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Hey friends, I just wanted to point out that Frank Santoro’s next Comics Correspondence Course is about to kick off. Frank is of course a talented cartoonist in his own right but he’s also someone who thinks and talks about comics more/better than most people I know, a “true head” as we say.  He was in town for a few days this winter and not only was it a joy to riff on stuff we both love, surrounded by piles of old comics, but I felt like I actually learned stuff from him in looking at my own art and talking about it with him, not to mention at his workshop at Floating World. I have a couple friends who have taken the course and they can’t say enough good things about it. Anyhow, highest recommendation, and like he says he’ll work out payment plans and around your schedules:

 

SANTORO CORRESPONDENCE COURSE FOR COMIC BOOK MAKERS

SUMMER 2012 – Deadline for applications is May 30th

Application guidelines:

The new course begins June 4th. You can start late if need be. The course is a walk through my process of how to make a 16 page signature. Lots of fast drawing and composition. Lots of simple sequencing. We focus on timing. And color. And working in layers like a printmaker. If you are interested – please send me some work – small jpegs of things you have done. And tell me about yourself a little bit. There are ten spots open right now. I also need to see 3 figure drawings and 3 landscapes – all done on blank 3 x 5 inch index cards in direct pen – no pencil underdrawing. You should be able to do these 6 drawings in less than one hour. Draw fast and loose.

The course is 500 for eight weeks. I ask for a good faith payment once you start – half if possible. If not talk to me and we can work something out.

Basically it can be done on your own time – it is intense for the first four weeks and then you are more on your own. The idea is to use me during those eight weeks as an editor. After the eight weeks I will be less available – so if you don’t finish – that is okay – you can finish on your own time. It has worked well so far as a projected deadline. And if you blow it, so what? You do it when you can. But since so much of comics is about getting it done – I try and get you to work in a system that can get it done.

Check out a comic done for the course by one of my students here.

Email me – capneasyATgmailDOTcom

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I’ve been following Phil McAndrew’s career with interest for several years. I think he was still in art school in New York when I found his drawings on LiveJournal. His funny, comfortable illustrations were consistently one of the highlights of my LJ feed then. He’s only gotten better, adding a proficiency with watercolors to his artistic arsenal and refining his “voice.” I caught up with Phil to talk about drawing, pizza, the short story, Mad Magazine, the life of the freelance artist, and his upcoming comics collection.  -ZSSTUDY GROUP: Though it looks like you might have abandoned your Feral Pizza webcomic effort, you spent a good amount of time there making single image comics. Obviously, you are still making a lot of similar images. What separates the images you labeled as “Feral Pizza” from the things you’re currently working on, which often seem to share a certain sensibility even when they don’t incorporate words, as most of the FP work did?

PHIL MCANDREW: Yeah, I haven’t updated the Feral Pizza website in a while. But I definitely plan to come back to it eventually. I’d like to make a big book full of silly Feral Pizza type stuff. Feral Pizza has sort of just been an umbrella title for lots of little odds and ends. A few of the things I’ve put up on the Feral Pizza website were actually rejected MAD Magazine submissions, a lot of them were just silly things I scribbled into sketchbooks that I really liked. For some of them I definitely just sat down and was very deliberately like “time to draw a Feral Pizza cartoon.” I love single panel cartoons. The format just appeals to me a lot. My parents had a few collections of The Far Side laying around our house and those were some of the first comics I can remember reading as a kid. Now I’m obsessed with Kliban and a lot of the old New Yorker cartoonists.

STUDY GROUP: Your short stories, released as individual mini-comics like Pearly Whites, Book Comic, and Are You Man Enough?, are generally charming little riffs on one particular idea at a time. Can you tell me about your writing process? We haven’t seen any new comics from you in a while, but I see your upcoming book with Grimalkin Press has 100 pages of unseen material! Have you just been saving up all your comics for the book, or is the unseen material even comics? So, basically I’m asking: WHERE THE COMICS AT?

PHIL MCANDREW: Ha! Yeah, for the most part I’ve been saving up all my recent comics for the book. The new material is going to be more short stories. I have a lot of fun with shorter projects, maybe just because they’re not quite as daunting as the thought of working on something super long that will take years and years to complete. Many of my favorite non-comic books are actually just short story collections. 

 

 

STUDY GROUP: Do you think you might ever attempt a longer work, or are you most comfortable with the short story?

PHIL MCANDREW: When I was in college I had big dreams of being a graphic novelist and I do think I have a few graphic novel length stories in me, but right now I’m having fun writing shorter stuff. I’ve got a much longer story that I scripted out a few years ago but after a handful of false starts on the art I keep putting it aside to work on shorter things or projects that will actually pay the bills. I’m also working on scripting out a series of short children’s comics that, when completed, would ideally all go into one book together and sort of build on each other. Scripting stuff out before I draw anything is how I usually prefer to work. But I write slowly and I tend to agonize over every little sentence and I fill my scripts with detailed notes and things, which I guess is kind of opposite of how I draw.

 

 

STUDY GROUP: Your drawings almost always read “funny”. How important is humor and slapstick in your illustration?

PHIL MCANDREW: If I’m in total control of a project I do pretty much always try to make funny stuff. That’s just the sort of work I enjoy producing. I do take on illustration jobs that require me to dial the silly stuff back a bit, which I enjoy too. I like to think that I’m capable of tackling any sort of project, that I can bend myself in a variety of directions. But if a client comes to me looking for something funny I’m usually pretty thrilled.

 

STUDY GROUP: The warm, lived-in line you get is very reminiscent of Quentin Blake and Ronald Searle. Do you use a nib, or a brush? Do you ever go back and try to “dirty up” a drawing if you make it too slick?

PHIL MCANDREW: I almost always use a nib but I do go back and augment things with a brush from time to time. I usually don’t sit down and think “I’ve got to make this drawing really crazy and messy,” I just try not to be delicate with my lines. Sometimes with comics I’ll make rules to keep myself from being too precious with the art, like with Are You Man Enough? I drew the entire book standing up, which I do with most projects now, and I didn’t pencil anything out. It was all drawn directly in ink, which is how I’m also doing some of the new stuff that’s going into my book.

 

 

STUDY GROUP: You recently crossed the country to move to San Diego. What brought that on, and how are you finding it?

PHIL MCANDREW: At then end of 2010 my scientist girlfriend was offered a cool science job in San Diego. I figured I can draw pictures anywhere, so we began 2011 by cramming as much stuff as we could into the car and driving across the country from Syracuse, NY to San Diego, a place I’d never been before where I literally knew no one. But it’s been pretty cool! I still kind of feel like I’m just on vacation or something. Dr. Seuss lived in the San Diego area and now I can’t help but see the crazy hills and plants of the area in his drawings. Not long before we moved I was contacted by a particular television network and invited to pitch some ideas for a cartoon show, so being close to Los Angeles has made that process a heck of a lot easier.

 

STUDY GROUP: There’s not a huge comics scene there, from what I understand. Do you mainly just hang out with David King and eat pizza?

PHIL MCANDREW: The pizza situation in San Diego is not great compared to back in New York, but yeah, I get to hang out with David King all the time, which is nice. I didn’t really have any cartoonist pals to hang out with back in Syracuse so having another cartoonist nearby, even just one, is awesome. And I’m lucky that the one other cartoonist in town is a really, really great cartoonist. David and I actually just got the ball rolling with organizing some live comics reading events down here so maybe a tiny little comics scene will start sprout. We’re going to do one towards the end of April and then another in July during the insanity of San Diego Comic-Con.

STUDY GROUP: This year has seen you getting more and more exposure in the illustration world, and you even got published in Mad Magazine, which is a pretty huge goal for many cartoonists I know. At the same time, you’ve been very vocal about being super broke a lot and the difference between people’s perception of your success vs the reality of your day to day life.  I know I’m constantly struggling to make ends meet, so I always sympathize with your posts on the subject. What’s more frustrating: eating ramen all the time or people assuming you’re a big shot just because you scored a couple high profile gigs?

PHIL MCANDREW: I don’t really care if people think I’m some kind of cartooning big shot, I guess. But it is a little frustrating and terrifying knowing that a lot of “big shot” cartoonists live their entire lives in poverty, which is something that I don’t think most people realize. I often think about the part in Craig Thompson’s Carnet de Voyage where he visits Lewis Trondheim in France and describes his house as a palace and then wonders why it’s not like that for successful cartoonists in North America. Not that I think I should be living in a palace right now or anything, but it would be nice to not have a panic attack every time I look at my checking account balance. I love what I’m doing and that’s something that not a lot of people can truthfully say. I’m extremely thankful that I’ve been able to scrape by for a year now drawing pictures for a living. I just keep telling myself that things will continue to get better and the high profile jobs will become a little more regular if I stick with it and try to be as awesome as possible. I feel like a lot of doors opened for me in 2011 and I have high hopes that I’ll be able to actually enter some of those doors in 2012. But yeah, the reality is that I’m definitely still struggling. I typically only have four or five bucks to my name after paying rent and student loan bills every month. I basically have to start at zero at the beginning of each month and just hope that I can earn enough to continue living in an apartment and eating food. I simply try not to think about the fact that I have a bunch of cavities in my teeth that I can’t afford to have taken care of and that if I were to have some kind of unexpected injury or illness that needed medical attention I’d be 100% totally screwed. I realized the other day that our dog gets better medical care than I do. At least once a month I’ll spend a day on craigslist just staring at job listings and wondering if I should get a crappy job and give up freelancing. But I love making up stories and drawing too much. I’ve got too many things I want to draw and too many projects on my plate already. I don’t really have time for a day job.

STUDY GROUP: I enjoy your “how to” posts quite a bit. What motivates you to share your process? Do you think it’s important for professionals to share their tips?

PHIL MCANDREW: I don’t think artists should ever feel obligated to share their process with people. Some artists like to keep their methods shrouded in mystery, and that’s cool. But I love it when people do share their secrets. I’ve learned a lot by reading process posts from other people, on a previous computer I had a whole bookmark folder full of that stuff. And I find great joy in helping others by sharing what I’ve learned. I like spreading knowledge around. I see a lot of cartoonists and illustrators complaining on twitter about getting emails from kids in art school asking for advice or if they can do an interview for a class project. I get a lot of those emails too and I love them, I answer every single one. I’m working on a proposal right now for a book that would basically expand on some of the things I’ve written on my blog, particularly my Super Obvious Secrets That I Wish They’d Teach In Art School post. I’ve been thinking a lot about maybe trying to give talks to art students lately too, doing little presentations on my experiences, both good and bad, as a person who draws pictures for a living. I’m just not quite sure how to get into doing that sort of stuff. Maybe someone will read this and simply invite me to do something like that somewhere.

 

 

 

Visit http://www.philintheblanks.com/ for more.

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So far in our weekly interview series, we’ve talked to several talented creators outside of the immediate sphere of the Study Group Comics world. I thought that it was about time that I start to shine a little spotlight on our SGCB site webcomics creators, mixed in with our usual interviews with the our favorite cartoonists and illustrators. To start, I talked with LONE WOLF creator Jennifer Parks.  I’ve known Jennifer for about 5 years now.  We were both in the first wave of people invited to be a part of the Pony Club Gallery art collective by gallery founders Theo Ellsworth and David Youngblood, along with Dylan Williams and Chris Cilla. The Pony Club keeps morphing over the years as the membership ebbs and flows (I myself left about 2 years ago), but Jennifer has stayed on as a guiding force and chief administrative member. Her rigorous artistic schedule with the Pony Club keeps her creating and in touch with the Portland gallery scene. You’d think that would be enough, but she recently stepped in as Creative Director of the Crow Arts Manor, and is constantly exhibiting in shows all over the place.  She graciously took some time out from her busy schedule to answer some questions.        - ZS

STUDY GROUP: In your illustration work, you seem to favor portraits as a go-to subject. What is it about the portrait that you enjoy?

JENNIFER PARKS: I think of the portrait as a sort of confrontation between characters. A way of saying hello to someone in my world (or maybe even myself) that is as intimate as it is uncomfortable. I am a very uncomfortable and shy person and making eye contact, especially with strangers can sometimes feel invasive. So I think making portraits is a way of me putting myself out there and dealing with those issues. 

STUDY GROUP: Are these arguably mostly self-portraits, since many of them resemble you, or do you think of them as separate characters? Or are they all variations of The Lone Wolf? By that same token, I know you’ve described The Lone Wolf as a sort of “Alter-Ego” of yours, do you still think of her in that way?

JENNIFER PARKS:  I do still think of Lone Wolf as an alter-ego. She represents the innocence of my childhood. And yes, I guess all of these portraits are variations of myself. I don’t really think of them in that way when I am creating them. Its more of a sub-concious tendency. Other people notice it more than I do. It seems to be the case with a lot of artists I know. We create these worlds, so it makes sense that the characters are a part of us. 

STUDY GROUP: Can you talk about your approach to character design? Your playful character & costume design is a highlight of your illustration work.

JENNIFER PARKS: Thank you. I enjoy creating characters that look like they are not only from a different time, but also from a different world. I’m heavily influenced by science fiction as well as old Victorian style dress. To me the clothing is almost the most important part of my characters. I tend to have a lot of blank eyes and expressionless faces. Which I hope still allow the viewer feel something. But if not, the clothing has to tell you something about the character and at the same time just be really nice to look at. I appreciate art on both levels. The kind that makes you think and feel, and the kind that is just very pleasing to the eye. Also, I tend to love really detailed ornamental work. This is where the clothing is just a lot of fun to work with. 

 

STUDY GROUP: You mentioned that many of your characters have “blank” eyes, whether or not they are wearing masks. Why is that?

JENNIFER PARKS:  I get this question a lot, and really only started thinking deeply about in the last year or two. It all started with the creation of Lone Wolf  (also known as Annabelle),  who I started drawing about 7 years ago. It was a subconscious decision to not put pupils in her eyes, but it made perfect sense to me. She was living in a dream world where things are dark and hazy and maybe a bit scary. Her blank eyes show her naivete in this world as well as her desire to keep hidden inside it. It became a comfortable habit for me to keep drawing my characters like this. Lately, when I think about this question a little bit more I realize that keeping them pupil-less is a way of making this confrontation (especially in the portraits) just a bit more closed off to you, as the viewer. I’m letting you look at me and my characters, I’m letting you judge us and I’m letting you be a part of my world. But I’m still keeping some walls up. Whenever I have to put pupils in the eyes for an illustration job or something, it feels very uncomfortable for me.  

STUDY GROUP: While many of your figures are defined by simple contour lines, you drape these characters in detailed pattern, flora and fauna alike. Can you talk about your addiction to patterns and filling space?

JENNIFER PARKS: Yes. Its definitely an addiction. I call it My OCD. Or maybe a kind of doodling. I have a vague idea that certain parts of the page need to have a lot of texture and pattern to balance out the white. Sometimes its very controlled. Other times I sort of get lost in the pattern on the page, and don’t stop until its kind of insane and maybe a bit too much. This satisfies My OCD and works as a kind of therapy for me as well. Its relaxing to just let your mind go and your hand create mindless shapes and patterns. When I’m tired or burnt out, I can always create this kind of art because there is not much thinking involved. 

STUDY GROUP: ”Backyard Ghost” from Studygroup12 #4 is based on a dream, and your serialized Lone Wolf webcomic has a very “dream logic” vibe to it. How much does the role of the subconscious and/or instinct actually play into your work, and why is/isn’t that important to you?

JENNIFER PARKS: All my work is highly instinctual and very much based on the things that linger in my subconscious. These dreams and memories of my childhood have had such a huge impact on my adult life. I didn’t start realizing the affect that It had on my art until a few years back when I did Lone Wolf #1 for my thesis at PNCA. I’m reliving these experiences, trying to dissect them and understand them. At the same time I’m accepting that I will never fully understand them. There is still a lot of haziness and darkness. I think this is why my work is so strange and dream-like. The recurring dreams of my childhood are a lot clearer then the memories of my actual childhood. So I tend to let my subconscious drag me along when It comes to creating.

Study Group: While you tend to use pen or charcoal, I notice you’ve been trying multiple mediums lately. What’s your favorite way to make an image right now?  

JENNIFER PARKS: Right now, I get a little confused when it comes to deciding which medium to create an image in. Certain ideas obviously cater to certain mediums, like portraits will always be in charcoal and crazy detailed images always in pen. But lately I feel like I have split personality disorder and I can see any particular idea working in both mediums. I spend a lot of time just arguing with myself about which medium would be best. It doesn’t help that I have recently re-discovered my love for graphite and have also been romancing the idea of working in color again. I’m thinking charcoal with some light washes, or pen with some gouache. If only there were four or five of me and we could all work in our own mediums. It becomes stressful sometimes. But my favorite way to create is still and might always be charcoal. 

 

STUDY GROUP: What’s a typical day like for you? You’ve got a busy life, with a full time job, kid, and running a gallery! How do you find time to make art? Maybe talk about the gallery here, if you want.

JENNIFER PARKS: Well right now I am only working part time, which is nice. And my son is very self-sufficient, being a relatively well behaved teenager and all. So Im able to focus most of my time on creating. A typical day usually starts around noon for me and involves a lot of coffee. The first thing I do in the morning is sit down at my desk, put on a movie or some music and start drawing. I always have at least one thing to work on, be it a piece (or pieces) for an art show, a freelance gig, Lone Wolf, or gallery involved work. Usually its all of the above. Then I work until its time to go to my night job. On my days off, I work until its time to make dinner or clean, then immediately resume drawing once I’m done. These are my favorite days. Since I joined the Pony Club Gallery about 5 years ago Ive become wrapped up in creating pieces for art shows. We have a lot of group shows and I tend to want to be involved in all of them. I also spend a lot of time writing emails for show invites, taking care of gallery finances, thinking of show ideas, and ways to make the gallery more successful. Its a lot of work, and I don’t get paid, but so far its been worth it. I really love it and feel lucky that I got the chance to be a part of such an amazing collective. In a lot of ways I have it to thank for my (partial) success and the great network of artists/illustrators I have become a part of. Unfortunately I just cant put as much time into it as I’d like. There just isn’t enough time in a day to get all the things done that I’d like to. I guess it doesn’t help that I love sleeping. 

___

 

Visithttp://jenniferparks.blogspot.com/ and  http://www.etsy.com/shop/ldaimfille for more work by Jennifer Parks.

 

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Every weekend, I hope to present new short interviews with talented cartoonists and illustrators. Last time I talked to Maré Odomo. This time I traded emails with Andrew Schick, who I know mainly from Tumblr and twitter streams. I found his answers generous and illuminating, and I hope you will too.

 - ZS

Study Group: So all I can find out about you from the magical internet is that you live in Vancouver, BC and you’re a designer as well as an illustrator. Did you go to school for one over the other?  Is design how you pay the bills, mostly, or do you have a different day job?

Andrew Schick: I am somewhat elusive! I went to school for painting as well as graphic design and illustration. After high school I attended the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island where I received a degree in Visual Arts (and learned to surf!). I kind of freaked out about paying bills after I graduated, so I attended a three year design and illustration program at Capilano University. The program had career illustrators and designers as teachers, which was super helpful.

I was lucky enough to be offered a design position with St.Bernadine Mission Communications (a Vancouver design and advertising agency) after grad. I work with a really talented group of designers committed to making really amazing work, so it keeps me challenged and dedicated.

I work on illustration projects during evenings and weekends. It makes for long days, but it means I get to be creative for a living. It’s become automatic to just sit down and start drawing right after work, you get into a nice little rhythm. There are also a bunch of local illustrators that keep me excited about drawing.

Study Group: The design work on your website is super clean, precise & classy, but your drawings are beautiful, wobbly-warm and filled with life. How do you separate these sides of your artistic impulse?

Andrew Schick: Aw man thanks for noticing! I think my brain just automatically separates illustration from design. They just seem so different somehow. Design feels more like a puzzle: you’re given pre designed parts (typefaces, rules, borders) and you have to click them together until they make a whole. For some reason I just really enjoy assembling information into compelling, simple patterns. Most of my approach to design comes from reading The Principles of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. He teaches that following typographic rules carefully, actually gives the designer complete control over a layout. It is meticulous work.

Illustration is a different world to me. I think drawing is a form of catharsis. The pen and paintbrush have become familiar tools, so it’s really easy to sit down and start drawing now. I just find that I can explore personal style, which is something I can’t really do with design. I also have to be less careful with my drawings, or they just don’t work. They just seem stiff unless I’m really expressive and loose with the paint or ink. It would be nice to have one master-approach for both disciplines! Oh well.

Study Group: You draw a lot of monsters and fantasy creatures, is Fantasy as a genre important to you? What are your favorite works in the genre, if so (any medium)?

Andrew Schick: Yes I’ve always been a fan of the fairies, witches, and wizards fantasy genre. When I was younger I was really influenced by Brian Froud (Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book) and Rien Poortvliet (Gnomes),  as well as Mike Mignola, Winsor McCay and Arthur Rakham of course. As a kid I drew armor, swords and arrows and constantly imagined being a knight. Movies like The Labrynth, Dark Crystal, Willow, and Princess Mononoke are kind of pitch perfect fantasy for me, and huge influences on my work. Fantasy illustrators really have to consider the characters they are drawing: clothes, personality, physical appearance. I love seeing illustrators and cartoonists create vibrant, feasible characters, so impressive.  Two of my favorite illustrations in the genre are Rien Poortvliet’s illustrations for the book Gnomes and Jillian Tamaki’s illustration Tree Frogs.

Study Group: I love the way you seem to build your figures out of puffy basic shapes. Everyone seems like they’ve got a skeleton made out of spheres, cones and cubes. Where do you think that comes from?

Andrew Schick: I think I started making my figures more geometric after sitting down and really studying Peanuts and Gasoline Alley cartoons. By paying attention to proportion and shape, Charles Schultz and Frank King could create expressive, dynamic characters within a tiny space. Really inspiring. I’ve also been influenced by Richard Short’s comics (Klaus, Nobrow Press). He uses very basic shapes and interesting proportions to create characters that are both distinct and dynamic somehow. Big, clean shapes hardly need to be changed at all, they’re immediately characters.

 

Study Group: Do you just start out doing automatic drawing and turn the forms into little people, or do you usually have something more specific in mind?

Andrew Schick: I actually start out with a pretty clear picture of what I want to draw in my mind. I don’t make an extensive under drawing though. I usually sketch the picture four or five times in my sketchbook before inking or painting the final on a proper piece of paper. I can’t really ink like you’re suppose to (over a detailed sketch), because it feels like tracing. I need to draw and paint loosely, so my under drawings are made up of little notches and very faint lines (I heard Charles Schultz drew this way too, so there!).  I also really enjoy automatic drawing. It’s a good way to warm up and experiment without much pressure. I’ve accidentally made so many characters just by zoning out and doodling.

Study Group: Your use of color in general is really inspiring to me. Really great color choices and I love that you don’t use color in just one way- it can be line, tone, form, and often all of the above in any given drawing. Can you talk about your approach to color and painting?

Andrew Schick: I was taught to paint by the watercolorist Kiff Holland, while attending Capilano University. He showed us how to paint with bold colours and faded edges to create lighting effects. He would presoak the watercolor paper and  paint heavy dark lines and it would somehow turn into a portrait. He would also experiment with strange palettes, in order to prove that there was no wrong colour combination. As long as the tone and temperature of the paint is correct, you can choose some pretty crazy palettes. I am definitely attracted to warmer colours, with a preference for orangy red. I draw bold lines on top of lighter paint swatches to draw interest towards a focal point or to emphasize a gesture. I’m always trying make my characters appear as if they’re moving. I find that bold strokes and translucent shapes are the best way to achieve the effect. That and loud punk music.

Study Group: How much of your day-to-day routine is drawing?

Andrew Schick: I am at St Bernadine’s during the day, but I draw almost every evening and on the weekends. I think if you draw a bunch your whole life, it becomes a happy compulsion. So I would say 4 or 5 hours per day and a little more on the weekends. I just never get bored of it. There is always a new thing to try.

 

Study Group: What kind of tools do you favor?

Andrew Schick: For my line drawings I use a Pilot P700 because it is the greatest pen ever made and only about three dollars. For my paintings, I use a Round Acrylic brush (Size 550) and Windsor and Newton set of watercolour cakes (an amazing gift from a sculptor I worked with). I chose a cheap, frayed acrylic brush because it makes jagged, warbley paint lines.  Switching to a junky brush also forced me to make broad, confident strokes rather than spending too much time on tedious line work.

Study Group: Your character designs are lively and often suggest narrative, but I have only seen a couple little comics on your sketchblog. Do you think you might ever do comics (or have you and I just haven’t seen them)?

Andrew Schick: Thanks for asking! I have plans to write a few short comics this year, but it’s too early  to show or mention anything substantial. I have been asked and encouraged about this question by a few people and I agree that it’s the next logical step for my stuff. Stay tuned!

Visit  http://aschick.tumblr.com/http://thedailyclaw.tumblr.com/, or http://aschickdesign.com/ for more.

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Study Group Comics reader Nate Marsh sent us an email regarding the site and linked to his own unique effort in the webcomics arena, Alphabet Horror Vacui. I found it quite charming – whimsical, alliterative almost-narratives float in and about lovingly crosshatched drawings. So far, “F” is the only traditional comics page, as Marsh tends to favor jam-packed single images over panels and gutters and so on.

He is apparently averaging a letter a month, up to “M” so far, with prints of each image available for sale. Add Alphabet Horror Vacui to your bookmarks and see what’s next.

 

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Dylan Horrocks is one of our favorites here at Study Group HQ, and we’re always happy to hear what he’s up to. While we anxiously awaiting the next page of his sexy John Carter: Warlord of Mars homage, Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen, we see he’s now offering fancy prints. You may remember this image from the cover of ATLAS #2. Quoth Dylan:

It’s a high quality giclée print on 320gsm German etching paper, 297mm x 420mm (A3) (i.e. 11.7 x 16.5 inches). Each print is signed and numbered by me, and the edition is limited to 50.

Click the link or the image above to learn how to get a copy.

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Studygroup12/Study Group Magazine contributor and jet-setter Aidan Koch is on one of her periodic walkabouts away from Portland, but she’s sharing pieces of her travels in the form of observational drawings made at each of her stops. For just $20 postpaid, you can own a lovely pencil study sent from wherever Aidan happens to be resting her head.

 

Bookmark: FIELD STUDIES.

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Even when saddled with a pretty half-assed story [by Bill Mantlo] and a far lesser artist to ink his pencils [Steve Gan], Frank Robbins was still the man. Here are my favorite panels from “There’s a Mountain On Sunset Boulevard!” the first [until recently, only] appearance of the Legion of Monsters, a bad idea whose time had clearly come.

I clipped these panels last July, so here’s what I remember of the actual plot: The monsters come together by coincidence and freak each other out, “Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay” Lou Costello-style, because they’re fucking monsters and only the headliner of a monster comic can encounter another monster and not be completely freaked out. — See: Any contemporary issue of Tomb Of Dracula, Ghost Rider, Fear, Man-Thing, or Werewolf by Night. — but this is a team book, so everyone but Man-Thing has at least one “Ugh, where is that smell coming from? It stinks so– OH MY GAWD WHAT IS THAT?!?!?!” moment.

The monsters fight.

Then a gold-skinned, sorta-Christy figure called The Starseed appears to them and says he’ll cure all of Earth’s problems, including the monsters’ monsterousness. But Morbius and Werewolf-By-Night skipped breakfast so, instead of eating each other, they want a chunk of Gold-Plated Alien Jesus ass to eat right now.

The monsters fight.

Gold-Plated Jesus is scared, so of course he’s accidentally burned to death by Man-Thing, which I think speaks to what a crummy messiah he probably would have been.

The monsters feel bad, then walk away from each other — you can’t really say “break up” because that implies they were actually once a team. The End. Next Month in Marvel Premiere: The Liberty Legion, for both of you True Believers who wished The Invaders featured a lot more of Bucky calling the shots.

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Study Group: When did you start reading comics? Did you come to comics from manga, American cape comics, the sunday funnies, or what?

Maré Odomo: As a kid, most of my friends read Calvin & Hobbes, Garfield, Foxtrot. My exposure to superheroes came mostly from shows like Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men, and Spider-Man. Comic book shops freaked me out when I was younger.

But I started getting more into comics when I was in high school. I would stop by the Barnes & Noble on my walks home. I loved that most trade paperbacks could be finished in one sitting. That’s where I first read stuff like Blankets, Black Hole, Ghost World, Optic Nerve, Jimmy Corrigan, the bigger standalone superhero titles like Dark Knight Returns, and then post-manga whatever-you-want-to-call-it stuff which is pretty much just Sharknife and Scott Pilgrim.

And at home, I would read Achewood, Scary-Go-Round, Diesel Sweeties, Wigu, Exploding Dog, Penny Arcade, Derek Kirk Kim, Hellen Jo, Vera Brosgol, Kazu Kibuishi, Enrico Casarosa, Ronnie Del Carmen. It was pretty evenly split between the Dumbrella webcomics crew and the contributors to Flight. I’m probably forgetting a bunch of people.

Study Group: At what point did you actually decide  you wanted to make them?

At some point, I got into James Kochalka’s American Elf and started making daily comics, almost immediately. I made dailies for six years, on-and-off. There’s probably only about three years’ worth of content in those sketchbooks.

Study Group: Can you talk about your influences? I see the obvious stamp of video games and manga, but your comics are often quite poetic regardless of subject matter, bringing to mind the work of someone like Dave Kiersh or John Porcellino. Do you read much poetry? Do you even think about your work like that?

Maré Odomo: When I was in high school, I was really into this writer named Kevin Fanning. He wrote really simple, sweet stories about ghosts and secret doors, or reviews of beverages. I think this was before people decided to call any kind internet writing a “blog”. It was, as far as I know, a personal passion. There were no editors or audiences to please. It seemed so pure. He made me want to write.

Kevin still writes (kevinfanning.com), and I really love his mythological interpretations of the Internet. He gets it, man. It’s like Das Racist, it’s like Sword & Sworcery. It’s just really smart stuff. Post-ironic, self-aware, and genuine. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but you know what I mean.

I love John P, but I only got into him a few years ago, when King-Cat Classix came out. And I’ve only read a little Dave Kiersh, but I can tell that I like him.

But no, I don’t read much poetry and don’t know much about that world. The internet is poetry, though. Twitter is poetry. But I do think of my comic scripts as poems. I’ve been trying to come up with some gimmicky name to call them, like POMICS or COEMS, but those both sound really stupid.

Study Group: You teach children- is that a comics class specifically, or just a general art class? How has that affected the way you make art?

Maré Odomo: It’s specifically a comics class, but I’m still figuring out what to teach them and what they’re willing to learn. It’s only an hour long, and we only meet once a week, so it’s not a lot of time to spend together.

Kids treat drawing as a form of play, and they’re so positive and wonderful about it. I love drawing with these kids, and I try to hold onto that feeling, but it’s difficult. I come home, and I’m hungry and tired, and can’t be productive.

 

Study Group: I came across your work via the internet, and like many young artists today, you have a strong presence on the web – you are on flickr, twitter, tumblr, and probably some other websites I don’t even know about. How do you feel about art and the internet? I’ve been having a personal struggle with what I love about sites like Tumblr, in that I’m exposed to so much new art and information every day, but I feel like the constant feed of art and imagery as RAW DATA can devalue the actual work in question. You see this a lot on Tumblr in particular, where a thousand people might reblog something without ever crediting or researching who actually made an image. This might just be completely off topic, so you can ignore me if you want, but I guess I was curious if you had any opinions on this.

Maré Odomo: If someone wanted to figure out the source, they could easily do a reverse image search, but most people don’t know that that’s a thing. Google Images can do it, and there’s also tineye.com. Tumblr is relatively new, and I hope all this crediting stuff will sort itself out eventually.

Removing watermarks/signatures or plagiarizing is different, though. That shit is awful.

Study Group: Video games are a re-ocurring motif in your work, and I’m wondering how much time you actually spend playing them, and how you manage to get any work done. I recently got Skyrim, and I am trying very hard not to get to immersed in it. Do you just manage your time really well, or have you had to put aside your DS?

Maré Odomo: The only current gen console I have is a 3DS (it was a very generous gift), and the only game I have is Mario Kart 7. Oh, but I’ve also been spending a decent amount of time playing iOS games. Most of my favorite video games are the ones I played as a teenager, though.

I’m terrible at managing my time. I get lost in Parks & Rec marathons and spend hours just to catch up with the internet. I’m actually trying to play *more* video games. That’s how bad I am at managing my time. I go through phases of trying out different productivity apps and reading old lifehacker posts.

Study Group: What kind of tools do you use when you’re drawing? Lots of pencil, but what else?

Maré Odomo: I really like brush pen, but I can’t control it very well. I’m trying to get better with ink washes and watercolors. And I like playing with color pencils, but they just scan so horribly. And gouache is fun! I’m experimenting with all these supplies I have leftover from art school, but I like pencil right now.

And everything gets scanned and edited in Photoshop. My originals are never dark enough.

Study Group: You seem to do a lot of design work, and much of it in collaboration with Cory Schmitz. How is the work you do for hire different than your webcomics or zine work? What is it like collaborating on work like this?

Maré Odomo: Cory and I went to the same school, and we have the same degree, but we’re different people and focus on different things. Working together adds depth. He does things that I can’t.

A lot of my illustration work feels flat to me. I’m still figuring out how to make backgrounds. In comics, it’s more about the story and I can get away with really sparse panels.

Study Group: You gained a lot of fans for your Pokemon comics. I still sell copies of that mini at Floating World all the time. Do you feel pigeon-holed as “the Pokemon Guy”?

Maré Odomo: There’s no other game that I have such a strong emotional connection to, but I don’t think that Pokémon defines me as much as it defines other people. After I made those comics, a few of my friends said they had never seen that side of me. I think most people know that I keep up with the games, but I’m not the kind of person who tries to catch every single Pokémon or build the perfect team. I log about 40 hours per game.

Study Group:  It seems like you’ve mostly moved on from that style of drawing, what brought that on?

Maré Odomo: Part of why I moved away from that style was because drawing with a tablet was ruining my shoulder. I used to get these jolts of pain, right at the joint. Sometimes it happened while I was drawing, sometimes I would just be sitting or trying to sleep. It wasn’t ideal.

And I didn’t want to depend on my computer and tablet to draw something. I didn’t want people to *expect* that style from me. That was killing my shoulder too. Carrying all that stuff, everywhere I went. It’s so much easier to just have a sketchbook and a pen or pencil.

Around that time, I had read “Young Lions” by Blaise Larmee, which looks like it was done completely in pencil(?) and has this really romantic, fleeting feeling throughout the whole thing. And I found Aidan Koch’s work somewhere, probably through Blaise, and it had that same vibe. I had always felt like I had lost something in my inking, so it made sense to go straight to pencil.

I’m still figuring things out, and I’m really conscious of ripping off my influences (like Blaise and Aidan and John P), but I’m finding my voice and whatever.

 

visit: http://mareodomo.com/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/nipocrite for more.

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I first became aware of Noah Butkus as “that guy with the great taste”, aka the curator of the NEW FEELINGS  tumblr. At some point after re-blogging each other’s Brendan McCarthy and Corben posts for the 100th time, Noah and I started talking and realized we’re both probably two of the rare older dudes on the site (ie: in our mid-30′s, not 19). Shortly after that, I realized Noah is also a talented artist.

Upon meeting Noah at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest this December, I found that he’s a super-modest dude for someone who’s art is so bad-assed. From this interview, it seems Noah spends a lot of time in the gallery world doing single images and installations, but recently he’s completed his first comic, a 4 pager titled FORCES for the recently released anthology Happiness. FORCES – while short – is super exciting, and I hope he continues making comics. While there are definitely some people following up on the trail Moebius has blazed, I don’t see a lot of folks that are so influenced by Guy Peellaert.

Noah’s art site: http://noah-butkus.tumblr.com/

New-Feelings: http://new-feelings.tumblr.com/

Interview: Made You Look: Noah Butkus | Matthew Newton

You can buy Happiness here: http://thespithouse.bigcartel.com/

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