Posts Tagged ‘Cartoonist’

The Power of Independence

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

I fell in love with comics as a kid and eventually it became my dream to be a cartoonist. All I knew was that comics were incredible and the writers and artists were my heroes! The people that created the comics I loved stood on a pedestal in my eyes and were as big a any celebrity.

Surely the people that were responsible for the adventures of my favorite superheroes were as rich and famous as I expected.

I wanted to make comics and be like my heroes, so I immersed myself in everything I could find about the medium.

In the 1970’s there were not a lot of options. There were only a few comic book companies and there was not  much information on how to actually make comics. If you wanted to make comics it seemed that the only opportunity was to learn to draw in the acceptable style of those few publishing houses and don’t dare create any new characters unless you were willing to give them away to those publishers for a mere page rate that was as skimpy as could be.

How was it possible that the comic industry was the ghetto of the entertainment field? Most creators looked at working in comics as a slimy stepping stone to a bigger career in advertising,  television or film. Achievement wasn’t breaking into comics, it was breaking out.

Fortunately there was a generation of comic fans that had the same starry-eyed perception of comics as I did and were unwilling to accept the cold, hard truth that working in comics was a dead-end street.

One by one, these comic enthusiasts struck out into the world championing the medium that they believed in. They knew that the simple combination of words and pictures had power and was able to capture the imagination of large audiences. They believed that the people that had the ability to create these comics deserved to control them and to profit from them. They believed in creative independence.

It is not surprising that this independent movement began in head shops where underground comics gained a foothold in the imagination of popular culture and etched out a business model for grass root distribution to seedy establishments peppered around the country.

Soon comic shops began to spring up in similar fashion offering a fix of a different nature. The Direct Market for comic books sprouted in back-alley garages, flea market booths and trunks of cars. It was this testament to the love of comics and independent entrepreneurship that created opportunity for independent comic publishers to begin to achieve success and compete directly with the giants in the industry.

Just a few publishers of Creator Owned Comics

The Independent Comic movement has been going strong now for nearly forty years and has changed the face of comics forever. Comics are no longer a dead-end street but are now a viable art form with venue opportunity lurking at every corner.

Comics is no longer a medium controlled by just a few publishing houses with strict style limitations. Comics can be published by anyone and distributed globally thanks to current technology. Like any medium or business, it is a delicate balancing act between success and failure but it is invigorating to at least have the opportunity to try.

When I think back to how I imagined comic creators as rich and famous I realize how naive I was to believe that talent equaled wealth. I am glad however that I never lost the dream that making comics might equal happiness. Those of us that have that need  to make comics know that it is the same obsession that drives every artist, athlete or professional that does what they love.

Independent Comics created the opportunity for anyone with that drive to actually be able make comics. Independent comics opened the door to an endless possibility that did not exist unfettered in this medium when i was a kid.

This is why CO2 Comics continually celebrates  Independent Comics and deliberately was founded on Independence Day. We are determined to acknowledge that there is always more to comics than what the big companies have to offer.

Independent Comics have proved that comics are a unique form of creative expression and their richness is not found in the money they make but in the people that make them.

At CO2 Comics every day is Independence Comic Day!

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Going to College to Become a Comic Creator?

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Well, it’s back to school time and this year I have the lucky distinction of seeing both of my children (young adults) off to college to pursue the careers of their dreams or at least discover what that dream actually is.

Whatever career they each may choose it is certain that success will require focus, dedication, discipline, hard work, resilience, knowledge, talent, adaptability, persistence, confidence, faith, timing and luck. Few people succeed without most if not all of these qualities.

Ironically these qualities are mastered through repeated failure. Lessons are learned continually as we each strive for a level of perfection that is acceptable to ourselves, our peers and the expectations of the public. This process is known as practice and it begins simply with a decision to just do what our heart desires, embracing the failures as integral elements of the journey.

Make no mistake about it. If you plan to become a comic creator or a cartoonist, as some people like to say, prepare to experience your share of failure and expect that burden to be greater than most careers. Unless you are lucky enough to have had tremendous foresight to attend one of the few schools with programs dedicated to teach how to create comics, you are on your own.

The list of schools with reputable comic programs is small. It includes,

the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in NY,

The Kubert School in NJ,

The Center for Cartoon Studies in VT,

Minneapolis College of Art and Design,

and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

The good news is that if you are attending any other  art school or a liberal arts college you can piece together a personalized curriculum that will give you the tools to become a fine comic creator.  More than likely you will become one one with an original perspective that is not mottled by preconceived comic industry standards.

Courses to look for:

Drawing: Learn to draw the human figure and inanimate objects, understand perspective, use of light and shade, anatomy and composition.

Illustration: Explore a variety of mediums and techniques for rendering your images. Become proficient in computer programs like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

Graphic Design: Comics is a graphic medium. A solid understanding of design, color theory, typography and calligraphy is extremely valuable.

Writing: Learn the fundamentals of how to tell a story. The better versed you are in understanding literature and character development the better off you will be.

Film: Understanding visual storytelling is very important to a comic creator. Film and animation may be best subjects you can explore to understand the dynamics necessary for good visual storytelling.

Drama: Every character in your comic is like an actor on a stage and you are responsible for their actions and the rendering of their emotions. Drawing from the expressions you make in a mirror is the easiest way to get immediate reference for your comics.

Journalism: Comics are becoming a major journalistic tool. Understanding the techniques and ethics involved in good journalism will be an asset to a comics career.

Web Design: The internet is the most fertile place to publish comics and reach a mass audience. Learn to develop and market a website and you will have your own forum to produce your own comics with complete control over your work.

Business: Learn and understand how to operate your career as a business. Too many artists and comic creators go into the industry with a lot of talent but no clue how to succeed from a business perspective. Make a point to understand copyright and trademark law. Learn how to write for grants  and apply for small business loans.

Everything Else: As a comic creator your job is to express your ideas literally and visually as best you can. The more knowledge you have about as much as possible the more engaging your comic stories will be.

Comics are a unique medium with specific idioms that you will not find in these traditional courses that I’ve briefly outlined. Fortunately, only a search away on the internet, you will find  many books on the subject, along with tons of information and tutorials about how to make comics.

Of course the best way to learn to make good comics is to just make comics as much as possible. Make mistakes and learn from them. Share your work and learn from criticism. Practice, practice, practice.

Make comics that you are happy with. Make comics that make you proud. Most of all make comics because you want to. That’s what we at CO2 Comics do and at the end of the day that’s what makes us happy and proud. That may seem like a small measure of success but if you can’t be happy doing what you enjoy and be proud of your work then it is time to start flipping burgers.

Making Comics Because  We Want to

Gerry Giovinco

Fun Size Mini-Comics

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Halloween is quickly sneaking up on us and soon we will have to contend with costume clad  trick-or-treaters looking for candy at our door. It only takes one stop in the candy isle at the local grocery store to know that the huge candy bars we received as kids have be reduced to microscopic proportions. Some marketing genius coined the term Fun Size to describe these shrunken delights and the moniker has stuck. This year there is even a Halloween themed movie  bearing the title Fun Size.

Over the years, the practice of strangers doling out candy to children has become suspect as more and more sociopathic idiots get their jollies by lacing the goodies with drugs, poison, strait pins and razor blades. My family has turned to handing out inexpensive novelties that can be purchased in bulk from any number of mail order companies like U.S. Toy or Oriental Trading. The little trinkets that might consist of spider rings, monster teeth, tattoos, or rubber bugs are quite popular with the kids and relieve parents of the threat of tainted treats.

Inspired by the wide variety of mini comics that small independent publishers have been producing including CO2 Comics’ own creative duet, Joe Williams and Tina Garceau whose Monkey and Bird mini comic can be found here, I thought it would be great to hand out hand-made, Fun Size Mini Comics to trick or treaters this year.

Monkey And Bird mini comic cover

This is an inexpensive and novel way for comic creators to get the word out as to who is the coolest cartoonist in the neighborhood. It is also a fun introduction to the process of comic production and a unique calling card when promoting your creative services in this difficult market for cartoonists, illustrators and graphic designers.

These 32 page self-covered Fun Size Mini Comics can be black and white, black ink printed on color paper, full color, or color covers with black interior. Their final size is approximately 2.5″ x 2″ They are printed 2 sided on a single sheet of 8.5″ x 11″ paper either on your own printer at home or at a copy house like Staples or Kinkos. Fold them by hand, trim with a scissors or paper cutter and bind with a single staple.

Because the page size is so small art should be simple and graphic with minimal dialogue. You can focus on Halloween images, images lifted from your sketchbook,  or a more ambitiously composed story. Someone with limited art ability could use clip art with snappy one liners  on each page. Be creative. Have fun.

The hardest part of the process once the content is created, is figuring out the pagination. to get an idea of where each page lies, fold a piece of 8.5″ x 11″ paper in half four times. It is important to always fold the paper the same way each time so be very careful to take note Trim the top side and bottom leaving the spine in tact. Number each page taking note of the top and bottom of each page. Fold another piece of paper the same way but do not cut it. Unfold both papers carefully marking the page number and directions on the uncut paper using the trimmed version as your guide. You can now create a template on Photoshop, Illustrator, or a fresh blank piece of paper. Insert or paste art into the appropriate spot careful to face it in the right direction as some will be mounted upside down.

Pagination front & back

Once you have laid out the art for both sides of the paper have it printed two sided on a single sheet. Make as many copies as you think you will need. Fold them neatly using a folding bone or a burnisher to make crisp folds.  Staple the spine with a single staple using any decent household or office stapler. Open your comic in the middle and lay it face down in the stapler so the bent side of the staple will be  inside of the comic. Needless to say the staple should run in the same direction as the spine. Trim the top, side and bottom of the comic using a sharp pair of scissors or a paper cutter. Be sure all the pages are separated cleanly after you have trimmed your comic.

This Fun Sized Mini Comic is a great treat for the kids on Halloween or any holiday and is a wonderful project for cartoonists and their families to participate in together. This is also a great project for educators that may be teaching cartooning or are looking for a creative project in an art or literature class. If you might be thinking about using the Fun Sized Mini Comic as a promotional tool make sure that your name and contact information is prominently displayed on on the cover. Please also remember that if you are making the Fun Size Mini Comic to be handed out to children on Halloween, be sure that the content, including  any contact info or websites that may be on your comic, is appropriate for young children or you will have parents banging on your door the next day.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

The Process of Penciling for Comics

Monday, April 11th, 2011

There is no doubt that when it comes to penciling for comics the first priority should be to learn to draw as best you can and to become an expert at visual storytelling. Once you have mastered these skills it is time to put the lead to the paper, remembering that comic art is made to be reproduced and that penciling is just one of several disciplines involved in making the finished comic page.

The penciler must be conscious of the script, the lettering, and the inking of the finished work. It is the penciler‘ to produce pencils that will enable the other work on the page to be executed properly. Everything from the type of paper to how final erasures will be made should come into consideration.

The tools are important too. Beginning cartoonists always want to know about the “magic pencil.” There is one but, like a baseball player’s favorite bat or glove, it is a very personal selection for each comic artist as are most of the other tools that will be used to create a comic page.

The space that the comic artist likes to work in has an effect on some of the tool decisions. Some artists like to be mobile and move around their home while they create, others like a studio built to the specifications of the Fortress of Solitude. Regardless of the preference, it is important to have a source of light, a smooth surface to work on and a comfortable place to sit.

The above image is reproduced from The Secrets of Professional Cartooning by Ken Muse-Prentice Hall-1981

Comic artists all begin as young doodlers drawing sprawled-out on the living room floor before graduating to the kitchen table. Those flat surfaces parallel to the ground ultimately cause distortion in the image. To prevent this the paper must be parallel to the eyes of the penciler. The penciler usually compensates for this by either hunching over the work or tilting the work surface.

Lap Boards

The artist’s draft table is the best piece of furniture for the task and comes in many different styles but the beginning cartoonist may not have the space or the money to afford one. This is when a lapboard will come in handy. I’ve seen lapboards that look like small versions of actual drawing boards and I have seen smaller ones made out of masonite. Some artists like to use an oversized clipboard. The board rests in your lap and leans against a table in front of you offering a nice parallel view of your work.

Whichever drawing surface you choose you will want one with smooth strait edge on one side which will be important for ruling the page.

Be sure that wherever you choose to work there is enough light. Many artists like a swing lamp that they can attach to the drawing table. I think it helps your eyes if you can mix fluorescent and incandescent light. Some swing lamps have both types of bulbs just for this reason. It is easy to compensate for the mixed lighting if you can’t find one of these lamps. If your ceiling light is fluorescent you may want an incandescent bulb in your lamp and visa versa.

Take a look at artist studio’s on the web and you will find that they are all very different and very personal. If you plan to be a successful comic artist, expect to spend a ton of time in this space so insure that it is comfortable, inviting, efficient and productive.

In the coming weeks I will look at other tools and techniques that are valuable tip to comic pencilers, please feel free to chime in with your own personal preferences. I think it can become a fun discussion.

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


Monday, April 4th, 2011

Making Comics Because I Want To,” has been my sign off slogan on this blog for months now and my own personal mantra since I was a youngster. It was always my dream to be a cartoonist/comics artist but somewhere in my life’s history the idea of making comics changed. Just drawing comics was no longer enough. The act of making comics included publishing them. I could not consider the work complete until it found its way into the hands of the reader.

Bill Cucinotta who has been my partner publishing comics both with Comico and CO2 Comics chides me on a regular basis when I lament not having drawn comics as much as I would have liked in my career always deferring to my publisher self. He continually reminds me that our role in making comics is just as noble. We provide the vehicle that completes the work providing a duty that many creators either have no interest or experience in and we do it well.

Over the years we have experienced a number of transformations as publishers. Originally we were self-publishers creating black and white newsprint comic books featuring our own characters. We quickly transitioned into full color and began publishing other creators whose work we respected and valued. Graphic novels were a natural evolution, Comico published several.

The WORLD Of GINGER FOX Read it on CO2 Comics

The World of Ginger Fox by Mike Baron and Mitch O’Connell which is about to complete its serialized run right here on CO2 Comics is an example of our commitment to quality and diversity. Eventually we set our sites on the internet and began publishing comics on the web. Co2 Comics has flourished, presenting an array of over 800 pages of comic material from notable creators without losing our appreciation or interest for print.

COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Volume 1

Our first print project as CO2 Comics ironically was not a comic book but a book about comics. David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection Volume 1 was our departure from publishing actual comics and a big departure it was, 640 pages of text and images culled from Dave’s magazine. We produced paperback and hardback editions and explored the virtues of POD publishing.

We had crossed over as publishers. Little did we know that soon we would be morphing from CO2 Comics to CO2 Publications where we would add a new imprint, CO2 Books to our shingle with the publication of our first literary project that has nothing to do with comics.

This spring we will publish George Richard Phillip Zimmerman, Jr.’s For the Convenience of the Government, a memoir of a veteran discharged from the United States Navy for being Gay.

This is an important book to us that we knew we had to publish. It is a book about something that we as comics publishers are all too familiar with, heroes. In this case the heroes are the fine men and women of the military that risk their lives for our freedoms as Americans.

There is no doubt that these people are heroes that deserve our respect and admiration. They deserve their dignity. For too long many of these fine men and women have been denied just that, because of their sexual orientation and nothing else. This would not be accepted in our private sector and it should especially be unacceptable in our military.

For the Convenience of the Government is just one veteran’s story of how this injustice affected his life. It is our hope that the publication of this story will enlighten the American people to a grave injustice directed at so many gay people who merely wanted to proudly serve their country.

Our publication of this book is about showing support to these men and women and anybody else who is persecuted for any reason whether it be race, religion, color or sexual orientation. This support is paid forward when you read the book and share it with your friends to establish a consensus that effects change.

Support for a project like this has to begin somewhere. We and the author chose to enlist the power of Kickstarter to aid in the mission of launching this book as quickly as possible and to promote it to the vast group of people around the world that are sympathetic to this type of indignity.

Kickstarter is all about supporting a project that touches you. We invite you to please check out the project which will fully inform you about the details of the book and familiarize you with the author, George Richard Phillip Zimmerman, Jr. who states his case eloquently in a short video. As with all projects on Kickstarter, your support will be rewarded with fine offerings.

We expect to have For the Convenience of the Government available for sale by this Memorial Day Weekend. You can follow all of the updates regarding this book on or on facebook by joining the group: or liking the page:

Co2 Comics will always continue to publish great comics. We thank you for all the great support you have given us as we approach the second anniversary of our own launch in 2009 and we are looking forward to plenty of great excitement in the coming months as our transformation as publishers continues.

Making Comics (and Books) Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco

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