There was a time when I never cared for comic books. I somehow felt the whole comic book thing was a lowly kind of art form, not worthy of mainstream attention. I also never understood the whole Marvel and DC superhero culture and stuff. That perspective changed as time went by…

In 2005, curiosity got the better of me and I started sifting through a bunch of old comic books. I ended up buying a couple of issue. What’s odd was that I didn’t start with the comic classics of Marvel or DC… No, I began by picking up these comic book tie-ins for a 1980’s series called Robotech. Damn, they were lousy! The art and story of these tie-ins were pretty pathetic (most tie-ins are, as I later learned). However, they did manage to instill in me a… sense curiosity about the medium.

This is when I realized that 'tie-ins' are more often
than not, uninspired, forgettable, or just plain bad (Well, duh)

I also learned European comics are really weird

By 2006, I began picking up this Heavy Metal "adult" comics. While they were pretty cool, with naked chicks with big guns and gratuitous violence in each page, I always felt the stories were a little… out there. (I guess it’s because they’re European) That’s when someone recommended to me a comic by some hairy dude named Alan Moore. It’s called Watchmen. It was then that my myopic view of comics changed. I didn’t exactly rush to the store to by all the Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller and Alan Moore stuff, but it really made me respect the medium a hell of a lot more. (odd though that these guys I mentioned also makes stories that are pretty out there)

Familiarizing myself with the medium…

To truly understand something, you’ve got to try it out. Therefore despite my genuine lack of artistic skill, I decided to learn a bit more on how to construct a good comic book. I began wondering “What does it take for a shmuck like me to make something cool?” I also weighed in the possibility of some kind of profound learning I could derive from doin’ this thing. Will pursuing comics make me a better artist? What are the skills one needs to be a good comic artist?

I searched’s forums for an answer to this question (I am aware of the millions of tutorials on this subject). I managed to stumble upon this topic about how comic books could be the ultimate test for an artist.

A member by the name of Famedragon began the topic:

Well not the ultimate test for an artist, but working on a comic book really does require the artist to use everything he's learned in art and observed in life. He/she practically has to be able to draw the human body in any conceivable pose (and the faces with myriad emotions), from any conceivable angle (I'd rejoice the day I reach that stage!).

I read Marvel: Civil War in a friend's house. It was the first time I've read a Marvel
in a long time. I always feared new Marvel comics wouldn't be "user-friendly". Good thing I still remembered the cartoon... Who the heck is Emma Frost?? Who are these Runaways?! Was Iron Man really like this? Well, at least after reading the damn thing, I was more familiar with the universe and crap

He has to be able to many different items as well (though usually weapons), and the scenery/backgrounds! They have to be done detailed enough that you actually feel as if you are inside that world. Especially things like drawing regular people in the background going on about their life.

Most of these have to come from imagination, as the script only goes so far (that UDON Street Fighter issue that is all pencils and shows you the exact script really gives insight). You have to have good composition, cropping, perspective, and other different art techniques such as speed lines for each panel so as to convey the story the best to the reader.

Human anatomy. Something I haven't mastered yet. That's bad.

You really have to mentally record everything you've encountered in life. And you have to do all these things about 100 times (4-5 panels for about 20 pages)! That's why I feel each panel can stand on its own as a piece of art. I remember seeing an interview where the artist said that this one panel alone took 25 hours! I think Jim Lee said it best when he said it's like a movie, except the artist is the camera man, the props guy, the lighting crew, the one who picks out the outfits...

Bowlin replies
I agree with you Flamedragon! If only the general public didn't look down on comics, often referring it to something childish, it'd still be thriving. What get's me is that most adults will look down on you if you mention your favorite movies are ones made from comics. Even though they went to see them for themselves and probably bought them, most people won't admit it. Lord of the Rings won most academy awards, grossed an unreal amount of money.... but yet, your still a nerd if you even mention you liked it.

My thoughts:
Yeah. what he said... Well, at least now, I know a bit more about what I need to make my own comic. If that ever happens. Damn work. I leave you with the continuation of 'Art School Confidential' - a comic which pokes fun at the pretentiousness of art school!

Click on images to get a better view

According to the comic, you could end up being retail sales guy, a paste-up artist, or a person flipping burgers. A good friend of mine ended up being a paste-up artist for some local newspaper.

Oh yeah, I do wanna add this really old video about some online show called 'Comicbook Orange'. It's a special episode based on Frank Miller. I'd sure like to get to know more about these comicbook legends more, but money and time will always stop me from doing so... *Sniff*


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