Friday, October 31, 2008

Tips and Tricks: "It's Who You Know"

When speaking with young cartoonists, at some point the question inevitably comes up, "How do you get work?"  Usually, by the time I draw breath and start talking, they follow up with a sigh and a resigned "...or is it just who you know?"  Well, let me make two things clear.  

One, yes, it is who you know.  
Nearly all of the work that I've gotten and that we at Big Time Attic have gotten together has been through someone one of us knew, worked with previously, met at a convention, was related to, lived or worked close to, or who somehow recommended us out of all of the millions of cartoonists out there.  

Two, that's not exactly that strange.  
People who need work done can't be expected to have an encyclopedic knowledge of every cartoonist out there; they only typically remember at most a dozen off the top of their heads.  If you know them, you instantly jump into that dozen.  But you need a couple things if you want to actually do the work.

Be Ready.
Being thought of is not the same as getting the job.  Everybody gets considered for jobs all the time, but the question is, are you ready for it?  And almost as importantly, do other people KNOW you're ready for it?  When they come to you and say, "Can you draw this many drawings in this style by this deadline?" you have to be able to honestly, and credibly,  answer yes.  

Deliver the Goods.
And then you have to make good on your promises.  This is an important point:  most of the people we work with we work with several times.  So that means you have to turn in work that is good and on time, and you need to be easy to deal with.  Doing this means you stay in people's heads as the right person for the job.  A lot of clients out there will go with someone whose style is ALMOST right over someone whose style is JUST right if they know that person is fast, good, and easy to work with.  This frequently makes the difference between working constantly and bitterly grumbling about how no one appreciates you.

Be a Known Quantity.
I always tell people that when it comes to drawing style, focus on depth rather than breadth.  That is to say, rather than be able to pencil a comic in every style from scary vampires to fluffy ponies, it's better to work in a relatively narrow range (say, just humorous illustration) but be able to pencil, ink, letter, color, and, if necessary, do design and prepress work in that style.  That 1) makes you jump to the top of people's minds when they think, "Who could draw this funny comic?" and 2) makes you an easy choice, since you can take care of everything from the word go.

When you can draw pretty well in every style, you have the problem of never being the best at anything (and, of course, never being KNOWN to be the best at anything).  There will always be a better vampire guy or pony guy than you because that's all they do.  

There's no question that literally only having one style would limit you in what jobs you can take, and so it's important to be able to have a certain range.  If you do humorous stuff, you need to make sure you could do a funny superhero story or a funny vampire story or a funny fluffy pony story, all within what people recognize as your style.  The main thing is that people, when they think of you, can imagine how you would draw the book.  That's how you get the job.

So yes, it is who you know.  But it's not some kind of old boys' network that just gives jobs to people's sons.  It's about preparing your skills so that they are top notch, and then getting out there, whether it's on the internet, at comic conventions, or even at the comics store and showing people your work, so that the next time they need someone to draw something, they call you.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blotchmen on Facebook

I learned this morning that someone has created a Blotchmen fan page on Facebook.

Kids and their internet! What will they come up with next?


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Zander's 2008 24-Hour Comic is Online!

Here we are again.  I'm already forgetting how emphatically I swore I'd never do this again, sometime around 2 in the morning this past Sunday.

This year, I was forced to abandon my beloved Pentel Pocket Brush Pen by an errant air conditioning duct that somehow made the pen ooze ink out of the side of the bristles.  Sorcery!  So I had to scramble and quickly switch to Micron pens, and it actually made for a cleaner and sharper looking comic.  

As with every year, I decided on a genre (this year, a superhero thriller), and then drew a Pictionary card to determine the plot points.  This year, the card had the following words to be made into a plot:

Fig Leaf

Also, this is the first year that I have not actually accomplished the 24 hour goal.  I regret to say I had to turn in a Noble Failure: Eastman Variation.  I was not finished at hour 24, so I stuck it out and finished by hour 25.  This is not fun, when everyone else is done and leaving.  And sitting next to you saying nice, helpful, supportive things.  And your brain has almost shut down with fatigue and frustration.  

The reasons for this failure are several:  

1.  I drew too many panels (167; the accepted number for a qualifying online comic is 100)
2.  I ignored my own advice and pencilled the second half of the comic before inking or lettering it.  I was behind and I thought this would help.  Foolish.
3.  Working with a pen forced me to be a bit more precise than I would be with a PPBP, and so I had to think about the details of each panel a bit more so it wouldn't look bad.
4.  There were some very chatty people at this year's event, one of whom, whose name I will not mention, was not working on a 24 hour comic and so had just a bit too much time on his hands.
5.  I've been working on a similarly-formatted comic without such strict time constraints and got a little soft.

Anyway, the comic is called Golden Wing versus The Freezer, and it's not all that bad.  You know, all things considered.

Click on the following image to read this year's attempt:

If you don't have a Flash player on your computer, here is the comic in one long scroll:

Warning:  It's 1.2 Megabytes.

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Monday, October 20, 2008


Man, what a great weekend! This was my fifth 24 hour comic day event, and it definitely went the smoothest. Most of that was due to working smaller and having more time each hour to walk around, eat food, and sprint around the building.

Anyway, here's my comic for this year. For reasons that will become clear when you read it, it was important to colorize this one.

The original intent of the story was to be a Watchmen parody, but it ended up being more of a parody of a few of my favorite children's books. Although, while not intentional, you could make a case for Harold = Dr. Manhattan, and Max = Veidt.

[click image to read the story]

Read all about our crazy day of madness at /

Also... thanks for the press, Press!
- Comics Reporter
- The Beat

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

24HCD T-Shirt?

Hey, I'm going to make a 24 Hr Comic Day t-shirt for myself (the iron-on kind), and I thought I'd see if anyone else wanted one, too.

The art will be a panel from the 24HCD poster, blown up to maybe 3" x 3". I haven't picked mine yet. Maybe the "Robot Walk Away" panel.

Basically, if you bring a t-shirt to 24 Hr Comic Day this Saturday, I'll bring the artwork and an iron. If you're interested, let me know in the comments section which panel you want. Let me know by 5pm Friday, and then bring your shirt (washed and wrinkle-free!) to the event at MCBA this weekend.

Here's a link for the poster to help you pick out your panel.


"Hot Ink" in VITA.MN

This week's VITA.MN features a great review of the comics show that Zander and I are in. St. Paul's Minnesota Museum of American Art is showing "Hot Ink: Comic Art in Minnesota," a collection of original art, sketchbooks, and process materials from local cartoonists.

The opening reception party was a few weeks ago and we had a blast -- Reynold Kissling has posted a few photos from the event, and there's a gallery on the MMAA's website, but if you've got any more, please send us a link!

You can pick up a copy of Vita.MN on freebie newstands through next Tuesday.


Friday, October 10, 2008

24 Hour Comic Day: What is the What

If you're planning on doing 24HCD in Minneapolis this year (it starts a week from Saturday) please read Danno's post on the 24 Hr Day blog.

He details the food situation, the parking situation ... and most importantly, the situation situation.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

"Time Travel" now online!

You can now read all 48 pages of "Time Travel" (the latest Sloth Force Seven adventure) by clicking ... HERE.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Matthew Kriske's "Magic Carp" Debuts

When Kriske told me he was working on an online comic, I thought, okay, this'll be fun, a little manga Kriske walking around in a cartoon version of his religious high school. Well, "Magic Carp" has officially debuted, and it's not what I was expecting -- in a good way!

Magic Carp is more art than cartoon, and in that vein, episode #1 is more like a sketchbook page than anything else. I look forward to seeing where this goes, and whether Kriske will succumb to having such ordinary things as characters or a narrative.

So good luck, Magic Carp! The champagne bottle is broken in your honor.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Jaime Hernandez Speaking at Twin Cities Book Festival

Zak Sally will be interviewing cartoonist Jaime Hernandez at the Twin Cities Book Festival this weekend. Plus, Zander and I will have a table set up in the convention area. So why not swing by, see what Zak and Jaime are chatting about, and then throw some dollar bills at us?

[ click for larger version ]

See you there!


Sunday, October 05, 2008

FallCon 2008: Day Two

Here are some more happenings at FallCon 2008:

Gene Ha

Lewis Tuck and Sam Hiti

Tim Sievert and Brett von Schlosser

Members of the Cartoonist Conspiracy ... posing for an '80s sitcom?

King Mini and Tom K

Mike Toft

Zander doing a sketch

Jon Sloan and Carl Nelson

Mike Sgier

The Big Time Attic Table of Wonder

Amado Rodriguez (aka Arex) at the Conspiracy Jam table

Puny's fancy set-up

Mitch Loidolt poses behind a man in a banana costume


Saturday, October 04, 2008

FallCon 2008: Day One

If you're wondering what Maxeem Konrardy, Tim Sievert, Matthew Kriske, and Photocopier were up to at this year's FallCon... then this is the blog for you.

Maxeem Konrardy's personal bubble has been invaded.

Tim Sievert got a haircut and won't hesitate to tell you about it.

Matthew Kriske, like God, hangs out at the Creation Station.

Photocopier simultaneously feels used and not used.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Sloth Force Seven: "Time Travel"

Swing by the Big Time Attic booth at FallCon tomorrow to see the latest and greatest Sloth Force Seven mini-comic, "Time Travel." It's 48 pages of danger and intrigue, and some GI jokes to lighten the mood.

The book has a two-color woodblock print cover (actually lino, but who's keeping track), which looks good in that "I took printmaking in college but you'd never know it" sort of way.

Here are the first seven pages to whet your appetite:

Sloth Force Seven was created for last year's 24 Hour Comic Day, and you can read that effort here.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Top 10 Season 2 #1 out today!

From the Previews listing:

Written by Zander Cannon; Art and Cover by Gene Ha

AMERICA'S BEST COMICS. A new season dawns in the science-city of Neopolis! A new commissioner, along with some new rules, comes to Precinct 10, as Slipstream Phoenix, a rookie cop with an ugly secret, fights for respect among his new peers. Meanwhile, Shock-Headed Peter and the Dust Devil investigate a mysterious, ancient drug dealer, and a very public multiple homicide sets Captain Jetman and Lieutenant Peregrine scrambling for answers. 

The police procedural crime and intrigue continue in this new series based on concepts and characters created by legendary writer Alan Moore (WATCHMEN, V FOR VENDETTA).


This series picks up where the original 12 issue left off, with Smax and Toybox off on the adventure chronicled in Smax, and the rest of the precinct without an interim commissioner. Fans of the original Alan Moore-penned series will hopefully find this to be similar in tone, and reference-hunters will not be let down.

First off, I have to give monumental thanks to Kevin and Shad, who came up with a good portion of the plotlines and gags (due to a clerical error, Shad was not credited in this issue; I am told he will be in future issues), and were extremely helpful in getting this series going.

I probably needn't say how fantastic Gene Ha's art is on this series, but I will anyway-- he delivered pages that took my humdrum ol' layouts and turned them into the fantastic science-city of Neopolis-- again. Thanks, Gene. I've seen what he's done for the next couple issues, too, and it's amazing.

So go on down to the comic store (or, if you're in the Twin Cities, come to FallCon this weekend) and get yourself a copy. Gene will be in town for the show this weekend and we'll both sign it!

UPDATE:  Some reviews have cropped up on iFanboy:

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