Friday, February 24, 2012

Have your cake and eat it too!

My cake prop design from Scooby Doo!
My prop design from Scooby Doo!

How to Become a Comic Strip, Comic Book and Graphic Novel Artist




Tools of the Trade

3. Blending Stump - (aka blending stick and paper stump) Solid double-ended pointed blending stumps made of soft gray paper felt. Available in various sizes. When the point wears down or needs cleaning, just peel the top layers to reveal a smooth new point. Also easy to sharpen with a sanding block or emery board. Good for blending large areas of pencil art.

4. Tortillon - Shorter than a stump, pointed at one end only and is hollow. It is thinner and good to blend fine detail areas of pencil art. Made of soft paper and rolled. You can try to roll your own and any paper will do.

5. Cotton Swabs - Works well for smoothing pencil drawings and applying large areas of black ink quickly.

6. Square of toilet tissue - Good for blending pencil art and inexpensive. Roll it up tight and fold in half.

to be continued...



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copyright 2012 H. Simpson

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pencilers Have Better Point Control

Lion King Disney Adventures cover art
My Art for Disney Adventure Magazine Cover

How to Become a Comic Strip, Comic Book and Graphic Novel Artist



Traditional Tools

2. PENCIL SHARPENERS - You can use a wooden pencil, clutch pencil or a mechanical pencil.
Clutch pencils use 2mm graphite refills which are the same size as the wood cased pencils.
Mechanical pencils have graphite refill sizes such as .3mm, .5mm and .7mm

Let's look at how you sharpen all.

A wooden pencil can be sharpened with a manual, mechanical (hand powered) or electric sharpener. The blades inside the sharpener shaves the wood away and also grinds away your precious graphite.

To keep the most graphite available to you it's best to use a razor blade or Exacto knife to carve only the wood away.

Mechanical pencils save you from constant sharpening and in the long term are more effective and cheaper to use a than wooden pencil. You don't really have to sharpen the thinner graphite widths at all. The thicker graphite does require sharpening to get a fine point.

You may have noticed I didn't mentioned how to get the point back on the wooden pencils after you've carved away the wood with a blade. The answer is the same for getting the point back on a thick mechanical pencil; use sandpaper.

While you can purchase a sandpaper block/pad (sandpaper attached to wood), you should know by now I'm all for the most cost effective alternative. In this case it's best to buy sheets from the hardware store. Choose Sandpaper with a fine grit (grade) in the #180 to #100 range.

I used the sand paper block first and I was going through them quickly. I was in a hardware store and saw that the cost of a package of 10 (9" x 11") sheets was less than a sanding block for all the sandpaper I was getting. I bought that package and cut my own strips of 1" x 2" as I needed them and have have been using that package for years. I haven't purchased sandpaper again.

You may also want to try an emery board.

to be continued...


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copyright 2012 H. Simpson



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tools of the Trade

My pencil drawing of Peter Falk as Columbo
My pencil drawing of Peter Falk as Columbo

How to Become a Comic Strip, Comic Book and Graphic Novel Artist

Traditional Tools

1. PENCILS - A non-repro blue pencil is great to use because you don't have to erase it. Anything that saves you time is an asset. Saving time becomes very important when you need every second to meet a deadline. 

Now if for some reason you do not want to use a non-repro blue pencil, then you can use a regular gray pencil. Even though pencils are referred to as having lead, it is really mostly graphite. We call it graphite because the man who discovered graphite thought he had found lead. Today, graphite and clay are mixed with water and pressed very tightly together with high temperatures into thin rods. Graphite gets it name from the Greek word meaning "to write".

You really can use any type of pencil to draw. Be aware that soft graphite smears and makes a mess and hard graphite can dig into the paper if you're not careful.

Art pencils use the English scale to grade graphite which is a combination of numbers and letters with "B" standing for soft graphite that gets blacker the softer it is and much messier. The higher the number the softer the graphite and the more it smears.

"H" stand for hardness of the graphite. The higher the number, the harder the graphite and the lighter the pencil mark made.

"F" stands for fine point. As you start from F to 9H the pencil is able to hold a fine point longer.
The American grading system uses numbers. You may have used a number 2 in elementary school as a kid and HB is equivalent to that pencil. So you can keep using it to draw if you wish. But you may want to put your big boy pants on (or big girl panties) and do something bold; EXPERIMENT.

The fun of art is exploring and playing with the tools to see what they can do. Run away from anyone that tells you you should use an HB or 2B pencil. Buy every pencil grade and draw with them all and see what works for you. 

When I don't use non-repro blue, I have personally settled on a 2 pencil combination. I use the 4H to do rough drawing, then use a 2B to tighten it up darker. Why? Because the 4H pencil lines I don't have to erase. Once I lay down a darker graphite the 4H lines are barely noticeable.

So what are you waiting for? Go play with pencils!

to be continued...

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copyright 2012 H. Simpson




Sunday, February 19, 2012

Talk Dirty to Me

female character design
This art is a character design for a project that didn't go anywhere.

How to Become a Comic Strip, Comic Book and Graphic Novel Artist




TERMINOLOGY CONTINUED

38. THUMBNAILS - A drawing that can be as small as your thumbnail and no larger than your hand. The main purpose is not drawing, but to quickly get you ideas down on paper. It helps the artist more than anyone else, as the artist is the only one able to decipher the chicken scratch.

39. CMYK - C is cyan, M is magenta, Y is yellow and K stands for key. The cyan, magenta and yellow printing plates are carefully keyed or aligned with the key of a pure black ink, the key plate or keyline color. Full-color images use 4 colors of ink on printing presses . The four inks are placed on the paper in layers of dots that combine to create the illusion of many more colors. Image files must be converted to CMYK color space to print correctly.

40. TIFF - Tagged Image File Format. File format used for bit-mapped images to be printed. Files in TIFF format usually end with a .tif extension.

41. EPS - Encapsulated PostScript. PostScript documents that contain information for more accurate printing. Usually larger in size than a TIFF file because of added information.

42. PDF - Portable Document Format is an open standard file format that looks like original documents and preserve source file information

43. FONT - a complete set of type of one style and size.  A specific member of a type family such as roman, boldface or italic type. A font family is typically a group of related fonts which vary only in weight, orientation, width, etc., but not design

44. TYPEFACE - the artistic representation or interpretation of characters; it is the way the type looks. A consistent visual appearance or style which can be a "family" or related set of fonts. A typeface such as Caslon may include roman, bold and italic fonts.

45. DPI/LPI/PPI - DPI (dots per inch) is a measurement of printer resolution. The number of dots per inch that the printer is capable of achieving to form text or graphics on the printed page.

PPI (pixels per inch) is the number of pixels present per inch of display screen. This is for monitors, scanners and digital cameras, even though DPI has been applied inaccurately to refer to screen resolution by laymen and now has fallen into common usage. 

LPI (lines per inch) is a measurement related to the way printers reproduce photographic images using a halftone screen. The LPI is dependent on the output device and the type of paper. This term is used only for printing.

46. RESOLUTION - A measure of the sharpness of an image or of the fineness with which a device (such as a video display, printer or scanner) can produce or record such an image usually expressed as the total number or density of dots, pixels or lines in an image. The higher the resolution the better the quality. 

The resolution is only going to be as good as the output device. So it's a waste of time creating a 1200 dpi image if it's printing from a 600 dpi printer. The image prints at 600 dpi.

47. NON-REPRO BLUE/NON- PHOTO BLUE - It is a particular shade of blue that can not be detected by graphic arts cameras used for professional printing. However, most scanners will pick up the blue.

48. RGB - R is red, G is green and B is blue. Red, green and blue light is added together to form full color images to be transmitted  and displayed on electronic monitors. RGB color space should never be used for printing.

49. JPEG, PNG and GIF - A few of the options and alternatives for the coding of still images for the internet. These are usually 72dpi RGB images and not good to use for print purposes.

next The Tools of the Trade


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copyright 2012 H. Simpson

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Costume design

Costume design for female

Costume Design


Costume design I did for a convention booth babe.

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copyright 2012 H. Simpson


Friday, February 17, 2012

Hellboy

Hellboy commissioned  color art

A recent Hellboy commission.

Hellboy



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copyright 2012 H. Simpson


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Proceed with caution

How comic book industry works poster

Ghost Rider and his creator bad deal poster


Neal Adams sends a message to the comic book industry.
http://www.bleedingcool.com/2012/02/13/neal-adams-addresses-comics-industry/

Make sure you own what you create.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Talking the Talk


Boy standing in bubble

How to Make a Comic Strip, Comic Book and Graphic Novel


Terminology Continued

32. INDICIA - A legal statement that contains the name of the people in the company and the address of the company.

33. LOGO - A graphic design used for the title of the book, character and company.

33. BLACKS - Areas filled with solid black ink on the artwork.

34. BWS - Shorthand for Black With Stars . Pencilers write BWS instead of shading in black with pencil to tell the inker what areas are solid black with stars to indicate a space background or starry night. This is helpful for a few reasons. It saves time for the penciler so they put more time into drawing other things. The inker erases all that shading anyway, to get rid of all that graphite. The ink can ride on top of the graphite and can get messy, so the inker is saved some time. This is commercial art, not fine art, so there's no need to do any fancy shading when ink can't replicate it.

35. SWIPES - Other people's drawings and photos which an artist uses as a reference for their own drawings. A good use of swipe is as a reference or inspiration. A bad use of swipe is copying another artist's work line for line.

36. REFERENCE FILES -  A file containing photos/images of different visual subjects for use in an artist's creative work. the subject should contain a wide of any and everything an artist could be called upon to draw such as anatomy, animals, architecture, vehicles, faces, fashion from different time periods, weapons, furniture, etc.

37. COLOR HOLD - Black ink line work becomes color. Usually used for special effects like lasers, clouds, smoke, invisibility, fire, explosions, etc. The penciler can create a color hold traditionally by drawing that part of the art on an overlay made of vellum, acetate or mylar. Digitally the effect can be achieved in various ways; the simplest is to just put it on another layer.

to be continued…



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copyright 2012 H. Simpson

Friday, February 10, 2012

Paging Dr. Howard, Dr Fine, Dr. Howard

Comic Book page grid template

How to Make a Comic Strip, Comic Book and Graphic Novel


Terminology Continued

17. PANEL - A single image with a border, usually.

18. PANEL BORDER - The line which surrounds the single image.

19. OPEN PANEL - A panel without a border.

20. GUTTER - The space between panels. This is where time happens. The reader fills in the amount of time. A good storyteller uses gutters as a tool to manipulate time.

21. PAGE MARGINS - The blank space around the edges of the page.

22. GUTTER MARGIN - The space between the printed area and binding.

23. BLEED -  Art that extends beyond the end of the page. A full bleed extends beyond all four edges of the page. This costs extra money to print and eats into your profits if you self-publish. Think about how much money you lose by bleeding for no reason that serves the story.

24. TRIM SIZE - Final size of printed page after excess paper has been cut away.

25. CUT SIZE - A standard size that matches the printed size and thereby requires no trimming.

26. CROP MARKS - Crossed lines placed at the corners to indicate where to trim the paper

27. BLEED LINES - Indicates the area beyond the crop marks. The penciler must draw to the bleed lines in order for the art to bleed off the page. Never just draw to the trim lines if you want to bleed art. The bleed size is set to 3 millimeters or 1/8 of an inch. You're wasting time and space if you draw beyond that.

28. SAFE AREA - The space to keep text and other important parts of your art so it's not trimmed. May also be called the Art Area.

29. FLASHBACK - Panels which refer to a past event. Their borders are drawn with a cloudy, wispy or other creative effect to suggest a memory or revelation.

30. SPLASH PAGE - The first or second page page of a story with full bleed page art. It acts a a second cover packed with action or emotion in order to entice the reader to buy the comic.

31. DOUBLE PAGE SPREAD - Two pages featuring one image so big one page cannot contain it. Sometimes used for panel to panel continuity. In this case, it is usually poorly executed if the penciler doesn't take into consideration that unless it's the exact middle page of the comic, then some information will be lost in the gutter margin.

to be continued…


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copyright 2012 H. Simpson

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Making Magic

Boy in front of gas station store

How to Make a Comic Strip, Comic Book and Graphic Novel


Terminology Continued

6. WRITER - Writes the comic book/graphic novel. This can be a full script or plot.

7. PENCILER - Creates the pencil/initial drawings of the story and is responsible for the visual storytelling and panel to panel continuity as well as drawing the characters and the environment.

8. INKER - The penciled pages have black india ink applied over them to enhance the pencil art. The inks are usually applied with a brush and/or pen. Waterproof markers have been used to replace ink also.

9. ARTIST - Fulfills both roles of penciler and inker. Computers can be used now to digitally darken pencils and to skip the inking stage. So the penciler can become the sole artist in this case. Warning: Never talk to an inker and refer to the penciler as the artist and that they are the inker. It's insulting. They hate that! Both are artists even though their roles are different.

10. LAYOUT ARTIST - Draws very rough pencil layouts. this can range from very loose figures and no background to identifiable loose figures with backgrounds.

11. BACKGROUND ARTIST - The artist draws the main figures and the background artist draws secondary figures and the backgrounds

12. EMBELLISHER/FINISHER -  The inker takes on a more prominent role in doing ink finishes over layouts.

13. GHOST ARTIST - An uncredited artist whose responsibilities may vary.

14. COLORIST -  Adds color to the art by hand using paint or dyes. Color can also be added using the computer, which is becoming the standard.

15. LETTERER - Places the text from the script in balloons and captions. This can be done by hand on the pencil artwork or on a mylar overlay. Digital fonts can be used also.

16. EDITOR - This person may or may not define  their own role. They can serve a large company or the creator. They can dictate direction or give free rein. They may catch errors or guide the creative process

to be continued…

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copyright 2012 H. Simpson

If you are interested in further expanding your knowledge, then I recommend these books.

When you purchase a book by clicking the link below, I get a piece of the action and helps me to continue doing this blog. Support an artist today.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Talk the lingo


Woman and man talking

How to Make a Comic Strip, Comic Book and Graphic Novel


Learn to do everything, which means write, draw, color and letter. If there is an opening for a letterer and not an artist, then take the lettering position. It's easier to get jobs from the inside than from the outside.

You don't know what a letterer is? Then it's time to learn some terminology so you don't have a blank look when an editor talks to you. Knowledge is power. Not the power of Greyskull, but enough.

1. PLOT - Written breakdown of the story with significant actions and some dialogue. The artist takes the plot and visually decides the page breakdown and pacing of the story.

2. SCRIPT -  The words; dialogue and captions - that will be used in the comic. There are also directions to the artist concerning the environment, actions, thought process, motivations, emotions of the characters. The script can be broken down in panel by panel form or page by page.

3. DIALOGUE - The words spoken by the characters usually depicted in word balloons.

4. BALLOONS - An area called a balloon which contains the dialogue. A balloon tail points towards the mouth of the character who speaks. The most common balloon is rectangular or oval shaped and called a Word balloon. Burst balloons show when someone is screaming. Double Outline balloons add emphasis to the words. Radio/Electric  balloons show when speech is transmitted through any type of communication device. Telepathic balloons are creatively executed balloons to show telepathy. Thought balloons are made up of bubbles and a tail with smaller individual bubbles. These reveal the thoughts of the characters, but aren't used so much these days. Wavy balloons show the speech of an emotionally or physically distressed character. Whisper balloons are dotted or grayed out to show a character speaking in hushed tones.

4. CAPTIONS -  A narrative device. There are four types used in comics. Reveal location and time of events. Reveal character thoughts. Show off-panel dialogue of character. The narrative of the Omnipotent Observer or a character involved with the story who tells the story - a narrator.

5. OMNIPOTENT OBSERVER - Knows all and tells all to the reader, even things the characters may not know. This is not a character in the story. It's an unknown entity that hovers above it all.

Resources


Fonts
Calligraphy
Transform your handwriting into a font on this website.

Writing
How to Write Comics by Alan Moore

Self-publishing
Dave Sim's essays on self-publishing.

to be continued…

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copyright 2012 H. Simpson


If you are interested in further expanding your knowledge, then I recommend these books.

When you purchase a book by clicking the link below, I get a piece of the action and helps me to continue doing this blog. Support an artist today.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Nitty Gritty Begins

boy at easel on stage painting

The Secret Origins of How to Become a Comic Book Artist


Here are things I feel you will need to know about comic books and art; so I will be discussing:

Tools of the trade
Terminology

Visual Vocabulary
Line

Form
Light and shadow
Composition
Perspective
Anatomy
Clothing and drapery
Animals
Backgrounds
Color theory
Acting
How to tell a story visually and with panel to panel continuity.

Prepare your portfolio
How to find work


Here are things you can start doing, if you are not doing so now.

Get a sketchbook that you can carry with you all the time and draw every chance you get from reality. Draw people and whatever you see around you. Draw the reality of your existence.

Visit museums and see art of all kinds, drawings, paintings sculpture, etc. Read books about art. If you can't afford to buy them, them take them out from a library while they still exist.

Take a life drawing class. You may find some in your neighborhood that charge a fee per class ranging from $5 to $10. Figure drawing will be the most useful thing you can do. If you can't take a life drawing class, then draw the people you live with. Ask them to pose for you or draw them while they watch TV. You'll be amazed how still people are when they are in front of the television.

Find out of if there are any weekend drawing classes (these may be free) at your local community center, high school or college. You may also try finding someone to mentor you.

Start a reference file for yourself. Cut pictures out of magazines and save them. You never know what you will called upon to draw.

If you're here, then you're probably already checking out online resources like blogs, video tutorials and forums, so keep doing this.

Now the first chance you get also take a business course. So you don't become an artist who can be taken advantage of; learn the business of art. Learn about contracts, copyright, management, etc.

Resources

DCD Vendor Services - For self-publishers seeking distribution with Diamond Comic Distributors

Schools
The Kubert School
THE CENTER FOR CARTOON STUDIES

The Definitive List of Comic Publisher Submission Guidelines

to be continued…

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Remember… Just Create!

Copyright 2016 H. Simpson

If you are interested in further expanding your knowledge, then I recommend these books.

When you purchase a book by clicking the link below, I get a piece of the action and helps me to continue doing this blog. Support an artist today.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Don't be a Stepford Wife to the World

Color Outside the Lines and Get Messy

The most important drawing tool you have is your mind. If you can't see it in your mind you can't draw it well. The first physical drawing tools you are likely to encounter are crayons, chalk, pencils and ball point pens. Your most likely initial drawing surfaces will be a wall, paper and the ground. 

I liked drawing with ball point pens when I was younger. I stopped when I let the world tell me "You can't draw with ball point pens." I was good at it and I wish I hadn't stopped. Here's some links to people who are good at drawing with ball point pens.



The world also tells us to "color inside the lines". Again I wish I hadn't listened and obeyed. It's made my art very tight and detailed. I have to force myself to let loose. Now I hate when I hear kids being told to color inside the lines. No! It's wrong. Let them express themselves.

Because your mind is the real drawing tool you can use any part of your body to draw, including your mouth and feet.

Because you mind is your real drawing tool you can use any object to express what you see - a twig, ball point pen, even ketchup (or catsup if you prefer, I'm not picky).

Now let's take a look at what some people do with their minds and no limitations from the outside world.

Ketchup and Fries


Cheetos


Sidewalk Chalk Art




Drawing with your mouth


Joni Eareckson Tada  - A great speaker and very inspirational. I listen to her on the radio.

I hope this rather long series of introductions has been inspiring to you and opened up your mind to many possibilities.

Next we get down to what you were really expecting to see here.

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copyright 2012 H. Simpson






Sunday, February 5, 2012

Robot character design with pencil and final art

Character Design


Character design in progress for a comic that may or may not be published. A dream in the making.

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copyright 2012 H. Simpson

That's the Way Love Goes

man and woman walking around the world

Life is Not a Color Within the Lines Project


Even though you want to be a comic book artist, there are other ways to express your passion. So if you don't find yourself getting a break in the comic book industry, don't get disenchanted. There are other avenues to explore so you don't have to wait tables or work at McDonalds full time.

You can do art for advertising, editorial illustration, storyboards, video games, software apps, books and so much more. In fact, you can do those other things while trying to break into the comic book industry while you're in school or doing freelance work.

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copyright 2012 H. Simpson


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Don't Fight the Feeling

Superhero running

Life is a Work of Art


If you are around 12 years old and reading this blog, this will be very helpful to you. I'm catching you at just the right time. Now is when the world tries to beat you down and tear away your dreams. This blog will be especially beneficial to you. If you are a teenager or in college, then you can still benefit from this.

If you're reading this and you're 40 years old… well this might not be of help to you if you want to make a living at drawing. At least this is what people who try to deter you from your goals will say. You are part of the rat race now. You're trying to survive doing whatever job you're doing now. You have responsibilities and so on and so forth. You can probably quote the excuses better than anyone else can about not having time to draw. You may have to face certain realities if you had the opportunity and it hasn't taken off… yet. 

You have to ask yourself some questions. Have I missed my chance? Is this just going to be a hobby? Do I have the talent? (Some people can't be truthful to themselves with this answer.) Did I never get the support I needed in the past? Is now the time to follow my heart and my passion, in spite of all the reasons not to do it? Is it time for me to take control of my life and do what I've always wanted to do and NOT what other people said I should do?

Because at 40 or any age you can still become successful. Plenty of people have start successful careers late in life. Rodney Dangerfield start doing comedy in his 50s. Grandma Moses became a painter in her 70s after having 10 kids! Both were very good and became quite successful.

The important thing is at any age, don't give up on your dream!

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copyright 2012 H. Simpson

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mothers. You gotta love them.

Pin up girl on bomb
Pat Parker War Nurse commission

I am an Artist


Talent is good to have  You can have talent without passion. You can become a great draftsman and have all the technical skills, but if it has no soul or passion behind it, it's not going to appeal to a lot of people. No one is going to care about the story you want to share.

And you must have an intense desire to share. Everyday you must feel the need to create without being called upon to do so by anyone. Nowadays I get paid to draw. I yearn to be that little boy again who drew in the margins of his test papers. I would draw whenever I could in school and come home and draw some more. 

I would show my drawings to my mom, who was my best critic oddly. She couldn't tell me what was wrong with my drawings. She was no artist. I don't know of any of my family line who could draw. She would tell me simply it doesn't look right. After a silence that passed with an unspoken solution, I figured it was my job to figure out why it was not right. I grew fast as an artist because of her. I would rework the drawing and keep showing it to her until she said I got it.

I still have the drive of that little boy. All creative people need that internal drive and passion to keep them going in the face of disappointments. Something to keep them going in the face of NO!. Because there will be plenty of people to line up to knock you down. You should not be the first person in line to keep yourself from achieving your dream. There will be plenty of obstacles that will pop up and you have to be able to keep going in the face of all of these obstacles.

Don't be so negative to yourself. Don't be so easily discouraged.

Keep reading. Please comment. Just create!


copyright 2012 H. Simpson

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The journey to become an artist.



Icarus' cousin laughing at Icarus' fate

Professional Comic Book Artist and Cartoonist



I'm going to continue to write about how to become a professional comic book artist/cartoonist, which henceforth I'll refer to as cartoonist so I don't have to keep hyphenating and/or slashing. I'm so lazy in that respect. 

By professional, I mean you can make a good chunk of your income from this endeavor.

My work has been published by a few companies. I like to think of myself as a storyteller following a grand tradition that started with our ancestors drawing on the cave walls to tell about the hunt and kills of the tribe.

What I will be writing about for the next few days will apply to all creative arts specifically and to life in general in some respects. Your life experience will allow you to take away what you will from my musings.

So stick with me as I'm not going to follow the stale linear path some people take when they tackle this subject. Boy, do they tackle it! I want to start by slowly caressing your mind. I may digress as my own mind gets inspired. Don't fret, I'll get back on track.



Keep reading. Please comment. Just create!


copyright 2012 H. Simpson