Here’s the next installment of my Comic-Con International (aka, San Diego Comic-Con) panel wrap-ups I’ll be doing over the next several weeks (though not necessarily in a row). I’m putting them in the following categories: Comics, Art, Animation and Legal. This should help YOU decide which ones are of most interest.
“The Artist’s Way” panel: Gary Gianni, Joe Jusko, Mark Scultz, Jim Silke and (not shown) Thomas Yeates.
First up, the first Art panel titled “The Artist’s Way”, featuring some of our current all-time greats (in abecedarian order): Gary Gianni, Joe Jusko, Mark Schultz, Jim Silke and Tom Yeates. Hosted by CCI member Gary Sassaman, this one was all about shop talk among illustrators. Unfortunately I was coming from another half-a-block away so I arrived ten minutes late. But there was still plenty to enjoy.
A wonderful part of the hour was seeing four of the five gentlemen win their first-time Inkpot Awards. (Mark Schultz had received one in a previous year.) Another was seeing Joe Jusko reveal his finally-completed painting for Tarzan’s 100th anniversary. Check it out below…and keep in mind it took Joe at least five 16-hour-plus days to paint, with less than three hours of sleep for the last two! Great stuff. I can only imagine the detail up close.
Jusko’s masterpiece for Tarzan’s centennial. (Thanks to Michael D. Hamersky for the photo–I was so far in the back, my photo of it looked like a postage stamp!)
Joe and the others received well-deserved Inkpot Awards.
I’ll post questions and answers as I was able to jot them down (answers are paraphrasings, not necessarily exact quotes):
Q: What were your earliest influences?
Gianni: Earliest was E.C. Segar’s POPEYE (loved the way he signed his name with a little drawing of a cigar; wished I could do that with my name!). Then Jack Kirby–Gary was able to read his art before I learned how to read the words.
Jusko: Biggest was John Buscema, especially his CONAN work. Then discovered Frazetta and Boris from there. Became Howard Chakin’s assistant at 17, and exposed to and got into classical/paperback illustrators like Robt. McGinnis, Bob Abbett, Lester, and wildlife artists like Simon Holmes. (Joe’s first published cover was a 1977 issue of HEAVY METAL.)
Schultz: First art exposure I can remember was the Little Golden Book, SCUFFY THE TUG BOAT (illustrated by Tibor Gergely), which had a profound effect on me. [More on that when I cover Mark’s panel another time].
Silke: Probably Milton Caniff’s adventure strips 1938-39, then more adventure illustrators like Noel Sickles, Bob Fawcett, Matt Clark and others.
Yeates: Garth Williams, artist of CHARLOTTE’S WEB. Any illustrations of elves, faeries and creepy trolls. Read an interview with Frazetta and discovered the great illustrators like Frank Schoonover and others.
Interestingly, all gentlemen said old films were also a major influence on their artwork; especially b/w films. (Joe mentioned that he’ll sometimes enjoy a lousy film with good visuals, or notice a film just for the visuals more than the story.)
Artists and early influences: Gianni PRINCE VALIANT and Segar POPEYE; Jusko TARZAN and Buscema/Sinnott CONAN; Shultz XENOZOIC TALES and Tibor Gergely SCUFFY; Silke RED SONJA and Caniff’s TERRY AND THE PIRATES; Yeates BATMAN/SHADOW and Garth Williams animals.
Q: What motivates you to do something when staring at a blank paper or canvas?
Yeates: The mortgage! (All laughed…and agreed.)
Jusko: That’s the major difference between “fine art” and what we do. This is a job. Doesn’t matter how you feel or whether you’re “inspired”. You have a deadline and the work must get done. You have to be at the board and work from 9 am to whenever to get the job done.
Gianni: When I have too much time on a project, I often over-think it. Having that deadline forces me to use more of a broad stroke and it usually looks great that way. (Others agreed.)
Yeates: Writer/philosopher Alan Watts said that an artist has a tricky career because they’re “paid to play.” That shows in your work. An artist can be “off” in certain technical areas but when they’re really enjoying it they can still create magic. Roy G. Krenkel was a good example of this. Not technically perfect, but beautiful work.
Schultz: Wally Wood couldn’t do perspective to save his life and his figures were stiff, but his work was just magic.
Silke: I did not start out as a painter. I was a writer for many years, both as a screenwriter [SAHARA, the NINJA/AMERICAN NINJA series, KING SOLOMON’S MINES] and later a novelist for Frank Frazetta’s DEATH DEALER books. Then I got into comics with RASCALS IN PARADISE. I didn’t start painting till age 60. [Holy crap! That means I still have a shot…]
Just about everyone on the panel was influenced by master Frazetta. Go figure!
Q: If you could use only one medium, what would it be?
Jusko: Pencil. Gianni: And an eraser! (All laughed.)
When asked about digital media, all artists not only preferred traditional media, but not one used computers for any part of their art! Joe mentioned that the large majority of his income comes from the sale of originals (including commissions). Mark said the secondary market is the biggest advantage over digital art. A couple wished they knew how to use digital art for certain things, and Joe confessed it would be a lot easier and faster to make client changes digitally. (IMO, anyone using Joe pretty much knows what they’re getting and will be happy with it! Any changes would hopefully be minor.) But most were actually dismissive of digital art.
Jim said he once had a half-hour phone conversation with Frazetta just about art papers!
That’s about all the notes I was able to take. More panel wrap-ups next week!
P.S.: If you want a commission of Tarzan or any character, in pencil, ink or paint (or even digital), I’d be happy to oblige. Just ask Craig here!