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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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NBM Graphic Novels Announces Upcoming Release Schedule

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NBM Graphic Novels is proud to announce the release schedule through Winter 2018, including brand new biographies of Sartre by Mathilde Ramadier & Anais Depommier, Monet by Efa & Salva Rubio, and Billy The Kid by Rick Geary, as well as new releases by Cyril Pedrosa, T.J. Kirsch, Kerascoet & Fabien Vehlmann, and Sean Michael Wilson & Michiru Morikawa.

In addition, we’re reprinting two important titles to the history of the company. The Mercenary by Vicente Segrelles was the first fully painted fantasy series when it was originally released in the mid-Eighties and one of NBM’s best selling series, will be reprinted in it’s entirety with 14 volumes released on a quarterly basis, in handsome keepsake quarterbound editions with breathtaking reproduction overseen by Segrelles himself.

Also being reissued is the fully painted Streak of Chalk by Miguelanxo Prado, which not only inaugurated NBM’s Comics Lit line, but also was recognized for elevating graphic narrative storytelling when it was originally released in 1994.

AUGUST 2017

SARTRE
Mathilde Ramadier & Anais Depommier

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For some he was the philosopher of existentialism, for others the constant provocateur, the politically engaged author, the uncertain militant, the repenting bourgeois, the life companion of Simone de Beauvoir… From his first readings in the Luxembourg Garden to his refusal of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Jean Paul Sartre was all of this at the same time.

8×11, 160 pp., color HC, $27.99, ISBN 9781681121017, e-book: $9.99

SEPTEMBER 2017

STREAK OF CHALK
Miguelanxo Prado

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On the occasion of NBM’s 40th anniversary, this Eisner and Harvey Award Nominee classic is back in print! A small streak of an island in the Atlantic. On no map. In heavy summer heat. One general store with a woman and her taciturn boy. A lighthouse with no light. Memories and messages graffitied on the pier wall. A chance encounter with a beautiful elusive woman. A Murder. Or was it? Nothing seems completely real. Only the graffitied memories are constant.

A mysterious multifaceted novel steeped in magical realism that can be read a number of ways, Streak of Chalk is one of Spain’s best comics authors’ magnum opus, and one of the greatest most pioneering graphic novels NBM ever published.

9×12, 88pp., full color hardcover, $19.99, ISBN 9781681121161

PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN
T.J. Kirsch

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In a sleepy New England town, Andrew Peters is born into an abusive family. As he grows older, he seems to be on the right track, using writing as his outlet – but his best friend Whitey is always around pulling him in the opposite direction. Andrew eventually lands himself in prison, and shortly thereafter, learns he has a daughter. The shock resolves him to a path of redemption and an attempt to live his life as a decent man.

6×9, 96pp., full color hc, $19.99, ISBN 9781681121208, e-book: $8.99

OCTOBER 2017

MONET: Itinerant of Light
Efa (artist), Salva Rubio (writer)

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The life of the great French painter, one of the founders of Impressionism, is narrated in lush comic art reminiscent of his style. From the Salon des Refuses (“Salon of the Rejected”) and many struggling years without recognition, money and yet a family to raise, all the way to great success, critically and financially, Monet pursued insistently one vision: catching the light in painting, refusing to compromise on this ethereal pursuit. It cost him dearly but he was a beacon for his contemporaries. We discover in this comics biography how he came to this vision as well as his turbulent life pursuing it.

9×12, 112pp., full color hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 9781681121390, e-book: $9.99

THE MERCENARY The Definitive Editions
Vol.1 The Cult of the Sacred Fire
Vicente Segrelles

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On the occasion of its 40th anniversary, NBM is proud to bring back one of its bestselling series ever, amongst the world’s first highly realistic fully painted comics. Brought back in even better reproduction than ever with all-new scans of the original paintings overseen by the master himself and presented in handsome large quarterbound collectors editions. Each panel could be a painting on your wall! These volumes will take your breath away.

In a lost and long forgotten valley high up in the mountains, The Mercenary has been contracted to save a woman from the mysterious and powerful Cult of the Sacred Fire! Each volume is complemented with articles at the back about the history and the making of this series over its gloried decades-long history.

9×12, 64pp., full color quarterbound hc, $17.99, ISBN 9781681121246, e-book: $9.99

NOVEMBER 2017

SATANIA
Kerascoet, Fabien Vehlmann

Santanie cover

Charlotte – aka Charlie – a pretty redhead, sets up an expedition to find her brother. The young scientist, who disappeared underground several months ago, claimed – to everyone’s astonishment – to be able to prove the existence of Hell by using Darwin’s theory of evolution! The little group, led by Charlie, plunge underground in his pursuit. The deeper they progress into the entrails of our planet, the more they enter another world that hides other forms of life heretofore never experienced. The discovery changes them gradually in a way they cannot perceive…

Publishers Weekly Top Ten pick for the Fall!

“Another sumptuously illustrated adventure into horror by the creators of Beautiful Darkness.”

9×12, 128pp., color hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 9781681121437, e-book: $9.99

KERASCOET SET
Including Beauty and Miss Don’t Touch Me

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Specially priced set reuniting two perennially popular books with art by the amazing duo under the Kerascoet name.

In Beauty, When Coddie unintentionally delivers a fairy from a spell that held her prisoner, she does not realize how poisoned the wish is she gets in return. From repulsive and stinking of fish she becomes perceived as magnetically beautiful, which does not help her in her village. A young local lord saves her but soon it becomes apparent her destiny may be far greater.

In Miss Don’t Touch Me, The ‘Butcher of the Dances’ is on the prowl for young loose women. Blanche works as a maid along with the only family she knows, her sister, fun-loving Agatha. Suddenly, Blanche loses her to what she saw was murder but others only write off as suicide. She decides to take matters into her own hands.

2 book banded set, 344pp. full color hardcovers, specially priced at $55, ISBN 9781681121147

 

DECEMBER 2017

A TREASURY OF VICTORIAN MURDER COMPENDIUM I Paperback Edition
Including Jack The Ripper, The Beast of Chicago and The Fatal Bullet
Rick Geary

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In this first omnibus volume from Geary’s increasingly storied Treasuries of Murder: the first trilogy of murders that made up the very first volume of this series, Jack the Ripper as only he can narrate it, The Beast of Chicago about H.H. Holmes, possibly the first serial murderer with chilling methodical means and The Fatal Bullet about the assassination of president James Garfield.

6×9, 288pp., B&W trade paperback, $19.99 ISBN PB: 9781681121383

PORTUGAL
Cyril Pedrosa

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From the author of the acclaimed Equinoxes comes a return to roots that serves as spiritual renewal. Comics artist Simon Muchat is stuck. Suffering writer’s block, uninspired, vegetating as a school art teacher, he is losing direction and his taste for life, until one day he is invited to appear at a comics convention in Portugal, the country his family came from and which he hadn’t seen since his childhood. The experience proves cathartic. Even though he is not Portuguese himself and is a foreigner there, so many elements are familiar to him. Meeting its lively citizens, full of the zest for life, his distant yet welcoming family bringing back fond early memories, all prove reinvigorating, the breath of fresh air he so badly needed.

Based on his own experience, Pedrosa narrates this return to his roots in a deeply compelling and warmly human way. This is his bestselling graphic novel with over 100,000 copies sold in France and a winner of many prizes including Best Graphic Novel at the Angouleme Festival and FNAC Best GN.

9×12, 264pp., full color hardcover, $39.99, ISBN 9781681121475, e-book: $9.99

JANUARY 2018

THE MERCENARY The Definitive Editions
Vol. 2 The Formula
Vicente Segrelles

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Continuing the full reprint of the classic series in breathtaking reproduction and handsome keepsake quarterbound editions. The graphic novel series that set comics on a new path!

The Mercenary embarks on one of his most perilous journeys ever as he tries to stop an unscrupulous alchemist who has stolen a highly dangerous mysterious formula.

Each volume is complemented with articles at the back about the history and the making of this series over its gloried decades-long history.

9×12, 64pp., full color quarterbound hc, $17.99, ISBN 9781681121284, e-book: $9.99

FEBRUARY 2018

BREAKING THE TEN Vol. 2
Sean Michael Wilson and Michiru Morikawa

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David becomes increasingly more desperate, with his extreme behaviour causing fights with everyone who cares for him: with the devilish Mr Black and the saintly Mr White and even with his loving parents. But his quest goes on, driving him to break the rest of the 10 commandments in order to draw out the elusive divinity to face a grief stricken man. Until, finally, he is faced with the most serious commandment all: ‘Thou shalt not kill.’

Will he do it? Or will God stop him?

6×9, 112pp., B&W trade pb., $12.99, ISBN 9781681121178, e-book: $7.99

MARCH 2018

THE INITIATES: Paperback Edition
Etienne Davodeau

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The sold out hardcover now in paperback. Etienne Davodeau is a comic artist. He doesn’t know much about the world of wine-making.

Richard Leroy is a wine-maker. He’s rarely even read comics.

But these two are full of good will and curiosity. Why do we choose to spend one’s life writing and creating comics or producing wine? How and for whom do we do them?

To answer these questions, for more than a year, Etienne went to work in Richard’s vineyards and cellar. Richard, in return, leapt into the world of comics. They opened a lot of bottles and read many comics. They traveled around, meeting authors and wine-makers sharing their passion for their jobs.

The first time a book explores the nature of a man’s vocation with a true life representation of it from two very different perspectives. They get to realize they both have that precious and necessary power to bring people together.

With guest appearances by Trondheim (Dungeon, Little Nothings), Emmanuel Guibert (The Photographer) and Marc-Antoine Matthieu (Museum Vaults).

8×11, 272pp., B&W trade pb: $19.99 ISBN 9781681121338

THE TRUE DEATH OF BILLY THE KID
Rick Geary

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‘Being an authentic narrative of the final days in Billy the Kid’s brief and turbulent life.’ One of our folk legends of the great Wild West, William H. Bonney went from cowboy and gunslinger for a rancher to pure outlawry forever dodging justice in New Mexico when it wasn’t even a state. On the one hand, he was charming, fun-loving –often at social events like dances-, quite appealing to the ladies. Also conversant in Spanish, “Billito” was popular with the Spanish speaking crowd. On the other hand, he had no compunction to coldly kill a man, a sheriff, a deputy, anyone who got in his way rustling cattle or horses for an illicit living. He also proved hard to keep in jail even when caught.

It is probably his feats of derring-do escaping from jails that made him most famous and this is the main subject of this biography following him until he is shot in pitch darkness by lawmen obsessed with getting rid of him.

6×9, 56pp., B&W hardcover, $15.99, ISBN 9781681121345, e-book: $6.99