Compare and Contrast:


Mon, 08/13/2012 – 9:26am

“We are saddened to learn of the death of our colleague and friend Joe Kubert. An absolute legend in the industry, his legacy will not only live on with his sons, but with the many artists who have passed through the storied halls of his celebrated school. His latest work on BEFORE WATCHMEN: NITE OWL was among his best, and we are so honored to have worked side-by-side with such an unforgettable force in both comics and in life.” – DC Entertainment Executive Team

Aaaand about 100 disgusted comments later, someone from the DC PR department realizes they should probably not have tried to insert BEFORE WATCHMEN plugs in the ludicrously short memorial for one of their all time great work-horse artist and editors. The amended text reads:

“We are saddened to learn of the death of our colleague and friend Joe Kubert. An absolute legend in the industry, his legacy will live on through his remarkable talent, with his sons and with the many artists who have passed through the storied halls of his celebrated school.  An important member of the DC Comics family, Joe made an indelible mark on the entire DC Comics universe including his renowned and award-winning work on iconic characters such as Sgt. Rock, Enemy Ace, Hawkman and most recently Nite Owl.  We are so honored to have worked side-by-side with such an unforgettable force in both comics and in life.” – DC Entertainment Executive Team.


Still far too short for someone who did so much for them, to say nothing of it being written by some nameless PR flack, but I guess it’s a step up. For a more fitting memorial and career retrospective, head over to Comics Reporter.

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Hola, all. I’m tired so I’ll just get right into it:


THE LONE WOLF gets wet.


Saturday: HAUNTER dives deep.

Sunday: The Savage Dragon is having a bad life in my short comic Screamin’ Bones. It was originally published in the Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies collection, which I think had a fairly limited print run, so most of you are seeing it for the first time. Secret Voice will be back this Sunday and continue uninterrupted for a good long while, if everything goes according to plan.

Monday: We took Monday off. Just pretend we’re a gallery or something. Danger Country will be back this Monday!

TuesdayThe Mourning Star also took the week off, but luckily we had a new short story by Ian Sundahl called Where You Are King. Sean T. Collins calls it “impressively icky!

Wednesday: The Beast wears a crown in The Yankee, while storm clouds brew in Black Is The Color. Milo looks at the Kyle Baker drawn issue of DAMAGE CONTROL here on the blog.

I’ve got a couple links too:

- Look at this beautiful new animated webcomic, THUNDERPAW! Golly, that’s pretty. Not much there yet, just a page and some framing devices, but I’ll be checking back on it:

- Kelly Sue DeConnick is doing a comics collaboration with a young girl she met at HeroesCon, and YOU can join in!

- C.F. has a website. Has he had one for long? I don’t know, but it’s news to me.

- Oh yeah uh I started a Facebook page for myself, you should “like me.” Have you liked the Study Group Comics and Study Group Magazine pages yet?

Ok, Zack: OUT!

Only Zack Could Make School THIS much Fun!

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New on SG today:

Danger Country! Vampires and wizards are gettin’ frisky in the spiral city.

Yesterday both my overlong troll-bashing serial Secret Voice and the underground-tinged stylings of Peepers posted.


(put you on) Linkblast:

Last time out we linked to Dan Nadel’s SP7/Kickstarter takedown on TCJ, and the comments brushfire keeps on ragin’.  There’s plenty to chew on, and also of interest is Study Group contributor Sean T. Collins’ post with thoughts about the whole thing over on his blog. It’s pretty good, measured, etc. I expect the comments will get lively on that one, if not quite as vehement.

Keeping with the theme, some friends of ours have launched what I think is a very worthwhile Kickstarter:

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Hey guys so it’s come to my attention that the people who follow along via RSS feeds don’t always know when their favorite strips have updated, due to the way WP works with the way we basically just keep updating the same posts, blah blah blah. So: I’m going to try and post every day or so to let you know what strips have new content (though generally speaking, they tend to update once a week on a specific day as noted on the comic post).

Here’s a handy cheat-sheet for your reading pleasure:

Danger Country by Levon Jihanian

Titan by Francois Vigneault (updates every two weeks)
Haunter by Sam Alden
Peepers by Patrick Keck
 Barring acts of god or laziness, those strips should update on those days every week. Today being Saturday, we have a new update of Sam Alden’s beautiful HAUNTER.

The last couple weeks have also seen some radical short pieces posted on the site:

Virginia – by Sam Humphries and Pete Toms

The Smog Emperor vs. The TV Guy – by Zack Soto

SPICY STORIES – Sally the Slut – by Ian Sundahl

Barfight – by Simon Roy

No Way Out For A Family of Five – by Sean T. Collins and Jonny Negron

Illustrious Reputikus and Rat – by Tim Root

So go get caught up, why don’t ya!


Linky tidbits:

  • Did I post my interview with Tom Spurgeon over on ComicsReporter yet? Because he was nice enough to interview me. What a guy!
  • Dan Nadel slams both the new Secret Prison solicitation text and the very act of using Kickstarter to crowd-source funding for comics publications. I have yet to use KS (though I have been pondering it), but it seems to me that there’s not a whole lot of difference between using the KS site to get pre-orders for your book, and using your own site to get pre-orders for your books, which Dan himself has done.. I don’t know, there’s a lot of rant-and-response going on there and in the comments, from people I respect even if I’m not in agreement with them. Worth a read, if you have 20-30 minutes to spare.


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Good evening Mr. and Mrs. America, from border to border and coast to coast and all the ships at sea. Let’s go to press:

“We are the vertical & the horizontal:” This Friday night In Portland, Gridlords will once more descend on The Waypost [3120 N. Williams Ave, Portland, Oregon 97227] for a night of readings/performances/comics. This month’s show will feature Fionna Avocado, John Isaacson, Jesse McManus, Jason Overby and Francois Vigneault. You should go. I should go! I may actually leave this house for this.


The online motherlode of George Herriman rarities; much like Jack Kirby’s watercolors, you have to wonder what color comics would have looked like if Herriman’s personal coloring style had been used on the printed strips instead of the bullpen’s work.


In addition to the tangible tributes they have posted at historically significant sites all over the city,‘s “e-plaques” can boast of writing by the mighty Bob Levin on comix greats Don Donohue and Greg Irons.


Ketcham, Ketcham, who’s got the Ketcham?

An episode of To Tell The Truth from February 18, 1962.


I like my supercomics horizontal and brief, marinated in patriarchal chauvinism and sprinkled with art cribbed from old lingerie advertisements. BETTER KNOCK WOOD, LOIS.

From the Superman daily strip story “The Cry-Baby of Metropolis” [April 7, 1960 - May 26, 1960]


Hey, do you need scans of Winsor McCay‘s Little Nemo In Slumberland? You probably do. They have Dream of the Rarebit Fiend there too.


Last week’s Alcatena post led to a nice discussion of fold theory, during we encountered this handy tutorial from the Famous Artists School.


Oops, I missed the 16th anniversary of the late, great Paul Ollswang‘s death by a little less than two weeks — this is what happens when you count on your memory rather than external words to keep track of upcoming events/notables — here are some great pages of Ollswang remembrances, art and a photo with a less-uncomfortable-looking-than-normal R. Crumb.


Once again, Portland’s loss is Brooklyn’s gain: Revival House Press is opening up shop there this week.

——— does us all a great service by hosting an archive of Fort Thunder’s dead website.


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A lot of webcomic talk in the world the last couple weeks; that NY Times article on Waid’s thing or Ellis’s interesting thing.  Ellis’s thing was decent— obviously, having made Freakangels, anything he’d say on webcomics is worth some thought.  But I feel like all the talk has been premised on scrolling being somehow defective… which … I guess I just don’t understand. Seems like talk for the olds, really— some teenager on tumblr who’s scrolling constantly going to have those same problems?  Doubtful.

— Abhay Kholsa

The Warren Ellis thing he talks about is here. It’s interesting to me that people are taking an “anti-scrolling” party line w/regards to webcomics, because we obviously doubled down on scrolling for the Study Group site.. But also because it just seems weird to me, I guess? The scrolling was one thing I took away from both Body World and What Things Do as being a strength of webcomics, or how those sites presented webcomics, at least. Scrolling comics also look great (to me) on an iPad or Kindle Fire..

I guess I also don’t have a lot of interest in “guided view” modes of reading comics or tapping a screen a billion times, but that doesn’t mean those ways of reading comics can’t be engaging and enjoyable in their own way. I would probably be into experimenting with that mode at some point, and I have a project boiling on the back-burner that’s very likely going to be a click-through, page at a time experience, so the 4-tier mode is worth noting on that level.

Still, the idea that scrolling doesn’t work on the web is refuted pretty deftly by Abhay’s citation of the Tumblr dashboard, as well as sites that utilize it to great effect, like BW, WTD, and perhaps SG itself (your mileage and all that).


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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:



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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Getting an artist’s professional-life story down on tape can sometimes be quick work; documenting the evolution of that artist’s creative process across that career always takes a hideously long amount of time. This is probably why most journalists don’t do craft/process interviews.

Even at its final, mammoth size in Study Group Magazine #1, my “Where It’s Done” feature on Craig Thompson omitted a lot of interesting/amusing comments and conversations that he and I had over the course of our marathon interview session and subsequent followups. I plan to periodically stitch together some of the deleted material from the raw tapes and share them here. – milo

 CRAIG THOMPSON: I went to the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design [Wisconsin] for one semester because that was all I could afford. I paid for it out-of-pocket and then spent six months paying off my loans. I never ended up back in school. All you end up doing in your first semester is toothpick sculptures. I felt like I was in kindergarten. We also spent a lot of time in wood shop too, so it felt like we were in a white-trash high school. You’re in White-trash high-school wood shop or you’re in kindergarten; that’s art school. Appropriately, my favorite class and favorite instructor was English. I went to a community college for a year, where the art classes were my favorite; when I went to art school, English was where I thrived. I didn’t fit in either context.

MILO GEORGE: Did you work during your time in college?

THOMPSON: When I was at community college I got a job driving a delivery van for the Wausau Daily Herald newspaper, like dispatch for all the missed papers, for a year and a half; you’d drive out to deliver a paper to a house that didn’t get theirs and called in to complain. I used to draw these elaborate cartoons on the dispatch board and someone in the design department saw them and encouraged me to apply for a low-end ad-stylist job for the paper. So I applied and got promoted from low-end delivery-truck driver to doing graphic design at a newspaper. I was there for over a year full-time; at one point, I phased out my schooling and just became a worker. I think everything I learned about computers and graphic design, I got there. They were still doing paste-up back then — this is like 1994, ’95. It was cool to have daily deadlines too; it’s a great exercise for any cartoonist. You could walk downstairs into the gigantic pressroom with these massive presses running, it was all very tangible; if you made a mistake, you’d see how it turned out off the press. I still use all that information; it’s probably a little outdated.

GEORGE: So you’ve been drawing with final printing in mind from the beginning?

THOMPSON: Yeah. They had two presses: One was a small offset, small-run digital press — I made my first minicomic on that press. I wasn’t stealing copies; since I was an employee, I just had to pay for the materials. The only thing I did on the professional press was 2-Way Cartoon Machine. That’s actually my first minicomic is actually a flipbook, with myself on one side and Kurt Halsey on the other. He’s fairly well known in the indie painting world in Indiana. He went from being a cartoonist — he was the one of the people who convinced me to start drawing comics — to being a painter, but he has a cartoony style still.

I worked a bunch of shitty jobs in Milwaukee. I was there for another year, a full year after dropping out of art school. The biggest stepping-stone jobs I had back then were jobs animating laser-light shows for a children’s museum, Discovery World, and later drawing stuff for a small advertising agency.

For the museum, I was a one-man lackey for these two stuffy theater guys who ran the theater department at the museum. It was actually pretty cool; the actors were really good and they did a lot of things with Tesla coils and big gimmicks, semi-explosive things going off on stage. The museum acquired these lasers, and I got hired at seven bucks an hour to animate laser-light shows; they would give me a theme and a song, like, “Use ‘I Am The Walrus’ by the Beatles and the theme is ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ now run with that!” and I would have to create a storyboard, a narrative, and draw all the cells for the laser animation by myself. They were drawn with the mouse or a WACOM tablet, 20 plates or so per second, with a lot of loops. It took an insane amount of work and then they took all the credit for it; I think they’re still showing these laser shows that I did 20 years ago! That was a great best-worst job, because I was finally getting paid to make art, and at that point in my life, $7 an hour was amazing pay because I was doing telemarketing and working in bagel shops before that, but the museum job totally destroyed me; it was a lot of all-nighters and I didn’t get to see my friends.

Then I worked at an advertising agency. I had moved back home for three months before moving to Portland — my lease was up, my job was up and I was in no-man’s-land. I was 21 at that point, living with my parents and working in a small-town advertising agency, which was an awesome job. They had one copywriting guy who wrote slogans and jingles, two designers, two fancy-pants business people and a secretary — a really small agency. Probably the most fun job I’ve ever had; the energy was really funny, the stakes are so low because you’re just doing graphic design for small-town Wisconsin companies. That led to me eventually getting a job at Dark Horse.

I mentioned the children’s museum earlier as probably my best-worst job ever, but Dark Horse was definitely my best-worst job ever — I was in comics for the first time in my life, but so far away from actually making the kind of comics I wanted to do.

I lucked out; very early on, they singled me out as the designer for all the quirky, indie-style books, which made me so happy and I got to work with guys like Dave Land and Phil Amara. I remember the first time I got to talk to and work with Jay Stevens, on Land Of Nod, being a huge fanboy moment. I worked on Mike Allred’s Madman when it was still at Dark Horse — across the board, if they had a fun, quirky project, I was assigned to do the graphic design and that was the best part of the job, although still it was just graphic design. But I also had to do design for stuff like action figures for the character Ghost, very buxom, and “Aliens Versus the Vikings” when they put out books like that. [I thought Craig was joking or exaggerating but no, this really is a thing that exists.- milo] When I was working on projects like that, it was the worst thing in the world. Just in general — I was working on a computer all day long, making lunchboxes and logos when I wanted to be making comics, so it was both really exciting and yet super-frustrating but still a high point.

Anyone who’s been to Dark Horse knows it has a sort of dungeon-like quality; you have this perception that it’s going to be, ah …

GEORGE: You’re literally in Richardson’s fiefdom; it seems like there’s some Dark Horse department on almost every block of that town’s center –

THOMPSON: Yeah, but it’s very oppressive when you’re in there — or at least the design department was. It was like, “Shhh, no talking” like a library. Just working, no talking. I don’t know, maybe that’s how most of those jobs are. I visited LAIKA a few times; that place seems dynamic and fun but maybe, if you’re working there, it’s not. Maybe it’s oppressive there, too.

GEORGE: Was the design department upstairs when you were working there?

THOMPSON: Yeah, but I don’t think it was different from editorial, which wasn’t a playground either. There’s no windows in that area, everything’s very closed off. At least there are windows upstairs!

GEORGE: No windows, no wall clocks except one in the meeting room—

THOMPSON: There was a big clock right where I was working; I kept an eye on it.

GEORGE: Maybe they uninstalled the clocks recently; some corporate-productivity consultants come into an office and the first thing they do is get rid of the wall clocks, take them out of general-use areas like hallways. It’s the same theory behind why Las Vegas casinos never have clocks.


GEORGE: That people are more focused and can stay focused on whatever’s in front of them for much longer-than-normal amounts of time if they have no reminders or indicators in their field of vision that time is passing.

THOMPSON: Man — that Life is passing.

GEORGE: Did you pick up a lot of knowledge about production for comics there?

THOMPSON: I learned Photoshop coloring at Dark Horse, and I still use that method, basically. There’s so much that they teach you about production methods that are outdated because they haven’t necessarily shifted as the technology has gotten so much better in terms of what printers can output; they’re still outputting at a pretty low resolution, so most of what I learned about production that has been most valuable and still useful I’ve gotten from my friendship with Jordan Crane, who is one of my first buddies in comics. We used to nerd out on the phone a lot.

I learned how to trap at Dark Horse, which was handy recently. Actually, that was one of my interview questions. I was interviewed by a couple people there, but one of them was Cary Grazzini; I brought in all these samples of work I had done at the advertising agency and he asked “Did you trap this?” And I said yeah, not kind of knowing what he meant; it was nothing I had to worry about before. Then he asked “How did you trap it?” and I finally asked “What’s trapping?”

I was just in New York to give final approval on the Habibi cover and I said, “Wait, these are trapped! I didn’t prepare these to be trapped,” because it originally was going to be clothbound. We spent six months working on a clothbound design and then at the very last moment Pantheon said it was too expensive for clothbound, it has to be paperstock. They took the same files that were designed to be almost like a screenprint on cloth and, at the last minute, I pointed out that they weren’t trapped. I had completely designed for cloth, but now I’m OK with paper — the front cover was supposed to have a tip-in, which would’ve been glued and that would be something could peel off, and sometimes when you’re stamping gold foil on cloth it can look shitty. The cool thing about this is that it’s going to be very crisp. I’m 100% fine with it not being cloth, but I was really worried that it would have that look, like I was trying to make it look like cloth.

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Getting an artist’s professional-life story down on tape can sometimes be quick work; documenting the evolution of that artist’s creative process across that career always takes a hideously long amount of time. This is probably why most journalists don’t do craft/process interviews.

Even at its final, mammoth size in Study Group Magazine #1, my “Where It’s Done” feature on Craig Thompson omitted a lot of interesting/amusing comments and conversations that he and I had over the course of our marathon interview session and subsequent followups. I plan to periodically stitch together some of the deleted material from the raw tapes and share them here. – milo

MILO GEORGE: Ever try spotting blacks with Q-tips?

CRAIG THOMPSON: People use Q-tips for that? I wonder if that’s how you get that perfect Kirby crackle.

MILO: I think so, depending on what size you’re drawing at.

CRAIG: I’ve always wondered how they get that effect. That would be one of many advantages of working in a place like Periscope Studio, where they know all those pen & ink techniques.

MILO: You’d have to call dibs on sitting near Steve Lieber; the last time I was there, it seemed like he was only who didn’t have a laptop and a WACOM tablet on his desk.

CRAIG: Being in a room of WACOM tablets would be very depressing.

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