Because I didn’t buy any comics* this week, there was no Weigh In this past Wednesday.
As I’ve mentioned a few times, this might be the sign of things to come, as I was getting closer and closer, after nearly a year out of it, to re-entering the workforce.
Well, that possibility has become reality and I’ve accepted a job offer. Given that my new life as a cubicle jockey will entail at least fifteen hours of commuting every week, on top of the actual working hours, the odds don’t favor me having the time and energy to devote to the Weigh In/Spotlight feature.
I certainly don’t see the Weigh In surviving, as when I get off the commuter bus in the park and ride lot midweek it’s unlikely that I’m going to want to get it into my car to make a trip to the comic shop rather than just heading straight home. I’ll probably move to picking up the week’s comics on Saturday mornings, and I suppose I could still have a vote that day, but…ehh. It’s possible that I will continue the Spotlight feature, if I can muster the energy, opting to write about whatever comic I feel like writing about rather than what the voters dictate.
Ultimately, I suppose, even if I don’t continue, it’s no great loss, and it’s not as though the Weigh In and Spotlight posts were essential to the mission and purpose of OpenDoor Comics.
To the best of my ability (which…well), I’ll continue to occasionally post my shitty comics, and work on my not-as-shitty comic, but more importantly, I’ll keep the door open for people who want to post comics of their own, and I’ll help them in any way I can.
In any case, despite the lack of any new comics to talk about, I thought I should post something, and given the big event that is apparently taking place this evening, I thought it would be fitting to post something that relates to the essential purpose of the cultural phenomenon that it represents.
What? No, not football: commercials!
With that in mind, while I don’t have any sponsors, and no one is throwing millions of dollars my way to advertise here, I’m providing a list of links to things you can buy – I would get a few shekels tossed my way should you buy any of them – but it’s not an exercise in completely crass commercialism, as they are things that I legitimately think are relevant to fans of comics and useful to any would-be comics creators out there.
First up, in case anyone has wondered and doesn’t already know, the comics – both shitty and not-as-shitty – that I make are done 100% digitally. It’s been decades since I’ve done any sort of work in traditional media, and while there are drawbacks to the way I work, the advantages, for me, outweigh them.
I do pretty much everything on a Microsoft Surface Studio. There are multiple confifuration options available, and they’re all incredibly expensive and out of reach for most people. The Studio has some definite disadvantages, but…man, that screen is just something else.
Still, the overall Surface line from Microsoft has a wide range of options and device types, and some, like this one, are much more affordable. (Though still not cheap.) They’re great as general purpose devices, but are of particular value to artists.
Not to be a shill – even though that’s what this post is about – there are some pretty significant ways in which Microsoft devices, products and services factor into my workflow, and I may do a future post focusing on my “process” that gets into it. (Now, to be a shill, as I mentioned, I don’t have any sort of sponsors, but just so you know, Microsoft, I wouldn’t be averse to you throwing some money and/or devices my way…)
While Surface products are growing in popularity, Wacom is the go-to hardware source for most digital artists. Most of what they make isn’t cheap, but they do have some inexpensive options to help you dip your toe into the world of digital art. Like Microsoft, they provide a wide range of options that includes Surface Pro-like mobile computing devices, and, of course, the Cintiq line of touch and pen-enabled screens. Prior to making the switch to the Surface Studio, I used a Cintiq, and while I decided that the Studio was the right choice for me, there’s a reason why Wacom is an industry leader.
On the software front, the two main programs I use for creating comics are the gold-standard in image-editing, Adobe Photoshop (Adobe: See my message to Microsoft), and Clip Studio Paint (also known as Manga Studio). Clip Studio Paint comes in two versions; the EX version I linked to, which I use, is more expensive and fully-featured, but the Pro version would serve you well. It’s designed specifically for creating comics, and is where I do the bulk of my work (drawing, inking, come coloring). I use Photoshop for some additional color work and for adding effects, lettering, and making touch-ups. It’s definitely something you could use from start-to-finish to make comics – and the same holds true for Clip Studio Paint, but I find the drawing tools and UI of Clip Studio Paint a little better-suited to the work.
(In the interest of full disclosure, you’ll find more and better – that is to say, cheaper – purchasing options for Photoshop and other useful Adobe products directly from Adobe, and Clip Studio Paint from Smith-Micro. Of course, then I wouldn’t get a cut, but I don’t really expect you to care about that, and as much as I’d like to make some money, I’m really just trying to help you out here.)
There are a lot of resources for aspiring comic-creators who are looking to learn the trade and understand some of the theories and principles behind graphic storytelling, such as the venerable Comics and Sequential Art, which is part of the line of instructional books by the great Will Eisner, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, in which Scott McLoud examines the many aspects of what goes into comics, how they came about, and how they work, The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics: Inside the Art of Visual Storytelling, which is part of a line of books from DC, each of which explores the different components and their respective tasks that go into making comics, and finally, while some of the examples may seem dated, with Stan Lee and the legendary artist John Buscema as your guides, there’s a reason that How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way, in addition to being one of the first books of its kind is still one of the best.
“Okay,” you say, “but what if I just want to read some comics?”
Well, you can’t really go wrong with Planetary, which provides a rich metatextual exploration of the history of comics, and is also just a damned fine comic in its own right.
Or how about Saga, which expertly blends science fiction and fantasy and puts them into a beautiful package?
Maybe you’d like Lazarus, which is kind of like a science fiction version of Game of Thrones that provides a dystopic vision of the future that which each passing day seems increasingly – and uncomfortably – familiar?
Maybe something fun, that’s suitable for all ages, like Tiny Titans is more your speed.
And ultimately, you can’t really go wrong with literally anything written by Ed Brubaker.
Anyway, that does it for Sellout Sunday I. I hope that, even if you don’t buy anything, you found this helpful and fun.
While their days are numbered, there will be a Weigh In Wednesday this week, so be sure to check back for that.
In addition to buying via the links provided here, you can also pick up comics – and books about comics – from your local comic shop, the way I (usually) pick up comics from my local shop, Comic Logic Books & Artwork.
Enjoy your big sportsball recital tonight – GO SPORTS TEAMS! …no, really. Go. Far away from me. – and the orgy of consumerism that will be much more over-the-top – but probably more entertaining – than this post.
And remember that now – and perhaps doing so now is needed more than ever – you can support OpenDoor Comics on Patreon!
*I learned afterwards that the second issue of Mystik U, which isn't on my pull list, but which I had intended to pick up, did come out this past Wednesday and I apparently missed it as I passed by the shelves multiple times looking to find something to buy. Sorry about that, but it's worth noting that it was kind of easy to miss, as this issue didn't really have the logo prominently displayed on the cover.