Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Listen and learn

"Your comic is not done after you do the artwork and get it from the printer. You still have to market and sell them."

Larry Young loves comics. And he wants to spread this love. That's probably the main reason he publishes them. Of course, he wants to make money out of his business, but if you ask him if he can think of at least three other jobs he could be doing (or have already done) that gave him more money and that were easier to do, he would answer you in a heart bit. You really gotta love comics to do them, and you have to believe in comics to do, print, market and sell comics all day long, day in and day out.

I had a blast listening to his radio interview on the net, and it even had a small mention to Smoke and Guns. He says "it's our June book". Don't you just love how your editor never puts pressure on you but is always passing this subliminal messages to remind you to "get it done!"

Back to the drawing board.

Friday, August 20, 2004

the interview.

Chris Arrant did a nice interview with us about our new comic book, ROCK'n'ROLL, about working among brothers and about what's next.

Those from the world outside the US can buy ROCK'n'ROLL by clicking here. However, first you should probably click here to make sure how this thing works. The Khepri crew is very nice and they'll answer all your questions about shipping and payment and that kind of stuff.

Today, we'll give a lecture here in Sao Paulo about doing comics around the world in all the different ways you can. Besides my brother and I, we'll be joined by Ivan Reis and Marc Campos, superstar team of penciller and inker of the Action Comics Superman book. To top this up, we'll also have Joe Prado with us who, besides also being a comic book artist on his own, is the international agent for a lot of the brazilians working abroad. All together, I think we'll be able to give the audience a very complete view of all the sides of working with comics not only in Brazil (where we're very much known) but also around the world, from the independ artist to the super-hero superstar, and all that exists in between.

Now, back to the drawing board, I have a building to blow up.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

In my head, Smoke and Guns starts in a lot of different directions. You don't exactly know where you are, or who those people should be, but you are strangely fascinated how beautiful those girls are, lighting their cigarettes, as if they had just came out of an old hollywood movie. At the same time, this is the kind of story that starts at full swing. Don't blink or you'll miss it, don't wait up or you're dead.

I'm having fun with it. It's strange how it looks like something I could have come up with, specially now that I'm drawing it, but the characters sound different. There's a wonderful mystery feeling behind doing a story where you'll decide what the players look like and how they move, but you don't get to choose their lines. I feel like a silent mimic, or even more like a puppeteer whose puppets are being voiced by this strange blonde girl I met in San Diego this year. She managed to create girls I've been craving to draw in a story. She hooked me good on some really kinky stuff. Today is her birthday, by the way.

Happy birthday, Kirsten.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


art by Gabriel Ba

One of the greatest sensations an artist can have is when his thumbnails look great. If you can convey your entire action with the minimum amount of lines, your storytelling is clear and your work is almost done. The only thing remaining is actually doing the final page.

One of the worse sensations an artist can have is messing everything up with the big page after you've done a great thumbnail of it. The smaller version is so perfect that you don't know for sure if you just flat out copy it, only bigger, or if you try put more lines, or if you'll try it with less lines, or if you'll need more panels. The great thumbnail is intimidating, like David in front of your upcoming Goliath.

The best sensation an artist can have is doing a great page, even better than the thumbnail version of it.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

shall we dance?

Not unlike dancing, doing a comic book has a lot to do with movement and rhythm. Nothing you'll draw will actually move and yet they sure give that impression when well done. The curve of the hair of that girl, the way it deviate from her elegant figure, draw us in the same direction the wind would. The look in somebody's face, alone in one panel, makes our mind follow that look to the next panel only to mind another person looking back, directing us to where the story is leading us.

Not unlike dancing, doing a comic book is about leading. If you're not sure where you're going, you won't be able to tell your story straight and you, and mostly importantly the reader, will get lost. That's when we trip. And that's when we fall.

Not to worry, though. Stand up. Look alive.

And just keep dancing.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

one image of two people and a couple of words that follow.

I'm reading the script I'm drawing and I can't wait to get to the part I'm reading now. That's when I think about jumping ahead and doing this scene first, then going back some pages. I know a lot of artists who work this way, mostly saying, with merits, that we start cold and we get better as we go along, and that the reader should be hooked at the beginning, hence the need of an already steady artwork on the first pages.

I also like to feel the journey as I draw a story, so that would prevent me to jump ahead. I might have to stick around where I currently am and see what happens. Who knows? I might be surprised when I finally get to the bit I'm reading and discover it's now funnier to draw it after I went through all that the characters went through.


Tonight is my sister's birthday party.
She has the most beautiful friends.
She used to work in a supermodel's agency.
She is the best sister in the world.

Tonight, I'll do some "research" for all the girls I'll be drawing in Smoke and Guns.

stories from the front lines.

While we were sitting at the AiT booth at the San Diego Comicon, Ba did this quick sketch of our situation. It was still our first time sitting there and we were not quite sure how would the public view of our work (and of ourselves, since we were there to greed and get beat up by the angry mob) would be. We discovered really quickly that those who attend the Comicon for the freebees wouldn't even look at the booths, let alone to the guys sitting behind it, almost hidden by the pile of wonderful books. But, for the people interested in comics, we were still a little hidden, so from the next day on, we mostly stood up and looked to everybody in the eyes, daring them to come closer and take a look at our books.

Similar to meeting new people, selling comics in a convention must be a conquest. You have to llok the part you're playing, instead of just stay behind the books and let them do the talking. They don't talk! One of the reasons people don't buy your book is because they don't know it, and maybe they don't know anything about you either, so you have to let people know who you are and what you do.

"Hi, I'm an artist and I do comic books" and them show them your work.

About the work.

We're finishing up the colors for a story we did. It's 7 pages long and it's cute. It takes place at night and it's scary. It has super heroes and it's exciting.

We made this story to be in black and white, as we do in most cases, because we think that a good black and white story is harder to screw over when you put crappy colors. Now it appears this story will be published and they asked us to color it. We figured out a way to color it in a way we liked it, and making sue that all the good moody things we did in black and white would remain there with the colors.

It looks nice. You'll see.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Questions and answers.
Fabio version.

1. What is your favorite subject to draw?


2. What is your most common choice in 2-d media?

Brush and ink.

3. Anything you refuse to draw?

A really bad story

4. Real anatomy or cartoon physics?

It has to feel real.

5. Which is more important - solid inking skills or solid color theory?


6. Photoshop or PSP? Illustrator or Painter?


7. Markers - Prismacolor or Tria?

Whatever, it ain't no brush.

8. Paints - oils, acrylics, or watercolors?


9. Ever imitate a popular style of art? (anime, disney, comic book...)

Only as a homage.

10. How would you define your "style?"

Romantic. I'm in love with my brush.

11. What is one area of drawing that you need to improve in?


12. When did you start drawing as a hobby? (we all drew when we were little)

For me, it was never a hobby, it's a way of life.

13. What kind of sketchbook do you have? Brand? Size? How old is it?

I currently have three sketchbooks, all types.The "I'm thinking with my hands" one is from the beginning of the year. The others are older.

14. How many sketchbooks have you had previous to this?

A bunch.

15. How many sketchbooks do you go through in a year?


16. #2 yellow pencil or a clicky pencil?

Blue coloring pencil.

What kind of eraser do you use?

The one that works.

16. Who are your artistic influences?

Eisner, Mazzuchelli, Picasso, Frank Miller and Jeff Smith. More recently, I'm really into early cartoons and strips.

17.What books would you reccomend to aspiring artists?

Their sketchbook. If they want to draw, draw.

18. Do you have any favorite online tutorial sites?

I like it here. Don't you?

19. What is the most money you've ever made on one drawing / illustration / painting?


20. What do you hope to accomplish with your art? Do you want to go anywhere with it in life?

I want to tell stories and I want people to be able to find and read them.

21. Finally, why do you draw?

I'm cursed.

Small Fiction.

Everything was very quiet. If she were to take an educated guess - for she had been sitting there for quite sometime, looking around - she could safely assume that she was completely alone.

"Today, I'm somebody else", thought the girl, sitting in front of her computer. She just knew it, I guess. Even her skin was different, apparently breathing (yes, the skin breathes) with more intensity. In fact, all her senses seemed amplified.

"Today I'm somebody else and I want to write about that."

"First, I should start stating the obvious: if I'm somebody else, I'm not myself. My mother wouldn't recognize me, for all I know, and that's saying a lot. My mother is the most intelligent person I know, and she can see through people. It's weird how she can tell who somebody is just by looking at them. But she's not the topic of my writings, I am. Or the person I'm now."

She paused. Suddenly, she was confused. Who could she be? Of course, she was still herself, but if she could also be somebody else, and could be anybody else, who, of all people, could she fancy herself being?

"I guess I am a completely different person than my former self. So, for starters, I'm a boy, and not a very clever one. I don't know that last bit, of course, not being very clever, but my life seems fine without the complications of a brilliant mind. In fact, I think a good deal about myself, for I have a most unusual profession, one that involves the power of the imagination and that can guarantee my fulfilling all of my fantasies: as a boy, I am a comic book artist."

Another pause. A noise could be heard in the not very distant downstairs hall, the clicking of the key and the whisper of the wood under her brother's feet. And as his feet continued to cause the wood to whisper, the girl could easily follow his climbing the stairs and opening the door of the study -the atelier, he liked to call it, but she knew it was just a room with a drawing board (which also is just a big table with a fancy name).

"It's time for you to go to sleep", said the brother. "I have to work."

She stood up and vacated her brother's chair. He took his habitual spot in front of his drawing board, opened his folder, took out some pages and positioned them on the table. They were already pencilled and he took his brush to start inking them.

"Do you think I could be a comic book artist?", asked the girl.

He smiled at his sister.

"No, dear, you're too pretty. And you have a lot of friends. And they're all normal."

That was not the answer she was expecting and she left her brother alone to work. She thought, as she was closing the study door, that if she were to actually be somebody else, she would like to still be pretty, have a lot of friend who would still be normal, so she could never ever be a comic book artist.

Relieved, she smiled the same smile her brother just smiled a moment ago and she went to bed.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Khepri likes some Rock'n'Roll!

Beginning this weekend there's this special sale at the Khepri website for those interested in our new comic book, the San Diego favorite Rock'n'Roll. Get your copy for $ 2,10! The catch is, this is a WEEKEND ONLY opportunity. Don't miss it!

Working for other people is like flying into unknown territory. You're not really sure if you're in friendly skies, everything can go extremely well, or it can also go extremely ill. Sometimes, it's only up to you to make the most of the experience, and it's your responsibility to make everybody look good.

If the tendency of the moment is "the writer runs the show", in contrast to the nineties tendency of the hotshot artists being in charge, we have to remember that the comics STILL need to be drawn, so the artist will always remain an important part of the process. Acknowledging that comics need good stories is not about giving power to the writer (or at least it shouldn't be), it's about caring about the final product.

Working with other people is a challenge. You'll receive part of process and will work from there to create something that has to remain interesting, has to retain the creator's "feel" and has to be good.

The skies are clearing up. It's almost time to go. Should this be a good time to mention I'm afraid of flying?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Lost in translation

In 2002, we became friends with Eduardo Risso. We already knew his work, and we had already met during that year's San Diego Comicon, but it was only when he went to Brazil for a convention - and surely after we took him out to drink in a cool bar that played live samba and had beautiful girls - that our relation changed. We have eventually exchanged e-mail since then and every San Diego convention we meet again. Last year, something happened.

I went with my brother to a Vertigo Panel, to know what were the plans for the vertigo line of books and to watch the slide show previews. Eduardo Risso and Marcelo Frusin were there and, differently from the previous year, there was no translator available for them, so Eduardo came down to the audience and asked if I could serve as a translator for him and Marcelo in case anybody had any questions for them. Apparently, the audience indeed had a lot of questions for them and I ended up sitting at the Vertigo Panel table translating the questions to spanish and answering in english. I was even introduced by Karen Berger when the panel started, and as she went from person to person sitting at the table, telling their names: "...and there, with Eduardo, is his mysterious friend".

That was fun, and that's how I met Marcelo Frusin.

This time around, Eduardo Risso had a panel only for him, a "spotlight on Eduardo Risso" type of thing, and there we were, my brother and I, attending. We'll go, whenever we can, to listen to what Eduardo have to say about the work of the comic book artist. We believe he is in the top of his game and that not many artists working today have the notion he has about storytelling, character expression and mood setting. That said, there we were again.

At the beginning of the panel, he was being translated by Eddie Berganza (Superman's editor over at DC), who was doing a great job, but he was actually covering for the guy the convention's staff would provide and, when the "translator" arrived, Eddie left. That's when the storm began.

The "translator" looked mexican. He could be an american of spanish origins, but he looked like a typical spanish speaking guy from Souther California. And that probably was the only reason they picked him as a translator, because he just sucked at it. He had no speaking skills, so when he talked, the audience could barely hear him. By the look on his face, we could see floating question marks every time Eduardo said anything, making it crystal clear that he wasn't understanding Eduardo's answers and, hence, was translating it- again, when he managed to speak at all - completely wrong.

Eduardo can speak a reasonable amount of english, and he noticed the despair in the translator's face. He found it all quite funny, but nobody at the audience would understand what Eduardo was saying.

"Enough!" I thought, and stood up. I looked at Eduardo and started walking towards the table. He just said "could you?" and, like that, I took over the translation bit of the panel. Everybody was happy.

Now, after my not so brief introduction, I can tell a little bit of what I learned from what he said:

- It may appear to be the most simple answer in the word, but when people asked why he payed so much attention to detail and correct characterization of the people and places in the stories, Eduardo just said "I want to do the comics as good as the ones I enjoyed reading as a kid".

Isn't that the first goal of an artist?

"I do the comics I like, to please myself first." in the standard line of the artist, but it's different from what he said. He wants his work to impress people the way he was impressed when he used to read comics. His work should inspire other to follow the same path, and try as hard, and be as good.

- Good storytelling is not only about beautiful drawings, it's also about space, the space of the page and how you use it. The artist should think a lot about what's the best way to composite the page, to set the panels, to convey the action and how to best guide the reader's eyes through the page, al that before starting to draw anything on it. You don't need to have the best skills as an artist as long as you have it clear in your art the story you're telling.

- Everybody should look interesting, even the ugly, strange people. When you're drawing your story, all characters, especially the main ones, should be nice on the eye because the reader have to watch this character every page of the story. It doesn't matter if the character would translate into a ugly person in real life, the kind you would change side walks if you'd see him walking towards you in the street, still his portrayal on the page should look interesting so you want to know what's going to happen to him.

At the end of the panel, Eduardo thanked me and went back to the hotel to see the Argentinean soccer team lose to the Brazilian soccer team at the America Cup Final.