On May 7th, Eisner Award-winning artist Paolo Rivera and former Marvel and IDW Editor Andy Schmidt held a #makecomics “TweetChat” discussing comic art, the use of design in storytelling, and more.
For those who missed it, a transcript of the highlights is below!
Paolo’s one-day, live streaming course on The Art of Design and Comic Book Storytelling will be held on Saturday, May 18, 2013 from 10:00am until approximately 4:00pm Eastern Time, with a one-hour break for lunch.
This is a one-time only opportunity to learn from a modern master of the comic art form!
TweetChat between Paolo Rivera & Andy Schmidt:
Andy: I’m interested in how you got your first comics work. You were in school at RISD, correct? and did you link with pros through professors?
Paolo: Yep, I was still at RISD at the time. I first met Jim Krueger while I was still in high school. Megacon in Orlando was the venue.
Andy: And he liked your work or you just met him and kept in touch? Showing work later…
Paolo: Yeah, I kept in touch throughout my time in college. He had me do a bunch of work for his creator owned projects.
Andy: And he introduced you to whom? And did they lead to more folks following your work?
Paolo: He brought me into the Marvel offices and introduced me to a bunch of editors, none of whom really knew what to do with me.
Andy: Was I one of those editors???
Paolo: Ha! No. I believe Mike Marts was. But he gave me Joe Quesada’s contact info and I emailed him some jpegs.
Paolo: They didn’t really have a book or a project to put me on.
Andy: Was that because of your painting style that they didn’t know what to make of you?
Paolo: They liked the work, they just didn’t have anything for me. Fortunately, Quesada got back to me the next day and said I was hired.
Andy: That was nice of him. And I’m glad he did.
Paolo: Yeah, both he and Tom Brevoort pretty much created jobs for me. I’ll always be thankful for that.
Andy: You were painting originally. Why painting? Is that what you went to school wanting to do, or did you decide while there? and when and why did you make the switch to more traditional pencil and ink and color?
Paolo: I made the major shift in 2008. ASM 577 was my first inked comic. The switch was mainly done for time and money. I couldn’t produce pages fast enough fully painted. Still can’t.
Andy: That’s fair. Would you prefer to be painting still? Or have you grown into liking pen and ink more?
Paolo: Now I don’t really even paint covers. Only commissions and personal work. I still love to paint, but I save it for special projects, like the Iron Man 3 cast and crew poster I just did. When it comes to comics, I much prefer ink. I studied a lot of Milton Caniff to figure out just what I was trying to do. My style ended up looking something like Joe Orlando’s later work, whom I wasn’t even aware of when I started inking.
Andy: And in studying Caniff’s work, did you really start working differently from a storytelling perspective?
Paolo: Not so much. I was trying to steal his inking style more than anything else. When it comes to storytelling, I never really “studied” anyone. I try to approach with a blank slate.
Andy: That makes sense. You can see it in your work–which is really cool. How much pen and ink did you do at RISD?
Paolo: I did almost no pen and ink at RISD. When I started inking, it was something completely new to me, but inking has informed my painting because it forces me to concentrate on composition.
Andy: Do you try to figure out panel layouts first or where you want action/characters, then frame them in panel?
Paolo: It depends on the page, but I usually have some anchor upon which I rest everything else. There’s usually one character or one action that’s most important. Everything else is there to serve it. For me, I block the action out first and that informs panel layouts.
Paolo: What actually convinced me to try brush and ink was my fans – they would ask for black and white drawings all the time.
Andy: That’s really interesting. I always tell pros not to listen to fans! Ha ha.
Paolo: Yeah, I ended up showing a Fastball Special pin-up to my editor and he let me try the style on ASM 577.
Andy: So you’re doing the MASTER SEMINAR at Comics Experience. on Design in Storytelling. There’s a lot of design in DAREDEVIL. Was that something you and Mark Waid wanted to do together?
Paolo: Honestly, Marcos Martin opened my eyes. I never knew writers were cool with that. Mark pretty much gave us free reign.
Andy: Cool with what exactly?
Paolo: Cool with interpreting his scripts as we saw fit. Because I knew what Marcos’ script looked like… and what the finished page looked like. I was able to see what kind of liberties he was taking. I just never knew that was an option before. At least with your standard Marvel comic. I also have to give a lot of credit to Steve Wacker, who was open to anything that made the story move.
Andy: Steve has become one heck of an editor, hasn’t he. Really impressive body of work.
Paolo: Yeah, it’s almost like an indy island in the midst of Marvel. But I’m biased.
Andy: Anything you want to hit on before we sign off?
Paolo: Sure: comics are really hard to make. They’re also really fun to make. I hope to make more.
Andy: Thanks for chatting here, Paolo. Much appreciated.
Paolo: My pleasure, sir! Thank YOU!
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!