Cartooning Influences

One of the most asked questions cartoonists receive during interviews is a fairly obvious one.

Who are your influences?”

Any creative person you talk to has more than a few artists who they look to for guidance and inspiration. When you’re stuck in a rut artistically/creatively, it certainly helps to go back to old favorites and look at some of your favorites with fresh eyes. I always find new techniques and approaches I may have not caught in previous readings.

I have many cartooning heroes, but a few I always go back to are Daniel Clowes, Gilbert Hernandez and Chester Brown.

influences

Not only does their artwork speak to me, but each of their narrative voices are so clear, distinctive, personal and specific. I discovered David Boring and Louis Riel around the same time, around 2000-2001. I was just beginning art school and the medium of comics was opening up a whole new world for me. I’m still trying to make work worthy of the impression those books left on me.

I’ve sat down and studied their work so often, you’d think I was trying to absorb their cartooning powers through osmosis.

When working on books, there have even been times where I would have to hide their books from myself for fear of swiping something unconsciously, or ‘aping’ their style too much.

I think a lot of illustrators go through something similar with their influences.

Of course I’d be kidding myself I said the Kuberts weren’t an influence on me as well, having gone through their school and seen them create firsthand. Adam, Andy and Joe always amazed my classmates and I with their work ethic and command of the craft.

It’s pretty amazing how much you can retain and recall from studying others’ work. It all goes into a huge melting pot, through your own brain, and onto the page.

To find out more about my new graphic novel PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, go here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Creating Characters For PRIDE.

When creating character designs for PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, I tried to take inspiration from life. This was after all, a narrative grounded in reality, albeit a fictional one – and there is inspiration everywhere. Why do some people catch your eye more than others? It could be what clothes they wear, or a certain shape of their nose, or the way they walk. There are truly interesting and, frankly sometimes odd looking people lurking everywhere, if you’re paying attention. Thinking about these elements in terms of characters can lead to more interesting and full backstories.

Those same features that look odd or distinctive in real life translate very well to comic books. Somehow the simple comic iconograghy and spare ink lines render them less severe. I’m not sure why, exactly. I suppose one extreme example would be a Dick Tracy comic strip villian. They don’t look too threatening when drawn in a tiny comic panel with india ink, but take one of those designs, to scale, and put in on a person in real life? People would be running and screaming.

Here are quick sketches my two main characters, Andrew and Julie, in a few step by step process shots.

For more information on PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, click here.

 

Andy sketch

Julie sketch

Pride Of The Decent Man: Casting Call

If you’re a cartoonist around my age, chances are you also grew up reading Wizard Magazine. Their ‘top ten hottest’ writers and artists lists were always fun to see for us aspiring comic creators. Another memorable regular feature was their fantasy casting of possible comic book movies, ‘Casting Call.’ Of course, no one thought at the time we’d be in a deluge of comics-based movies and TV shows twenty years later.

So…In the spirit of Wizard Magazine, and a few totally 90’s magazine layout choices, here are a few casting choices I’ve made for a PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN film! With suggestions from friends and these new things called Google and IMDB, I think we’ve got some strong choices here. Realistically, any one of the salaries from these actors would eclipse the budget of a film of this size, but hey, this is a fantasy after all. Call me, Hollywood.

Oh, and to find out more about Pride Of The Decent Man, my new graphic novel from NBM, go here!

PRIDE CASTING CALL

Inspiring PRIDE

 

“Where did the inspiration for PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN come from?”

I’ve gotten this question quite a bit since I started working on it.

I would say it came primarily out of wanting to tell a small scale, human story. Ask a lot of cartoonists why they make the books they make, and you’ll hear the same answer over and over – they make the books they would like to see in the world. They make the books they want to read.

Many of my favorite films have the element of basic human struggles – relationships, work, poverty… so it’s not surprising to me that the story I’ve ended up telling contained some of these elements.

blog post

I love the film American Beauty, and A lesser known independent film called Wendy And Lucy. Both feature small town life, and characters who are desperately trying to find their place in the world.

My favorite novels and comics also share these qualities. Catcher In The Rye, David Boring, Perks Of Being A Wallfower…

PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN is simply my first longform attempt to tell a story/comic I’d want to read.

For information on how to order PRIDE, go here.

PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN is also in the Previews catalog in your favorite local comic shop this month. Tell them to order with code JUL172009.

The Inevitable Cartoonist Process Post

Process sharing among cartoonists has become somewhat demystified in the digital age. With the advent of social media, artists can easily ask or share with others the way in which their art is created.

“What pen do you use?”

“What computer program is good for drawing?”

“What kind of ink is best with a Hunt 102 pen nib?”

Before the internet, questions like these were more difficult to figure out. Sure, you could’ve written a letter to Charles Schulz or Jack Kirby and asked what eraser they used after inking, but you may not get a response – for several months, if at all.

These days a young cartoonist can type in ‘best inking brush for comics’ into google, compile the top five, and have them delivered to their doorstep in a day or two.

It’s a different world, this age of information.

Having said all that, if there are curious people out there wondering how a page from PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN evolves, here are a few examples – and yes, I work digitally using Manga Studio 5 and Adobe Photoshop. Lettering is done in Adobe Illustrator.

PRIDE 2

PRIDE 3

For more information on how to order PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, click here.

Thanks for reading,

T.J. Kirsch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing It Down & The Origins Of PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN.

Ideas for books come and go, but I’ve learned that if you don’t write them down, they’ll fly away out of your head pretty quickly. If you don’t write it down, it just doesn’t exist.

Every idea I’ve had for a comic, I first wrote down in a small, simple notebook.

My favorite place to exhibit ( and buy ) comics is the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland. I like to have something new every time I go – to be excited about showing people your new work is a great feeling. When it came time to exhibit in 2014, I wrote and illustrated a small eight page quarter-size mini comic called TURNPIKE. It featured a nameless ‘homeless guy’ and a lonely teenager named Julie. The story evolved from those few scribbled down notes into a story.

color 1

I received a lot of good feedback about that minicomic. One cartoonist I respect a great deal told me it was very good and ‘indicative of a larger story.’

That got my wheels turning in the weeks afterward, and in 2015 I put together a proposal for a graphic novel called NEVER FORGET TO REMEMBER.

rough cover

 

It connected the two main characters in TURNPIKE and expanded on some of the themes and visual elements. I included the first ten finished pages of the book, as well as a synopsis, character descriptions, character designs, and a cover mockup.

It all started as a few hastily-scribbled sentences in a notebook, and soon evolved into a real project. NBM responded favorably and the title was eventually changed to PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN.

 

pridecover