Creating Comics #2: Aiding Young Comic Creators

I received an email the other day that read as follows:


I wonder if you might be able to help me. I have a son aged 10 that is very interested in comic creation, and he creates HUNDREDS of them. They are, albeit, rudimentary but he is very interested in them and I am trying to encourage him. He typically takes ideas from fiction and television and turns them into comics.

I am interested in any suggestions that you might have on books, materials, anything to advance his quality and creation of more original ideas. He is probably not old enough for some of the continuing ed courses yet, but any thoughts you might have I would appreciate it.

It was a good question, and I thought it'd be worthwhile to share my response here:

That's great to hear! There's a fear in the comics industry that there are no young comic enthuisiasts, so it's great to hear your son loves making comics.

As far as some materials and things to help improve your sons skills, one I would still recommend (and the first book on comics creating I got when I wasn't much older than your son) is
How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema. This book is written in a very easy to read and understand way by the master Stan Lee, and is full of gorgeous illustrations, some step by step, that will start getting your son drawing more realistic and dynamic anatomy. Highly recommended.
(On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/How-Draw-Comics-Marvel-Way/dp/0671530771/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219423894&sr=8-1)

While there are tons of books and other materials about drawing comics, I'd start with the Stan Lee book and see how your son takes to it. I'd also recommend trying to find a comic shop in the area and taking your son there to pick out some comics as a treat from time to time. Now, comics have definitely become more expensive over the years (avg price is now about $3), but many stores have $1 bins or even $0.25 cent bins of older back issues they are trying to unload. I have a couple of nephews your sons age who love it when I take them to the comic shop and they get to raid the bargain bins, pick out what they like, and come home with a big stack of comics. You'll likely find him referring to the comics when he's drawing his own.

Another tip is that you can show support for his creations by giving him some "professional" tools to help set up his own little comic creation "studio." When I started drawing comics, I started on the kitchen table with the pencils and pens lying around the house. Gradually, I upgraded my materials. Some things your son will love:

Obviously, there's plenty more tools of the trade, and if your son reads the Stan Lee book, you may find him asking for some tools that they show in there. Although all it takes is a piece of paper and a pencil to make comics, but there's something about getting quality tools that really makes the process fun.

A final suggestion would be to help your son share or "publish" his comics work. I used to give my dad a stack of my comic drawings in the morning, he'd take them to work and photocopy them, and return with a stack of my own comic books that I could then bring to school and give to friends. So a trip to Kinko's to copy comics that your son is especially proud of would probably be a lot of fun for him.

And since it's the 21st century (and since my background is Education Technology) I'd be remiss if I didn't also suggest helping your son start an online portfolio for his work. A site like www.comicspace.com is a free site set up for comic artists to display their work. You could help your son scan in his comics and set up a site to display his work.

Thanks for the question, and I hope some of this helps. If you have any questions about anything I've mentioned, feel free to ask. And definitely let me know how it goes with your son and if any of these suggestions were helpful.


Tyler James


Creating Comics #1- Class for Comic Writers!

This Fall, I'll be teaching a course called Creating Comics: Writing for Comics and Graphic Novels at the Newburyport Adult and Community Education Center. In six, two-hour weekly sessions starting October 14, I'll be sharing what I know about creating comics. I'm currently fine-tuning my syllabus (suggestions for good articles and resources always welcome.)

It was about four years ago that I took a similar class at Georgetown University's Continuing Ed Center that really reignited my passion for creating comics. So in a sense, this is a chance to pay it forward, and pass on all I've learned since then.

Here's the course listing for my class.


Events, Appearances, Promotion #1: Boston Zine Fair 2008

I'll be at the Boston Zine Fair on Saturday, September 20 (and possibly Sunday as well.) I've signed up for a half table, and will be peddling a few of my wares and hopefully making some connections with artists and comic enthusiasts in the Boston area.

I'll have Super Seed #1-3 for sale at my table, perhaps some original art, and hopefully a few other goodies as well. I'm curious to see how things will go.

So if you're in the Boston area, please come on by and say hello.

CounterTERROR #3: Promotional Pin-Up Thumbnail

I wrote last week about posting a call for artists on Digital Webbing. Doing so has been quite fruitful, as I've been in talks with a number of incredible artists, and I'm planning on working with some of them.

What I've decided to do in most cases is establish a relationship with the artist by first commissioning him or her to do a pin-up or cover type image for one of my comic properties. Assuming that goes well for both parties, we'll then move into talking more about working on a longer comic project.

Case in point: I've commissioned artist Stefano Cardoselli to do a counterTERROR pin-up. Stefano's style is lively and slightly demented, and I thought he'd do a bang up job on a pin-up for my action/horror tale. No stranger to the Zombie genre, Stefano is another Zuda veteran. He was the artist on Robodeath, which was in a competition several months ago.

Featured here is a thumbnail of the counterTERROR pin-up he's doing. I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished piece, and will definitely be showcasing it here. Check out more of Stefano's work at his website.

Velvet Rope #11- Inks Are Coming!

Well, it's been a few weeks since I finished up the pencils for "Friend Request," the short horror story I was hoping to get into Arcana's Velvet Rope Horror Anthology. As you know, I wasn't able to get the story finished in time for that book, but I still hope to get it published eventually.

So, I turned to inker extraordinaire Michael Babinski to help make my pencils look good, and as you can see from the preview image attached, the man delivers!

So, "Friend Request" is still moving forward. Stay tuned for more.


Super Seed #19: New (kinda) Storyline

For those of you following the online version of Super Seed at www.superseedcomic.com, you may have noticed that I took a bit of a hiatus for the past two weeks. I wrapped up the "Episode 1: Donor" storyline in early August, and after 10 weeks of consistent, 3 x's a week updates of my webcomic, I figure I deserved a little break.

But not to worry, updates resumed on Monday, with "Interlude: Birth Perfects." Okay, so, fans of Super Seed from the beginning will recognize this story as the the first Super Seed story ever done. But it's been remastered a bit to fit with the current style of the web comic. So, check it out M-W-F.

In other Super Seed news, I got a nice review the other day from someone who bought the print version of issue 1. (Which just happens to be available for purchase here.) That story was my first forray into the world of print comics. I learned a ton putting that story together, and it's nice to hear there are still some people discovering it. Made my day.


Creator's Toolkit #5: Searching for Artists

As readers of this blog know, I have a number of comic projects in the works. Of course, there is Super Seed, which is my baby (pun intended) and since I'm the artist/writer/letterer/editor/webmaster/everything on that book, the responsibilities are pretty clear. In a way, I'm vary lucky. There are plenty of people out that would love to create comics, but don't possess all of the skills necessary. Since I'm a passable artist, a decent colorist, a serviceable letterer, and computer graphically literate, if I want to bring a comic story to light, I'm capable of doing so on my own...But man is it time consuming!

Currently, I have a number of other projects in various stages that require collaboration with other talented individuals to see them come to light. Some I've mentioned and teased here (Friend Request, CounterTERROR, Colosseum) and some I'm keeping under wraps. But the time has come where I need to start assembling artists to get some of these projects moving.

SO, for the first time ever, I decided to post an open call for artistic collaborators it the Talent Search Forum over at Digital Webbing. This was my first time posting over there, so I did what any internet savvy person would do...I lurked for a few days, making notes on other posts I though were effective. Finally, I posted the following:

Seeking Artists for New Comic Projects

I'm looking for talented sequential storytellers for a few new comic projects. I'm looking for a small initial commitment (roughly 8 pages of sequentials + some character design work), with more work to follow once a publisher is secured. I'll pay a competitive page rate for all pages, whether or not the comic gets picked up by a publisher.

A bit about me: I'm a published comics writer and artist and my most recent comic series was featured in a Zuda Comics competition. I'm looking to partner with some talented, dynamic artists to take my next series to another level.

I currently have a number of comic projects that are in development, for which I am beginning my search for artists. These projects cover a number of genres (super hero slugfest, gritty real world psychological drama, action/horror, sci fi) so I'm open to all styles of artists. I'm really looking to start building an artist contact list, so all inquiries welcome.

If interested, please email me with the following information here :
○ Links to any of your portfolio sites, preferably with both pinups and sequential pages.
○ Note whether you pencil, ink, color, etc.
○ Your page rate (if you have one)


Pretty straight forward ad. The one mistake I made was not being more specific about the type of style I was looking for. I also could have included a page rate range, but honestly I was curious about what kind of rates artists would come back at me with.

Well, it did not take long before my email started being flooded with emails from artists sending me links to their work. A few interesting things about the responses to my ad:
  • The bulk of my responses came within the first 12 hours of my posting, and I ended up receiving emails from 42 artists within the first 24 hours.
  • The internet is a true window to the world...almost half of my responses came from artists outside the United States. Countries represented included Argentina, Paraguay, Mexico, Poland, Germany, Yugoslavia, Brazil, Philipines, China, and Canada.
  • Managing these responses was a challenge. I ended up creating a spreadsheet that kept track of artist names, emails, and sites, and I also added a notes field and a ranking field based on how suitable they were to any of my projects.
  • Despite my request that they include page rates, only a little more than half of the artists included the rates they charge. Of those that included rates, they varied wildly. (Penciled page rates varied from $15- $180 per page.) The median page rate for a fully inked page was around $50. All in all, these rates were about what I expected.

So, what's the verdict of this talent search? Well, it remains to be seen. But I was pleased to find that there is some real talent out there. Sure, 90% of the artists are not quite right for the projects I'm currently focusing on, but there are a few who definitely could be.

Stay tuned, as I hope to be sharing some news about artists I'll be working with shortly.


On the Net #2- Burnadette

Last year, a friend of mine took part in the Boston 24 Hour Film festival. The theme was Super Heroes, and they made a clever little film. Check out some stills from the film and a sketch of her character "Burnadette" that I did for her.

I've also included the short film, "We Could Be Heroes" here as well.


Colosseum #1- Penciled Pin-Up

Back from vacation, now's a good time to announce another comics project I'm helming. Colosseum will be a super hero slugfest, and should be a lot of fun. It'll still be a while before I'll have finished pages, so consider this just a teaser image of things to come.