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View Full Version : B&N Week 197: What's The Least You Need To Know?


Steven Forbes
10-01-2014, 12:30 AM
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We’ve got another Tuesday! And the temperatures are starting to fall here in Tucson. [To be quite honest, I’m thankful for it.]

This week we have another short one. Let’s call it a fastball special, shall we? This week’s question: what is the least you need to know?

Sounds strange, doesn’t it? What’s the least amount of information you need to know in order to create comics?

Usually, I’m the opposite: more is better. More knowledge is best, in my opinion, but not everyone’s. So, when you strip it all away, what’s the least you need to know in order to get a project done?

It really depends on the project and your role in it. Right now, I’m going to talk about “only’s”. If you are “only” a writer or “only” a letterer. We’re going to throw the editor right out of the discussion, because they have to know as much as possible about everything.

Click here to read more. (http://www.comixtribe.com/2014/09/30/bn-week-197-whats-the-least-you-need-to-know/)

TonyKidd
10-01-2014, 08:05 AM
When I sit and think about everything I want to know about art and writing to complete a project by myself, it’s almost overwhelming. Almost. It’s also ironic that the commitment required to train yourself properly in just one of those areas can take years and considerable cost, and even longer to pan out monetarily, if it does at all. There are easier ways to make money. However, most of the people attempting to do this for real are attempting to answer a calling, at least in part.

From forum comments made, I can tell that Steve isn’t fond of artists who dabble in writing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this seems aimed at those who thought writing a comic script would be easy, without learning story structure, dialogue, pacing or even brushing up on grammar. A passion for reading comics or even illustrating them doesn’t necessarily mean you can craft a story, sans training.

In regard to art, we’ve all seen skill levels that just aren’t ready to illustrate a book. There’s a wide range of styles and acceptable skill associated with comics. I think when we see this the artist is attempting to determine whether or nor they’ve hit that range. They want to see if the work is good enough because we know you don’t have to be a stellar talent to do a script justice. You do however need to hit certain benchmarks for people to take you seriously. For example, command of the human form, proficiency with visual storytelling techniques used in sequential art, and other things depending on how many artistic roles you will fill.

You should never stop attempting to learn, even when you think you know enough to go into production. Don’t get me wrong: at some point, the training wheels need to come off and you need to hit the race. However, always keep your ear to the ground and remain receptive to things that will improve your skill set. For example, I read most of the suggested books on comic creation posted in the aspiring creators thread long before I heard about Comix Tribe and Digital Webbing. I also took creative writing classes and read books on story structure, dialogue, world building and shot design. Yet after all that I still found bits within Bolts & Nuts articles not mentioned elsewhere. For example:

• The reasons and importance of maintaining a 22-page count in a book.
• How to layout an action scene by panel.
• Suggested scene counts in a single book to maintain adequate story flow.
• A word count guide per balloon, panel and page.
• Listing multiple rate and cost breakdowns (I have seen others).
• Various business-related articles such as marketing, contracts and legal tips.

Thanks for that. After two weeks, I’m still only about half way thru the B&N articles.

crognus
10-01-2014, 10:50 AM
Are we including comic strips or webcomics in the discussion? Because the amount you need to know to create stuff like Cyanide & Happiness is much lower. As an artist, you don't even really need to study anatomy for stuff like that. Hell, even Bill Waterson (Calvin & Hobbes) often talked about how bad of an artist he was, and look how successful he was.

Sidenote: I'm psyched for And Then Emily Was Gone issue 3.

Buckyrig
10-01-2014, 11:02 AM
know how to place a double-page spread,

Just don't.

How 'bout that?

God, how I would love it if the double-page would die.

crognus
10-01-2014, 11:26 AM
Just don't.

How 'bout that?

https://d2nh4f9cbhlobh.cloudfront.net/_uploads/galleries/83/big-lebowski-1.jpg

That's like...just your opinion, man.

Newt
10-01-2014, 02:32 PM
The double page spread is comics' equivalent of the obligatory guitar solo. Potential awesomeness drowned by ubiquity.

Anyways...

Steve, you're preaching to the choir with me. My goal is to be a basically self-contained one-man comics-creation machine. Too bad I'm so lazy and uncoordinated.

Also: Watterson is a bit over-the-top with his self-deprecation. For my money, he could (and presumably still can) draw circles around most of the superstar pencillers in comics, and he got noticeably better as the strip wore on: not just more comfortable with the strip's style, but objectively better. Check out his early and late dinosaurs.

crognus
10-01-2014, 03:07 PM
Also: Watterson is a bit over-the-top with his self-deprecation. For my money, he could (and presumably still can) draw circles around most of the superstar pencillers in comics, and he got noticeably better as the strip wore on: not just more comfortable with the strip's style, but objectively better. Check out his early and late dinosaurs.

I love Calvin and Hobbes. Watterson improves immensely (Who wouldn't if you were doing a strip a day?) over time, and he does his strip perfectly.

My point was that the type of things you need to learn as an artist would vary based on the type of art you are doing. Most people would tell you that you should study anatomy to draw comics, but that wouldn't necessarily be true if you were doing a Dilbert/Calvin & Hobbes style strip. I really don't think, despite his talents, Watterson would be able to do issues of Superman. He never had to develop advanced paneling, anatomy, and perspective.

Steven goes over knowing your job in the article, but it doesn't really talk about how genre would affect the knowledge necessary as well.

Newt
10-01-2014, 03:35 PM
I really don't think, despite his talents, Watterson would be able to do issues of Superman. He never had to develop advanced paneling, anatomy, and perspective.

A) I would pay good money for a Watterson Superman comic.

B) I'll give you anatomy...maybe (just because he didn't demonstrate it doesn't mean he couldn't do it, and he clearly understood form, body language, and volume better than many a producer of posing muscle-diagrams) but C&H Sunday strips do stuff with paneling and perspective that would make Jack Kirby do a backflip.

C) Your argument does stand for pretty much all other comic-strip artists of the last several decades. Just not Watterson.

D) Yeah, obviously the skillset for a stick figure webcomic is not the same as for a hard sci-fi epic. On the other hand*, it has perhaps never been explicitly stated, but B&N (correct me if you disagree, Steven) has always focused on more-or-less naturalistically-drawn, action-driven, genre-based, Anglo-American-style comic books, which is a pretty well-defined subset of sequential art in general. The skillset is less-variable there, and while certainly a given project will require different knowledge, I should think that falls under the heading of "research for that particular project" rather than "things you should know before you embark on any project".

*It's annoying that English only has the phrase "on the on hand...on the other hand" to compare and contrast clauses. Ancient Greek uses the much more efficient particles "men...de" to the same effect.

crognus
10-01-2014, 04:27 PM
On the other hand*, it has perhaps never been explicitly stated, but B&N (correct me if you disagree, Steven) has always focused on more-or-less naturalistically-drawn, action-driven, genre-based, Anglo-American-style comic books, which is a pretty well-defined subset of sequential art in general.

I think this is true, but like you said, it has never been explicitly stated.

*It's annoying that English only has the phrase "on the on hand...on the other hand" to compare and contrast clauses. Ancient Greek uses the much more efficient particles "men...de" to the same effect.

Ya, you need a lot of hands to speak English. But then again, contrarily, still and all, that may not be true.:w00t:

Steven Forbes
10-02-2014, 12:09 AM
From forum comments made, I can tell that Steve isn’t fond of artists who dabble in writing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this seems aimed at those who thought writing a comic script would be easy, without learning story structure, dialogue, pacing or even brushing up on grammar. A passion for reading comics or even illustrating them doesn’t necessarily mean you can craft a story, sans training.

Incorrect.

I'm not fond of anyone who dabbles in writing, thinking it easy. It isn't a prejudice against artists who try it, but those who try it period without knowing at least spelling and punctuation.

I would hold the same thing against anyone trying anything without any training, or at least without studying as much as they can before attempting to do it in front of the masses.

Many believe that writing is easy, because we're all taught to write from childhood, because we have to write in order to read. One cannot be done without the other. However, they think that just because they learned how to communicate (on some basic level) doesn't mean they know how to write.

Would a writer expect to know how to draw, because they've been reading comic books for decades without ever having picked up a pencil?

Anyway, this wasn't aimed at anyone to admonish them against anything. In fact, just the opposite: it's aimed at everyone, urging them to be the best they can. In order to be an "only", you have to know everything you can about your chosen path. To me, that's the least you need to know.


You should never stop attempting to learn, even when you think you know enough to go into production. Don’t get me wrong: at some point, the training wheels need to come off and you need to hit the race. However, always keep your ear to the ground and remain receptive to things that will improve your skill set. For example, I read most of the suggested books on comic creation posted in the aspiring creators thread long before I heard about Comix Tribe and Digital Webbing. I also took creative writing classes and read books on story structure, dialogue, world building and shot design. Yet after all that I still found bits within Bolts & Nuts articles not mentioned elsewhere. For example:

• The reasons and importance of maintaining a 22-page count in a book.
• How to layout an action scene by panel.
• Suggested scene counts in a single book to maintain adequate story flow.
• A word count guide per balloon, panel and page.
• Listing multiple rate and cost breakdowns (I have seen others).
• Various business-related articles such as marketing, contracts and legal tips.

Thanks for that. After two weeks, I’m still only about half way thru the B&N articles.

You're welcome. There's a lot of information at ComixTribe, and I'm very happy to hear that you've found some useful information. I hope you'll continue to find useful information in our articles.

Steven Forbes
10-02-2014, 12:11 AM
Just don't.

How 'bout that?

God, how I would love it if the double-page would die.

Heh.

Nov 14. (Is that cryptic enough for you?)

Steven Forbes
10-02-2014, 12:17 AM
D) Yeah, obviously the skillset for a stick figure webcomic is not the same as for a hard sci-fi epic. On the other hand*, it has perhaps never been explicitly stated, but B&N (correct me if you disagree, Steven) has always focused on more-or-less naturalistically-drawn, action-driven, genre-based, Anglo-American-style comic books, which is a pretty well-defined subset of sequential art in general. The skillset is less-variable there, and while certainly a given project will require different knowledge, I should think that falls under the heading of "research for that particular project" rather than "things you should know before you embark on any project".



You're right, to a point. I'll just say Anglo-American, and leave it at that. Manga/Manwa doesn't interest me one bit. I barely like anime. (I recently watched Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore, and was bored out of my head, falling asleep a couple of times during it.)

Newt
10-03-2014, 03:24 PM
So...two new Prince albums out. Big times in Forbes Towers?

Back on topic: I've been thinking a bit more about spreading one's focus across the several disciplines involved in making a comic. It seems to me there are several different reasons to do so, but the article looks at only a few.

The first two are the ones mentioned in the article. Both are basically economic and require you to attain genuine competency in a second discipline.

1) Increase your chances of being hired by having multiple skillsets. There are lots of people seeking a limited number of jobs out there; if you can pencil and ink and color, you can seek jobs in each of the three areas, as well as taking on all three jobs for a single project.

2) Decrease the number of people you will have to hire for your own project by doing more of the work yourself. We all know making a comic is expensive, and the more jobs you can keep "in-house", the more you can budget for other items.

But there are other reasons, more to do with being as good as you can be at the one discipline you choose to focus on. These don't require you to become a skilled practitioner of other disciplines, merely conversant with them.

3) Understand the roles of your team-mates. If you, as a writer, don't understand what is involved in lettering, you are likely to make your letterer's job harder than it needs to be. You don't have to become a pro-quality letterer, you just have to learn the basics to see what your letterer needs from you, and what he can bring to the work if you let him.

4) Enrich your understanding of your own discipline by looking at it from the viewpoints of the other disciplines. Writers naturally focus on what words are best at bringing to the comic - dialogue, incident, plot, etc. Color is probably an afterthought for most writers, but it can have a tremendous effect on how the story is perceived. Instead of just saying, "I've done my part" when the writing is done, the writer who knows a bit about coloring is more likely to either think about color while writing, or better yet, involve the colorist before the final draft is written.

I think that's a pretty good argument for learning at least the basics of another (or better, all) the creative disciplines of comics creation, even if you are not interested in going all out and becoming a professional-level practitioner of a second discipline (after all, you only have so much time and energy to invest).

crognus
10-03-2014, 05:00 PM
Just don't.

How 'bout that?

God, how I would love it if the double-page would die.

Sometimes it's a gimmick. Sometimes it's just beautiful. Like issue # 1 of Wayward (Image), the main character gets off the Subway and sees Japan for the first time and you flip the page to this gorgeous double-page spread. As someone who has traveled a lot, it just captured that feeling perfectly.

You know what SHOULD die? 3D covers. Ugh.