Much to Learn…

Comics Beat put up a Top 10 list of hard-learned lifelong cartooning advice GI Joe-and-other-things writer & artist Larry Hama posted on his Facebook then took down; I’m a sucker for comics advice from just about anyone, and it’s neat that Hama is a more mainstream cartoonist who still has experience writing & drawing his stories…

  • 1. Don’t have people just standing there.
  • 2. ANY expression is better than a blank stare.
  • 3. Avoid tangents, and any straight line that divides the panel.
  • 4. If you use an odd angle in the shot, there has to be a reason for it.
  • 5. If you don’t have at least one panel on each page with a full figure, your “camera” is too close.
  • 6. Plan out your shots in “Lawrence of Arabia” mode rather than in “General Hospital” mode.
  • 7. Don’t think of backgrounds as “things to fill up the space after the figures are drawn.”
  • 8. If you know what something is called, and you have an Internet connection, there is no reason to draw it inaccurately.
  • 9. If the colorist has to ask if a scene takes place at night, you haven’t done your job.
  • 10. If you can’t extend the drawing beyond the panel borders and still have it make visual sense, you’ve cheated on the perspective

This is great of course, but I can’t help but feel some of it is more for the active, action comics…  People standing around is like half of the autobio comics I read, and definitely the ones I’m planning on making!  Conflicted…

Comics Alliance also has a great appraisal of Hama and how his varied life experiences, including in the Vietnam War, informed his run on GI Joe, the property he’s most closely identified with.

Punk Rock Jesus #6 cover

Copyright Sean Murphy

Also, for any of my readers who happen to be aspiring cartoonists, fellow writer-artist cartoonist Sean Murphy, of Vertigo’s Punk Rock Jesus, announced a competition to win an apprenticeship with him in Portland, Maine; application details here!


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