Posts Tagged ‘Silver Age’

Superhero Movies: Careful What You Wish For

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Recent announcements made by both Marvel Studios and Warner Brothers have indicated that in the next six years there will be approximately forty superhero films released! Comics Alliance has posted an incredible infographic designed by Dylan Todd that details the specifics as they stand now:

That is more than four new superhero films each year from Marvel and DC! This is also not counting any other geek-friendly science fiction films like Star Wars, Star Trek or any number of alternative comic related films!

What have we done? What did we wish for?
Is it possible that the superhero film will become mundane if it hasn’t already?

Will the flood of films, compounded by the plethora of related television shows ruin the thrill of anticipation that used to exist when comic book fans simply longed for a film that could do any superhero justice?

There was a time when it was an annual event just to watch the special effects laden The Wizard of Oz on television. Audiences looked forward to it as a special occasion because it was the one time out of the year that you could always count on to see something spectacular.

Younger generations today do not have that same appreciation because, thanks to modern technology, this classic film can be seen around the clock, throughout the year on a variety of devices. The concept of availability on demand has taken away the urgency that drove families to gather around the television and reverently enjoy it.

This is the same lack of urgency that is responsible for short runs of films at the box office. When great films came out, the line wrapped around the multiplex and down the block for tickets. Films stayed in the theater for six months at a time because it was the only opportunity to see them. Why rush to the theater now when a film will be on Blu-ray in three months? Before videos were available audiences waited three years in hopes that a film would come to television someday.

There was nothing, however, like waiting for a good comic book movie to be made. Superheroes are a special breed of character whose abilities are so fantastic that, for generations, what could only exist on the printed page and in our imaginations could not translate, believably, to film. Comic book fans longed to see a superhero film done right. They had suffered through so many cheesy attempts with only a few that garnered even a modicum of respect.

It was a milestone in 1978 when the Superman film was promoted with the slogan, “You’ll believe a man can fly!” It was a wish come true. For the first time ever, the greatest superhero of them all was finally presented in a relatively believable fashion on film.

The film was a huge success but good superhero films would still be hard to come by. Superman quickly ran his course after a few attempts as did the Batman films but it wasn’t until 2000 that CGI technology became sophisticated enough to allow for believable X-Men and Spider-Man films.

Four major superhero franchises in a twenty-five year period generates anticipation!
Since then there has been about forty superhero films from the big two in the last twelve years and now they are planning on doubling that production!

production!

Who would have ever thought that superhero films could become so commonplace? But with the threat of public domain looming over Golden Age characters in the next twenty years and Silver Age heroes not far behind, the time to cash in on those classic superheroes is now or never.

Fans finally have their wish that good superhero films can be made but now have to hope not to be overwhelmed by them. Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? If it is up to Marvel and Warner Brothers, we are going to find out.

Gerry Giovinco



Groot and Rocket Raccoon: More Than Guardians of the Galaxy

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

The world is about to get giddy over yet another Marvel movie as fans everywhere pace, feverishly waiting for the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY film to be released on August 1.

The reviews that are beginning to proliferate are overwhelmingly positive with an early 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes!

Most of the early reviews claim that the breakout stars of the film are Groot and Rocket Raccoon which is awesome because they are credited to two creators with significant ties to the comic industry’s great charity, The Hero Initiative. The Hero Initiative supports comic creators that are facing difficult times, especially those  in the twilight of their lives. Please take the time to learn more about the mission of this organization here.

Nothing needs to be said about the tremendous creative contributions that the legendary Jack Kirby has made to the medium of comics. Many know that Kirby is responsible for at least co-creating most of the major characters in the Marvel Universe and that there has been an ongoing battle between his heirs and Marvel regarding compensation and copyright revision that is currently being considered to be heard by none other than the Supreme Court of the United States.

Your average movie goer may be surprised to learn that Kirby had his hand in the creation of Groot as well. Groot, who first appeared in TALES TO ASTONISH #13, published in November 1960 even predates all of the popular Silver Age Marvel characters!

Jump ahead 54 years and know that Jack Kirby, who passed away twenty years ago, would be celebrating his 97th birthday this month on August 28 and to honor his legacy, his granddaughter, Jillian Kirby,  is out beating the drums for the third consecutive year, promoting her Kirby4Heroes campaign. Jillian, in true Kirby heroic fashion, celebrates her grandfather’s birthday by cooperating with retailers and comic artists across the country to raise money for The Hero Initiative. Last year she raised over $10,000 and is shooting for $15,000 this year.

If you discover that you love Groot as much as everyone expects, please take your time to tip your hat to one of his creators by supporting the Kirby4Heroes campaign this month. Information on how you can participate can be found at www.kirby4heroes.com

As for Rocket Raccoon, his co-creator, Bill Mantlo, could be a poster child for The Hero Initiative’s wonderful work. Bill was the victim of a tragic accident that has left him severely brain damaged since 1992. According to Bill’s brother, Mike Mantlo, The Hero Initiative that was the first organization to step forward and help on behalf of the comics industry when Bill needed it the most. Mike says he will always be indebted to them for their kindness.

Bill remains in a long term healthcare facility but his brother continues to keep him connected with his fans by sharing information about him regularly on a Bill Mantlo facebook group page. Happily,  Bill is well aware of the excitement that is being generated Rocket Raccoon and is proud that his work is being recognized!

Guardians of the Galaxy is sure to be a blockbuster this year but it has a great opportunity to shine a high profile light on the real people that are responsible for the fantasies we enjoy in the comics and now on the big screen. Many of these creators are no longer with us but their genius continues to influence our popular culture in a huge way.

So when you are stuffing your face with popcorn and reveling in the exploits of Groot and Rocket Raccoon, stare deeply into their beady little CGI eyes and remember that they are more than just Guardians of the Galaxy. They, and every other character on that screen, are results of the labor of comic creators who are real people with real, lives, families, hopes dreams and, unfortunately,  tragedies and ill fortune.

Contributing to The Hero Initiative on their behalf is a great way to thank them  indirectly for the joy that their imaginations continue to inspire and to help those creators that may need a supportive hand from all of us.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Comic Fans, Rejoice!

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

What a time to be a fan of comics!

Face it, we all like to wax nostalgic and can be certain that the era in which we grew up was without doubt the best.

Comic fans, however do have an appreciation for the history of their favorite medium and have managed to classify it in specific ages: Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, Modern Age and Digital Age. Each worthy of distinguished respect for their accomplishments and significance to the medium.

I, personally, was most heavily influenced by Bronze Age comics and the Independent Movement of the 1980’s and can easily justify the greatness of the material of those periods, but as a comic book fan and a fan of the superhero genre I have to admit  there was a feeling of isolation that all comic fans can relate to. One that is now quickly and amazingly eroding away.

Most fans of comics at any time in the last millennium with the exception of the initial fans in the 1940’s know that being a fan of comics was akin to being the black sheep in the crowd. We were alone in our endeavor to enjoy and collect comics, lucky to have any friends or allies that might have shared our passion.

Lone fans had to hunt for their randomly accessible comics and comic related merchandise.  Small groups of hardcore fans looked forward to gathered at small regional annual comic book or science fiction conventions. Successful cons drew just a few hundred attendees. They were intimate gatherings that solidified a mutual respect for the medium and willingness to ignore of the exclusion of fandom by society.

Comic fans wore a badge of honor that most described as geek or nerd but certainly never cool. Occasionally the things that comic fans were interested in burst into popular culture in the form of fads, most of which were quickly dismissed  by the masses.

My, how times have changed!

What was once considered Geek Culture is now firmly embraced as Pop Culture and it appears that there may be no looking back!

The rise of the Digital Age has given us the technology to finally bring comics to life on film in ways that were never possible. Now anybody can witness what used to require the unbridled imagination of a comic fan to fully experience. Fantasy is now teetering on the brink of reality as superheroes, now culturally accepted, have invaded and flourished in virtually every form of media.

Where there used to be a day when one waited years for a good adaptation of a comic book character to hit the screen, now fans must decide which film to spend their hard earned cash on first.  This spring alone it will be possible to have Captain America, Spider-Man, The X-Men and Godzilla all in theaters at the same time!

Television, too, is rife with comic book characters both animated and live action. Gone are the days of campy caped crusaders and  bodybuilders painted green. Only Wonder Woman cannot seem to make the transition from buxom Linda Carter to a modern Amazon Princess.

Out in public generations of comic book admirers of both genders now flaunt their superhero swag in astounding numbers that would have not been thought possible a few decades ago.

Comic book conventions are now a cultural phenomenon that put Woodstock to shame as fans flock by the tens-of-thousands, fully adorned in costumes and well prepared to celebrate their affinity for all that is fantastic. Cons that used to be the stomping grounds a subclass of young men have tipped the gender scales and now attract a well balanced number of enthusiastic female fans.

Emerald City Comicon recently bragged a 52/46 ratio of women to men!

Comic book stores are surviving where traditional book stores cannot in large part due to the element of social gathering they provide to the like-minded comic book fans!

Video games let gamers interact seamlessly with comic book reality giving fans the opportunity to play out their fantasies in realtime allowing them to relate to characters like never before.

Finally there is the internet, the nexus of a booming nation of nerd loving loyalists that can gather and communicate about their favorite comics in every nook and cranny of the world wide web. More importantly it is a place for the comic creatives to post and share there work. Because of the internet, comics are accessible more than ever  and they are being embraced by everyone.

How we got here is as amazing as the fact that we are. Superheroes are now accepted as a global modern mythology rivaling that of the Greeks and Romans. This unparalleled popularity is a vindication for all of us that enjoyed reading comics with black light posters riddled full of Kirby Krackle hanging on the wall.

We were ahead of the curve, rejoicing in a future that was bound to happen. A future that could only be inspired by the magical combination of words and pictures called comics.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Is Stan Lee the Key to a Kirby Family Victory?

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

On May 15, nine Justices will decide wether the Supreme Court will preside over the Kirby family’s battle to regain copyrights from Marvel and Disney of works co-created by their father, Jack Kirby between the years of 1958 and 1963.

According to the Copyright Act of 1976 the Kirby Estate has the right to request termination of these works provided that the works were not executed as “works for hire,” a term normally associated with work created by an employee of a company.

To date, lower courts have ruled that the works, which include seminal characters that represent the foundation of Marvel’s entire universe, were created at the expense of the corporation and thus are considered work for hire.

Convincing the highest court in the land to both hear the case and to rule in favor of the Kirby Estate may require a miracle of epic proportions equivalent to the great feats of the  many superheroes derived from Jack Kirby’s fertile imagination.

The most unlikely and unwitting hero of this legal drama, however, might actually be Stan Lee who stood as Kirby’s collaborator on all of these creations with the exception of Captain America who Jack created with Joe Simon in 1941.

The idea that Stan the Man, Marvel’s biggest cheerleader, could possibly help the Kirby case may seem ludicrous at first but it was by his hand that a cosmic ball could possibly have been set in motion. His formulation of the so-called “Marvel Method” of producing comics where he would suggest an idea to the artist who would then visually plot an entire story that Stan would later script  the dialogue for could undo the work for hire strategy at its root.

This method of creating comics was new and unique to Marvel and was far from consistent with industry practice at the time where a full script would be handed in by the writer for the penciler to follow. Writers were paid to write. Pencilers were paid to draw.

Jack Kirby & Steve Ditko

It is well documented that Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, the earliest participants with Lee of this industry bucking practice, were unhappy that Lee was paid full writing fees and they only received standard penciling fees for their work. They both felt that they should be paid and credited for their share of the writing since they were essentially plotting the entire story, a standard duty of the writer.  Their dissatisfaction with the inequities of the practice ultimately led them both to leave Marvel in protest.

Jack’s duties as a penciler were above and beyond what was considered industry standard at the time. As one of the most prolific pencilers of the era he easily deserved at least the standard page rate he was paid for traditional penciling that did not require the visual plotting unaided by a script. He should have been paid more for the extra work required by the “Marvel Method” but he was not.

If Jack Kirby was not paid for his contribution to the writing of the stories, even though it was rendered visually, how can his contribution be considered work for hire?

Stan Lee has very publicly and proudly described the Marvel Method for decades as part of their formula for success. Lee certainly was not paid less for the work load of the writing chores that he passed to the penciler.

Stan Lee is also a poster child for negotiating a Marvel settlement for his role in creating the Marvel Universe. If Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are equally responsible for creating most of the successful characters at Marvel, how can it be justified that Lee can file a suit that results in a reported $10 million settlement back in 2005 long before the company was sold to Disney for $4.6 billion in 2009? Will the Supreme Court recognize the injustice of one co creator being compensated while the other is not?

Marvel, itself, has obvious doubts about the work for hire relationship it pretends to command over its creators. Lee’s  is not the only settlement they have negotiated going back as far as Joe Simon for Captain America, Steve Gerber for Howard the Duck and a growing list of creators that are settling quietly as the Marvel cinematic universe now grows into a global phenomenon.

No other creator has been signaled out and treated as significant a threat to Marvel as Jack Kirby. He alone was subjected to restrictive contracts regarding his existing work for the company. He alone was forced to sign restrictive agreements just for  the return of his own original art. If Marvel was so sure of its work for hire relationship with him why were they so contentious with him late in his career before his death? Why did they fear Jack Kirby?

The Supreme Court now has an opportunity to finally and fairly define the work for hire relationship as it pertains to the comic book industry regarding properties that were created in the Silver Age and are now becoming eligible for . Hopefully they will realize that properties that were created for meager wages at a time when comic book sales were weakened by a federal witch hunt are now worth an obscene amount of money that could have never been anticipated by the original creators.

Many of the creators who are still  alive and struggling in the twilight of their lives could benefit immensely from any fair compensation that relates to the current value of their creations. For those that have passed away, like Jack Kirby, it would be comforting to their families if their lives in today’s economy could be eased by that which they should rightly inherit.

If you enjoyed comics because you believed that the heroes fought for what was right, now is the time to hope and pray that the Supreme Court will insure that justice is served for those that created the heroes we enjoyed. Collectively support Jack Kirby’s family with well wishes and maybe a miracle will happen.

This can be a great comic book story where justice triumphs once again. If the Supreme Court decides to hear this case it is a sure bet that Marvel will beg the Kirby Estate to reach a settlement, hopefully with an agreement similar the one that Prince just received from Warner Brothers Records, where the work remains in current hands but compensation and control are renegotiated. It would be a win-win situation for all sides especially for the fans who all want this story to have a happy ending befitting of the greatest superheroes of all time. A story of epic proportions that would make both Jack Kirby and Stan Lee proud.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Prince Leads the Charge for the Return of Creator’s Rights

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

According to Billboard, recording artist Prince is ready to  party like it’s 1999 all over again because Warner Brothers Records has returned to him the power to control his music  thanks to revisions made in the Copyright Act of 1976.

The musician that defined Minneapolis sound in the late 1970’s effectively has fired the first, successful, high-profile salvo that should inspire all artists who sold rights to their works to actively pursue termination of those rights within their effective window.

Prince took advantage of a termination clause in the Copyright Act that has generally been overlooked and one that strikes fear in the hearts of big business, especially those in the entertainment world where the stakes are especially high.

How the Act defines transfers of rights is clearly described here:

“With certain exceptions, section 203 provides that transfers executed on or after January 1, 1978 may be terminated 35 years after the date of the grant. Authors must give notice of their intent to terminate not less than two or more than ten years from the intended termination date. Termination of grants made in 1978 could begin, therefore, in 2013, with notices first served in 2003.

An author has a five-year window from the end of the 35-year period of the grant in which to exercise his termination right. If he fails to do so, all the rights covered under the existing grant will continue for the term of the copyright.”

The article continues:

A second termination right, set forth in section 304, applies to transfers executed before January 1, 1978. The 1976 Copyright Act extended the copyright term for pre-1978 works by 19 years. Congress decided that the beneficiary of that 19-year extension should be the author, rather than the assignee of rights in a work.

Congress accomplished this by giving the author (or his heirs as specified in the statute) a right to terminate a pre-1978 transfer of the renewal copyright effective at any time within a five-year period commencing fifty-six years after the copyright had been secured. The author must give notice of his intent to terminate between two and ten years before the effective date of termination.

Corporations do not want to lose the rights to intellectual properties that they have heavily invested in for decades, especially ones that have made them millions of dollars in return. They are anxious to settle on terms that will will benefit both parties rather than lose a property completely.

This is how Prince was able to negotiate control over his music and the return of his masters while Warner Brother Records maintained distribution rights in a win-win situation for both parties.

Prince recognized that even as big a star as he is, he could not generate the revenue with his music that the big label was capable of. Proof of the disparity of this ability can be seen in his album sales since he rebelled as the Artist formerly known as Prince and  struck out on his own in 1991. The purple clad Artist sold 18.5 million albums in the United States according to Billboard’s Soundscan numbers. 14.3 million of which were sold by Warner who accounted for over 77% of the volume.

This is the type of profit friendly sentiment that the corporations are banking on and why we see giant companies like Marvel quietly sneaking to the settlement table to preempt any mass exodus of intellectual property before any litigation makes it to a court room.

The elephant in the room, however, is work-for-hire which designates the corporation as the author and is the key exception to any termination right. There are holes in the work for hire defense though and big companies without iron clad agreements are wary of courts that might favor the little guy.

The battle over what defines the work for hire relationship in comics has been notoriously waged by the Kirby family who, using the same termination clause as Prince, has been attempting to reclaim the late Jack Kirby’s share of key characters that he co-created with Stan Lee between 1958 and 1963. Their attempt to terminate rights which began in 2009 has yet to hurdle repeated pro work for hire rulings and is now being appealed for hearing by the Supreme Court.

Should the Kirby family win or lose, a bonanza is about to begin in the comic book industry in light of Prince’s victory. More creators and lawyers than ever are now aware that any grandfathered property created after 1960 can now be contested, opening the doors to rights termination of at least some Silver Age comic book properties.

Furthermore, any property created between 1981 and 1989 needs to be addressed quickly by creators wanting to take advantage of the current eight year window for termination requests as described earlier.

This is Alan Moore’s perfect opportunity to rescind from DC Comics and Warner Brother’s the rights to his stake in WATCHMEN!

The 1980’s was a prolific era in independent comics and a number of properties exchanged hands from creators to indy publishers some of which were later sold to Marvel and DC. Their work was expressly NOT work for hire! Now is the time for any of those creators to actively seek rights termination or at least renegotiate their terms. Remember that you can always seek council from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Creators, take a stand, get educated and reclaim your rights before it is too late. Be warned that if you miss the window that applies to your work you forfeit the right to reclaim it forever and that is exactly what the big corporations are hoping for.

Now is time for comic creators to choose wether they’d rather be a prince or a pauper.

Follow the lead of Prince who was famously and formerly known as just an artist but who is now the ultimate ruler of his creations. Get your rights back or at least make more money and you can “Party like it’s 1999″ too!

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



The Art of Delivering Comics

Monday, December 5th, 2011

I have said many times that I do not regard a comic complete until it is in the hands of the reader. I say his because I believe that the presentation of the material is itself a critical element that impacts the readers appreciation of the work. Most of my career in comics has been on the side of producing the final package wether it be in print or digital format. Bill Cucinotta and I take as much pride here at CO2 Comics in packaging other creator’s comics for final presentation as we do writing and drawing our own material. This was also true when we were partners publishing comics under the Comico label back in the 1980’s.

Last week I wrote about accessibility, primarily focusing on characters remaining accessible to their audience after decades of continuity that might obscure their fundamental characteristics that make them unique and even iconic. To many, however the concept of accessibility as it relates to comics refers more to the availability of product or more precisely, the delivery of the product.

Ever since the rise of the Direct Market, beginning in the late 1970’s, it seems that  the accessibility of the comic book to the general public, or more accurately the casual comic book reader, has diminished with the relative extinction of traditional mass market outlets that drove the sales in the Golden and Silver Ages of comics.

Overlooked however is the fact that comics do exist outside of both of these markets and are thriving.  Comics may be more accessible to readers now than ever before. Comics are offered in such a tremendous array of packaging and subject matter that surely there is something for everybody and comics as a medium is poised to be recognized for its ability to have universal appeal.

I am going to attempt a breakdown of venues through which comics are currently being enjoyed. some are traditional formats others are new and still others are vehicles of marketing or use of comics as a form of communication. This includes strips, panels, short form and long form presentations. Please, if I miss any don’t hesitate to to send along your suggestions.

Newspapers – strips and panels – newstand distribution, subscription

Magazines –  strips and panels – newstand  and mass market distribution, subscription, internet sales

Comic Books – long format – Direct Market, Bookstores, subscription, internet sales

Graphic Novels – long format – Direct Market, Bookstores, internet sales

Small Press – Boutique format – Direct Market, internet sales, conventions

Web comics– Any format goes including infinite canvas – usually free on internet, some by subscription, some get collected into print packages.

Digital – comics collections on disc or via subscription on web sites.

Cell phone apps– comics downloaded to cell phone

e-reader apps – comics downloaded to e-readers like i-Pad, Kindle Fire, BN Nook

Print on Demand– Comics available as books printed to order from POD producers like LULU.

Zines – usually produced as fan publications, printed at home and mailed or distributed as PDFs via e-mail

Tracts – small religious pamphlets done as comics usually handed out freely by true believers.

Educational -comics used to illustrate a point, often seen in textbooks or educational magazines. The military uses comics to educate.

Institutional– I’ve seen comics used to describe museums and historic landmarks to name a few.

Premium –  This includes everything from free comics in Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum to comics in cereal boxes.

Instructional– Comics are used all the time to show instructions from everything to setting up a computer to flight safety on airplanes.

Promotional-comics used to advertise a product in ad form or catalogue form. I’ve seen promotional comics on comics on place mats in restaurants.

Journalistic– comics journalism has come a long way and can be found as panels or strips in newspapers to magazines and on the web.

I know that there is plenty more out there, I’d love to see samples of comics used in unusual formats, it always fascinates me so please share links or upload pictures to our facebook page.

Comics are everywhere. They are so ingrained in our culture that idioms like word balloons, panels, page layouts, effect splashes, production techniques and genre references are so common place they are easily taken for granted.

It is time for comic creators to lose the sensibility that they are purveyors of a fringe medium whose target audience is a focus group of geek culture and recognize that comics as a medium is one of power through its ability to communicate effectively to the masses in a simple, cost efficient manner. This cultural repositioning of the medium will be necessary for creators to establish their value to a market that will witness an ever increasing demand for this wonderfully versatile medium.

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


The Process of Penciling: Part 3

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Truth be told, comic art can be drawn on just about any surface imaginable so long as it is able to be reproduced. With today’s digital technology a lot of comics are drawn using a digital tablet and a stylus.

The images exist only on a computer screen and may never see the surface of paper until it is printed.

Graphics Tablet with Stylus

There are still plenty of comic artists however that prefer the relationship of lead to paper.

The key thing to remember when choosing your paper how the final image will be inked if it will at all. Some comics, like Raine Szramski’s HEAVEN And The DEAD CITY that can be found here at CO2 Comics, are painted and may require a different type of surface.

Bristol Board

The most popular paper used for comic art is multi-ply Bristol board. There are a number of brands available all of different quality. In general though, there are two types of surfaces. Smooth, which can often be called hot press, machined, or plate finished and Rough which may be considered as cold press or vellum.

The smoother surface is great for inking but has little tooth to the surface which makes it not too fun to pencil on. Vellum surfaces are much easier to pencil on but it is important to find a brand that has a finer tooth and is dense enough that ink will not bleed on the page.

X-Acto Knife

Most original comic art created since the Silver Age has used a 10″ x 15″ image area. 11″ x 17″ paper is a good size to work on and can easily be purchased in pads at a local drug store or art store. Some artists save money by bying larger pads and cutting the pages in half with a ruler and x-acto knife.

Many publishers provide paper with preprinted guides to their artists which makes it very easy to rule panel borders. Pre printed paper can also be bought online. One great source is Bluelinepro.com.

Work with your printer or editor to determine your exact bleed areas and image areas and be sure that the image size you are working with is proportioned exactly to these measurements. This means that when your art is reduced it is the exact size it needs to be to fit the printed page. Comic art generally gets reduced to 60% of the original size for reproduction.

Non Repro Blue Pencil

Using rough layouts as a guide panel borders should be ruled in using a pencil. Some artists like to use non-repro blue lead at this point to avoid erasing unnecessary stray lines. If your page is preprinted you can just use a ruler and draw lines using the guide markers on the page much like connecting the dots.

T-Square & Triangle

If your page is not preprinted you will will have to line up the paper yourself using a t-square and a triangle on your drawing board which should have a smooth strait edge on the side opposite your drawing hand.

Your t-square should be long enough to line up the entire width of your page in the center of your workspace. Line up the bottom of the page with your t-square and tape it to the surface using small pieces of masking tape. Use tape with a light adhesive so it does not ruin your paper surface when it is removed. Cheap tape usually has very sticky adhesive so be careful to find a brand you like.

Centering Ruler

Measure your paper from the center of the page. A centering ruler is a great tool for this and will become your best friend. Avoid measuring in from the edge of the paper. Paper is often not cut exactly square or exactly to measurement and you will discover inaccuracies every time you open a new pad of paper.

Use your t-square to rule all of the horizontal lines on the page following your measured marks as guides. Vertical lines will be ruled by using a triangle sliding along your t-square. You can use a either 45 or
60 degree triangle because it is the 90 degree side that is needed to guide your pencil The bigger the triangle the better. I recommend at least a 12″ height.

Go back and rule in all the panel borders. Generally the gutter space is about 1/4″ wide but should at least remain consistent throughout except when a different spacing may be required to emphasize a visual as part of the story.

Once your page and panels are ruled be sure to label the title of the project and the page number. Now you can begin penciling in your final art. Remove the tape from the board so you can work freely.

Light Box

If you are using a light box to transfer pencil roughs, line up the roughs on the back of the paper, tape them down loosely then turn the page over and trace up the images.

Next week I will go over pencils and erasers and other tools that can help you complete a penciled comic page that is suitable for sending to lettering and inking.

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


Paradigm Shift in Comics

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Deadlines, AAARGH!!!

Sometimes the stress of meeting a deadline can really get to you yet without the deadline some work will just never get done. The deadline is a necessary evil, especially in comics with monthly circulation schedules.

There's No Escape From A DEADLINE

Joe Williams and Tina Garceau do a nice job describing the perils in There’s No Escape From DEADLINE which can be read right here at CO2 Comics.

Back in the earlier days of comics one artist may have to hack out several comics in a month. Sometimes pools of artists would gather in a hotel room and jam to get an entire story done overnight. Guys like Joe Kubert can tell you stories like these all day long.

Joe Kubert, Photo Credit: Jim Salicrup for COMICS INTERVIEW

The worst part was that the pay was not so great considering all the work and talent that was necessary. This is why comics had long been considered the ghetto of the creative world.

Fans of CO2 Comics that have bought our first book David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Volume 1 get a great inside look at what the industry looked like prior to the early 1980’s through interviews with many artists that had been there from the beginning of the comic book industry.

COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection

At times pivotal moments will pop up that retrospectively changed the course of comics and continue to effect the industry today.

One of those moments is described by Joe Rosen who had been a letterer in the industry since 1940 and during the eighties was still a go-to guy in the Marvel Bullpen.

Joe Rosen

He explains how his perspective was that creators generally used comics as a stepping stone to hone their skills, make a couple of bucks then move into a more rewarding career in advertising.

Joe credits Marvel with creating an environment with enough successful product, reasonable pay and benefits associated with contracts that creators could finally want to make a career out of making comics.

When you consider the great talents of the Silver Age, however, you still see a significant turnover with only a handful of guys and gals that are staples.

During the eighties, when the Direct Market begins to dominate distribution of comics, another shift occurs.

Dick Giordano, in his interview, describes an industry that was in danger of running out of talent as the older creators were getting set to retire and so few were being prepared to rise up the ranks.

Dick Giordano

Joe Kubert who tells about his comic arts school in COMICS INTERVIEW, along with some classes by Burne Hogarth at the School of Visual Arts in New York were about the only places that even taught comics at the time.

Dick, while he was running the show at DC, instituted a workshop for young talent that he hoped would help fill the impending void.

The educational efforts of these gentlemen and others that followed, the implementation of the Creators Bill of Rights and the success of the Direct Market and the diversity of product inspired by Independent publishers created a fertile environment that began to make comics an attractive career choice.

Today the numbers of talented people that describe themselves as comic professionals is astounding compared to the expectations of Dick Giordano in 1983.

Though the Comics Industry can still be a difficult place to forge a career full of financial gain it provides an opportunity for success that was unheard of just thirty years ago.

Comics have gained a respect in the artistic community and can no longer be described as a creative ghetto.

Most importantly creators now make comics because they want to, not because it is a humbling stepping stone to a greater career.

I enjoy finding these paradigm shifts as I read through COMICS INTERVIEW. The eighties was such a period of transformation for the industry as a whole and COMICS INTERVIEW was able to look at the whole era from inside out while giving us a clear view of the past through the eyes of the creators that had been there since the forties.

One thing that will never go away, however, is the dreaded DEADLINE and I think I just barely met this one. (Sorry, Bill)

Making Comics Because I Want to!

Gerry Giovinco



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