Superman Through the Ages! Forum

Superman Through the Ages! => Artist's Showcase! => Topic started by: India Ink on August 07, 2007, 07:39:19 PM

Title: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: India Ink on August 07, 2007, 07:39:19 PM
All these years I've put cartoonists up a pedestal, I never realized it could be so easy. Now thanks to my brush pen, I can do cartoons in the privacy of my own home.

This summer I've been working on my own gag strip--called "The Pantomime Polar Bear"--no big thing. But lots of fun for me. I have no idea what to do with it--other than giving away free samples. However, it's the most rewarding experience I've ever had.

The reason I decided to do PPB was because it was a very simple idea, that even my limited talents could pull off.

However, I'm still in awe of cartoonists like Henry Boltinoff. Doing things that appear really simple is the hardest thing.

Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: India Ink on August 07, 2007, 08:47:53 PM
Yikes, my several attempts to post samples have failed. Oh well, back to the drawing board as George Leonard Carlson would say (and make sure that board is next to a window so you can have some proper light, with your left side nearest the window, if you're right-handed so the shadows of your hand and arm will fall away from the drawing surface rather than on it).

Anyway you should be able to see some samples on my always-in-progress website. But since it's a cheap site-builder thing (and not a fabulous fortress like Great Rao's site), it will have lots of pop-ups if you don't have a blocker.

Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: India Ink on August 08, 2007, 09:51:49 PM
Let's see if this works


I'm kinda proud of this little effort since I knocked if off in a few hours and somehow got my paint program on my laptop to actually colour the dang thing.  Now the paint program doesn't work. Oh well.

This image was supposed to be a kinda trippy 1967 poster from Canada's Centennial year.

The whole fiction of The Pantomime Polar Bear is that the character actually existed in the sixties. I have this whole idea for an entire fictional comics company--which someday I hope to publish. But most of the characters I feel are beyond my ability to reproduce in a style exactly like the era. However when I thought up the PPB I realized this is a gag even I could pull off.

The best thing is it's black and white--so cheap and easy to print and photocopy.

But since I was doing this sixties "summer of love" panel, I thought it would work in colour. And I even reversed the colours for a psychedelic effect...


Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: India Ink on August 08, 2007, 10:01:35 PM
Here's a few more samples




And here's "Kirby" the talking B2 pencil...


None of these images feature Superman, of course (although they reflect the influence of artists who worked on him). I've been reluctant to include any copyrighted characters in my work (since I want to maintain my own copyright to the PPB). But for this fan site I might try my hand at some strictly for fun meeting between Supes and PPB.

Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: nightwing on August 09, 2007, 08:30:56 AM
Very nice stuff!  Gotta look into those brush pens, Sharpies can be a royal pain.  Are they pricey?

And please, yes, show us a meeting of Supes and PPB!  With a Fortress at the North Pole, Superman's got to have some connections in the Polar Bear community.

Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: India Ink on August 09, 2007, 01:00:44 PM
Yes. It occurs to me too that Supes and PPB must have met each other at the North Pole.

The brush pens are around $3.50 canadian, but I'm thinking I might be able to get them cheaper if I order in bulk.

The tips tend to get worse over time, but those old pens can be used for thicker lines.  I also find that it's better to use a smooth surface paper, rather than a rough sketch pad paper, to get an ideal line (although this isn't a really big concern on PPB, because I enjoy the rough look of my inks). The ink will "catch" on rougher paper and produce an imperfect line (at reduction, however this isn't so apparent--it's only obvious on enlargements or when I open the Tif files to fix bits). 

Lately I've been using tracing paper for the final cut--this is also a bit expensive--as it allows me to trace off my roughs and the smooth surface works well with the brush pens.  The only catch is that black lines on tracing paper can appear too grey and the scanner might not read them as black.

I still like my B2 pencil, but I often use a blue pencil so I don't have to mess with erasing and can ink right over the blue lines.

Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: nightwing on August 09, 2007, 03:19:57 PM
Cool.  I recently did a couple projects for my nephew involving the likenesses of celebrities, and found that I can draw faces reasonably accurately in large scale, but not so well if said face has to go on a body in an image that's, say, 9x12 inches.  So I ended up drawing a pencil sketch of the head, scanning it in, drawing the body and scanning that in, then shrinking the head to the body in Photoshop and printing out the results, then inking over that. 

That got me thinking about buying a Wacom tablet and going digital.  I think it'd work better if I could take the scan of the pencils and use the Wacom to "ink" it digitally.  I can't ever imagine being able to create anything worthwile from scratch with a stylus, but mixing analog and digital has promise, especially since with digital "inking" I can erase and clean up goofs a lot easier than I could with...urm...India Ink.

But these brush pens look promising in the interim.  Standard fine-tip markers are pretty limited.

Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: Super Monkey on August 09, 2007, 05:22:54 PM
I use India Ink with actual brushes and nibs aka dip fountain pens.

But even Pros feel faint around a set-up like mine, so you are better off with pens.

Check these out:

They make life a lot easier.

Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: India Ink on August 11, 2007, 11:06:30 AM
I have a dedicated space for drawing and inking, and a large bottle of India Ink, and pens and brushes. But to get to that space I have to clear away the comic boxes, take all the books and papers off the table, clean my brushes and pens, wash my hands (so I don't get schmutz on the paper), do my inking, wait for it to dry...Then when I'm finished, clean the brushes and pens, make sure I put all the caps on the bottles of ink, make sure I haven't spilt ink all over the place and maybe on my comics, wash my hands...

With the brush pen, I can me impulsive and pick up a piece of paper any time and do something. I don't have to be in a special dedicated place, I don't have to wait for the ink to dry (since the ink dries immediately and doesn't schmutz), I don't have to worry about the heel of my hand resting on the paper, I don't have to wash my hands. I can ink anything anywhere anytime.

For the PPB, I've tried to be as basic as possible and not rely too much on technology. I have used some WORD lettering (Times Roman, Palatino Linotype) in places, but for the captions it's always hand lettered. And I use the PAINT program to fill in large areas of black. And I've done things like reversing the black and white. Plus special projects like the coloured "poster" pic. But I try to avoid doing too much drawing and inking on the computer--since the whole point of the exercise to get back to an aesthetic of old comics and cartoons.

However, even just using PAINT I can see how tempting it is to create everything on the computer. If I had a sophisticated programs plus all the bells and whistle, it would probably be just too easy to use that and give up on pen and paper.

Title: Superman meets The Pantomime Polar Bear, part one
Post by: India Ink on August 18, 2007, 11:14:33 AM
In doing research for a possible meeting between Superman and PPB, I went looking through Eddy Zeno's book Curt Swan: A Life in Comics and found (to my surprise) some Polar Bear images by Curt...

One is from the eighties, inked by Dave Hunt, although I don't know where this was printed (Zeno, p.115):


Then there's this page that Swan did that was unpublished, about Superman marrying Lois Lane--Curt did all the work on it (pencils, inks, letters--Zeno, p.190):


(copyright DC Comics)

Sorry for the substandard quality of the peg. I can't seem to get my computer to scan and save good quality images.

Title: Superman meets The Pantomime Polar Bear, part two
Post by: India Ink on August 18, 2007, 11:26:37 AM
Those images inspired me to do an alternate universe version (ahem--a series of Swan swipes), for a PPB panel sequence.

I also drew inspiration from Swan and Klein's cover for World's Finest Comics no. 172 (December 1967) for the third panel "punchline" (not to mention Leo Tolstoy, so I won't): (

And I came up with this gag--



Title: Superman meets The Pantomime Polar Bear, part three
Post by: India Ink on August 18, 2007, 11:31:28 AM
Meanwhile, the long forgotten meeting between Superman and PPB revealed itself (and two Caped Crimefighters snuck into the act)...


Title: Superman meets The Pantomime Polar Bear, part four
Post by: India Ink on August 18, 2007, 11:41:28 AM
(Copyright held by the respective copyright holders)

Here's some variant pics I did for that meeting...







Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: India Ink on August 18, 2007, 11:47:34 AM
Meanwhile, here's a special colour (for the web only) issue no. 7 of The Pantomime Polar Bear, featuring that "Summer of Love" panel (go to my website for more), ...



(copyright 2007 Jimmm Kelly--aka India Ink)

Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: India Ink on August 20, 2007, 10:35:41 AM
Um, any opinions, responses, helpful tips would be nice, folks.

Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: MatterEaterLad on August 20, 2007, 04:33:33 PM
I do like them, I'm just trying to get a sense of the characters a bit more.

Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: India Ink on August 21, 2007, 01:52:13 PM
The quirky, unexplained nature of The Pantomime Polar Bear is supposed to be part of the concept. I want people to find this thing and wonder, what the heck is that?

But maybe I'm creating too much work for any audience.

There is a lot of background that I've worked out for myself, re the side characters, but it's primarily supposed to be a three panel gag strip. Which generally follows the rule of panel 1-set-up, panel 2-set-up, panel 3-punch-line. With some slight environmental overtone.

But since there are hundreds of environmental gags I could do--all with the same basic point (panel 1 happy, panel 2 happy, panel 3 despair)--I've tried to give myself some wiggle room with side characters, retro bits, and various other lines I will follow in the future (if I remain interested).

But again it's a basic three panel strip, with no dialogue. A simple pantomime. Of course, if I laid it out across as a strip it would communicate that point better, but I found that laying it out horizontal squeezed it too much on a simple handbill (which is how it appears in reality) or on a computer screen--so I dropped it down to vertical aspect, with the punchline gag on the reverse side of the handbill.

Which is all too much explanation. I'm more interested in trying to work on the visual look of the thing. The technical problems of computers confound me.

And I'm not too happy with my Superman in the "cover" image.

I found myself doing a Dick Sprang Superman when I wanted to do a Curt Swan. But getting that much detail into a reduced jpeg seemed to break the image. Also I was trying to achieve a harmony of styles--so that the images of the bear, B&R, and Superman would all agree with each other. Which is probably why I kept going toward Sprang over Swan.

I'm still not happy with the image, but I found myself spending too much time on it. And I don't get paid for this--nor can I use it for one of my handbills or my website, since I don't own the copyright.

Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: MatterEaterLad on August 21, 2007, 02:37:12 PM
I think its possible to simplify the lines of Superman even more and still keep his comic look intact. Other than that, I think the shin/foot below the knee on the extended leg is a little too short.

For me, I am trying to get a handle on the bear as a living character or as a living "bear skin" rug or coat, especially as he's often drawn that way... ;D

Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: India Ink on September 26, 2007, 01:37:29 PM
Believe It or Not, but Matter Eater Lad's comments and queries pushed me in a few directions with the PPB that I hadn't thought about and pushed me to get on with some other ideas I had put off.

I've put together a collection--called The Pantomime Polar Bear Fun Book 2007--that I hope to sell as a zine in a few local shops. The book (32 pages in b&w, plus colour cover) is half-size (a folded photocopy page) and features some of the gags I already did (resized and repositioned) plus several other new gags and extra features.

I'd put up some images, but I'm still trying to work out how to do that without taking up a large part of the thread page (and without posting an image that takes a long time to load).

I also came up with other new ideas for mini-comics (not really new, since there are many indie artists who have done these things before--but new for me), which I'm now working on. And there's a lot that I want to do that I just don't have the time to get to just yet.

So I owe a thank you to Matter Eater Lad. And the Fun Book does begin with a "Secret Origin"--however it will not satisfy M.E.L. I'm afraid. Hate to fustrate you pal, but I see the nature of PPB as being like Sheldon Mayer's Black Orchid, or the Phantom Stranger, or Alan Moore's Promethea--and therefore having several explanations, not one of which is really satisfactory.  And the Fun Book is suggestive of all those explanations.

I've also had a lot of success in finding new tools for my project. Faber-Castell makes a brush pen that is slightly cheaper than the ones I've been using, although the tip is a hair thicker, but it probably lasts a lot longer--and it seems to have good flow. I've also bought lots of other markers of different types.

For lettering lately I've been using blue-lined graph paper.

I've considered buying comic art boards (with their blue lines), but they seem too expensive for what you get. Also I like a thinner paper so I can trace over my sketches. I gather with the comic boards you have to use a light table. And buying a light table is another expense I'm not prepared to make. When I was a teen I made my own makeshift light table, by taking the glass on my bedroom dresser and proping it over a chair, then putting my bedstand lamp under that--it worked great and I used it a lot back then (I had read an Eisner interview with Gil Kane, where he said that he did all his drawings using a light table, redoing the same page until he brought it down to the essence of what he wanted to show--and he used markers, too).

Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: MatterEaterLad on September 26, 2007, 04:12:40 PM
I'm sure it will work, I was coming in cold and what you have posted left me confused if the character was even supposed to be mysterious.  8)

Title: Happy Hallowe'en
Post by: India Ink on October 31, 2007, 02:34:44 PM


Title: Re: How to be a cartoonist without really trying
Post by: India Ink on October 31, 2007, 02:57:21 PM
The above image doesn't really need explanation.

Of course it's based on the classic Infantino and Anderson pose of Batman and Robin (with was a centrespread pin-up and a covershot and a bunch of other things).

The image is a colour version of a black & white pin-up I did for the centrespread of my 'zine.

There's lots of personal meaning for me in the pic, that's not important--but maybe everyone would enjoy these stories for Hallowe'en.

I had to find a way to get the basic look of the Batman & Robin pose that would work for my characters. Since Bellerophon is based on how I looked when I was around 5 years old, I thought of my father's old postal rain-cape. Sometimes he would wait in the rain outside our school for me and my sister to get out, in his cape--coming home himself from work at the post office--and just like a real super-hero (which he was) he would take us under his cape and he would guide us home in the rain, while we remained under the cape in his protection and care (smelling the good smell he had after working, and feeling his warmth--in our own universe).

On Hallowe'en that cape often figured in whatever costume I wore for trick or treating. One year it completed my Barnabas Collins vampire look (and it was good, because it often rained on Hallowe'en in Vancouver).

As well, there's a character I've created (but haven't written or published) who is a postman of a sort--and the costume Bell wears is based on that character, as well as my father. In the old days, my father's uniform was very mlitary (not like presentday postal outifits), with red piping on the pants, brass buttons, a smart looking peak cap. I thought of my father as a post officer.

One Hallowe'en, my sister was going to go as a fairy. However that morning some bad kid in the neighbourhood kicked a piece of glass at her which cut and injured her leg. So that evening she was a limping fairy. Which is the basis for Odile's outfit (see the bandage on her leg?). Although Odile isn't really based on my sister (except in attitude). She's sort of an amalgam of different girls I knew or know.

Odile is a name I always wanted for my daughter if I ever had one. And also Odile is the black swan in Swan Lake--the opposite of Odette, the white swan--which is why I named her Odile Swann (adding the extra n because I like five letter names--Jimmy Olsen--and Swan seemed too obvious and a copy of Curt's name)