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The Comics Experience Blog

Here you will find all the latest Comics Experience news and events! Check back often, or subscribe via RSS for updates!


Interview with Comic Book Editing & Project Management Instructor Marc Sumerak!

Marc Sumerak bio photoA new session of our Comic Book Editing & Project Management course is now open for enrollment! This live, online course launches March 20, 2017, led by editor, writer, and publishing professional Marc Sumerak.

Marc began his comics career on the editorial staff of Marvel Comics, developing properties including The Avengers, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and The X-Men. Since then, Marc’s reach has expanded to include writing, teaching, professional mentoring, and more! Marc has been a valued part of the Comics Experience staff since 2015, when he began offering professional script critiques on our Creators Workshop, and providing guidance to clients in our mentoring program.

Now, we’re thrilled to have Marc on our teaching faculty as well!

Visit the Comic Book Editing & Project Management page to learn more about how this course can help you develop your professional skills and provide thorough, inside knowledge of the comic book creation process. Enrollment is open, and all are welcome!

Here, Marc talks more about his background, the editor’s role, and what students can expect from his course.

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How has the comic editor’s role changed during your time in the industry?

I think, in some ways, the editor has taken a more proactive role in setting the course for the characters they oversee. Especially at the larger publishing houses, there now tends to be a specific predetermined story trajectory planned far in advance, due to any number of factors—from major media events to company-wide crossovers. The editor’s role has become vital in making sure that all of the characters and their individual stories sync up with the greater plans already in motion. A publisher may know the line’s basic publishing milestones a year or two in advance, so it falls to the editor to disseminate that information in a way that allows the talent to plan appropriately.

What are some of your favorite things about editing comics?

I love getting my hands dirty fine-tuning a story, finding what works and stripping out what doesn’t.  Story is where I live and breathe—but even though I’m also a writer, I’m not just referring to the words on the page. So much of a comic book’s story is told through the art and color and lettering as well. If those elements don’t work in perfect unison to tell the best story possible, I haven’t done my job as an editor.

What are some of the things that have surprised you the most about your editing career?

I suppose, more than anything, I’m shocked how much my time as an editor prepared me for my time as a writer. Being an editor didn’t teach me to write, per se, but it did teach me to write comic books. And my unwitting professors were some of the finest creators the medium had to offer in a wide range of disciplines. I got to pore over scripts from Busiek, Johns, and Waid. I got to examine every pencil stroke of Perez, Wieringo, and Bagley up close. I got to figure out what made certain inkers and colorists and letterers the best matches for certain projects. I got to see how a book comes together from start to finish, and how one weak link in that chain can send everything spiraling out of control. While editing, I was able to discover a deeper understanding of every aspect of making comics, and those decisions helped inform the creator that I am today.

What are you most eager to share with your Comic Book Editing & Project Management students?

Brutal honesty. Any Creators Workshop member who has had a script critiqued by me expects no less. I don’t pull punches, but there’s a reason for that. If you’re at the level where you’re truly devoting your time to this craft, you deserve straight talk from someone who cares about your future. And when it comes to new talent, I want to make sure they have the knowledge to succeed and the understanding that it won’t be easy. No script is perfect, but a busy professional editor might not have the time to tell you why yours didn’t make the cut. As a part of CE and this course, it’s our job to give you a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t on every level of the production process so that you—and those you collaborate with—have the best chance at success. My goal is to bring out the best in every story, even if it means burning some of them down along the way.

Is there anything else you’d like prospective students to know about you, or this course?

I think everyone who is interested in making comics should have a fundamental understanding of how comics are made beyond their chosen discipline. Not just how to write a script or compose a page of art, but also a working knowledge of the day-to-day production that goes in to putting a book together on a deadline. All the best comics you read are truly team efforts where each creator brings their best to the table, often under unforgiving circumstances. Whether you’re working with a team of seasoned pros or promising up-and-comers, the best creators share a mutual desire to bring out the best in each other’s work. The only way to truly achieve that is to know what goes into every step of the process.

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Comic Book Editing & Project Management starts March 20! Visit the course page here to enroll.

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If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Nicole Boose
nicole@ComicsExperience.com


Interview with Introduction to Figure Drawing & Anatomy Instructor Robert Atkins!

Enrollment is now open for our Introduction to Figure Drawing & Anatomy course! This six-week, online course begins on March 29, 2017, and is taught by artist and longtime Comics Experience instructor Robert Atkins.

Robert is a working comics artist and commercial illustrator, whose clients include Hasbro, Playful Games, and Marvel. Robert has earned accolades from Comics Experience alums, who credit Robert for his thoughtful, supportive, and methodical approach.

Here, Robert talks with us about Introduction to Figure Drawing and Anatomy, and shares some recent work. Get Robert’s insights here, then head over to our course page for more course details and to sign up!

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Figure drawing might be one of the most intimidating things for beginning artists to get a handle on. How do you help your students get over that hurdle?

We start from a basic structure of forms that are easy to break down and reproduce. Then week-to-week we start to tackle each muscle group of the body (back, front torso, arms, legs, hands/feet/head). We layer each visible muscle of the body and give a formula to refer back to whenever you build up a figure drawing. The purpose of the course is to unlock those mystery areas of the body that all too often we have to “fake” because it’s hard to understand what’s happening in those areas. When we break down the body into smaller areas and focus on them for an entire week. It really helps lock in that knowledge and increase retention of that information to use as a foundation after class.

What are some of your favorite moments from this class?

I have two kinds of favorite moments. The first being when a student that feels like they know nothing about anatomy besides what they’ve seen other comic artists do. They know they need work, but haven’t had a good opportunity to study the figure. Then after the class, they have a working knowledge of each muscle of the body and how to sculpt it out in their drawing. The final they produce is often leaps ahead of what they could pull off before class. The other moment is when I get a student that actually has put a lot of time and effort into learning the muscles of the body. You’d think that when they take this class it’d all be old hat for them. However, the approach we use to teach this course not only defines each muscle, but shows a practical knowledge of how these muscles interlock and are co-dependent. When one muscle flexes it affects many areas of the body and other muscles around it. It’s one thing to know the muscles, but it’s even better to understand how they work together. These students really excel because it offers them weeks to refine what they already know, and they come out of class really producing phenomenal work.

What’s unique about the way a comic artist approaches figure drawing and anatomy?

Unlike with normal fine art classes that offer figure drawing based on observation, as a comic artist you have to draw the figure from every imaginable angle, and in some of the most extreme poses. It’s rare you’re going to find exact reference for every figure you’re going to draw in a comic, and it’d be even more rare that you’d have time to photograph or find all that reference and get your book done. So it’s essential as a comic artist that you know how the body moves, and can create it proportionally from your imagination. The best way to do that is to have a clear understanding of the basic forms (head, rib cage, pelvis), to be able to draw them from any angle, and to add on the muscle groups as they would pertain to that pose.

Also, as comic artists, we are reducing our depiction of the figure’s form and volume to line. Meaning we aren’t painting, or using a full range of values to show from. Usually, it’s done by abstracting a 3-dimensional world to a 2 dimensional representation through line. It become essential to know where a muscle starts and stops, where those fibers insert and attach to the bone, and how they lay on top of or beside other muscles of the body. That can only be achieved through an in depth study of the figure.

How has this course changed and evolved in the time you’ve been teaching it?

I’ve refined the content to the point where I know exactly how much I can cover within the given time, and that’s allowed me to be very effective in how much information we go over. This is a tough class, with lots and lots of information to cover. Luckily it’s recorded and you can go back and take notes as many times as you need throughout the weeks of the course! Also, I enjoy teaching the class because it always makes me refocus my anatomical knowledge and make sure I’m as accurate as possible in my own work. We’re always learning, and it’s good information to go over repeatedly.

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Introduction to Figure Drawing and Anatomy begins March 29, and course size is limited. Don’t wait to sign up! Visit our course page for details and registration.

 
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If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Nicole Boose
nicole@ComicsExperience.com


Live Workshop Tuesday, February 21: Action Scenes!

ComicsExperience_logoComics Experience founder Andy Schmidt has announced the next topics for upcoming Live Workshop sessions!

Our Live Workshop sessions are online, monthly events, and they’re available exclusively to Creators Workshop members.

Each Live Workshop discussion focuses on a unique topic geared toward helping comic creators achieve their personal best. Past sessions have covered subjects like maximizing income, reinventing characters, negotiating collaboration agreements, and many more!

Current Workshop members can find details by logging in here.

For more benefits of Creators Workshop membership, head over to our Top Ten Reasons Why the Creators Workshop Is Awesome post! For additional details or to join, please visit our Creators Workshop page here.

Details about our next Live Workshop sessions are below. We hope you’ll join us!

NEXT WEEK! Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 9:00 pm ET
Action Scenes
ANDY SCHMIDT: One of the hardest lessons to learn is how action scenes in comics are so very different from those in movies. In this break-out session, Andy will highlight the key differences between the two and how to get powerful, impactful action scenes on your comics page!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 9:00 pm ET
Inspiration vs Structure
ANDY SCHMIDT: We have an idea! We’re inspired to draw or write about it! A story to tell to inspire others! But how do we capture this inspiration??? By imposing structure and formula and analysis on it. Structuring your story and your art and your page layouts is helpful, there’s no doubt–but is there too much structure? Or too little? The eternal yin and yang of storytelling is explored and you get to ask your questions!

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If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Nicole Boose


Episode #129 of the Comics Experience “Make Comics” Podcast Posted!

CE_podcast_logoA new episode of the Comics Experience Make Comics podcast has been posted! Each episode provides ~15 minutes of advice on all aspects of creating comics and breaking in to the industry.

Join Comics Experience founder and former Marvel and IDW Editor Andy Schmidt and his co-host Joey Groah as they discuss making comics!

Subscribe to our podcast via iTunes! Or check out the latest episode below or on our Podcast page!

Episode #129 – In Store Signings with Paul Allor
Paul Allor (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, TET, G.I. Joe, Strange Nation, Orc Girl) stops by to talk about planning and doing a store signing with work-for-hire and self-published books.

List of All Episodes

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If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Nicole Boose
nicole@ComicsExperience.com
Twitter


Two Brand New Classes Open for Enrollment!

Our March classes are now taking eager comics creators! If you’ve ever wanted to take one of our courses, or are interested in editing, project management and figure drawing and anatomy, now’s your chance to sign up and learn from some of the most experienced names in the industry.

Starting next month, we’ll be offering the following:

Comic Book Editing and Project Management – Starts March 20
Instructor Mark Sumerak bio

Introduction to Figure Drawing and Anatomy – Starts March 29
Instructor Robert Atkins bio

Hurry, though! Our classes tend to fill up quickly. The only way to guarantee yourself a spot is registering as soon as possible.

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If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Meredith Nudo


Andy Schmidt Discusses “The New Comics Career”

Andy SchmidtOn our Comics Experience Creators Workshop online forum, discussion buzzes about “The New Comics Career,” and what that term means in the landscape of today’s comics industry.

This topic was prompted by our latest Live Workshop session. In this live online event, held January 31, Andy Schmidt led a lively talk about how crowdfunding and self-publishing have altered the way many comics creators have approached their careers.

Inspired by that session, Andy launched a related discussion thread on our online forum, so that members of the Creators Workshop community could continue to exchange ideas about this timely and important topic.

According to Andy, a combination of factors has led to major shifts in how comics are produced and supported in recent years.  The changes he cites:

  1. Creators need publishers less than they used to
  2. Creators have better access to collaborators
  3. Due to digital, creating your own comic is much easier than it used to be, and that includes printing
  4. Falling costs of printing and distribution
  5. Rise of crowdfunding and convention sales by creators

How do these changes affect the comics community? Join us in the conversation! What are *your* thoughts on creating comics in this era of self-publishing and digital distribution?

So far, participants have weighed in with their own ideas, experiences, and advice on building a career in the current industry. If you’re a Creators Workshop member, you can access this discussion by logging in here.

This is just one of dozens of topics that the Creators Workshop explores every day on our member forums. Discussions are in-depth, respectful, and include people from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels.

To learn more about the Creators Workshop and how to become a member, please visit our Workshop page here. Membership includes access to our online discussion forum, monthly live online workshops, and opportunities to receive professional feedback on your work. We hope you’ll join us!
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If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Nicole Boose
nicole@ComicsExperience.com