Friday, March 12, 2010

Technique Files: Creating a comic/webcomic

Part 7: Learning from the masters.

There are many styles of comics on which to model your comic/webcomic. Often comic creators have favorite comics or comic book artists/manga-kas they wish to emulate. I know I do. If given my choice I would like to be an artistic combination of Yuu Watase, Chie Shinohara, Shoko Conami, Kaori Ozaki, with a dash of You Higuri thrown in. Impossible, but a dream nonetheless. In my case, all of the artists I have just mentioned are very famous shojo manga artists from Japan. They generally create black and white comics published in serialized chapters for Japanese TankĊbon, phone-book-sized weekly or monthly anthology manga magazines. But that’s only one style. There are many other styles of comics. I was actually raised on Western comics like the “X-Men” and  “The Sandman” and had never even read a manga until a few years ago.

There are many models out there for newbie comic artists to emulate and that is a great way to learn. Study your favorites and imagine how you might do the same (but better, of course). There is nothing wrong with learning from masters of your craft, even though in this country, oddly, there is a certain prejudice against it.

What about color? Many people think a comic must be in color in order to interest people. I don’t believe that. I am an old school illustrator. For many years most newspaper comics and comic strips were published mainly (or totally) in black and white. Good art is good art in my book. It’s actually quite an accomplishment to create really great illustrations in black and white and there have been many suburb illustrators in the past who have done it. From Winsor McCay’s “Little Nemo” and “Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend,”  to Hal Foster’s “Prince Valiant,” magazines and newspapers in the early and mid 20th century were packed full of wonderful black and white comic art.

Today, many people make the mistake of thinking that color can and will make up for weak art. This is not the case. Strong drawings will always shine, not matter whether they are in color or not. Ultimately, though, no matter what you put down on paper take the time to make it the best you possibly can. That way you will always have something to be proud of.

Next up: Closing a Creative Chapter

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