My Experience at Comics Experience: A Guest Post by Gannon Beck

2012-07-10-SC0-Front-coverAs my first successful Kickstarter for Space Corps winds down, I wanted to share how Comics Experience has contributed to the development of this project.

I joined Comics Experience in 2011 in order to learn to make the best comics I could. When evaluating learning opportunities, I look for opportunities with both traditional mentoring, and peer-to-peer mentoring. Traditional mentoring is more of the student/teacher relationship associated with most schools and classes. Peer-to-peer mentoring, however, is when students trying to achieve the same goal, work together, and learn collaboratively. It’s a powerful but often overlooked learning method. Benjamin Franklin used such a peer-to-peer mentoring strategy by forming a group he called the Junto, and Albert Einstein used the same strategy when he formed a group with science enthusiasts he called the Olympia Academy. Comics Experience, with its classes (traditional mentoring), along with its Creators Workshop (peer-to-peer mentoring), seemed to me to be the perfect blend of what I needed.

The first class I took was Intro to Comic Book Art with Robert Atkins. It was a revelation. I never had a really good illustration teacher before Robert. From the very first assignment, my storytelling abilities began to unlock. Robert has a way of teaching principles clearly and helping students apply the principles to their work.

2013-02-06-SC1-pg19As a part of Robert’s class, we maintained sketch threads in the private class forum. When the class and the traditional mentoring ended, I just shifted gears to peer-to-peer mentoring inside the larger Creators Workshop forums, open to all Creators Workshop members. The first thing I did was start a sketch thread on the workshop to continue the habit started in Robert’s class. I started it in 2011 and it’s still going strong today. I was eventually made the art moderator and established special group threads in the workshop for figure drawing, perspective drawing, inking and coloring, which many artists have contributed to.

I started collaborating with different writers in the workshop on small projects and pitches. Eventually, one of the collaborations led to Space Corps. This wasn’t a part of a master plan, but rather a project that grew organically from the interactions with various people floating around in the creative stew in the workshop. Workshopper Joey Groah introduced me to writer Bryan Richmond, and the project took off from there. What is great about the creative stew on CE is that it includes writers, pencilers, inkers, colorists, letterers, and editors. There is a full spectrum of creators ranging from novices to seasoned professionals in many disciplines.

While working on Space Corps, I wove in and out of various CE classes. I took coloring classes with Chris Sotomayor, and workshopped different parts of Space Corps in Robert Atkins’s advanced classes. I attended the one-day Master Seminars with Klaus Janson and Peter David. Bit by bit, my approach to the craft became more refined.

Space_Corps_3_5Space Corps is but one of many projects bubbling to the surface of the CE Creators Workshop. The outside world only sees the Kickstarters, and published projects when the work is done. The public only gets to see projects like Space Corps, Creature Cops, Tet, Strange Nation, Gutter Magic, Girls Night Out, Rex: Zombie Killer, Dark Patterns, Drones, and Deluge when they’re done. Inside the Workshop, the workshoppers get to see these projects take shape—and sometimes help them take shape by giving feedback to various creators as they incubate their projects.

My time at Comics Experience is paying off, as 2015 is going to be a big year for me. I’m going to see my first project published, Past the Last Mountain—a book I’m doing layouts for, written by Paul Allor, with finished art by Louie Joyce. I’ll also have an inventory of Space Corps #0 to sell and use to market the ongoing webcomic, currently on issue #3.

Just getting things done, though, is only half of the magic. Comics Experience doesn’t just help you make your projects. It helps you make your projects better. That’s what I wanted to get out of joining the workshop, and I feel that’s what I’ve achieved.

I put my work online, though, so please check it out and judge the work for yourself.

Space Corps ongoing webcomic
Space Corps #0 print run Kickstarter

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 Gannon Beck