Posts Tagged ‘Comics Artist’

Lights Out!

Monday, August 29th, 2011

As I begin to write this week’s blog the East Coast is hunkering down in preparation for landfall of Hurricane Irene. Here in South Jersey all of the shore points have already been evacuated and Irene isn’t expected to hit for two more days! I live inland about forty minutes from the coast and I am getting nervous about the potential for the severe damage that can be caused by this historic storm. Today we received a rolling message from the electric company warning about the very real threat of drastic power outages and informing us that those outages could take days to correct.

Those of you that follow this blog know that Tuesday is the regular day for this to post and fortunately Bill Cucinotta will be finalizing the post from Philadelphia, which is also in the path of the storm but significantly inland. Thankfully the city is not nearly as susceptible to damage and outages caused by trees as we are buried here in the heavily wooded Pinelands, home of the fabled Jersey Devil.

I hope against odds that come Tuesday I will be able to enjoy reading this post and be able to visit all of my favorite places on the internet. More importantly I hope that everyone in the path of this storm fairs well and comes through this ordeal safely.

All of this talk about the lights going out is making me think about how dependant we have all become on our computers and other electronic conveniences for our information and amusement. I’ve started reminiscing about those simpler times when I looked forward to reading a stack of pulpy comics on a rainy day. I have to wonder how kids today will get by without power to supply their iPods, iPads, gameboys, cell phones, laptops and televisions.

Even the creative process grinds to a halt when the lights go out. More and more writers and artists are dependant on their computers as their primary tool with which to create. I know I’d much rather peck away on the keyboard, making corrections instantly as I clack along. The option of writing this blog with pen and paper is now just about as obsolete as writing it in hieroglyphics.

Regularly, I review old-school comic creating techniques, most recently looking at the basics of just drawing a line without the use of a computer program. Sure, artists are always dependant on tools to execute their ideas but in the past primary tools were simple and more dependant on the skillful hand of the creator than a complex program brought to life by the power grid.

Have we become so dependant on creating digitally that we are in danger of losing the freedom of our voice as creators when the lights go out? I think that Irene may teach us a brief yet tough lesson, especially if some of us are without power for several days. Besides the fact that milk will go bad in a warm fridge, some of us are about to find out that we need to maintain our ability to create with analog tools like paper, pencils, inkruling pens, brushes, nibs, and rulers.

The ability to create with our hands not cuffed by a computer will give us the opportunity for greater spontaneity, greater freedom and greater control of our own creative destiny. I am not insinuating that we should abandon the use of the computer for creating. Absolutely not! In many ways digital art has opened up an infinite number of doors for creative opportunity. I am suggesting that just as a little league ball player has the fundamentals pounded into his skill set to make him a better player, young artists should master the use of the rudimentary yet traditional tools of the medium to assist in making them better comics artists.

Someday, when and if the lights do go out, It will be the comics artist that has mastered the basic skills that have been used for decades that
will have the advantage and be able to create without the use of a power cord.

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

The Language of Comics

Monday, March 28th, 2011

I’ve looked over a lot of portfolios of young comic artists in my day and the most difficult thing to do is to explain why a budding creator is not ready yet. My insecurities about my own work have always made that task that much more daunting but also gave me an opportunity to understand the frustration of a developing talent.

Complicating the issue further is the subject of style. Some artists aspire to exquisitely detailed imagery while others depend on a minimalist abstract style that to some may imply that artist has little if any drawing skills.

My explanation to a creator that still needed to grow, especially one that on the surface understands the technicalities of the medium, was to equate creating comics with learning a second language. A student can understand all the vocabulary in that language that is possible to know. They can learn to conjugate sentences and even attempt to grasp an understanding of the culture of the language. Even with all this foundation that student may go to the country that speaks that language, open their mouth to speak and still be an obvious foreigner.

Full mastery of the language can only be attained when the student finally has the opportunity to live and breathe the language while communicating to others that fluently express the nuances of the language. Eventually even a dialect can be mastered that pinpoints the speaker of a language to a specific region or subculture of the language.

In short, expertise is acquired by exercising the knowledge. You improve by developing a fluidity that can only be achieved by repetition of action until your skill set is second nature to you. This is true when creating comics, mastery is achieved by a constant commitment and act making comics.

Many comics artists, especially the ones with the most simplistic styles, actually create their own language of communication. The comic artist develops unique and specific visual idioms and trains the reader to understand them through consistency of use.

I always marveled at how well Charles Schulz’s Peanuts characters emoted with just the use of simple lines. The furrowed brow defined by a single squiggly line denoted anger. Double parenthesis around the eyes indicated despair. These along with many other idioms were indigenous to his work and every reader learned to understand and relate to them in a way that made the Peanuts a national treasure.

Comics require a certain visual literacy to be understood. Creators need to understand this and take an active role in conditioning their readers to allow them access to the message the comics artist is trying to communicate.

The new wave of comics that is targeted at young readers has a responsibility to develop this understanding of visual literacy. As comics become more accepted by educators and are used to support education in literature at any level it will be as important as ever to stress that each comic has its own unique language that establishes a communicative relationship between the comics artist and the reader.

Making Comics because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco

Encouraging Comics: Pros and Cons

Monday, March 14th, 2011

My experience attending comic conventions began in the late seventies. Cons made me realize that comics was much more than a medium, comics was a community. When I would walk into a convention hall, wether it was in Philadelphia, or New York, it was easy to recognize the relationship between fans, vendors, and industry professionals.

Gerry Giovinco at a Creation Convention

As an aspiring comics artist, what I looked forward to the most was meeting the pros. In those days cons were a lot different than the extravaganzas that they have become. It was a lot easier to meet and actually get some quality time with the writersartists and editors. It wasn’t necessary to wait in lines corralled by stanchion ropes. Artists would sketch in your program book and ad a signature free of charge!

Best of all, they would take the time to look at your portfolio and offer constructive criticism and encouragement. If you had real talent, they’d happily refer you to an editor.

Comic conventions were always a great place to learn technique. Artist Alleys were often populated by pros and aspiring amateurs, alike. Many artists would bring work along with them and during down time, they would work on a piece. Most of the professional artists also sold original pages and had stacks of original comic art that could be thumbed through and examined.

There would often be an opportunity to ask an artist how they achieved a certain effect. I always enjoyed talking to the inkers because they had great tips on tools and techniques that resulted in the final line art that we would see when the comic was printed.

There is still the opportunity to have this experience at conventions today but I don’t get the sense that the atmosphere is anywhere near as warm, and relaxed as it was thirty years ago.

A few artists that stood out as supportive when I was a rank amateur were Josef Rubenstein, Bob Wiacek, Ken Landgraf and Dave Simons, these were all guys that could tolerate a pesky kid asking dumb questions and hovering…endlessly.

One guy that was a complete saint to me was the great Filipino artist Rudy Nebres. Rudy was often seen with his family in tow. His wonderfully supportive wife, Delores and their two young boys Edwin and Melvin were regular fixtures behind his table.

Rudy Nebres

To say I marveled at his work would be an understatement. Rudy had a way of illuminating pencils with ink that made the originals appear to glow with with an unmatched radiance. I spent so much time at his table that I became friends with his family and would often keep his kids occupied for a while so mom and dad could catch a break.

Rudy would give me tips on feathering and washes that I wish I was better equipped to fully absorb. He showed me how to graft a number 3 Windsor Newton watercolor brush with a Flair felt tip to make a more comfortable instrument and how to cut india ink with water to get it to flow better. That stuff I could grasp!

Rudy must have had more faith in my talent than I did at the time because he gave me a drawing of Vampirella that he did and told me to ink it, just for practice. The last thing I wanted to do was ruin that beautiful pencil sketch with my rudimentary inking skills, but after much cajoling on Rudy’s part I took on the challenge. It never dawned on me at the time to ink an overlay or to lightbox the drawing so now those beautiful pencils are forever buried beneath my timid inks and muddy washes.

Vampirella penciled by Rudy Nebres inked by Gerry Giovinco

It was a tremendous lesson learned, however. I gained an entirely new perspective regarding inkers and their responsibility to the pencils that they ink. A good inker can make any penciler look better but a bad inker will ruin the best pencils every time.

The opportunity to ink Rudy’s art made me much braver when I inked, especially my own work. I’ll never come close to being the artist that Rudy is but I did learn to put down decent tapered lines and was much more brave when applying ink to another person’s pencils.

Rudy also taught me the value of pros encouraging young talent that they meet at cons. It is a lesson that I always remember when I am on the other side of the table at conventions. Plenty of great talent can be discovered at conventions if given the opportunity, some patience and a fair dose constructive criticism.

Making Comics Because I Want To!

Gerry Giovinco

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