In late 2014 I finally took Hatter Entertainment to the next level, self-published PIX: ONE WEIRDEST WEEKEND under the Hatter Entertainment name. It was something I long wanted to do and it remains one of my proudest accomplishments of my professional career.
This past weekend at the Emerald City Comic-Con I had a bit of foresight and did what I could to document a sketch-in-progress. Admittedly, this started more as a bit of show-off-ery after a conversation with Jason Howard the night prior, wherein we discussed the challenges of taking a tiny doodle full of energy and maintaining that energy in the final, larger piece.
So when a group of very friendly folks asked if I’d draw a piece showing “Spider-Man beating up Batman”, and I started with a tiny doodle, well, I took out my camera and snapped some pics to essentially rub Jason’s face in it and give him the business.
But what actually ended up happening is I had the makings for this post.
In this instance the sketch did indeed start with a tiny doodle drawn at the top left of the page. Here’s that a bit magnified:
Many years ago, during my time at Marvel Comics, assistant editors (of which I was one) attended semi-weekly “Assistant Editors’ Classes”, something that happened throughout Marvel’s history from time to time. This round of classes were taught alternately by Chris Claremont and Mark Waid, both of whom were (and are) renowned for their work as comics writers. And the classes were less about being assistant editors and more about thinking about comics, characters, etc.
For a series of weeks we were given some homework. The first assignment was to choose either The Avengers or the X-Men, select a roster of six characters to make up that team, and explain why.
The second assignment was to take the team you’d composed and develop a proposal for a year’s worth of stories and what, given the power to do so, you’d do with the team/title you’d chosen – in theory something different than what was, at the time, happening in those series.
As a long-time Avengers fan…and at the time assistant editor of The Avengers, naturally I chose The Avengers. I composed my team and following that developed a proposal that took some glee in the hypothetical nature of it. In a nutshell, I proposed a storyline that would change the very nature of what The Avengers was, how the team functioned, etc. Something different.
In light of recent and not-so-recent goings on with Avengers comics over the past seven years (and for those who don’t follow this sort of thing I did consider taking the long way and explaining it all, but thought that might be…tedious) and more recently the launch of a brand new Avengers series last week, I thought I’d drag out and share the line-up and proposal I’d written way back when.
In reflecting on it I can’t help but notice some of the…similarities to what’s happened over the past seven years. Stylistically, yes, there are huge differences, but thematically, for those who’ve been paying attention, there are definite parallels.
The point of this isn’t to show off in an “I had this idea first!” sort of way…well, maybe a little…but really, it’s more to show how there’s sometimes parallel thinking out there and how similar ideas can be explored or executed differently. As to whether those ideas or stories are worth exploring…or whether the executions worked or didn’t, that’s a whole different discussion and surely a matter of personal taste and opinion.
But, for those who are interested, you can read my “take”, as it was written over 10 years ago, by clicking here.
I have been drawing SpongeBob SquarePants professionally, with varying degrees of success, for ten years now as of today.
February 14, 2000 was my very first day working for Nickelodeon as part of Nickelodeon Creative Resources (AKA: NCR). And it was on that day I got my first real exposure to the now still mega-popular SpongeBob SquarePants.
That day I saw what was for me my first episode of “SpongeBob SquarePants”, and considering the date it was no coincidence the episode we watched was episode 16a, “Valentine’s Day”.
January 28, 2000 marked my last day working as an assistant editor at Marvel Comics.
I started there, first as an intern in the summer of 1996…followed by my first work as a freelance penciler a year later on WHAT IF? #104…and then joined the staff as Tom Brevoort’s assistant in October 1997.
In the two-plus years I was there I had the joy and honor of working on some of the best titles with some of the greatest talents in the field and an overall amazing crew at Marvel itself, from my fellow editorial staff to the production team in the Marvelous Marvel Bullpen to the folks in manufacturing, accounting, online, advertising and creative services. And I even got to draw a comic book here and there, when the opportunities and time permitted. To this day, so many years later, I think back on great memories of my time at Marvel Comics.
I thought it might be fun, upon reflection, to tell a few stories or make note of things I recall from my time.
X-BABIES #4, the final issue of the the X-Babies mini-series I’ve gone on and on about lo these past many months, won’t be out yet for another 30 days, on 1/27/2010. That’s 30 days on top of the past three weeks since issue three rocked the comic book reading masses to their core*! That’s a long wait. What are you supposed to do then if you want your X-Babies fix?
For the release of X-BABIES #1, I was invited, along with artist Jacob Chabot, to appear at Jim Hanley’s Universe at their Manahttan location. The good news was we had a great time, met a lot of people interested in X-Babies, did a lot of drawing, and sold the store out of all their copies of X-BABIES #1.
The bad news: they sold out of X-BABIES #1 and some folks weren’t able to get copies. BUT, they might have more copies this Tuesday, the 13th, so not all is lost.
For those of you who couldn’t make it, here are some photos from the event (thanks to Mike for manning the camera):
Signs outside let passers by know the who and the what.
In the event you haven’t been paying attention (and shame on you for that), G-MAN: CAPE CRISIS #2 came out on September 9th, featuring Part 2 of the 5-part Pix: Teenage American Fairy story, “The Most Dangerous Donut”. Did you miss it? Well, go to a comic shop and get a copy. Come on, people!
Now that that’s out of the way…
A lot of people ask me what my process is for creating comics. And by “a lot of people” I mean hardly anyone if anyone at all, and by “ask what my process is” I mean people, when they ask, like to ask things like do I use a computer for everything now, do I also put the words in the “little bubbles”…things like that.
But regardless, I thought I’d take the time to give you a tour of how page 5 of “The Most Dangerous Donut” came to be.
It all starts with the writing. When I’m drawing my own story, the writing happens in three basic stages. First is all in my head, where I think about the story, picture pages in my mind’s eye, and figure out the basic beats and some of the dialogue and how it’ll all fit together once drawn.
Stage two is the layouts, and this is maybe the meatiest part of it. Here’s where I lay out the pages, panel-by panel, including a rough sense of dialogue and where it’ll go. Here are my initial layouts for page 5:
And now, to make up for a nearly month of absence, here’s a nice long one for ya:
In 1999, as an assistant editor at Marvel Comics, I had, aside from my duties as an assistant editor, drawn a few comics, pitched a few ideas that went nowhere (i.e. – Deadpool/Spice Girls – and yes, that’s for real; I’ll talk about that another day), and had written letters pages and a few things that never saw print.
So I was pleasantly surprised when I suggested an idea to editor Mark Powers and he responded with, and this isn’t an exact quote despite my using quotes, “That’s hilarious; let’s do it…if you write up the new project memo, I’ll sign it”. [By way of explanation: a new project memo was just that, a form you submitted to decision makers when proposing a new series, mini-series, one-shot, etc. On this form you indicate the creative team, title, concept, page count, etc.]
One of the little joys of conventions is putting faces to names and meeting people who you until then only knew over the phone or e-mail, etc.
At this past Comic-Con in San Diego, I finally put a face to a name I’d first encountered nearly 10 years ago: Jamie Coville.
At the end of 1999 I was an assistant editor at Marvel Comics. I had pencilled a series of anti-drug Spider-Man comics that appeared in every Marvel Comic for several months. I was going to both write and draw a recently approved special project for Marvel. And shortly thereafter I was offered a job as a full-time illustrator for Nickelodeon in their licensing department. Lots going on. And amidst all that, a guy in Canada e-mailed me asking to interview me for his web site.
That guy was the aforementioned Jamie Coville and from the time of that request to the time the interview was posted (March 2000), I had officially left Marvel Comics to start work at Nickelodeon and the special project that was approved was summarily cancelled as I was drawing page six.
But the interview remains online as a kind of archival relic of where I was nearly 10 years ago. For those interested, patient, or bored enough to read it, it’s quite thorough, covering everything from how I got started to the day-to-day of an assistant editor to influences and long-terms plans/dreams. As this was the first time anyone had really shown any interest in me as a professional, I was quite a chatty Cathy.
And there was this now hard-to-believe-in-2009 question: “What kind of cartoon is SpongeBob SquarePants?” and my answer. Hard to believe there was a time where people didn’t know what is now the phenomenon of SpongeBob SquarePants (who is currently celebrating 10 years of being on Nickelodeon). Weird to realize I was kind of, in a way, part of that so early on.
So, if you’re bored and want to read more of my ramblings (albeit from a while back – though much of my thoughts still ring true to me), check it out here.
And more to the initial point, finally meeting Jamie Coville was great. I’m not sure in the moment at the con that I was properly able to convey what that time was like for me and how much fun and how flattering it was to be part of that interview. Jamie has, over the years, established himself as a comics historian with several web sites documenting the history of comics. You can find a couple of those here and here. and I guess I’m happy to be even a small blip in that history, thanks, in part, to Jamie Coville.
It was a pleasure to finally meet him face to face. Thanks for stopping by to say hi, Jamie.