If you’re a wannabe comics creator like myself, the Kubert School’s presentation on breaking into comics with the likes of Andy Kubert, Anthony Marques, Fernando Ruiz, Lee Weeks, and more, levied some helpful advice.
While it mostly consisted of advertising for the school in question, there was a good deal of stories and practical information, which made the biggest impression.
It began with an introduction to the panelists, and their accolades were mighty impressive. This went along with the narrative that the Kubert School is made up of working professionals who cover a variety of artistic fields, from animation to colorists to good ol’ fashioned pencillers and inkers.
Most all of the panelists ended up discussing Joe Kubert, the founder, in warm reminiscence. Andy Kubert related the history and beginning of the school with what they strive to teach. There can be a lot of technical mastery in modern comics, but if the storytelling isn’t there, it’s a fail. He admits that himself, his father, and even Jack Kirby aren’t the most technically perfect artists. But they have style and can tell stories with a vigor passed down from Will Eisner (who taught Joe Kubert). “…a lot of my perseverance is the storytelling capabilities that my father had taught me.”
But personal relations is important as well, which is taught in a business class. Kubert elaborated, stressing that, “making your deadlines is huge…it’s a business…you have to be a normal person.”
Lee Weeks, although a tad late, contributed a great deal to the proceedings. In fact, he performed a little double headed coin gag and linked it to sequential storytelling. Each side is figuratively a panel and a great artist he posited takes advantage of what takes between the gutters and can communicate what’s going on visually without “spoon feeding” the audience.
Last but not least, the Q & A, which had various passionate fans and indie creators stepping up to ask specific questions. For instance, one older fan complained that many DC comics have confusing storytelling and wondered if the Kubert school strives for clarity. Andy grabbed the mic, admitting he has the same complaints and that “storytelling is communicating in pictures.” If you lose that, the art has failed.
One young man, who I spied with a large sketchbook before, asked about breaking into the industry in an era where unsolicited work is discouraged. Once again, Andy spoke first, pointing to DeviantArt, saying major publishers “troll” the site, looking for people to hire. There’s also the possibility of art agents, which is how Joe Prado and Ivan Reis get work.
Other questions involved the rest of the panelists. A woman in the front row asked about how to network to move up. Erica Schultz, who works as a writing instructor at the school, related her own experiences in design and urged the person to “talk to creative directors, ask if they need help on other projects.” It comes down to “assertiveness.”
Overall, this panel was indispensable for any looking into the school, but enjoyable to others who got to hear spirited professionals in a teaching capacity. I’m even tempted to look into the school.
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