Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 _ Blacklight Bites


I posted a deeper (longer) reflection on the year on my art blog Paws as Hands but I wanted to add a few quick hits here for some standout Blacklight moments:

- Seeing our first collaboration, Chris' short FROZEN DARK, published and collected as part of the DON'T LOOK! Anthology. Editor Rick Ritter is a co-worker who was one of those guys who initially poked me to start doing comics again. The final product is a quality, diverse collection that includes a number of other friends, old and new. Plus, I thought that Chris came up with a great title in DON'T LOOK! and Dave Palumbo wrapped it all in one striking cover. Looking forward to more from the LAST MINUTE COMICS crew.

- Traveling to San Diego with Swift for the Convention. From the moment we landed it was an adventure. The streets were thick with fans and our local driver/ friend/ escort yelled at them all the way. From Backstreet Boy bracelets to Wolf Costumes to Gorging on Tapas to Our Chat with Steve Lieber to He-Man Dioramas to Our First Signing and Panel to the After Party with Archaia peeps it was an unforgettable whirlwind not even two days full.

- That a random Facebook post about my cat reconnected me with Nathalia Ruiz Murray, who now could not be a more perfect fit as translator on FEEDING GROUND. She's taken on the role of a diligent writer and linguist who brings so much to the book and ensures more than some rote dictionary translation.

- Being a regular listener of the INK PANTHERS Podcast and then being invited on as a guest. Ostensibly a comic podcast, it's hardly ever about comics and it's more about the banter of the hosts. The funniest thing I listen to every week.

- Our most recent meeting at my home to discuss the beats for FEEDING GROUND #5. It not always easy to collaborate with friends but we've worked hard to be respectful of each other's working style and schedule and tastes. With this meeting I think we hit a groove that was apparent, asking the right questions and field testing solutions to make sure they held water. A perfect end to the teamwork of this year and standard to continue in 2011.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Art of the Small --- Looking Back on 2010

By Chris Mangun

I work in Pharma Advertising... the fine print industry. One day, one of our best art directors Huy Hygen (who’s name is pronounced We Win and most enjoyable to say)… anyways, we got into a conversation about fonts and how hard it is to choose the right font to go with the right art. Whether recognized or not, Helvetica feels different from Eurostyle, some might say, more minimal or genteel than the latter. Out of the conversation came the notion that, “People spend more time per capita focused on words than images since they must read letters.” Typography opened my eyes to how every shaped letter is its own piece of art and that someone spent years working on this alphabet, maybe a whole 2 weeks on the letter G! Golly-gosh, someone even made a movie about it “Helvetica”… a splendid documentary on fonts if you’re interested.

I mention all this because a lot of my work on Feeding Ground is lettering each issue. Every month, my eye goes to the screen for hours, tweaking little letters, judging font size, considering spacing, etc. In those hours of work, I sometimes would stop and ask myself, how important is lettering? Do people really care if we use CC Gibbons or Spooky Art over Times Roman? And the answer was always the same, yes. When it comes to comics, choosing the right font is cornerstone to setting the right tone or feeling of a visual story.

This year, I learned why balloons have their own “Live” or “safety” area, which is the distance I want to keep the text from edge of the balloon. Being without special effects of TV or sound, I learn that changing a word’s color or outlining it to stretch it, or making it into sound effects can change the way someone feels or even hears a word. The biggest challenge I had in lettering, what made me really focus in on this little art, was working with accents on the translated flip-side of our issues. Español has accents over certain letters, reverse punctuation, and for whatever reason well styled comic fonts are lacking these accents. This means, I had to place individual “tildes” over dozens of ñ’s and accents over many other letters.

Lettering really is the art of the small… that background craft of creating finely fixed symbols, tiny canvases of meaning, well placed amongst bigger meaning. The best at this craft, allow readers to feel something without having to knowingly feel it.

What I know about lettering comics I learned through “DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering” and a lot working with Michael Lapinski who has built up a great awareness to the art of the small and coached me when I needed it. This year, like lettering, had so many small moments. Many were spent working on this fine comic, which taught me about collaboration with friends and looking closely at how beautifully complicated pockets of time can be summed up in a few well designed words.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reflections on 2010

Swifty here-

Learned so much this past year, and wanted to take a moment to reflect on what this year has taught me. 2010 has been an absolute blur, so I felt a stream of consciousness-style response is most applicable.

Listen to your artist when something isn't working, you really share the same end goals. Read the reviews, sometimes they sting, but this can be the most objective feedback you get. Be true your intentions. You are doing this because you have something to say. Try to tackle something current, but make sure it's personal.

Remember how fortunate you are to be a part of the comics community. I have met many in the industry whose talent is matched by their generosity and intelligence. Read widely, beyond comics. How else is your work not going to be solely referential.

Try to engage the people who are supporting your work as opposed to waiting for an introduction. Ultimately the work should connect you with like-minded people. Talk to people who do not read comics. I've gotten some of my best ideas that way. Be willing to fail, it's the only way you have a chance at success. Remember to love doing the work, at the end of the day, it is the only thing in your control.