Thursday, May 10, 2018

"Finding Your Creative Way Through Difficult Times"

A real great talk by game developer Laralyn McWilliams about "Finding Your Creative Way Through Difficult Times" Lord knows those of us who do create for a living have all felt this. I have definitely seen my share of dark times. At least for me the way I get through these times is the actual work solving creative problems kind of helps me. I tend to dive full into what I am doing. In away it is a mental reprieve, I am not dwelling on the stress of my life outside of the job. Personally, the thing that stands in the way of my creativity is things I cannot control. the fact that my job depends on someone else doing their job. It can be incredibly frustrating and stressful but it is a necessary evil when working for or with someone else. It is a long video but it is a good listen no matter what job you have that involves you having to be creative in some fashion on a day to day basis

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Art Rejection

A good friend was asking about rejection as an artist when trying to get work in the industry. as a young artist it can be kind of devastating when the big guys call and things just don't  pan out.

Art is a very personal thing it is something we do alone in our little holes.The thing people do not understand  is that art is a piece of  the artist. All our time effort and thoughts made physical, our offspring.  When rejection happens it can hurt if you don't form a tough enough skin.

For all the experience I had It happened to me on (Batman) Detective Comics. For whatever reason DC felt I was not right after one issue and four covers of work. I will not lie I was pretty annoyed about the whole situation  and it affected work I did for another comic at the time.

But I feel we all need to go through that stuff to humble us and push ourselves to be even better. To toughen us up and to not give everything we have to the industry. Remember, The stage will always be there and if you get called up again you will have a better performance than the last. The great thing about this business is we get to do the same things over an over and do it better the next time.

A testament to that is the painting style I used for Detective Comics. I ended up using it for a special edition comic that came with the Batman: Arkham Knight video game and it eventually became the painting style of #AmoryWars the series I working on with  Rags Morales, Chondra Echert and Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria. Issue 10 just came out and we are  two  issues away from twelve. Not bad for a guy who wasn't right for Batman ;)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Industry Standers

There is always that balance of just enough reality or believability in style when it comes to US comic books. For mainstream comics the interest in more stylized art comes in waves. It is usually guided by the general public. A lot of people think that just because something is realistic it is good and shun a lot of the more stylized “Quirky” artists.

Some folks have a misguided perception of what comics are "supposed" to look like based on what was established in the past.But when you look at comic work from other countries you notice a wide range of interesting styles and content beyond superheros.

There are definitely times where I have been told to make things less "Cartoony" and more "realistic" Though I think an artist should be able to adapt their art to get work. My thought about it all is you should be able to beef up an strip down you have depending on the needs of the industry. Look at what is out on the market and get a general feel for what they are looking for. If you look at a lot of the more wild artists when they started they weren't drawing that way. Look at Jack Kirby's stuff when he started. I bet if he went in with the style he had later in his life he wouldn't have gotten a job. So what you do is hold  back the wild style stuff and when you get established that is when you start to inject what you really have. You have to play the game before you can change the game. Playing the game can be a bitter pill but you do it to get in the door.

For comics I consider myself incredibly lucky that I got in on a project where the chains were off. I did everything I wanted to do which was the opposite of what it was like when I worked in animation.

My later career in comics has been kind of proving to the industry that I can do the established industry style with a little of my own flare and work my way back to that freedom I started with.
In a bigger sense that is what every professional artist is working towards. You pay your dues and grind the gears so that you can gain your freedom back like when you first started drawing and doing art.

Or......... you can just say "f@ck it" do s#it on your own and let the industry come to you. ha ha

Friday, December 22, 2017

Here comes the Sandman

II have seen a lot of anger over the canceling of some comic books as of late. I can understand the disappointment of hearing about people's favorite comics being canceled. Lord knows I have experienced that multiple times in the past with some of my favorite titles.

The thing about Comic books is that it is a business in the end and  that sort of stuff. happens. No matter how great the idea or how beautiful the art it is always a gamble of success or failure.

My comic Mosaic was canceled after 8 issues earlier this year. We  worked our asses off trying to make him the coolest character we could. But unfortunately our sales fell after issue one. I wasn't mad at the public or editorial, I'm glad we got the chance to show our stuff with the first totally new Marvel character in years.
Mosaic was not a new character wrapped in another character's clothing he wasn't a rif  or re name of another character who came before. He thrived and fell by his own name. That definitely counts for something.

I see my time on Mosaic as like being on the stage at the Apollo. We danced and sang our hearts out but the sandman still came and pulled us off. The thing is not many could say that they did what we did, stand on that stage and did their thing. Just being there means that at least someone will remember what we did and that for me makes me happy. I don’t mind failing i see it as a learning experience and the next time we step out there we will bring something even better.

I say to some of the creators out there annoyed that their books got let go it's ok. the thing about working in this industry is you get the chance to do the same thing over an over you learn from your past failings and you can make it even better the next time.

For fans of these canceled books I say continue to support them after the single issues are gone. It is not unheard of for a comic series to get resurrected after a book is cancelled. Remember sales are what drive industry. If you want something to stick around actually buy it.

If you find that the big comic studios are not representing your interests there are plenty of other great studios doing incredible diverse sets of comics. Some of which I had the pleasure of doing some work for.

Don’t wait for the Big guys to figure out what you want to read show them.They are always watching to see with the other guys are doing and when they see it is a success they will in turn try to do the same thing.

Remember,  big publishers are not big on risk and if they see something works well they will not hesitate to do the same. So go out there and buy some comic books discover something new you might like what you see and if you don’t why not make your own and fill that void? That's how some of the most famous characters in comics started out.

Hope you have a Great Holiday

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Kojima Book

Today I Got my copy of  A Kojima Book. It was great getting the chance to work with Tarak Chami on this amazing fan project. The aim of the project was to create a physical "thank you" to give back to the creator of the Metal Gear Solid Video game series Hideo Kojima. And wish him luck on his future endeavors after leaving the series and Konami Digital Entertainment.

 I was the first artist to sign on to do this project, in away it was what I always wanted to do. Create something to give back. For me I lacked the funding or the time to do something of this magnitude. That is why I decided to lend my name, work and skills in trying to make this happen for Tarak . After I join the project grew to 75 artists and cosplayers in addition to Metal Gear community groups musicians , Film Directors, actors, friends and colleagues who left well wishes.

It is a testament of Tarak's fortitude to see this project through to the end and ultimately hand the book to Hideo Kojima himself . Tarak did what no one else has ever done. I hope Kojima enjoyed all of our hard work in creating this book and understands what it meant to all of us to give to him.

 I wish I was there to see Tarak preset the book to Kojima and see his reaction.

Check out a full view of the book here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Can I Be Superman ?

I'm going to share with you a very personal story. A story I have never told anyone from my childhood . a story I have not told anyone even my own parents. It is a story about the discovery of race from a child’s perspective.
Superman was my favorite Superhero as a child. I was introduced to him by the Richard Donner films and Christopher Reeve. He used to be a big part of my life. I had everything Superman related. clothing shoes undies everything. One of my earliest memories of going to my grandmother's house was seeing the Superman photo she kept over her desk and the Superman glasses she used to serve drinks in when I used to visit. We connected through our love of the character. When she passed away, I took the last remaining glasses to remember her by, to remind me of our connection.
One Halloween in the 80’s I really wanted a Superman costume. back in those days costumes were real cheap. They used to be made of plastic that would make you sweat and the masks didn't allow for ease of breathing. Obviously knowing this my Mother was hesitant about getting me one at the time. Eventually she got the costume for me.
In those days my Mom had large mirrored walls in the dining room that stretched all the way up to the ceiling. I remember being so excited to finally put the costume on in front of it . When you are a child you can't help but feel by putting on a costume you would in some way be empowered like your favorite hero. I had asthma as a child. I wanted to be Superman. A guy who went out and saved people from danger, who was impervious to most everything, A man who was strong, Someone who didn't have crippling asthma like me.
I remember putting on the costume and being critical of its construction. It did not have cool red boots, it was less a costume and more a plastic tarp with Superman's suit printed on it. I remember thinking, OK it doesn't have red boots but I have red sneakers. Finally, I put on the mask. I stood there for a long time looking at myself in the mirror. What I saw scared me. Superman with horrifying dark cave like eyes looking back at me. I remember running to my Mother frightened and scared at what I saw an not being able to explain what was the matter. all I could do was cry. What I saw was my skin color and eyes looking through Superman's eyes. The pale white skin color of the mask and the darkness of my skin made Superman look like a ghoulish creature. In that moment I realized I could never be Superman. Superman did not look like me and the mask made it worse. Can you imagine trying to explain something like race when you don't fully understand it ?
As a child the question of race never came up. I went to a school that had children of all colors. Being Hispanic it is normal to have family that looks black, white or any other color. That is our world. I didn't have many friends but my closest friends were white, black and Indian. I never thought of the world in terms of color I thought of the world as just people. People came in different colors just like crayons. Just because a crayon was a different color didn't make it any less a crayon than the others.
I took the costume off, packed it back in the box and had my mother put it away in a closet where it sits to this day. I still find it difficult to look at it.
It is important to see heroes that look like everyone especially for children. It's important seeing people that look like you doing amazing things. weather it be a superhero an athlete an artist, write or a musician. It all counts toward inspiring the new generation to strive for greater possibilities. We live in a world of color and what we create should reflect that.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Great Eye Debate

This is Brought on by a great conversation I was having on Facebook with Tony Puryear and Steven Harris.Do you believe the round eyed style used in Japanese comics and animation is some how racist? Is Japanese pop culture training their people to think that narrow eyes have a bad connotation and is unconsciously perpetuating a stereotype that larger eyes on characters is some how good.

Personally, I don't think it does. I thing that the choice to use larger eyes is an aesthetic choice to show the innocence of a character. Studies say that humans are pre programmed to feel more sympathy for things with large eyes like children or animals. In essence the design choice plays on that.

what do you think?