Editor's Note: Betsy Cooper is a Design Senior who's a hardened veteran at the Comics Page. Her strip "Extra Elbows" has graced the page with idyosyncratic characters and expressive watercolor humor.
When we asked Betsy to let us show some material from her sketchbooks for the blog, she suprised us with eight notebooks filled with amazing artwork. This post collects a small sampling from only one of them, a small square green clothbound book from last fall. A very small portion of her tremendous body of work.
Aaron Whitaker is an Austin-based cartoonist and screenwriter whose upcoming self-published graphic novel The City Troll's printing costs were paid for by the popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter.com.
Kickstarter and websites like it allow creators to publicly ask for financial assistance in seeing the completion of a project that the creators themselves would not have the funds to realize. Whitaker, for instance, asked initally for $2000 to finance a print run of The City Troll. The creator then has one month to rally up support for the project— if the project gets enough supporters, all the money offered is pocketed by the creator (and Kickstarter gets a small cut). But if the fundrasing goal isn't met, the creator gets nothing.
This model has come under fire recently, as one comic whose publication was funded by donors for over $32,000 dissapeared in a puff of smoke— due to creative differences the comic's creators split, leaving the comic in a murky hiatus as the comic's writer scrambles to find a replacement artist.
Whitaker's The City Troll, by merit or sheer luck, was chosen as a Featured Project by the staff at Kickstarter, and the project's page was pushed to the front page of the website. With this exposure, Whitaker attracted enough donors to amass all $2000 of the requested funds overnight.
Whitaker's current Kickstarter funds rest just south of a cool $5,000, with 12 days to go before the fundrasing deadline. He's using the additonal funds to increase the printrun of City Troll and fund a book tour. We caught up with Whitaker to talk about the book, where it's from, and where it goes from here.
DT Comics:How has the process been for you since the Kickstarter campaign took off like a rocket? Does it make your job a bit easier now, as you finish the comic, that there's this larger audience waiting for it?
Aaron Whitaker: It has been very motivating as I finish my comic to watch my Kickstarter unfold. Raising more than double my intended goal means I can print a bigger run. I also will be able to purchase an ISBN number (which is basically a barcode) and enter it into Diamond (which is a comic distributor) so book and comic stores all over the country can have the option to order my book.
DTC: I definitely get a Gondry-esque vibe from the book's previews, so I was not surprised to learn that the book was initially a movie script. Can you talk about the evolution from a filmic script to a comic narrative?
Whitaker: I enjoy telling stories whether it's through comics or film. Last year I decided I wanted to work on something bigger than the mini-comics I had been creating. I sat down with a handful of screenplays and decided which one would be best told in comic form. I chose The City Troll because there was a surreal aspect to it. The main character Paul sometimes visualizes himself as a troll creature and the inside of his mind like a log cabin. I'm not sure how most cartoonists write for their comics, but screenwriting lends itself very well to my comics.
DTC: You collaborated with your girlfriend Melinda Tracy Boyceon many of your previous comic outings. Can you talk about your process with her, and with collaboration in general? How much does that affect what went into City Troll?
Whitaker: Melinda and I have collaborated on two comics so far. The first, "Okay? Okay!" was an autobiographical comic about the beginning of our relationship from our two different perspectives in our two different art styles. Since we were telling the same story but wanted to see how each of us remembered it, we didn't communicate (besides a few details). So it was almost an anti-collaboration.
The second comic, "Batcave Beach", is a fictional comic that Melinda draws and I write. The process is pretty simple. I write whatever I want and she draws it however she wants. Our vision must be telepathically in sync because it always turns out better than I originally intended.
The City Troll is a sole venture of mine, but Melinda has helped me a great deal by proof-reading the script for it.
DTC: How has the drawing process of City Troll been for you? A graphic novel is something that is incredibly time consuming to plan, but the actual drawing takes magnitudes longer to execute.
Whitaker: I agree. It's a big commitment and a couple times I needed to take a break for a week or so. Also, six months and 100 pages in I realized my drawing had improved and was worried it would be noticeable to the reader. Overall I really enjoyed the experience and plan on producing a new long-form comic every couple years.
Below are two preview pages from The City Troll,which is on course to launch at STAPLE! Expo in March. Aaron Whitacre's personal website and blog can be found at http://www.aaronwhitaker.com/.
Editor's Note: Riki Tsuji is a third year Physics major whose Naptime Comics strips have been a stalwart staple of the Comics Page for the last two years. Riki graciously let us take a peek into his personal diary sketchbook, and we're presenting here a few choice cuts.
Although his art-brut stylings for Naptime might suggest a laid-back artist, Riki is feindinshly prefolic drawer. His sketchbooks are filled with kinetic drawings of action heroes, giant robots and Sentai Rangers. Popular culture and video games inform much of his work, but his punk-rock sense of dynamic humor is singular.
Victoria Elliot, the artist behind Goog, is the Associate Editor on the Page for the Spring 2012 semester. Victoria is an accomplished artist, and we're very pleased to bring you some image scans from her personal sketchbook.
Sketchbooks are used by artists and cartoonists to develop ideas for future work, practice their craft in a freeflowing creative stream and generally keep a diary of their artistic work. They're a very important part of the creative process. We hope you enjoy this look into the sketchbook of one of the Page's most stawart artists. -Ed.
Editor's note: Betsy (who draws Extra Elbows for the comics page) wrote this up for 2011's Wizard World Con back in October. Somehow this got edited, but never got posted on the blog. Here it finally is as the first post of the year, better late than never.
Comic book writers, illustrators, Celebrities from the distant past (or future?), wrestlers, superheroes and fans all mingled together in epic nerdiness over the weekend at the Austin Convention Center. I donned my Vulcan ears to join the revelry.
Once I figured out the adjacent fencing tournament was not cosplay, I wandered into an indoor flea market of superhero paraphernalia. Buying, selling and trading comic books is just a small portion of the business Comic Con. You could get your portrait zombified for fifteen dollars, take a photo with a storm trooper for charity, or purchase steampunked versions of superhero garb. I mainly wandered around asking people how they got started and how they make what they make.
Hayden Panettiere (The Cheerleader in "Heroes," Beth Cooper in "I Love You Beth Cooper") was probably the most well known name there. But, I met a lot of really cool artists. Rob Guillory was incredibly friendly for being so successful. He is a multiple Eisner award and Harvey award-winning artist. Notorious freelance comics editor Carolynn Calabrese was also sighted. I talked to Chad Thomas quite a bit about his experience with comics colleges. Overall everyone was very friendly, even to someone like me who is just getting into comics and probably asked plenty of stupid questions. I didn’t get to question actor Adam Baldwin ("Firefly," "Chuck") but that was only because I could not speak in his presence. Talking to famous peeps is hard, y'all.
After this weekend, I feel incredibly inspired, and hopefully that will start showing up in Extra Elbows. It's amazing to me how many artists create comics in ways I could never have imagined. I met an artist who was using wooden sculpting tools to move ink around a page, and another who created his entire comic in Flash and then delivered it in Pizza boxes. Comics have so much more potential than people realize. I gotta go draw.