With the holidays upon us, now is a good time to talk about things which we are grateful for. In thinking about how I look at comics, I see some useful things that make modern comics interesting and fun.
This includes a couple of artistic applications, and some websites that are invaluable to my day to day as a comics writing "professional."
In no particular order:
Last week, I talked about the use of SketchUp in making modern comics. I played around with it a little bit myself, having had some experience without another 3D drawing program, Blender. It takes a little getting used to with the different shortcut keys and work process, but it IS a remarkably easy tool to use.
I have an example of how a model might inform the art on my website now. It's taken directly from that "James Bond" comic I reviewed last week.
I'm sure if any artist dedicated an hour or two to some YouTube tutorials, they could be adding this to their tool kit in no time. This is triply true because of all the pre-built models that are available from the internet.
For example, if you're drawing a "Star Wars" comic, you'll have lots of choices for a Millennium Falcon. From the simple to the mind-blowingly detailed and rendered. I'm pretty sure without a product like SketchUp, modern Star Wars comics would not look as impressive as they do today.
Clip Studio Paint Update
The digital drawing app Clip Studio Paint has an update available for download now. It includes a new second app, Clip Studio Assets, which functions as an on-line store for new brushes, "materials" (a.k.a. textures), and more.
This update appears to make Dark Mode the new default, is Retina Display ready (so all that small text is more legible now), and defaults the Undo command to 200 steps. You also have new color blending modes, brushes that can adjust opacity by pen pressure, and more.
More Artists Switch to Clip Studio Paint
I'm starting to feel sorry for original art collectors. It feels like the acceleration of artists going digital is only increasing. I love the original art boards, too, but comics is a game of production. The best we're going to be able to hope for is that the artists do their inks traditionally just so they have something to sell. Even then, I bet they're still doing final clean-ups and edits digitally.
Progress pushes on... We'll get back to the original art at the end, too.
It's worth signing up for Comixology's newsletters just for their headlines on comics sales. Some recent examples:
- "An Exceptional Deal for All Human/Mutant/Inhumankind!"
- "X-Factor in these savings..."
- "Save up to 80% and party like it's 2099."
I don't have to tell you what series those headlines are about. I appreciated the copywriting on those.
And, then, yeah, you can buy some comics. I especially love the deals on translated European albums. Some of those you can't even get in print if you wanted them.
What Has Come Before
ComicBookDB.com is my one source of truth for comic book credits. It did bite me once earlier this year, but its track record is so good, I don't mind. A lot of people mention a similar effort, The Grand Comic Book Database, but for whatever reason, ComicBookDB is the one that's always stuck for me. It's not the slickest or the fastest website ever, but it gets the job done for me.
It's best asset is the ability to list a creator's work in chronological order. That one view into the data does a great job in laying out a career in its proper context. You can see where books overlap, or where there's dead time between projects.
The only frustration is when you're looking to see what stories an artist draws, and a book they only did the cover for is listed there. It's credited properly once you click down to the book, but there's no way to filter out "cover artist" or "alternate cover artist."
What Is Coming Next
What's available at the comic shop this week? I check on ComicList.com.
I've been using the site for more than a decade now. It is what I once used when I did a weekly new release podcast every week. There's an awe-inspiring amount of history on the site, including complete searchable archives of every week's release list.
It's a simple website that just gets the job done. It does have a couple other features, too, like making a printable checklist before you go to the store. At the heart of it, though, is just a weekly list of comics. Very handy.
It's an invaluable resource for original art collectors, but also the greatest place to look at art for fans. ComicArtFans.com is basically the social network for comic book original art collectors to show off their collections, make deals, and leave comments on others' art.
Pick your favorite artist, look them up, and be prepared to waste lots of time going down the rabbit hold of looking at original black and white line work.
I'd start with Alan Davis, though I'd probably specify Excalibur pages to start.
From pencil sketches to covers and interiors of the original issues, there's a ton of great stuff in there.
Just prepare to be insanely jealous.
I'm jealous of this page in Brian Peck's collection. Not only is the acting great, but Tom Orzechowski's lettering is prime material right there. Love all the little laughs and the double-walled balloon and the sound effects. Spectacular stuff.
If you want to see my relatively meager collection, my profile is over here.
Happy Holidays, Everyone!
We'll see you back here next week. If Santa is good to me, maybe I'll have something new and exciting to talk about. I hope you will, too. Merry Merry, Happy Happy!