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A WORD FROM OUR FOUNDER
Prized possessions .
A standard contract in my business will often have a None Disclosure Agreement. A NDA states that you will not discuss the project or any of the goings on surrounding it. The reason to include this stipulation are fairly obvious, if you are working on a movie called "dave the talking toaster" the people who are spearheading it don't want some other studio to get wind of anything and rush to put out "dale the toaster that speaks" 4 months before your movie comes out. The funny thing about a NDA in this day and age is that studios rush to promote thier projects asap. A couple years ago i was signing a NDA while in the next room peope where trying to figure out the best way to release as much info about the project via the internet as they had available. So i was swearing to secrecy just before going into a meeting about how to tell the world. but that's show biz.
So do have several things going on but i'm sworn to secrecy on three of them so i'll burn up a blog telling you about some of the tools i use, most of which have been discontinued thanks to the golden age of computers.
The top drawer of my tool box is like the graveyard of drafting supplies. whenever i go to an estate sale and see anything drafting related i grab it right up, you never know it might be the last package of crow quill pen tips, or mechanical pencil sharpener you'll ever see.
(i wasn't making up the mechanical pencil sharpener...here's three different kinds)
Practicality of owning this stuff is that using different and old school tools gives you a different and old school look. If you are going to do 90% of the work using a computer program...the same computer program as everyone else..then guess what....your stuff is pretty much going to look the same and be lost in a sea of jerk offs who logged a bunch of hours on photoshop. Try as they may, they have yet to create a program than can match what I can do with an actual brush with actual hair. Aside from the look...deleting mistakes takes away all the happy accidents that can happen. More times than allot I have looked at a mistake or a scribble and saw something I could use later...Voodoo Joe for instance was a scribble on some other page. Also though, have to admit the nostalgia is inspiring. 50 years ago this was all standard stuff. Jack Kirby (fantastic four), jack Cole(plastic man), Wally Wood (weird science),or Lou Fine (Doll Man...not as gay as it sounds) would have all had this same paraphernalia.
Also, as much as i'm loath to admit it i have a little bit of "artist" mentality, and artists like looking down on people ...I like looking down on artists...you don't know what a "mocrotomic 607" is? ...and you call yourself an illustrator?!"
For the comic book itself and even the cartoon illustrations i have this bare bones kit that handles 95% of the work. Two .5 mm mechanical pencils one with blue lead one with red. both of these leads are fairly soft so you need to use a light touch or you'll keep snapping off the points, but they don't reproduce so i don't have to worry about ereasing...the other nice feature is i can do the roughs with the blue and go over everything again in the red. those of you who have had to redraw an object slightly different right over the rough can appreciate this ...instead of trying to figure out which black line was the correct one two days later when i'm inking, i just ink the red (or sometimes the green if i'm really reworking something and have to use a third pencil with a third color...and by sometimes i mean always).
a windsor newton series 7 no.0 handles ALL the inking- straight lines, curved lines ..everything. i don't touch a micron (technical pen)except for the borders. this takes allot of skill and practice but that's what separates the men from the boys. one of these days in the near future i'll show you the difference between a microned page and a page done with a brush. side by side there is a stark difference in line quality.
a no.0 is pretty small, most guys use a no.1 or 2, but i found that the no.1 is just a bit too thick, it won't give and bend as well as the zero. all those swirl eyes in the zombies...done with a no.0 brush. the quality and give is so great that i can draw a tiny spiral with it, go right to inking a straight line 6 inches long that's 1/4 inch thick and then add texture to the background ...you'd need three different microns to do all that and it still wouldn't look as good.
The worst thing about brushes is they are thin, which means they are hard to hold for a long period of time. Necessity is the mother of invention though- here's a little tip from a former mechanic. Any auto parts store can sell you a foot of vacuum hose. vacuum hose is rubber and as luck would have it comes in 1/4 inch diameter, just big enough for you to slide over your brush and give the hand a little more to grab onto. all my brushes have an inch long piece of vacuum hose over the hilt (see above) and believe me it's worth the .79 investment.
Of course i have a stack of templates, although i never use them. those rectangular credit card sized things with the circle in the middle are, believe it or not, "lettering guides". back in the day they would use these so the words in the word balloons were all straight. I used them for the first few issues before i just said the hell with it and used graph paper and a light table.
aside from these i have a triangle and straight edges from a foot long to four feet long. when you rely on the precision of vanishing points as much as i do sometimes you get carried away and even the four footer isn't enough. when i do "birds eye view" shots i get in that kind of trouble. A good birds eye view that isn't TOO jarring means the vanishing point is three or four feet below the paper. A couple times i completely screwed myself and the vanishing point and the panel needed to be so far away from each other that the table wasn't big enough. It's nights like that when you have moved furniture around and are on your hands and knees pushing a thumb tack into a hardwood floor to draw a holocaust gag that you realize why you're divorced.
I also have every type of compass i know of. i don't have the opportunity to use them much, which is good because i hate them all, and they hate me.
a few years ago i finally figured out that if i used an air brush for my banners i could save allot of time and paint. On top you see a standard "badger" airbrush, these are top of the line and i got this one at a close out sale for 150.00. below that is a "sears" airbrush that probably dates back to the 70's. A friend of mine gave it to me when he was cleaning out his basement. It's mostly tin and pot metal, was meant for 10 year olds to paint their model airplanes and probably retailed for 5.99. guess which one works better ...yep. I'm considering keeping the Sears 5.99 special in the fancy case and letting the Badger roll around in the drawer, just to teach it a lesson. "fancy cases are for winners mr. badger, not sissies who clog up at the first spec of dirt!" is what i would tell it if i talked to my tools ...which i don't...(cough).
Since my banners are usually 6x10 or larger i also needed something that gave me more coverage. Harbor freight tools specializes in chinese made chunks of shit that usually work for about 6 months. It's the dollar store of tools, but since I ain't exactly a surgeon with an airbrush anyway i figured this contraption would be good enough. It's a knock off of a model better companies invented.
I bought two of them, they were only 12.99 and i figured one would break instantly anyhow. that was four years ago. this mule hasn't skipped a beat. It's easy to take apart and clean, never clogs up, and adjusts from a 6 inch spray to a 1/2 inch spray.
the best part about it is you can adjust the angle of the canister so you can spray straight down onto a table, standing up onto a wall, or straight up onto the ceiling or anything in between. It's an ingenious design, and i use it all the time... i just wish the thing would break so that i had an excuse to go by the American made version.
THIS is a standard issue glue gun. And i have my friend Herndon to thank for introducing me to it. You plug it in and stick a glue stick in the back and you're off to the races...you can squeeze a 1/4 line of hot glue on anything. i can't believe i didn't buy one until last year...ah the things i could have ruined if i had only got it sooner.
When i do paint something i use "one shot". that's the name of the company and the brand. It's oil based and as the name implies it covers with one coat, no primer needed, no painstakingly redoing a line because whatever is beneath it is showing through. At least it USED to be that way. seems like every time i buy a can it's thinner and thinner. They have no doubt changed the formula over the years, it used to be lead based and only available in pro shops. Now any hobby store has it and it's not nearly as good. It's still good enough to instantly ruin whatever it touches if you're not careful ...which i'm not. But that is the other benefit of this paint, it sticks to anything- glass, cloth, metal, canvas, wood, plastic...it doesn't care, your brush it on and it stays. and it stays nice an flexible so i can paint a banner, roll it right up and ship it to the next show no problem.
I think that pretty much covers it...sems like there was something else in my tool cart that was important...oh yeah i remember..
I got this from my first partner before i started Arsenic Lullaby, it's got about 1000 miles on it and has seen more cheap liquor that Gary Busey. He also bought me my first set of brushes, seems like a million years ago now. I don't know if the Doug back then would be proud of what i've accomplished since then or not, but i'm pretty sure he'd like all the cool stuff i got.