"Hey man, I thought perhaps you might be able to shed some light on something;
Where does one start with getting into your world? illustration? Animation? General fine art? I’m 28 and looking at rebooting my life by advancing my favourite lifelong hobby into (hopefully) a better job, but to risk 3 years of my life and upwards of £30k, I don’t want to go in the wrong direction right at the start.
I know you’re USA and I’m UK, but what course did you do? What’s your origin story, and your advice to someone who wants to follow a similar path?
Cheers bro, really appreciate the time you take to read this meaty message.”
First off, sorry for the late reply. I let messages build up and answer when I can. I wonder if you’ve already made some decisions about your direction toward comics and this response is way too late! But regardless, I’ll answer anyway! I’m up in the middle of the night unable to sleep, so you get my long winded reply.
If you want to get into comics, I wouldn’t recommend college. I know, parents hate hearing that. (And probably colleges too) But accruing that kind of debt for schooling that you could learn on your own might not be the best start for your comics career. And really, if you don’t already have a talent in drawing, schooling won’t help you much. Ask anyone that went to an art school, you will see plenty of students that lack talent and took school to make them better. And guess what, it didn’t work. But then there are those that were already talented that took schooling and they used that time and the assignments to get even better. Well, you can do this on your own. There isn’t tons of secrets to good drawing. It’s talent plus skill. And skill can be learned by doing.
My path went a little something like this.
Drawing comics was a dream job since I was 15 and I always drew and practiced, and after a few years I heard about Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art but couldn’t afford it. I forget how old I was (maybe 20?) but I did a correspondence course from them, they sent me a book which I drew in and did assignments and then they’d do corrections over them, (much cheaper than going to the school! About 200-300 I think?) But it was very helpful since I couldn’t find many books on sequential art. But at the same time it made me realize that I didn’t need to spend thousands for schooling. I think a big reason I wanted School was to be around other artists like me, since I knew zero artists. But the learning part, I can do that one on my own with all the art books around.
So I schooled myself with large doses of Burne Hogarth, George Bridgeman, and later Andrew Loomis. (All great artists with an emphasis on anatomy, not comics) Sure I didn’t get that correspondence like I got with Joe Kubert courses, but after a while I found online forums and got feedback there, more on that in a second! Now I always drew but I did it slowly, I gave up the dream of comics due to low confidence and even lower confidence after submitting to a few companies and was rejected. I still drew but slowly and with less intent. But after being fired at the age of 26 from a warehouse job I decided to try again. This time I tried harder. I was hungry for work and to learn. My personal schooling was back to anatomy books, but also, I did free short stories with writers for anthologies and webcomics. I figured studying anatomy was good but I needed to do actual sequential storytelling. I didn’t worry about getting paid, these anthologies and things didn’t make any money anyway.
I looked at this free work like it was my schooling! I basically pretended I got a scholarship and was doing school for FREE! I had a great time! I did inking for a couple comics because I thought maybe my pencilling wasn’t good enough. But the online forums were huge for me, I got that correspondence that is invaluable by posting art. Other artists commented on the posts and let me know what they felt was off or on about it. My confidence went up because the reaction from other artists was that I am good enough. (Digitalwebbing.com, Penciljack.com) But at the same time my bank account was looking terrible haha! I was three years married to my very supportive wife Erin who always told me to not worry about money and keep pushing for my dream job, even when we had to move into her Moms basement. It was nice getting help so I could concentrate fully on my “schooling”! But very difficult battling others advice of getting a job and stopping what I’m doing. And battling my own worries if what I was doing was worth it or not. It was quite the struggle for sure. I was pretty sure I could get work I just needed to keep pushing. And then Robert Kirkman contacted me on a private message on Penciljack.com forums asking if I wanted to work with him. I was 28. Thats when I started Invincible. And that’s really when most of the learning started. By reading Invincible you can see my growth in the last ten years. And I’m still learning and growing and evolving.
So my suggestion for getting into comics? Work for it, find your own way in. You might have to write for yourself, give yourself assignments. Fill up sketchbooks. Study artists, draw from life, collaborate on forums. It might be a hobby for a long while. So getting a job in the meantime will probably be necessary. You don’t need to follow my way or anyone’s way to get into comics. Do it your way. I was always told that the only way to get into comics was by submitting. I stumbled upon a different way, many artists have. And now mail submissions are a thing of the past. It doesn’t happen. Go online. Go to cons. Make friends. Enjoy it, dammit. Hopefully my middle of the night rambling was coherent enough to understand. Thank you.