
ANDY FISH: (18:39) and his head is slightly bigger than it should be.
ANDY FISH: (18:40) Now when you're drawing kids, they have bigger heads
ANDY FISH: (18:40) because their bodies grown into them
ANDY FISH: (18:40) and I also straightened out the bike
ANDY FISH: (18:40) so that the front and back tires are lined up
ANDY FISH: (18:40) so small tweaks
ANDY FISH: (18:40) but you want to make sure you draw out your figure
ANDY FISH: (18:40) even if it's going to be in shadow
ANDY FISH: (18:40) remember proportions
ANDY FISH: (18:41) arms at their side fall to about mid thigh
ANDY FISH: (18:41) which is where the fingers would hit
ANDY FISH: (18:41) and the upper arm and the lower arm at roughly the same length
ANDY FISH: (18:41) but again
ANDY FISH: (18:41) the execution has some slight anatomical issues
ANDY FISH: (18:41) but the concept is really stellar
ANDY FISH: (18:42) Dan S sent this in
ANDY FISH: (18:42) no chicken stains
ANDY FISH: (18:42) he got some fancy new gray markers and was excited to try them out
ANDY FISH: (18:42) and I think it's brilliant
ANDY FISH: (18:42) I really think you've got a perfect balance of black white and gray
ANDY FISH: (18:42) The art style on this is suitably wacky
ANDY FISH: (18:43) in a story where David Ortiz is the police Commissioner
ANDY FISH: (18:43) nice placement of blacks and grays
Daniel Slaten: (18:43) Thanks
Gregory McKenna: (18:43) haha
Gregory McKenna: (18:43) this is awesome
ANDY FISH: (18:43) Lot of fun here, I would read this
Daniel Slaten: (18:43) Thanks, Gregory
ANDY FISH: (18:44) Now the only critique I have looking at this
ANDY FISH: (18:44) is panel four
ANDY FISH: (18:44) I think the figure should be bigger, or more center panel
ANDY FISH: (18:44) just not on the panel border.
ANDY FISH: (18:44) and we need his cape in the shadow
ANDY FISH: (18:44) This goes for all of us
ANDY FISH: (18:45) remember the reader will try and figure out how panels relate to each other
ANDY FISH: (18:45) so give them an element that carries from one to the next
ANDY FISH: (18:45) if they see a cape in the shadow on the sidewalk
ANDY FISH: (18:45) they'll connect that to panel 4
ANDY FISH: (18:45) And the second page
ANDY FISH: (18:45) Of course, Bill Bellicheck waiting for a subway train
ANDY FISH: (18:46) with his famous hoodie
ANDY FISH: (18:46) And the blacks and grays in this one are perfect too
ANDY FISH: (18:46) it takes quite a bit of planning to figure this stuff out
ANDY FISH: (18:46) but once you start "getting" it
ANDY FISH: (18:46) where to place the gray and black I mean
ANDY FISH: (18:46) it will get easier
ANDY FISH: (18:46) so great job on these
ANDY FISH: (18:47) All right, Greg M's pencils for his page
ANDY FISH: (18:47) Got some nice dramatic panels here
ANDY FISH: (18:48) I'm unclear on the last panel, is he breaking out of the armor?
ANDY FISH: (18:48) Go for it Greg, I figured I'd bring up the inked page
Gregory McKenna: (18:49) yeah so i really struggled with that last panel
Gregory McKenna: (18:49) basically the character is ripping those white bars off that you see in panel 3
Daniel Haddock: (18:49) Cool Ink!
Gregory McKenna: (18:49) and a piece of the mask is coming with
ANDY FISH: (18:49) Got it
Gregory McKenna: (18:49) but with the shadows the way they are it was really hard to expresse that
ANDY FISH: (18:49) All right so the key to that is panel 3
ANDY FISH: (18:50) we need to be closer so that we get that he's starting to pull these off
ANDY FISH: (18:50) I think you did a great job on the shadows
ANDY FISH: (18:50) and the page is very dramatic
ANDY FISH: (18:50) but if we were closer in 3
ANDY FISH: (18:50) I think as a reader we would get that he's pulling that off.
ANDY FISH: (18:51) How did you do the lines in the last panel?
Gregory McKenna: (18:51) arduously lol
ANDY FISH: (18:51) Ha good answer
Gregory McKenna: (18:51) i was undecided on whether to have them show up over the armor
Gregory McKenna: (18:51) decided it gave more drama if it did
ANDY FISH: (18:52) If some of the lines over the armor were white instead of black
ANDY FISH: (18:52) I think you'd get the sense of bursting
Gregory McKenna: (18:52) ahhhh dammit, that woud've been cooler
Gregory McKenna: (18:52) thanks
Daniel Haddock: (18:52) Hey Gregory...
ANDY FISH: (18:52) Good news is that both are easy fixes
Daniel Haddock: (18:53) I think you do cool stuff, have you been reading Framed Ink?
Gregory McKenna: (18:53) no, i read the Art of Comic Book Inking
Gregory McKenna: (18:53) Gary Martin
Gregory McKenna: (18:53) thanks!
Daniel Haddock: (18:54) From looking at what you do, and having read most of Framed Ink, I think that book would really compliment your talent.
Gregory McKenna: (18:54) cool, will look into it
ANDY FISH: (18:54) Yeah FRAMED INK goes hand in hand with the Gary Martin book
ANDY FISH: (18:54) it's a film book, actually about storyboarding
ANDY FISH: (18:54) but it's an essential
Gregory McKenna: (18:55) s'cool, i was a film major haah
ANDY FISH: (18:55) And overall-- really good here
ANDY FISH: (18:55) So was I
ANDY FISH: (18:55) my plan was to be a movie director
ANDY FISH: (18:55) then I tried working with producers and money men
ANDY FISH: (18:55) and realized you can do the same thing in comics
ANDY FISH: (18:56) with nobody telling you to put their girlfriend in it
Daniel Haddock: (18:56) I think being a comic book writer'illustrator is better, you have more freedom and less burracracy to get through for your vision to come to life.
Gregory McKenna: (18:56) same, screenwriter, worked for an agent, hated my life for 6 months
Gregory McKenna: (18:56) haha
ANDY FISH: (18:56) Yeah I agree
ANDY FISH: (18:57) And this is nicely done Greg
Gregory McKenna: (18:57) thanks
ANDY FISH: (18:57) Here's Kayleigh's page
ANDY FISH: (18:57) I didn't get a chance to tweak it at all
ANDY FISH: (18:57) but I think this is very strong
Daniel Haddock: (18:57) I LOVE MANGA!
ANDY FISH: (18:58) K we talked as you worked on some of the others
ANDY FISH: (18:58) The biggest thing I can tell you is to keep white in mind too
ANDY FISH: (18:58) so in that top panel if there was a cast of white that fell on that door
ANDY FISH: (18:58) at an angle
ANDY FISH: (18:58) and then we see it again in the larger panel
ANDY FISH: (18:58) that would help to break up the gray
ANDY FISH: (18:59) and the exclamation point should be white
ANDY FISH: (18:59) and maybe the sound effect for the door opening
ANDY FISH: (18:59) is this one of those japanese closets with the sliding doors, K?
Kayleigh Payne: (18:59) Yes
ANDY FISH: (18:59) Bam-- I got that!
ANDY FISH: (18:59) So nicely done
ANDY FISH: (19:00) and you've got a great grasp of what makes Manga work
ANDY FISH: (19:00) When I was first starting out if you drew in Manga style you were out of luck in the states
ANDY FISH: (19:00) despite the fact that Manga outsells American comics
ANDY FISH: (19:00) about twenty five to one
ANDY FISH: (19:00) I've been in Manga Shops in Tokyo
ANDY FISH: (19:00) and I'm blown away by the amount of people in there
ANDY FISH: (19:00) and they are full professional looking bookstores
ANDY FISH: (19:01) ceiling to floor of manga
ANDY FISH: (19:01) today, especially at Marvel
ANDY FISH: (19:01) the push is for more Manga ish art
ANDY FISH: (19:01) so you've got possibilities
ANDY FISH: (19:01) now you said you aren't sure what you're doing with this gray
ANDY FISH: (19:01) and that certainly comes as a surprise
ANDY FISH: (19:02) that last panel especially
ANDY FISH: (19:02) is beautifully done
ANDY FISH: (19:02) note how the dots work on her hair
ANDY FISH: (19:02) that's a perfect balance of tone
ANDY FISH: (19:02) and the sweater, and the background
ANDY FISH: (19:02) they all work together.
ANDY FISH: (19:02) VERY nicely done.
Kayleigh Payne: (19:02) Thank you very much
ANDY FISH: (19:02) Add some white to that top panll
Gregory McKenna: (19:02) all the patterns and texturesl look really nice
Gregory McKenna: (19:03) is that a manga thing
ANDY FISH: (19:03) Maybe the reflected light could be a bit stronger
ANDY FISH: (19:03) and then print this out and paste it on your wall for a style guide
ANDY FISH: (19:03) yes it is Greg
ANDY FISH: (19:03) In Japan you can buy sheets of it
ANDY FISH: (19:03) and use a spoon like tool to transfer it to the page
Daniel Haddock: (19:03) Kayleigh, you're a good manga artist!
ANDY FISH: (19:03) The last time I was there, I spent about $3K on art supplies
ANDY FISH: (19:04) Nicely done K
Kayleigh Payne: (19:04) Thank you
ANDY FISH: (19:04) Couple of questions came in from people who can't make the live part
ANDY FISH: (19:04) Yes I can.. you have to keep it a secret
ANDY FISH: (19:05) So this is page 14 from THE WASP
ANDY FISH: (19:05) and it features a fight between her and um, Bumblebee?
ANDY FISH: (19:05) as they fall down the stairs
ANDY FISH: (19:05) So at this stage, my wife, who is doing this book
ANDY FISH: (19:05) asked if I would do the staircase
ANDY FISH: (19:06) You can see at the very bottom the two of them rolling out the door
ANDY FISH: (19:06) now she'll take this and draw the characters in various places down the steps
ANDY FISH: (19:06) I think they're on each section
ANDY FISH: (19:06) But this was fun
ANDY FISH: (19:06) and relatively easy to do in Photoshop
ANDY FISH: (19:06) I basically drew one set of stairs
ANDY FISH: (19:06) and then just kept on duplicating it
ANDY FISH: (19:07) so it looks like you're looking down a staircase
ANDY FISH: (19:07) More questions came in-- this time as a graphic....
ANDY FISH: (19:07) All right let's take these one at a time.
ANDY FISH: (19:08) 1- This is the hardest part of comccs
ANDY FISH: (19:08) choosing the shot
ANDY FISH: (19:08) I can give you a whole pile of examples of who does it right
ANDY FISH: (19:08) and I'd point to WILL EISNER'S THE SPIRIT
ANDY FISH: (19:08) because he tells more story in 8 pages than most writers today tell in 12 issues
ANDY FISH: (19:08) so if you want to learn choosing look to his work
ANDY FISH: (19:09) As for who does it badly?
ANDY FISH: (19:09) To paraphrase Ronald Reagan; Thou shall not speak ill of another comic artist
ANDY FISH: (19:09) But in the Emerson class on the HISTORY OF COMICS
ANDY FISH: (19:09) the reason for that class is to see what the artists who built this industry did
ANDY FISH: (19:09) and how they told stories
ANDY FISH: (19:10) this whole course is designed to be like going to SVA in New York
ANDY FISH: (19:10) except instead of it costing you $120K for four years
ANDY FISH: (19:10) we give you pretty much all of it in one year for much less
ANDY FISH: (19:10) So to answer #1-- look at the work of artists who have mastered storytelling
ANDY FISH: (19:10) Frank Miller looks to Eisner
ANDY FISH: (19:11) His work on Daredevil (Miller's) would be something I'd look at
ANDY FISH: (19:11) and as you read comics, which is fun
ANDY FISH: (19:11) take the time to go through them again and STUDY them.
ANDY FISH: (19:11) That is the best thing you can do to get better.
ANDY FISH: (19:12) Question 2-- Magical Realism seems like an Oxymoron
ANDY FISH: (19:12) If you mean dynamics then I'd go with thinking outside the box when you choose your shots
ANDY FISH: (19:12) So if you've got a boring scene of two people talking for two pages
ANDY FISH: (19:12) introduce a cat into the scene
ANDY FISH: (19:12) so then for three panels you could have the dialogue continue
ANDY FISH: (19:13) while you have a cat walking
ANDY FISH: (19:13) licking himself
ANDY FISH: (19:13) whatever it is cats do
ANDY FISH: (19:13) which is more interesting than just two heads talking.
ANDY FISH: (19:13) OR if you're doing the writing
ANDY FISH: (19:13) for any
ANDY FISH: (19:13) boring scene
ANDY FISH: (19:13) that you have to do
ANDY FISH: (19:13) have the characters DO something while they talk
ANDY FISH: (19:13) they could make and pour tea
ANDY FISH: (19:13) they could slice and serve pizza
ANDY FISH: (19:14) they could walk around a park
ANDY FISH: (19:14) there are so many opportunities to keep your images from being boring
ANDY FISH: (19:14) just think outside the box
ANDY FISH: (19:14) #3 - There are some sites out there.
ANDY FISH: (19:14) has a community
ANDY FISH: (19:14) so does
ANDY FISH: (19:14) and of course there is always deviantart
ANDY FISH: (19:15) but the biggest place I'd advise for talking to other artists and writers is LINKEDIN
ANDY FISH: (19:15) I don't do Facebook
ANDY FISH: (19:15) I do TWITTER but only because it's connected to my blog
ANDY FISH: (19:15) but LINKEDIN seems to have less idiots on it than facebook does
ANDY FISH: (19:15) maybe because it's more business oriented
ANDY FISH: (19:15) and there are a LOT of comic groups on there.
ANDY FISH: (19:16) All right so that's it for the questions that came in
ANDY FISH: (19:16) do YOU guys have questions?
Gregory McKenna: (19:16) Is working in comic books essentially all freelance? Is there such thing as a “staff writer” or “staff artists” in comic books?
ANDY FISH: (19:16) It's about 95% freelance
ANDY FISH: (19:17) There are art positions at all of the major companies
ANDY FISH: (19:17) but most of them are filled by interns
ANDY FISH: (19:17) so if you can draw, you might be tasked with redrawing hands for another artist
ANDY FISH: (19:17) or doing house ads
ANDY FISH: (19:17) Freelance is better.
ANDY FISH: (19:17) Don't let Freelance scare you.
ANDY FISH: (19:17) I've been doing it for 15 years now
ANDY FISH: (19:18) and very successfully at both making money and not being famous (that's intentional)
Daniel Haddock: (19:18) Why don't you want to be famous for what you do?
ANDY FISH: (19:18) Why would I want to?
Daniel Haddock: (19:18) I don't know.
ANDY FISH: (19:19) Exactly.
ANDY FISH: (19:19) When I was first starting out I worked on a pretty popular title and I used my name
ANDY FISH: (19:19) I was doing a con and some fans followed me into the bathroom to get signatures
ANDY FISH: (19:19) another brought a stack of books for me to sign
ANDY FISH: (19:19) My paycheck is the same with or without the fame
ANDY FISH: (19:19) I have zero interest in celebrity.
ANDY FISH: (19:20) I also worked at Unicef while I was in college at SVA
ANDY FISH: (19:20) and I met a whole bunch of celebrities includig, get ready..
ANDY FISH: (19:20) Sting, Christopher Reeve, Madonna, Paul McCartney
ANDY FISH: (19:20) and a whole bunch more
ANDY FISH: (19:20) 90% of them were pompous asses
ANDY FISH: (19:20) and I decided then and there that wasn't for me
Daniel Haddock: (19:21) HAHAHA!
Daniel Haddock: (19:21) They were real jerks, huh?
Daniel Haddock: (19:21) It does seem to go to everyones head.
ANDY FISH: (19:21) Nice to me, I was actually an executive, but I'd see how they would interact with fans and assistants
ANDY FISH: (19:21) it's no different in the comic world
ANDY FISH: (19:22) at these shows they have little rooms set aside for the artists
ANDY FISH: (19:22) we go there to get a break from the show
ANDY FISH: (19:22) they have food for us
ANDY FISH: (19:22) drinks
ANDY FISH: (19:22) and endlessly people are in there making fun of fans
ANDY FISH: (19:22) which I think is ridiculous
ANDY FISH: (19:22) these people buy your books
ANDY FISH: (19:22) but I've seen it too, I've seen fans who are really jerks too.
ANDY FISH: (19:23) I was with Adam West at a show, some guy comes up to hi
ANDY FISH: (19:23) him
ANDY FISH: (19:23) he's about forty with his wife and kid
ANDY FISH: (19:23) and he asks him
ANDY FISH: (19:23) "How did you know what to put in your belt each week?"
ANDY FISH: (19:23) And Adam looks back at me and I think I'm just sitting there with my mouth hanging open
ANDY FISH: (19:23) Adam patiently says "It was in the script"
ANDY FISH: (19:24) And the guys says "Oh, so they told you what to bring"
ANDY FISH: (19:24) Did this guy think the 1966 BATMAN show was a documentary?
ANDY FISH: (19:24) People can be really dumb sometimes
Daniel Haddock: (19:24) That is one of the funniest things I have ever heard. Was that guy for real?
ANDY FISH: (19:24) To his credit, Adam was nict to this guy
ANDY FISH: (19:25) and this guy wasn't "special needs" either
ANDY FISH: (19:25) And by the way, on that list, Christopher Reeve, who played Superman, was a terrific guy
ANDY FISH: (19:25) so is Sting
Gregory McKenna: (19:25) good, Reeve is awesome
ANDY FISH: (19:25) Yeah he really was
ANDY FISH: (19:25) This was probably 1990-- so it was before his accident
ANDY FISH: (19:26) he would go above and beyond for Unicef
ANDY FISH: (19:26) Any other questions?
Gregory McKenna: (19:26) Do you have an agent the way fiction writers do?
ANDY FISH: (19:26) I did have an agent
ANDY FISH: (19:27) I got tired of paying him 25% when I felt like I was getting the work myself
ANDY FISH: (19:27) Now I have accountants and an attorney on retainer
ANDY FISH: (19:27) who looks over all my contracts
ANDY FISH: (19:27) see this is the secret to freelance
ANDY FISH: (19:27) as long as you are disciplined enough to make your deadliens
ANDY FISH: (19:27) work will keep coming un
ANDY FISH: (19:27) in
ANDY FISH: (19:28) you have to learn how to plan
ANDY FISH: (19:28) like right now Veronica and I are looking at taking a vacation in Auguest
ANDY FISH: (19:28) so we have to schedule assignments around it
ANDY FISH: (19:29) Conventions are nice, they fly you out, they pay for your hotel and expenses
ANDY FISH: (19:29) but you never really get to see the city you're in, and all the convention halls look the same
ANDY FISH: (19:29) This year we're only doing Wizard Chicago and Rose City in Portland Oregon
ANDY FISH: (19:29) last year I think we did 25 shows
ANDY FISH: (19:29) we got burnt out
ANDY FISH: (19:30) Any other questions?
Daniel Slaten: (19:30) Do you know of anyone who’s gotten into comics as a second career in their 40s? Is that even possible?
ANDY FISH: (19:30) Comics are a close relative to film
ANDY FISH: (19:30) and I look to Sidney Greenstreet, who was a great actor
ANDY FISH: (19:31) who never did a movie until he was in his late fifties
ANDY FISH: (19:31) I think age doesn't matter
ANDY FISH: (19:31) especially today-- you never see yorr editor
ANDY FISH: (19:31) so it's not like they'll notice
ANDY FISH: (19:31) and even then, do you guys know how old your favorite comic artists are?
ANDY FISH: (19:31) So age is not a factor
ANDY FISH: (19:32) I just did some work for Milestone which is a division of Motown records
ANDY FISH: (19:32) And they flew me out for an event and I get there and I'm in the artist area and I'm the ONLY white guy there.
ANDY FISH: (19:32) In the whole place.
ANDY FISH: (19:32) They were like, "you're white!?"
ANDY FISH: (19:32) I looked at myself and said, I am??
ANDY FISH: (19:32) They just laughed
ANDY FISH: (19:33) and nobody cared.
ANDY FISH: (19:33) So for years I've had interactions with them and for some reason they thought I was black
ANDY FISH: (19:33) even though if you google me I come right up
ANDY FISH: (19:33) and I'm clearly a 50 year old white guy
Gregory McKenna: (19:34) Have you ever left a project?
ANDY FISH: (19:34) Yes I have
ANDY FISH: (19:34) But I've never broken a contract
ANDY FISH: (19:35) So there was this company starting a horror comic company
ANDY FISH: (19:35) and they wanted me to head up the whole thing
ANDY FISH: (19:35) I would get to write and draw whatever I wanted
ANDY FISH: (19:35) and I could bring in all my artist friends
ANDY FISH: (19:35) and talented students
ANDY FISH: (19:35) it would pay me a base of $80K
ANDY FISH: (19:35) PLUS page rates of $250 per page
ANDY FISH: (19:35) so it would end up being a $350K a year gig
ANDY FISH: (19:35) you can say I was excited
ANDY FISH: (19:36) then I met with them
ANDY FISH: (19:36) and they talked about doing the cliched horror type stories
ANDY FISH: (19:36) where a girl is terrorized by a stranger on her front porch
ANDY FISH: (19:36) she looks through the peephole, he's gone
ANDY FISH: (19:36) what does she do?
ANDY FISH: (19:36) Call the police?
ANDY FISH: (19:36) Get a gun"
ANDY FISH: (19:36) Call a friend?
ANDY FISH: (19:36) Nope
ANDY FISH: (19:36) She goes and takes a shower
ANDY FISH: (19:37) because that's what any sensible person would do right?
ANDY FISH: (19:37) I thought it was insulting
ANDY FISH: (19:37) and I didn
ANDY FISH: (19:37) n't want to do junk like that
ANDY FISH: (19:37) so I walked away
Daniel Haddock: (19:37) Whatever became of that publication? Did it ever come out? Did it succeed?
ANDY FISH: (19:37) I don't know, I didn't follo w it
ANDY FISH: (19:37) so that's me on the left-- not a black guy
ANDY FISH: (19:38) Veronica and I sent this out as our Xmas card last year
Daniel Haddock: (19:38) You look like Shatners son.
ANDY FISH: (19:38) people thought Shatner was my dad
ANDY FISH: (19:38) He said they should toss the guy they have playing Kirk and give me the role
ANDY FISH: (19:38) I told him thank you for the tip on Priceline stock years ago
ANDY FISH: (19:38) which made me a lot of money.
ANDY FISH: (19:38) ;)
Daniel Haddock: (19:39) that's awesome.
ANDY FISH: (19:39) Yeah it was a fun time
ANDY FISH: (19:39) He is a tiny tiny man
Daniel Haddock: (19:39) Is Shatner fun?
ANDY FISH: (19:39) Hilarious, I love the guy.
Daniel Haddock: (19:39) He seems like that kind of guy :)
ANDY FISH: (19:39) Yeah he's exactly what you think
ANDY FISH: (19:40) Any other questions?
Daniel Haddock: (19:40) I have a question about myself...What would you say is my strongest feature as an artist, and my biggest weakness I need to work on.
ANDY FISH: (19:40) I think you need to continue your studies
ANDY FISH: (19:40) Which leads me to Illo 2
ANDY FISH: (19:41) Starts May 23rd
ANDY FISH: (19:41) Now here's the thing-- it's a harder class than this one
ANDY FISH: (19:41) but you get a lot out of it.
ANDY FISH: (19:41) The only way to get better
ANDY FISH: (19:41) to master your craft
ANDY FISH: (19:41) is to do more work
ANDY FISH: (19:41) Push yourself
ANDY FISH: (19:41) Dan I think your biggest weakness is a rush to finish
ANDY FISH: (19:42) I think your biggest strength is your storytelling
ANDY FISH: (19:42) which is good because those are the two easiest things to fid
ANDY FISH: (19:42) fix
Gregory McKenna: (19:43) is Ilo 2 doable for people who aren't very experienced artists?
ANDY FISH: (19:43) Absolutely
Daniel Haddock: (19:43) I truly see myself doing this. It feels great when I sit down and create, but I have so much I want to do that I do rush. "Slow Down", that'll have to become my Motto.
ANDY FISH: (19:43) BECAUSE It makes you think further
ANDY FISH: (19:43) Slow Down Bro.
ANDY FISH: (19:44) The best advice I ever got
ANDY FISH: (19:44) was to finish a page, put it aside
ANDY FISH: (19:44) and then look at it fresh in the morning before I sent it to an editor
ANDY FISH: (19:44) which is another reason to stay ahead of deadline
Daniel Haddock: (19:44) That makes sense!
ANDY FISH: (19:45) it's saved me dozens of times
Gregory McKenna: (19:45) screenwriting teachers say the same thing
Gregory McKenna: (19:45) never write something straight outta the shower
Gregory McKenna: (19:45) it always seems good when you first think of it
Daniel Haddock: (19:45) When will the writing course begin ?
ANDY FISH: (19:46) I agree with that--I usually go for a run before I put anything on paper
ANDY FISH: (19:47) The writing course which is taught by Alex runs in the Fall.
ANDY FISH: (19:47) I have nothing to do with that one so I know little about it.
ANDY FISH: (19:47) I would strongly suggest writers take the History of Comics class whenever that runs. Artists too.
ANDY FISH: (19:47) That is essential in learning techniques
Daniel Haddock: (19:48) Great!
ANDY FISH: (19:48) Anything else?
ANDY FISH: (19:48) Feel free to email me down the road as things come up
Gregory McKenna: (19:48) okay can i ask a randomish question about inking
ANDY FISH: (19:48) even if you don't continue your studies
ANDY FISH: (19:48) go for it Greg
Gregory McKenna: (19:48) Do you do outlines or spot blacks first when you’re inking?
ANDY FISH: (19:48) I do the outlines first
ANDY FISH: (19:49) and even before that-- I do the panel borders
ANDY FISH: (19:49) that makes it go MUCH faster
Gregory McKenna: (19:49) cool thanks
Gregory McKenna: (19:49) i was all over the place with that
ANDY FISH: (19:49) Yeah step by step is the best way
ANDY FISH: (19:49) I also don't jump around
ANDY FISH: (19:50) Veronica is working on six pages at the same time
ANDY FISH: (19:50) that doesn't work for me
ANDY FISH: (19:50) I do one page, finish it and then go to the next
ANDY FISH: (19:50) seldom out of order too
Daniel Haddock: (19:50) I have random questions, too.
ANDY FISH: (19:50) GO for it
Daniel Haddock: (19:50) What’s your favorite comic book in publication today?
ANDY FISH: (19:51) I was just at the comic store the other day, I don't read much of what's out now, mostly old stuff. But I picked up SPONGEBOB from Bongo. the Moon Knight Trade Paperback from Marvel and Future Quest from DC.
ANDY FISH: (19:52) I also like LOW from Image
ANDY FISH: (19:52) and I liked UNDERTOW a lot
ANDY FISH: (19:52) Anything Richard Sala is doing I usually get
ANDY FISH: (19:52) I also like Francesco Francavilla
ANDY FISH: (19:53) I was reading Afterlife with Archie despite not being much of a zombie fan
ANDY FISH: (19:53) and it was good
ANDY FISH: (19:53) but it was so late I stopped
Daniel Haddock: (19:53) thanks Andy, I am going to check some of those out. I don't read much modern stuff either, so, I'me always looking for something.
ANDY FISH: (19:54) BPRD is great too-- there's a lot of that from Dark Horse
ANDY FISH: (19:54) I really like those a lot
Daniel Haddock: (19:54) I love the HELLBOY comics, but I haven't gotten a BPRD issue yet.
ANDY FISH: (19:55) Yeah I like them even better than Hellboy, and I like Hellboy a lot
ANDY FISH: (19:55) All right-- so that's that! WOO HOO you made it!
ANDY FISH: (19:55) If you have questions about Illo 2 reach out to me
ANDY FISH: (19:55) and if you have any other questions please don't hesitate to contact me
ANDY FISH: (19:55) YOu guys have been a lot of fun
ANDY FISH: (19:55) and this is one of the most talented groups I've seen.
ANDY FISH: (19:56) There is a great group of students who have graduated this program and gone on to publshing gigs
ANDY FISH: (19:56) and I expect some of you to be there too
Daniel Haddock: (19:56) Thank you Andy! You've been a life changer :)
ANDY FISH: (19:56) I appreciate that Dan
ANDY FISH: (19:56) Don't let ANYONE tell you this is impossible
Daniel Slaten: (19:56) This has been a fun class. Thanks.
ANDY FISH: (19:56) it's absolutely NOT.
ANDY FISH: (19:57) If I can learn this, if I can make a living doing this
ANDY FISH: (19:57) so can you.
ANDY FISH: (19:57) You guys have a nice summer, I hope to see you in 2
Daniel Haddock: (19:57) I can't wait!!!
Gregory McKenna: (19:57) Thanks Andy! Nice meeting everyone, good luck out there! This lowly writer has enjoyed the art adventure, lol.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


ILLO 2 gets into some advanced techniques, check back after next week for details!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Progress has been good-- let's get a into some further inking.

Remember inking is supposed to accomplish three things:

1. Allow your pencil work to be reproduced in a printed edition.  Black ink will reproduce better than pencil line.

2. Establish light, shadow, texture, mood and atmosphere by spotting blacks, using pattern and assorted techniques.

3. Clarify the pencils so that the page becomes easier to read.

In this example by Sean Murphy you can see he uses a rather loose and sometimes scratchy technique to create a sort of gritty feel to the art.

You can create those textures using a variety of materials as we discussed, q-tip, crunched up plastic baggie, your fingertips-- there are infinite ways to do this in ink.

You can also do it digitally, which I'm going to cover in a second.

Eduardo Risso uses a very stark black and white style in his work, shown here from 100 bullets.  Risso does not rely on any gray-- choosing instead to close his form with line.

It's a very clean and engaging style of work.

In this example by Michael Cho-- you can see that he also uses a very stark inking style like Risso, but he leaves some of the definition of the form lines-- like the underside of Batman's arm and chest in panel 1-- to be determined by the placement of gray tone.

If we remove his gray tones (on the right) we see that he has an "open line" style of inking here.  Since the world does not exist in line, but instead in form, this is actually correct-- but many artists are reluctant to let the reader fill in those edge lines.

So in this case he closes off areas using gray.

Any of these methods would be considered acceptable-- in fact ANY manner of inking is acceptable as long as your reader can tell what's going on in the page.

Speaking of gray tones-- one way to add it is to use ZipATone-- it's still available in art supply stores in sheets, and deleter makes some that you can rub down with a spoon.

Essentially its a clear page with some black or gray dots on it that you either glue, rub down or attach to your artwork.

You can also do this in Photoshop.

Start with your black and white artwork, scanned in to Photoshop at 300dpi.

Create a second image either the same exact size as your art or double size if you want smaller dots.

Add a layer to that second image and fill it with a dark gray.

On your color picker, leave the gray color for the foreground color, and make white your background color.  (Your color picker is on your tool bar)

Still on the gray image and layer-- go to FILTER>SKETCH>HALFTONE PATTERN

The PREVIEW FILTER Box will open up (shown) you can adjust the slide bars to the right to experiment with the kind of dots or pattern you'll create.

You'll see the preview change as you adjust the bars.

When you get one you like hit OK.

You'll have a gray dot pattern in what was your gray box.  Use your MOVE TOOL to drag it on top of your original art image.

In your LAYER BOX change the setting from NORMAL to MULTIPLY.  This will allow you to see the original art underneath the dots.

Use your POLYGONAL LASSO to create a box around the main figure in the art (or whatever you want to drop the dots on).

When you get back to the starting point you'll see a little O pop up in your lasso tool-- click it and the whole thing will create the DANCING ANTS effect around the shape you made.

GO to SELECT>INVERSE so the ants will select the outside of what you've captured.

Hit the DELETE Key on your keyboard and the area outside of the selected area will disappear.

Now you can take your ERASER tool, zoom in and erase the areas of the dots that are off what you're trying to fill in.

You will now have a gray area which will add a sense of shade to your inks.

MUCH easier than the old way of cutting and pasting the actual ZipATone down!

MORE ART, More Art and Inking Styles.

Ashley Wood.
Ashley has a loose sketchy style that makes his work very distinctive.

He often inks with black and then rather than use gray, he'll drop in a single color to convey shadow-- in this case green.

Paul Pope
Pope works almost exclusively with brushes-- this gives his work a rich inky line while never looking stiff.

He also has a method where he tacks up several pages on a wall and works on them at the same time, jumping back and forth between them.

This keeps his pages consistent since he can look at more than one at a time.

Rafael Grampa
It looks like he uses a combination of pens and brushes in his work, giving it a lot of textures and values.

His confident line keeps it from looking messy.

Steve McNiven
Notice on Steve's page his lines are almost all the same weight and thickness.  It can make for a confusing look, but in this case it works and remains very clean.

Different Inkers on the same pencil piece-- you can see how each adds their own personal touch.

Inking defines the look of the page.

It's also a good idea if you're experimenting with different inking tools that you do so on the same drawing.

Doing this allows you to focus on the inking technique rather than the drawing itself.  It's the best way to really try new materials.

You can either lightbox your drawing onto multiple sheets of bristol or work from Xerox copies of your work. 

If you go with a xerox make sure the copy is very light so the lines won't show through too much when you ink.

Here too-- the same illustration inked by three different inkers.

Dramatic differences.

Different tools, different techniques, different inking styles.

Really well done.

You can see here looking at the pencils that a lot of the black areas are figured out in the inking process, rather than doing it before.

This is something you really only want to do when you have a few more projects under your belt and are confident in your work.

A QUESTION/Statement came in this week from a student;

Dear Andy
I really want to do this, I really want to make the leap to doing comics full time.  The trouble is I'm in a job I don't really love but I do really LIKE the paycheck.  The fact is I get paid pretty well for what I do.

But I know looking back in 20 years, in 30 years I'm going to wish I had tried this.

What should I do?

Wow is this a great question.

A DECENT PAYCHECK is the worst thing that ever happened to our dreams isn't it?

Boy if we were all paid $3 an hour in jobs we hate leaving them would be so much easier wouldn't they?

But I understand the dilemma completely.

What can one do?

Breaking into the business while working full time is not impossibly by any means, but it's harder.


Get yourself to a comic book convention, have some business cards to hand out and see what's being produced.  Talk to some of the small press publishers.

Companies like Bluewater, Moonstone and Slave Labor pay miniscule page rates (if at all) but they publish regularly.  It's a good way to gain some experience.

This goes for whether you want to work as a creator or in an editorial capacity.  Many of the small companies hire part time editors.

Be wary of companies who want you to come up with ideas for them, while it's okay to work on an existing script or even write a script for one of their characters, coming up with YOUR characters and giving them all rights to it is not okay.

LINKEDIN is a great social web platform that allows creators to get together.  It has several comic art and publishing related groups and will allow you to connect with like minded individuals and businesses.

Submit work to small press anthologies and web comics portals like the one's Sally and I are involved in.

You retain all rights, and can do with your work as you wish.


Spend more time, writing, drawing or editing (see above about working with small press), to build up your portfolio of work.  Once you've done some work for someone it's easier to get noticed by other (higher paying) companies.

Create a blog and use it to promote your latest work, to show off your writing skills, etc-- this is a free and easy way to build up interest in you and your work.

If you are producing professional level work cut out the middle man and publish it yourself. That way all the hard work you do will belong to you completely.

With digital publishing and print on demand it's gotten a lot easier and essentially FREE to do all of it.  A long way from the days when you had to buy your books up front and then sell them store to store.

We cover self publishing in the PRODUCING the Graphic Novel course which runs every other year here.    Be careful because there are outfits out there that charge you several hundred dollars to do things for you that you could do yourself for free.


Pretend you made it and you got hired that one day a week and one week a year.  See if the lifestyle is for you or not.

I've got a student who's been with me for about ten years-- he finally started doing this after six or seven years and last year decided he was going to retire with his early package and jump in to graphic novels full time.  He's just about finished with his second graphic novel and tells me things are going very well for him.


It gets frustrating sometimes-- you can't let that get you down.
Stick with it.

If it's honestly worth it-- it's worth fighting for.

The VAST majority of people in this world give up their dreams.

That's why so few people are really successful.

Stick with it-- you can do it.

Assignment for next week:

Finish your page or do a second new page taking these examples into account, the page should be fully inked and lettered.  DUE MONDAY NIGHT

ROUND UP SOME QUESTIONS about this course, about life in comics, about a career in art, about doing this for a hobby, ANY questions at all because next week is ALL Q and A as it's our last class.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Week #8 Apr 4- INKING

Using inks to add black and white to the page, create mood with light and shadow and effectively develop textures using brushes and pen.

Inking is more than just tracing the pencil lines.

Effective inking adds mood, shadow, textures and depth to the pencil lines.

Let's get into inking Step By Step-- in this case using Stipple.

Mixing finished pencils with ink and paint to achieve stylistic and dramatic effects and style.  How to create a variety of textures using different tools and techniques to mimic the look of a variety of different textures including wood, steel, stone, sky, water, rain, fog and more. We'll also study methods to create form and mood from lighting and shadow.  Examining black on black and how to make it work.  Adding patterns to effect form.

Let's look at the art of stippling with ink.
Stippling allows you to create Gray's with black by using a series of dots either placed organically or non-organically to indicate shadow and form.

Done the right way it adds something to the inks.  Non organic stipple ink is best for man made objects, and you risk a human face looking like a robot.  Non-organic inking means the dots are perfectly spaced apart and equal in size.

It's a subtle difference but Organic inking simply means the dots change size and there is less of a structure to the layout.  This is best for items of nature.

It's a great technique to provide finished ink-- good inking makes a piece clear--

Good inks set blacks, differentiate one object from another and direct the eye.
Notice the illustration at the top-- that's the full size drawing-- the one below it is reduced at it will appear in the printed comic book.

It's clean and readable-- blacks define shapes and depth.

Done wrong and the work can look muddy....

This panel is over-rendered as if the artist didn't know when to stop.  You can see in the smaller panel how when it's printed it's pretty hard to look at.

It becomes very dark, very muddy.

Under rendered is almost as bad-- this makes the work look like a coloring book illustration.  Sometimes referred to as "inking for color" you leave a lot of responsibility to the colorist to provide the finishes to the art if you under render.

From the examples above you can see that an understanding of the human figure is crucial to your success.  Whether you're working in a realistic or a cartoony manner is no matter.

Choosing the pose and the camera angle also goes a long way towards helping you create an effective drawing.

Note how in Fig 1 the character, while drawn well, looks rigid and stiff.
Fig 2 is the same pose but the angle has been shifted.
Fig 3 adds a crouch to the pose-- creating a feeling of menace or weight.

The silhouette test is a great way to check your figure pose.
If the figure makes sense in silhouette then the pose is strong.
If it's a confusing blob then you need to shift the pose.

Looking at the example above we can clearly see this.

The second set of figures are MUCH stronger than the first.
Giving us a better pose.

Its a practice you should use in your figure studies.
In order to create a story that is completely readable you need to make sure your storytelling is clear-- and that includes the poses your characters make.

This will make you a stronger artist

Sometimes a challenge for artists of all levels.

It gets easier with experience but sometimes stepping back and trying to look at the panel or the page with your eyes in soft focus can help you figure out where to spot the black.

Black is used to both give an illustration finish and to draw the readers eye to the right parts of the composition.

It also helps to understand drapery when you're trying to draw something like this.
The artist chose to have the light source high and to the left which causes heavy dark shadows on the right side of the figure.

Rain is accomplished both with the use of a ruler and a brush with both ink and white paint but sometimes with a razor blade too.

You ink your page as you would without the rain.
Then fully dried (and I allow 24 hours to make certain) you take a razor blade and hold it as pictured, then scrape the lines of rain into the black areas.

It takes a LOT of practice to get it right-- you want the blade to skip and grab the page at various points to give the organic impression of rain.

Take an old scrap drawing and experiment with this technique on it.  It may not provide the results you want right away-- but it will eventually.

Frisket is also an option (as is rubber cement which is cheaper and less smelly).

Frisket is applied to a page BEFORE you start inking it.
You should determine brushes or quills you're going to use with frisket and use them only with frisket.  It's a messy material that doesn't mix well with inks so be prepared for that.

You apply the frisket to the parts of the illustration you don't want the ink to cover-- in this example, rain lines, and then allow it to fully dry -- again I wait 24 hours-- and then INK right over it.  The frisket prevents the ink to apply itself to the paper by creating a water tight seal or mask.

You allow the ink to dry fully-- and then erase or rub the frisket off the page-- it will leave the areas covered in frisket to stay pure white.

SPLATTER is another effective method not only to create rain-- but it works for that too-- but also energy or explosion effects, mud splatters and a whole host of other effects.

You dip an old toothbrush in the ink and then use your thumb to drag along the top of the bristles which will cause the ink to spray out on your page.  If you hold the toothbrush up higher you'll get longer tapered ink lines, closer and you'll get a more dot effect.

You can also do this with frisket.

Another method is to dip a paintbrush in the ink and then tap the handle with another paintbrush which will cause splatter lines to appear on your page.

Working with splatter you'll want to mask off the areas of your drawing you don't want effected, either with frisket or paper.

You'll also want to put some plastic down around your working area to prevent a giant mess (and wear old clothes while you're working!).

Putting all these techniques together can give you really great results like this example here by John Romita Jr and Klaus Janson.

The razor created rain is especially effective in this example.

Using non traditional materials to create ink effects is also a tool most inkers use.
These are examples of some.

1- Cellophane-- use a brush to ink on the back of a piece of cellophane.  The ink will separate into various size globs of ink-- turn it over and press it onto the page and you'll get a unique set of results.   Good for a lot of different effects.

2- New Pencil Erasers-- Kirby Krackle.
What is Kirby Krackle?

It's an effect mega artist Jack Kirby created in the 60s with his more cosmic work and it's a great way to create a sense of energy or to draw the eye to an element in the panel you want them to see.

Also a very effective method of conveying the vastness of space, and the energy that exists in universes outside of our own.  In his later work Kirby used it almost all the time.

Back to the non-traditional ink tools.

3- Your thumb or finger.
Dick Giordano dipped his thumb in ink and then created the smudged edges of the smoke behind the main figure in this comic book cover from the early 80s.

The idea with using your fingers is to smudge and smear-- which will give you a really interesting effect.

Permanent ink is going to cause a mess on your fingers.

DELETER brand and other water based inks will come off much easier.

4- Sponges-- cut wedges or small rectangles from various types of sponges-- dip the sponge into the ink and apply it to the paper either by patting it or pressing it down to create a unique set of patterns.

You could also use this method to smear if you don't want to get your fingers messy.

5- Rubber cement-- works the same way as frisket.

Experiment!  Try some of these methods on art that isn't that important to you BEFORE you try them on your finished pages.

Back to spotting blacks.

In this example the light is set LOW and to the left- we know its low because the figure's left shoulder (on our right) is completely dark.

Notice how having that one arm in complete shadow creates a sense of depth-- and the great form and wrinkles on the pants too.

In reality the figure in the center of the panel would be completely obscured by the larger shadow, but by having that figure remain white-- artist Gene Colan creates a great abstract design which brings our eye right to the figure in peril.

Reality is sacrificed for the sake of storytelling-- and that is ok!

The panel next to the example gives us just a look at the way blacks and whites interact here without getting too focused on details.

Sometimes doing this is a good way to test your work-- and it can be accomplished by just squinting your eyes when you look at a panel or holding it up and allowing your eyes to go soft focus.

In this example we see how the heavy blacks in the panel really add finish to the illustration.
The light source seems to be the center of the room-- drawing our eyes across the panel as we go from black area to black area.

Here we see the light source are the panel screens to the left of the panel-- so we get heavy shadows to the right and top areas of the figures observing them.

Again-- nice contrast and very effective in giving the panel a finished look.

Here in this simple background shot we see how a building given a simple light source remains consistent on the figures at the bottom of the panel and creates a true sense of form and depth.

It also adds realism to it.

If the building were just drawn in line so we could see all the fancy brickwork it would not appear as finished as it does by having one side cast in shadow.

Let's look at some artwork that combines all manner of techniques to bring them to finish

Jaime Hernandez is a master of spotting black.
Clearly shown by this early Love and Rockets page by him circa 1982.

His later stuff was much cleaner-- but this is great with it's mix of textures amidst the great black areas.

ARTYOM TRAKHANOV is the artist on UNDERTOW from Image Comics.   I was really struck by his work.  A nice combination of blacks and textures.  Here's more of his work;

All right-- lastly-- I'll run through a piece I inked recently.

First I work from tight pencils-- that way I have very little question about where my ink lines are going to go.

To get it this clean, I lightboxed my first sketch onto a new board.

Step Two-- I ink the title lettering and then start on the figure in the foreground.

Working from front to back, I continue on the foreground figure.

The light source is from above-- so the top of the "rocks" of the figure would be white going to black.

Finish up the foreground figure.
Notice the lines on the hand are thicker than the lines on the leg
that's because the leg is further away from the viewer.

Now I start on the main figure.
I like to start with dark areas first, so I start with her shirt.

Then onto the rest of the figure.
On the arms, I make my lines tapered-- they start thin, get thicker and then get thin again-- this creates a sense of form.

Fill in blacks on the pants.

As well as the right arm.

 Lastly I work in the hair-- again light from above so the top is white while the ends are black.

All of this was inked completely with a #2 and a #4 round brush and Deleter brand ink.

Hopefully all this has inspired you to go out and try your hand at ink effects-
Your assignment this week is to ink one of your pages.

First you're going to tighten up your pencils and start the inking process-- read through this step by step lesson again and follow it.

You can lightbox onto another piece of bristol, or you can work from a photocopy or you can work on the original.
The finished inks for your page are due to me by Sunday night.

Next week's class will not be a regular lecture, it will be a look at your progress and some additional black and white inked comic art to help you decide your way with your page.  It'll review how you did, and give you the opportunity to try it again either with the same page or with a new page.

The week after that is our wrap up class where we review what we've learned and answer any lingering questions you might have.