One of the great things about the art of comics is that the barrier to entry is really low. All you need is paper and pencil and ink. This is also, of course, one of the *terrible* things about the art of comics - anybody with paper and pencil and ink might suddenly see that they have a big stack of comic books lying around underfoot and think, hey, I can do this! And maybe they can, and a new star of the sequential arts is born. And maybe they can't. That's where we come in.
So you want to draw adventure comics? Well, we have the how-to guide for you. First thing you'll need, judging by the cover, is a time machine to go back to 1950, which was about the last time people were interested in comics about Johnny Goggles punching some sort of ethnic stereotype to save Underdressed Helpless Lady.
Of course you'll want to pay careful attention to this introduction about our terrific artist whose exciting work has set the comic book world on fire and whose prolific talents have earned him the respect of fans and pros. We're just taking his word for it, of course. It would be rude to check.
Comic book heroes are usually larger than life males, and if they aren't, boy will YOU get some angry responses on Twitter. They're easy to draw, though. Just take a normal stick figure and sort of "inflate" it. Clench those fists! No, not YOUR fists, you're using those to draw with.
Make your figures 8 heads tall instead of 7. I know you're used to using "feet" or maybe "meters" to judge height, but here in the comic book world we do things differently!
Here's where that subscription to "Sports Illustrated" really comes in handy - not only a valuable reference tool, but it also makes others think you're into sports like a normal person.
"Keep those feet spread wide for good action" is good advice in the comic book world, on the sports field, in the bedroom, wherever! It's just good advice!
Comic books are about super heroes who do amazing things all the way, all the time! Exaggerate all those movements, make everything larger than life and in-your-face, to the extreme! That's what comic books have always been about and will always be about, this one very specific iteration aimed at a very specific audience that gets really angry if their very specific needs aren't catered to. Which is why in America today these kinds of comics are read by a whopping 0.02% of the population!
Comics are entertainment in its purest form! Even the bad ones are entertaining. If they weren't, you wouldn't be here, now would you?
Even when you're forced by some boring editor to put clothes onto your muscley super characters, remember that structure, and keep those clothes nice and tight to show off the bulging muscles that you and everyone you know are convinced need to be seen at all times. For extra credit dress your character in some kind of fake movie cowboy shirt that no one has ever seen anyone wear in real life, ever.
The female figure, on the other hand, differs from the male in two very important, very large aspects - the left one, and the right one. Remember comics need to be exciting! Keep those hooters hooty!
Study those feminine attitudes. They move differently than men do, which in the context of super hero adventure comics, means they lie around looking sexy until some muscle man shows up to "save" them
Remember to imagine those underlying body parts when drawing draped sexy female figures! Are you still imagining those concealed underlying body parts? All the time, huh? Better take a cold shower.
The female form exudes grace, and sometimes structure. If YOUR female form exudes structure, see a doctor, I think they call that an "open fracture."
The head is really nothing more than a ball and a heart. And, you know, cheekbones, and lots of overly greasy hair.
The world is made up of all kinds of different characters that your hero will either beat up or have to rescue. Women characters come in three types - "Supermodel", "Grandma", and "Vaudeville Comedian."
A good ear can make or break a drawing! Which is why the artist here has avoided drawing ears as much as possible. Hair, helmets, masks - so many ways to avoid drawing ears!
Wait a minute, you're telling me we have to use our pictures to tell a story? That's not what I signed on for! Oh well, I guess I can refer to my writer for details, like what drugs he's on, and if he'll give me some of them.
Note in "Step 1" here, the text references "creating a cover piece", which hasn't been discussed yet. I think somebody got their how to draw comics pages out of order. Well, that's good instructional information to have, I guess, in the "don't do this" category.
Lettering is added using an Ames lettering guide set at the 3 1/2 size, and a Webster's dictionary to find the correct spelling of "vicious." Unless "viscous" is what they meant, I suppose you could get a slimy feeling of impending doom. Of course these days we can do all this digitally, which means no more Ames guides and way, WAY more typos, mostly because spellcheck can't tell the difference between "reign" and "rein."
Now's the time to finish your page with inks! Be careful not to over-render, unless that's your thing, in which case go crazy. This is comic books, there's no money in this, do whatever you want and have fun with it and good luck! Is this the end of our how-to guide?
Nope, here's that part referenced earlier about covers, which only goes to show how important good editing is to a comic book. So begin your cover with a rough sketch of White Man beating up Non-White Man to save White Woman. Send the sketch to your editors at Racist Monthly and see if they want you to make any changes. Here's where your ability to stereotype and caricature really comes in handy!
Toss that sketch on the lightbox or get some transparent vellum and tighten that thing up. After three or four iterations your original lively sketch will be flat and overworked. That's when you throw the whole thing away and start over. Repeat this process for ten or fifteen years and you too can be a professional comic artist! Also an alcoholic, probably.
You want to start with the large dark areas and work your way towards the lighter inks, which means if you haven't got a solid drawing to start with, you're in trouble. Why not convice the writer to set the entire story at night in a coal mine or other dark area? Or a snowstorm? Be creative!
And if it's the pre-internet days and you want to get your typesetting on, then there's no better guide than the fine lettering books produced by Lonnie Tettaton. Yes, the same Lonnie Tettaton who (as we learned in the introduction) teaches commercial sign painting at the legendary Midwest School Of Lettering And Design, and who, in fact, taught the very artist of this guide we're reading, and which enabled him to reach the very pinnacle of success, which apparently is "producing how-to books on comics and lettering."
So in conclusion, let's just say that this whole thing seems to be a racket involving the staff and owners of the Midwest School Of Lettering And Design in St. Louis, which apparently was still teaching hand lettering in 1990. Buy a Macintosh already guys, yeesh.
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