Posts Tagged ‘Independent comic publishers’

Original Comic Art and Digital Comics: The Common Bond

Monday, May 28th, 2012

A stroll around a comic convention is a lot different today than it used to be when it comes to experiencing original comic art which for me, as a young aspiring comic artist, was the highlight of any show. I would always immediately venture directly towards artist alley where pros and amateurs alike would form a welcoming community of comic art practitioners. To me it seemed less like an opportunity for the creators to market their work and more of a joyous reunion of folks with a common bond: The love of comics and a need to create them.

Maybe it is just a product of comic conventions no longer being the casual events they used to be, held in basement ballrooms of fading city hotels with the most sophisticated displays being a hand lettered card stock sign hung on a pipe and drape background.  Professional comic artists were not viewed as the superstars they are today. They were heroes that we related to more like a favorite uncle who always new how to appeal to our inner child. Their art touched us in a personal way that established a relationship that was respected between them and their fans.

Those were the days when you did not wait in line to meet your favorite creator. At best you gathered around their table and shared as a group, listening to their stories, watching them sketch, and learning from their teachings which, though small casual tidbits of technique, were gems of insight into the magical world of creating comics.


Stacked high on their tables would be pages of original art that could be thumbed through and purchased  for prices as low as ten or fifteen bucks! The opportunity to scan through those pages was a chance to stare into a window of a professional comics bullpen. Each page told a production story that was highlighted by the scents of bristol board and india ink often commingling with odors of white-out and rubber cement.

To be able to view those pages and see script notes in a corner, blue lines behind lettering, pen strokes appearing as a texture on the surface and brush strokes laying a deep wash in large shaded areas with a barely visible “x” etched in pencil beneath was a hands-on lesson in every page.

I always got a kick out of seeing revisions. Panels or words would be cut out with an x-acto and replaced with art that was cut to fit perfectly into the hole and secured from behind with a strip of masking tape. Splash pages had photostat logos pasted on leaving a trail of ever yellowing rubber cement beneath.

Every page was art, yet each was also just a mechanical, a production board from which final films would be photographed on large upright “stat” cameras. Each was a path of history, chronicling the creation of the page through the hands of the writer, penciler, letterer, inker, editor and production hand. Void of color, the line art resonated with a power of its own lending a new found appreciation for comics in black and white that would empower the independent comic publishers of the day.

It is still possible to marvel at original art at conventions but the atmosphere is so much more hurried that it is difficult to be absorbed into each piece. Those “uncles” are slowly passing away leaving a void where once was a nurturing wisdom behind the craft of each page. In its place is a new energy that is equally intoxicating, a new brand of comic artist with an entrepreneurial spirit hawking their own works.

It is  thrilling to see the new, unlimited variety of comics, invigorating to see the community widening to include a wave of talented women that was always sadly lacking in that bygone era. What is missing is the original art, replaced by an ernest need to sell small print runs and assorted related merchandise or to direct readers to a growing web-comic. The art exists, but digitally, and can be panned easily on an iPad evoking a sterile creative process free of the sensory stimulators that fueled a personal romance with comic production in my formative years.

As I sit here at my keyboard, I’m suddenly realizing that I am now one of those “uncles” I came to embrace. Not that I could hold a candle to any of them but I have an opportunity to share from my experiences, as they did, only from the venue of this blog instead of a convention table. The new generation of comic creator, who creates digitally, shares too, through all kinds of forums and social networks on the internet.  An aspiring comic creator no longer has to wait, as I did, for an annual comic convention to experience the knowledge of a comic pro, they can watch a tutorial on Youtube or follow a comment thread on Facebook!

Yes, I miss the sensory experience of the creative process of comics. Yes, I wonder if creators are losing an opportunity to cash in by not having physical comic art to sell.  But it is not worth pining over any of my attachment to these relics while I am witnessing the future of comics as it blossoms before my eyes. The community of comic artists is no longer small and relegated to a musty convention hall. It is vast and continues to grow. It exists at our fingertips any time we wish to access it.

Today’s comic artists are creating much more than original art. They are creating the future of the medium. Support them any way you can if you love comics. Go read their web comics. Buy their print on demand books. Order their merchandise. Join them on forums and share ideas. Learn from them and teach others. We are all part of the same comics community that began in those old convention halls. Embrace that past and build the future.

Bill Cucinotta and I, here at CO2 Comics, are committed to both and are excited to be part of this growing comics community of artists with a keen eye on the future. No matter how comics are made we intend to maintain that common bond we always had with those comic creators in artist alley: The love of comics and a need to create them.

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


The Curse of the Undead Comic Creators

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Last Thursday  another comic book legend was lost. The great and inimitable Gene Colan passed away at the age of 84.

Here at CO2 Comics , because recently we have been so focused on the legacy of the late Jack Kirby as can be seen on these two posts: The King and The Man and Father’s Day Tribute To Jack Kirby From His Son, we are a bit sensitive to the continued battles that creators have been having with both Marvel and DC over the ownership of rights of the many characters that make up the universes of both giant comic book companies.

Gene Colan is yet another of the many creators that has gone to the grave never having enjoyed a share of the full value of the riches provided to others by one of his creations. While Gene struggled with his health and the trials of daily living that befalls an aged freelance comic artist he watched unrewarded as Blade, the character he created with Marv Wolfman,  made millions of dollars as a film franchise and helped solidify Marvel Entertainment as a viable film producer.

Gene’s outstanding work on Tomb of Dracula haunts me now as I realize that the long list of comic creators that gave us the best comic work imaginable, delivered by Marvel, DC and a host of defunct comics publishers, are destined to remain as undead as the vampires in his heralded work. Gene’s work, like that of others, will live forever and continue to fill the financial coffers of the parasitic publishers that sucked the creative juices from them with the merciless and unrewarding fangs of work-for-hire.

Where is the silver bullet, the cross and the wooden stake?

Who will be the Vampire Slayers?

The answer is and has always been the Independent comic publishers. The indies have offered the opportunity for creators to own their works since the days of the underground comix.

It is a tough risky battle against monster competition that is ruthless, resourceful and supported by a legion of zombie-like fans that kowtow to their every move.  But it is a battle that must be fought and every day new opportunities to succeed become available. The internet, digital content, print on demand, web comics, new forms of distribution and social networking all aid in the war.

Creators, do not fall victim to the allure of working for the majors! Do not be sucked in by the opportunity to work on your favorite character and the immediate fix of a seemingly steady paycheck or be prepared to watch your work live in the realm of the undead when you are no longer needed or wanted.

The cursed DC reboot will launch another generation of creators who will offer their creative souls to  make a mark on comics history. Will their new versions of classic characters, which are only being created to screw the heirs of the original creations, haunt them into the afterlife?  Will we be watching films of Superman in 20-30 years that boast, “Created by Jim Lee,” a true bastardization of comics  history?

Can we all agree to see a satanic hand challenging the history of this medium for the sake of profit and immortal ownership?

Read The Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book by Gerard Jones, a riveting history of the role of organized crime in the dawning days of comics, and pay close attention to the roots of the evils that have always existed in the comics industry.

Now is the opportunity to see things change and it is not going to be by a Stepford support of the same characters that we have, as fans, enjoyed to the point of nausea for the last 70 years. Demand new. Demand different. Demand fairness. These demands will ultimately lead you to new, independent, resources for comics and you will be impressed.

As for Gene Colan, Jack Kirby, and the throngs of other late, great, comic creators, it is up to us to remember them and make sure that they are credited for their greatness and their contribution to the industry because if we don’t, history will repeat itself, and there will be another generation of lost souls and undead comic creators.

Rest in Peace, Gene Colan, I’ll remember you, your contributions and the joy that your work brought to my life.

Making Comics Becuse I Want To

Gerry Giovinco



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