So many artists say “Oh, I’m right brain-left brain I don’t want to deal with business!” The sad news is: bullshit, you do have to deal with business! If you don’t deal with business, someone else will deal with it for you and they will do it wrong. […] You will be a better artist if you understand business.
A good comics artist doesn’t necessarily mean a good drawer. Because comics aren’t really about drawing.
Remember: to tell a story is to lay out one card at a time and not play your full hand until you need to.
One of the strengths of the comics medium is that we are much more free to tell our stories and we have the ability to let it grow and expand while we’re telling it. We have the luxury of pretty much ending it whenever it feels right and we aren’t held to a thirteen episode television season or held to a two hour movie spot.
An artist should spend his artistic career expunging from the work everything that he recognizes as a habit. If he finds a neat way of doing something, instead of using the trick again, he must refrain from ever doing so. He must cast it out. A particular brushstroke or a figural gesture, or whatever. Comic books are entirely made up of this sort of thing. I have a pal who loved the way Berni Wrightson drew the strings of saliva stretched between upper and lower teeth, so he borrowed the device and still uses it forty years later.
I could never see Stan Lee as being creative. The only thing he ever knew was he’d say this word “Excelsior!”
Right now independent comics are surging and I don’t think it’s a fluke. As the big 2 become more and more corporate, ignoring the wants and needs of the market for a few bucks and sack of headlines, the market is also primed for new, original material. I know it’s tough out there and sacrifices must be made to do creator-owned books, but the time is now for us to position ourselves.
Once, I’d written a Western story, and one of the panels was just a hand holding a six-shooter, and there was a puff of smoke coming out of the barrel, and a straight horizontal line, indicating the trajectory of the bullet. So that page was sent back to me from the Code office, saying that the particular panel was too violent. I asked them what they meant, and they told me — I swear — ‘The puff of smoke is too big.’ Well, of course. [Laughs.] So I had the artist make the smoke a little smaller, and the youth of America was saved.
Comics, it comes from graffiti. Kind of just rough marks, we’re pretty close to both cave painting and graffiti.
The goal of art is to construct your soul. The goal of industry is to have money. It’s different. You are obliged to do what you don’t like and be what you are not and then you are not free. When you are a real artist, you are free. You don’t work for a special public. You work for yourself. To realize your soul.
They [drugs] work really well with comics though, because it’s a medium that’s basically powered by acts of symbolism, and drugs can often help you grasp the deeper meanings in them, or find your own meanings.
Sony Pictures Classics were great with Persepolis, but there was one time when they showed me a teaser trailer for the film. I suddenly realised it had Irish folk music on it. I asked, “What the fuck is that?” The guy who cut it together thought it would be entertaining. I don’t know what he was thinking.
I see way too many young artists who are just trying to draw like they’ve always seen in comics. Stop looking at comics, and start looking at real life.