An Andy Schmidt Community website

Comic Book art

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!


2019 Introduction to Screenwriting Now Open for Enrollment!

The first 2019 Introduction to Screenwriting class with James Janowsky is now open to enrollees! It all starts January 24. Our courses tend to fill up quickly, so make sure to sign up here to ensure you land the slot you want.

James is a comic book writer and screenwriter with six years of teaching at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and founded the James Richard Janowsky Awards in 2012 to honor the best of the best film students at Columbia University, New York University, and School of Visual Arts… among other accomplishments.

We asked him a few questions about the relationship between his experience as a moderator for film Q&As and involvement with the Student Academy Awards and other screenplay competitions and his approach to education.

Comics Experience: What is some of the most insightful advice you’ve ever received while moderating Q&As with filmmakers? How have these exchanges with other creatives in the industry shaped your approach to the medium?

James Janowsky: That’s a good question.

The majority of the Q&As I moderated were with talent that were promoting their soon-to-be released film—which, in most cases, if not all, they were contractually obligated to do. Often, we discussed their film and how the project came together. So, there wasn’t a lot of advice given. However, collectively, I started to see a pattern that shaped my opinion about filmmaking and the film business.

The major overarching thing I learned was that the good films come down to an initial good story idea, then making smart and interesting storytelling choices during the screenwriting process, and then hiring the proper talent—director, directory of photography, actors, editors, etc.—best suited to tell that story. It sounds simple, but it isn’t.

Now, I don’t want it to seem like I didn’t learn anything from the talent. Off the top of my head, there are two moments with directors that stick out for me. The first happened during the end credits when I was meeting the talent outside the Paramount screening room before the Q&A. I was talking with the director and he unexpectedly said to me, “I don’t make movies anymore, I just promote them.”

I was a bit stunned by his honest response, but it made sense. A commercial film is about promoting the film and getting it into the publics’ consciousness… basically, getting as many fannies in the seats as possible. But a student short film is the complete opposite. It’s objective is to promote the student filmmaker; demonstrating that the filmmaker has the ability to tell a story effectively in this medium and, hopefully, convince a producer to hire you on their next project.

The second was when I was moderating a Q&A with Todd Solondz, the director of such dark, dark comedies as Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness. He mentioned that he didn’t have the budget for rehearsals. So his workaround was to extend the audition and rehearse the actor—especially children, if my memory serves me right—to prepare them as much as possible before they got on set. I thought that was a smart and resourceful way to save time and money when you are making a low-budget movie.

CE: What is the judging process like for the film festivals you’ve participated in, such as the Student Academy Awards? How has this shaped your teaching style?

JJ: First, let me say, that I have a different approach to student grant giving than I do for film festivals.

When I was the Student Grant Committee Chair for a not-for-profit film organization, we would watch finished student short films and then award a monetary grant to each of the deserving students. For me, it was about awarding the student, not the film. Therefore, you don’t only give grants to students that made good films, but also to students that demonstrated potential even if the film was just okay.

I never wanted to treat the student grant giving the same as year-end awards where you give honors to commercial films made by professionals. They are students, they are learning, and in most cases their crews are also students, and that has to be taken into consideration. Even now, that’s how I approach my own student grants, the James Richard Janowsky Awards.

As for the Student Academy Awards, that’s pure competition. They award the top three student shorts—Gold, Silver and Bronze—in each category. So, you are looking for the best films and awarding excellence.

What I learned during each process is that not all film schools are created equal. One particular undergraduate film program annually submitted students’ work that was not good. Each shorts’ running time was the maximum time allowed, every gimmick/trick was used—flashback, flash forward, dream sequences—there seemed to be a lack of understanding how to tell a story.

It was really sad to watch the films because you could tell the students were very creative, very inventive, but they didn’t seem to understand storytelling fundamentals for this medium.

For me, I want my students to understand that writing is about asking questions about their characters, their scenes, their conflict… then, coming up with creative, smart, and logically sound answers… solutions when they sit down to write their screenplays.

CE: What are your expectations for students? What are the desired outcomes you have for them, based on your extensive experience?

JJ: My expectations? Hmmm… This may seem old-fashioned, but it is true: I want my screenwriting students to know the storytelling fundamentals when they sit down to write. I want them to write with confidence, and that only comes with understanding the medium. Eventually, as they grow as writers, I want them to write stories that people want to produce and people want to watch.

Ready to transition your ideas into screenplays? To secure your spot, sign up here!

——————————————-
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!


Episode #166 of the 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 Joey Groah, Nicole Boose, Heather Antos, and Jim Gibbons as they discuss making comics!

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

Episode #166 – Tips on Hiring a Freelance Editor
Nicole Boose (Marvel, Millarworld, freelance) shares five tips for hiring a freelance editor for your comics project. Goals, roles and convos to get your project moving!

List of All Episodes

——————————————-
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!


Why Do You Want to Make Comics?

Attorney and pro Workshop member Gamal Hennessy

The Comics Experience Creators Workshop forum supports and encourages meaningful discussion about making comics. That includes great conversation starters like the one below, excerpted from a post by entertainment lawyer and Creators Workshop pro member Gamal Hennessy. Here, Gamal challenges us to ask ourselves why we want to make comics, and to use the answers to push ourselves forward.

Gamal initiated this topic on November 26, and the conversation has been going ever since. To access the full post and the resulting discussion, Workshop members can log in here. To learn more about becoming a member, just visit our Creators Workshop page here.

***

Hello Comics Experience!

My name is Gamal Hennessy. Some of you may have worked with me before. Some of you may have just heard of me, but I’m an entertainment lawyer who specializes in the comic book industry. I’ve worked with big companies like Amazon and Marvel, independents like AfterShock and Mad Cave and several creators here at CE.

Andy was nice enough to give me space in the forums to conduct an ongoing discussion about the business and legal aspects of independent comics publishing. Because this is the first post, I’m going to start with an existential question:

Why do you want to make comics?

Before you start thinking about drawing, sales or social media, it is important to figure out exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and why. Making comics, like any artistic or business endeavor, involves substantial sacrifice and investment. If you’re going to make comics a part of your life beyond the Wednesday ritual of picking up your pull box, it makes sense to take a step back and look at the big picture.

To answer this fundamental question, I suggest you take yourself out for a cup of coffee or a cocktail (if you’re old enough, of course) and figure out the answers to the following questions. Keep in mind that the answers can and will change over time, so don’t be afraid to revisit these questions as your circumstances and the industry changes.

1. Goals (or What Do You Want to Do in Comics?): “I want to make comics” is a start, but there are different aspects to the industry, and figuring out where you want to be will help you make decisions on which opportunities to pursue and which ones to avoid. Maybe you want to make your own books and sell them at cons. Maybe you want to work for the Big Two. Maybe you want to be the next Stan Lee or Todd McFarlane. Maybe you want it all. You can have any goals you want. The purpose of goals isn’t to limit you. They just guide you on your path.

2. Reasons (or Why Do You Want a Career in Comics?): It’s one thing to know what you want to do. Knowing why requires a different type of insight. Are you doing this because you have a story to tell, because you want to be a part of the comics community, or because you want more money than Tony Stark?

Like your goals, your reasons are personal. They don’t have to define you, but keeping them in mind can motivate you to overcome the inevitable setbacks and pitfalls. You can have any reason or motivation you want for getting into comics. There are opportunities for artistry, creativity, and profit at almost every level of the industry, but at the end of the day, a love of the art form will keep you going.

3. Plan (or How Are You Going to Get into Comics?): After you understand your goals and your reasons for wanting those goals, you need to develop a plan to help you get from where you are to where you want to go. As you progress with the courses in CE, you can begin to figure out which path you want to adopt for your own purposes and take the appropriate steps.

Of course, no plan survives contact with reality. The industry is in a state of constant flux. The impact of changing trends will often be outside of your control. You’re going to need to modify your plan to adapt to new conditions, so the plan you make might not be the path you ultimately take. But you have to start somewhere and making your own comic is a good place to begin, no matter where you ultimately want to go.

***

To read the entire post and the resulting discussion, Creators Workshop members can log in here.

To learn more about Gamal’s work, please visit Creative Contract Consulting.

To join our Creators Workshop community, please visit the Workshop page.

Thanks to Gamal for his insights, and for launching this conversation!

——————————————
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!


Three Workshops on Comic Book Writing for $9.95!

They’re fun, they’re affordable, and they’re packed with valuable insight on writing comics! Now through December 10, 2018, we’re offering a package of three workshop videos for a budget-friendly $9.95.

These three videos are part of our catalog of over 130 live sessions, discussions, and tutorials included in our Creators Workshop membership. Topics include writing, production, the business of comics, and loads more! Creators Workshop members can already access ALL 130+ videos for free, anytime.

If you’re not a current member, this offer is designed for you. Try out this video package as a great stand-alone learning experience, or use it to get a feel for what Creators Workshop membership can offer you.

The $9.95 video package provides access to the following three sessions focused on comic book writing. All are led by Comics Experience founder and instructor Andy Schmidt. Once purchased, videos will remain accessible through January 31, 2019, so sign up now to make the most of this offer!

***

The New Comics Career

The old way of doing things is to pitch your project to a publisher until it gets picked up. But as fewer publishers are willing to take risks, even small ones, and as crowdfunding has picked up steam, the new way creators are making a living and a name for themselves is a strange hybrid model between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Let’s discuss!

Inspiration vs Structure

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!

Flashbacks

Flashbacks were the bane of Andy’s existence as an editor. No one trained writers or artists on how to deal with them properly, how to make them intuitive, or for that matter, what they were supposed to do dramatically. Too often they were mis-used and mis-handled. In this session, Andy will explain how to effectively use flashbacks dramatically as well as how to execute them clearly. You’ll never have a mis-fire flashback again!

***

Again: if you’re already a Creators Workshop member, these videos and many more are already included in your membership and available 24/7! Just log in and start browsing our ARCHIVES UNLOCKED topic.

To join the Creators Workshop for ongoing access to our video catalog and other resources, visit our Creators Workshop page here.

And to purchase the $9.95 package featuring workshops on The New Comics Career, Inspiration vs. Structure, and Flashbacks, just click the PayPal button below!

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

——————————————-
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!


Now Open for 2019 Enrollment: Intro to Comic Book Art!

Phillip Sevy‘s first Introduction to Comic Book Art of 2019 is now open for enrollment! Class begins January 30 – just in time for you to start putting all of your New Year’s resolutions into action.

“The main of the course is focused on visual storytelling. We’ll touch upon proportions, figures, and perspective, but the most important aspect of comics is the ability to tell a story,” Phillip says.

“I’ve found (both as an instructor and as a student once, myself) the sheer amount of information, choices, and understanding that comes with visual storytelling can be overwhelming at first. There’s a LOT to wrap your brain around. But as you study, work hard, and exercise your knowledge and understanding, the choices you make become easier and better along the way.”

Introduction to Comic Book Art’s structure is tailored to suit the needs of the group’s unique goals and dynamics, making it an ideal starting point for becoming the creator you want to be.

“Each time I teach a course I start off the same but always give myself the freedom and room to adapt the course to the group of students I have. Sometimes I slow down and focus on areas that need more time and sometimes there are areas where the students grasp the information quickly and we can move on,” Phillip says.

For aspiring and established comics art pros alike, the class’ flexibility and attention to personal growth reflect the teacher’s passion for elevating the comics community. As with all of our introductory courses, we hope to stoke enthusiasm for a fulfilling creative life, no matter where you want to take your talents.

Phillip says, “I love working with students at an early stage in their career. As we work through ideas and concepts, it’s really exciting to see ideas click for them and to watch their abilities expand and increase. The fundamentals we cover in the Intro to Comic Art course are the foundations for sequential art and visual storytelling.”

“Seeing artists and writers grasping the concepts concretely (where, before, they were often aware of these ideas but not always able to vocalize or explain them) is very rewarding.”

If you want to take comic book art classes later in the year, please note that this is a prerequisite for our advanced classes.

Ready to go? Sign up for Introduction to Comic Book Art here!

——————————————-

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!


Warm Up to CE’s Winter Courses!

Comics Experience and Screen Experience’s next slate of courses is now open for enrollment! Beginning in January, you can choose from courses in writing, art, and production for comics or screen. CE courses are a great way to launch your goals for the new year — or a great gift for lighting someone’s creative spark.

Andy Schmidt

CE founder Andy Schmidt

All of our courses are live, online, and taught by instructors equally dedicated to their craft AND to helping you learn. Each course curriculum is carefully developed in conjunction with CE’s founder, Andy Schmidt, in order to present information that’s engaging, practical, and fun!

In addition to our live online class sessions, your enrollment includes access to a dedicated online forum offering ongoing discussion and support. Our forums have sparked careers, started friendships, and led to lasting creative partnerships! We’re proud of the community we’ve helped create, and we want you to be a part of it.

Recordings of each class session are available to all registered students. Whatever your schedule or time zone, you can view course recordings to make up missed classes or review key points, as often as you like, for up to two weeks after your course concludes.

Choose from any of our upcoming winter courses — all are available for enrollment NOW, with full descriptions on our course pages! Sign up in time for the holiday giving season, and start hitting your creative goals come 2019.

——————————————-
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!