This is the last of the Art of Indie Art series, and admittedly this one is the most focused toward comic book creators. That being said, many of the points that I make in this one will apply to indie artists in general as well, so read on!
Big Dog Processes, Small Dog Budget
I think one of the most commonplace things that I see when I’m wondering through artist alleys at cons are comics and art that hasn’t been proofed or reviewed in some way. I’ve picked up comics that have not been proof-read (“There over their!”, “What’s wrong with yu?”), art that hasn’t been looked over by another set of eyes, print jobs that are grainy (300 dpi or better for printing, guys!) or have lines through it like you were running out of ink, and bad ink/color jobs that really just needed a second eye on it (missing the “X” for a black fill, coloring in eyes with flesh tone, etc). These seem like nit-picky little things, but they’re yet another gap between us and the big boys.
Stop and think about the process that the big boys go through – and bear in mind that this is a scaled down, simplified version. For a comic, the script is written, sent to editors to clean up and make any changes, then it goes to pencils, those pencils are generally reviewed (even if only at the thumbnail level) before being sent to the inkers. Once it’s inked, the lines are reviewed again and cleaned up if necessary, then sent to the colorist who colors and corrects as needed based on their own feed back. The letterist does their work, the comic is proofed and any final corrections are made, then it’s sent to print. Finally, once the comic is printed, it’s spot checked there again to ensure that the print out looks good. Same deal with any pinups or posters that go out, sans the script bit. Meanwhile, a lot of Indies are tossing out everything without anyone giving it a second look.
Well, sure. Indies don’t have staffs. We don’t have proof readers and artistic directors and editors to insure that we do things right. So we can’t do it. We’re just crap out of luck and have to settle for not being as good. Right?
You have friends. You have family. You have coworkers. It never hurts to ask, let me tell you. I’ve gotten some of the best feedback on scripts and art in the past from people who aren’t even remotely connected to the industry. Have a couple people read your scripts, grammar, spelling, anything. Have people look over your art and tell you if they see anything funky. But run through the same process, check each step and have someone with a fresh set of eyes check it too.
Now there’s an important step in there: YOU check each step. Write a script. Draw/Ink/Color a picture. Take a day off and then go back. Look it over with fresher eyes, and fix anything that is wrong. Then hand it to the person who’s helping you to do the same. Give them the best product you can, and then let them find the last nitpicks you missed. Too many people seem to forget to check their own work and hand off garbage to friends and family which makes it a chore to read through instead of reading something that’s already polished with some rough edges. Always remember: Present you best. Only you should see the coal, smash it real good so it’s already a diamond.
Another important thing to do is to surround yourself with trusted friends within the industry. I don’t know what I’d do without gents like Stephen Wittmaak or James Whynot, as well as folks like Derec Donovan or Mike DeBalfo. They’re people that I trust to give me valid feed back, and to point out not only issues on a particular pic but also point out when they send trends in my art that I need to beef up on. I know that I can count on them to help, and you’ve got friends like that, too. You’re probably already showing some of their stuff. Get them involved, get their feed back. It’s better than gold. Just remember to return the favor whenever you can.
This is where gold is made, guys. It may seem mundane. It may seem like a waste of time. But it will help you to maintain consistency, it will help you to deliver higher quality stuff, and it will help you become a better artist or writer. This is where the quality lies, guys!
In closing this series out, remember to be ambassadors. Remember to put your best foot forward in your presentation, your quality, your personality. Do your best to be a shining example of what an indie creator is. The onus is on all of us to do better than we have. To be more than what we’ve been. We’ve got the Oomph to do it. So let’s do it!
Thanks for listening, guys! Talk to you soon!