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  • Meta:

    Things Are Looking Up From Down Under

    How is drawing covers different than drawing inside pages? What do you need to consider?
    Time, money and importance, really. Covers take longer and should really, as people do judge things by a cover. Got to put more detail/extra effort in, I think. Generally they pay more too, so you want to justify it!

    Are there proven formulas in creating a cover? If so, what are they?
    I don’t know. I think there must be, since most are stale, generic things with what can be some of the worst design in printed media in the western world. Most from big companies, etc., are merely pinups, having no bearing on what’s inside. I hate that but am guilty of it myself, but mostly in collaboration with others where I have little control.

    If left to my own devices, I try to make a cover look a little more modern and publicly appealing. I think design is actually important for a cover, and no, huge funky-looking logos at the top, etc., are not the only way to do things.

    How is a cover created?
    Changes all the time for me. Basically, find reference, more reference than I’d bother with on interiors most times, do sketches, sort out layout/design, and then paint image, using whatever process I want to at the time.

    Almost always involves the computer at some point along the way.

    What are some more common mistakes you made when you were starting?
    Hmm. That’s a funny one, as I think I’ve not made many. Don’t get me wrong, I CAN make mistakes, but if there’s problems with the final product, it’s usually been an issue with the printer or prepress people, but I still get the blame.

    “Your art is too dark!” is one I got a lot at first. The stuff printed dark! Wasn’t my fault. My monitor was calibrated OK.

    I don’t think there are many mistakes to make. The work will either be good or crappy, and most times that’s subjective anyway. So just learn through experience. You get better as you go.

    Where do you get your ideas?
    I have no idea. Occasionally I see a ref image I think would make a brilliant cover, but I rarely get an opportunity to use it. Mostly ideas simply come from the head.

    What do you suggest for someone who is just stuck?
    Take a walk. Watch a movie. Refresh yourself.

    How do you know if something you draw is good?
    I have no idea. That’s something very subjective. I think most of my stuff is crap, so I’m probably not the person to ask!

    If you had one piece of advice for a young artist, what would it be?
    A lot of people seem to think they can break in just doing covers — nothing else, just covers. Sadly, unless you’re some kind of Alex Ross, and even he wasn’t before he got really big, then you have a snowflake’s chance in hell of doing it.

    You need to have an established rep before anyone will give you a job doing covers, let alone covers for something you didn’t even do interiors for. (You can have a rep outside of comics though.) But generally you have to put the hard work in and work your way up. If you can’t do that, then give up on comics. Those that get ahead really have to be truly dedicated to this biz, as it’s not exactly awash with cash and fame.

    How did you break into the industry?
    I guess I broke in twice, one through Joe Casey seeing my stuff on my Web site and doing a pitch with me for DC, which never ended up seeing print though it got greenlit, and the other was through Brent Ashe, then art director of TMP, who put my work under the nose of Todd McFarlane. Happened about the same time, too. Networking and advertising do work. Still a lot of luck though.

    Is there any specific terminology people need to know, so they can at least talk like a pro?

    I’m a bad person to ask for that. I talk Australian as it is. I don’t need no ‘pro talk’ on top of that to confuse people!

    How does it work between a penciler and a colorist? Do you have things in mind when you start?
    No idea. Collaborations like that aren’t cost-effective anymore. I’d encourage people to be artists, not colorists or pencilers or inkers anymore. Do the lot, and you can offer a complete product, keep more money, etc., as there’s not much money as it is! You also get to keep a more complete vision of what you see in your head onto paper. Radical? No; it’s economics as much as anything else.

    What type of practice would you recommend for new artists? Seasoned ones?
    Just keep doing it. The more you do, the more you change and improve.

    For a new artist, how does the pay scale work?
    It varies depending on circumstance. I don’t work for the big corporations, so I’m not too clued in on their corporate structures.

    What types of deadlines do you have to work with?
    Because I am crazy, I work on many projects at one time. Generally expect to work upwards of 8-12 hours a day. Generally I try and do a comic in two weeks. or, I guess, two pages a day, though I do them all at once, in a sort of production line of each stage. I don’t think I’m the typical traditional penciler or anything.

    What’s the editor/artist relationship in comics like?
    Varies editor to editor. Mostly, they just leave me be until stuff is due when they ask where the work is. I don’t usually have to be hounded for it. Usually.

    A more hands-on editor, like for a corporate property or something, will probably constantly be wanting to check in with you and see stuff, to make sure the property is being treated properly. No pink tutus on Wolverine please.

    We know aspiring artists shouldn’t go to their Moms for feedback. Who SHOULD they turn to instead?
    Firstly, yourself. Honestly. Don’t kid yourself. Be your hardest critic. Then, if you still think you’re pretty good, post stuff on the ‘net or something.

    Feedback is easy. People might love it, or they might insult you. (Well, I doubt that, unless they’re real pricks.)

    People need to remember that getting into comics isn’t really about how good you are, it’s how well you take the knockbacks and the crit.

    —Interview by Tim Leong

    Posted by Tim Leong on March 2nd, 2005 filed in Story Archive |

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