Posts Tagged ‘Rudy Nebres’

Outsourcing Comics

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015



Last week’s blog post, Power Outage at Marvel, suggested that Marvel and DC, in an effort to cut costs, might consider suspending their publishing arms and focus on licensing their characters to other comics publishers to minimize their expenses and risks.  This concept might be a little extreme considering the two industry giants have each been making comic books for over 75 years but there is no doubt that the depth of their intellectual property is now more valuable in other forms of entertainment media and as a license option.

Marvel and DC, however, could understandably balk at the idea of farming out their comic books to others but would still need to cut costs in production or do a radical shift in marketing of comic books if they intend to effect things like DC’s reported two million dollar fiscal loss or Ike Perlmutter’s legendary thriftiness at Marvel.

Given that the current climate of American industry is a willingness to outsource production and manufacturing to foreign countries, it has to be considered that this be a logical possibility for comic books. Recent polls have shown that comic book writers are more popular now with readers than comic book artists, and though the art is definitely more labor intensive, it is also seemingly more interchangeable by today’s standards. What are the chances that art production could be shipped overseas, especially to India where great strides are already being taken in comic art production?

amazing_world_of_carmine_infantinoThere is precedence for this in comics. Carmine Infantino in his insightful autbiography, Amazing World of Carmine Infantino,” describes how, in an effort to stave off a comic artist strike in 1971, He, Joe Orlando, and Tony Dezuniga, went to the Philippines where artists were used to getting $2 – $3 a page. Their plan was to have Tony and his wife run a shop with artists where DC paid $45 – $50 per page plus 20% to the Dezuniga’s for their management effort. Later, a young Filipino artist comes forward at a convention complaining about being paid only $5 per page and it became clear that those running the show in the Philippines were robbing the artists and DC blind. Carmine does a wonderful job of not making a direct accusation but gives us enough information to explain possibly why the Dezunigas do not return to New York until 1977.

The influx of Filipino artists did prevent a strike and it did give us the great talents of Rudy Nebres, Alfredo Alcala, Alex Niño, Nestor Redondo and Gerry Talaoc just to name a few, but we may never know how much it set back the value of American comic artists in the industry.

We are living in a global economy where we are happy to see our electronics, clothing, food and everything else farmed out to people working in other countries for slave wages by our standards. It is sad to expect that the same will happen to our comic books. Many companies already print in China and elsewhere and nobody complains. Who knows? The next issue of Superman or Spider-Man could be drawn by a kid from India working for peanuts.

Just another reason to support homegrown, independent comics.

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

Encouraging Comics

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Last week in the blog I made mention that, back in the day, comics had a long running stigma as the ghetto of the art world and was not a career that most talented illustrators aspired to. The art educators that I encountered were usually very quick to dissuade anyone expressing interest in comics. This caustic atmosphere made it difficult to maintain an enthusiasm toward a medium that was so poorly regarded. Fortunately much of that attitude has changed.

Regardless of all the detractors I encountered as an art student I could not deny that comics was where my heart was and I continued to focus all of my energies on the pursuit of a career in comics.

I chose to ignore the unenlightened and gravitate toward those that offered encouraging support. My experience was that people outside of the arts community were much more impressed with the idea of me wanting to be a comic artist.

Comics is a medium that everyone can relate to simply because it is hard not to understand a message delivered by both words and pictures. It also helped that the most successful comics usually dealt with universal themes that most people could relate to. I always felt that this was my attraction to the medium, that it was a medium for the masses.

Growing up I was always able to find encouragement from family, friends and school teachers. In 1978 during my junior year at Bishop Kenrick High School I had a unique experience that had a solidifying effect on my cartooning interests.

Sister Henrietta

My Algebra teacher at the time was an extremely elderly nun named Sister Henrietta. She was a lovely woman but had lost control of the class partly due to her feeble old age. The kids in the class were so bad she would douse us with holy water each day in an effort to exercise the demons from the room!

I was shocked one day when, despite the mayhem that was the general conduct of the class, Sister Henrietta, signaled me out for doodling in my notebook and ordered that I see her after class.

Expecting detention or at least demerits for my infraction I was delighted to find out that, instead, Sister Henrietta was a fan of my handmade comics that I frequently distributed around school.


Little did she know that she would eventually become a character in one of my creations when I would parody the entire Math department in a comic titled Mathmanauts inspired by one of my favorite comics of the time, Micronauts by Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden.

Inspiration fot The Mathmanauts

Sister had much more up her sleeve than respect for my work. She had a deal in mind. The same deal she presented to a former student of hers who she wondered if I might know.

Bil Keane 1990

Decades prior, the great Bil Keane, creator of the iconic Family Circus daily comic, was a doodler in her class and she let him off the hook with a promise that he would pursue his dream and be a successful cartoonist.

We all know that Bil lived up to his end of the deal, still creating his comic now with the help of his son, Jeff.

Sister Henrietta had stayed in touch with Bil Keane over the years and, shortly after I had agreed to the same promise, she rewarded me with a piece of original art and an encouraging critique received from Bil himself in response to some samples of my work that she had sent to him unbeknownst to me.

Bil Keane Letter

Delivering on a promise

Bil Keane’s shoes are nearly impossible to fill but I was anxious to be included in the pedigree of Sister’s success stories. In 1982 I rushed to the convent to personally deliver a copy of my first published comic work that appeared in Comico Primer #1. Bedridden, it was clear that Sister Henrietta would not be with us much longer but she found great comfort knowing that she was still able to encourage the dreams of her students.

That Family Circus original still hangs by my drawing board as a constant reminder of my deal made with Sister over thirty years ago. It has come to my attention that she made that deal with every doodler she encountered though I like to think that I am one of the few that have such a precious memento and actually delivered on my end of the bargain.

Original Bil Keane

When I was informed recently by my friend and former student of Sister Henrietta’s, Aaron Keaton, that Sister sprung that deal regularly in her day, I dropped a quick email to Bil Keane letting him know how she had used his example to keep us hack doodlers in line all those years.

Bil simply responded, “That sounds like, Sister!

I have a few more great stories like this that include encounters with Arnold Roth, Rudy Nebres and others that have offered moral support to me when when I was a budding comic creator which I will share in coming weeks.

If anyone out there has similar tales I would love to read them! Send them along as comments on the blog or directly to me by e-mail. I’ll be happy to share them here.

Encouragement makes a huge difference, especially to a young creator seeking creative direction in their life. I make it a point to be a positive influence on a young talent every chance I get and I hope that other comics creators do the same.

Influence is a legacy that can rarely be measured but its impact is universal.

Making Comics Because I Want to.

Gerry Giovinco

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