Sunday, 1 July 2012

Teaching Comics (1)

Cerebus Guide To Self-Publishing (Revised Edition, 2010)
Art by Dave Sim

To draw a comic-book page, you enter a kind of cyberspace, a virtual reality of your own creation. Depending on the comic-page, you will spend anywhere from five to ten hours roughing it in in pencil, placing the word balloons, defining the parameters of the page and panel, tightening up the pencils, ruling up the lettering, inking the lettering and then inking the pictures. With the average comic-book page, you will have created three or four seconds worth of cyberspace, virtual reality, for your reader. A career in comic books devours your life, great huge chunks of your life. If you are serious about it (few are who think they are), it is something that you will be doing day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. How you spend that time is up to you. 

Since the largest commitment of time and energy is yours, outweighing that of your readers a thousand to one, you might as well make it as enjoyable for yourself as you can.

Let's go back to the eight or ten hours you are going to be devoting to each page you produce. You can spend an hour pencilling a page, ten minutes writing it, a half-hour lettering it and seven hours inking it. You can spend two hours writing it, four hours pencilling it, an hour lettering it and forty  minutes inking it. The one is not a "good" page and the other a "bad" page. They are two very different pages, reflecting the particular end of the spectrum that the individual creator's sensibilities occupy. What part of doing a comic-book page do you enjoy the most? What skills, among writing, pencilling, lettering and inking, most appeal to you? I pointed out to one guy who considered pencilling his greatest 'strength' that he might well be served to sit down and reassess his work, basing his decision not on what his 'strength' is (that is to say, the aspect  of his work which has garnered the most praise from his fellow student, teachers and mainstream editors), but, rather, on what gives him the most satisfaction.

In 1995 Dave Sim spent two days at the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) teaching sequential art, via workshops, portfolio reviews and lectures. He summarised the experience in his essay 'Misunderstainding Comics' printed in Cerebus #194 (May 1995).

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