The Comics Survival Kit


Monday, June 30, 2014

Molly Mahan is one of the best editors I have ever worked with, editing my Red Sonja run at Dynamite. I asked her what she looks for in an artist’s portfolio, what are the warning signs that the person isn’t ready. Good tips here!



Two things that matter most to me when it comes to evaluating a new artist are: 1. Did she draw hands and feet consistently throughout her sample pages or did she find “clever” ways to keep them out?  And 2. Did she leave room for balloons and captions?

The former is something even the most praised sequential artists can be found guilty of doing. When I was a young fan, I used to count how many pages—not panels—it would take to see a decent shot of a foot or a non-clenched hand in the books I picked up, and often counted the hand/foot to character ratio on a splash (I recall one fine #1 cover to a huge event at one of the Big Two half a decade ago boasting 12 characters and fewer than five feet). I am not an artist myself, so I can only guess at how difficult it is to draw feet that look proportional to characters, that said as an editor and reader it’s a noticeable flaw. So for that, my only advice is to practice drawing hands and feet, especially if you know you have difficulty with them, because their absence WILL be noticed, and if you’re new to the industry, it will be marked against you.

The second matter is something that is easily remedied: put balloons and captions in your layouts. Surmise, based on the script, roughly how much space a balloon or caption will need and leave space for it! We hate covering up your art as much as you hate seeing it covered, so the trick to keep that from happening is to give space.