Artist Jordan Raskin on Versatility, Professionalism and Killer Artwork

I first saw Jordan Raskin’s work on AVP at  Dark Horse Comics and I was instantly blown away by his work. From there on I followed his work to Image and some killer artwork on Ripclaw. Whenever I see his name attached to a book I will buy it regardless of who’s writing it. His art impresses me that much. His work is truly something to see.

Batman – private commission

First professional work (piece / year) and the story behind it.

Wow, you’re taking me back. My first professional comic work was for a small indie publisher based in NYC called “Evolution Comics”. The book was a mini B&W anthology and the character I drew was called “Vidorix the Druid”. The writing was well researched and it was a fun character — kind of a cross between “Name of the Rose” and Dr. Strange. Anyway, I met the publishers at a small NY comic-con. I drew 4 issues for them and we toured some small east coast comic conventions together. Fun times, it was all so new to me. Vidorix was my art school. I did a lot of learning on that title.

Ripclaw special (Top Cow) – Page 31 & 32

Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)

Largely self-taught, but technically I did attend both Joe Kubert’s school of Cartooning and Ringling school of illustration for one semester each.

Tools of the trade: Taking a quick glance over at your pens, brushes etc…what tools have you mainly been using over the last few years?

Ink-wise I’m a brush man. Used to love Raphael #4’s with Black Magic india ink. But because my pencil work is as tight as it is, these days I’ve been trying to cut out the ink stage. My most recent work was drawn with black Prismacolor pencils on vellum. When handled with care, you wouldn’t know it wasn’t ink.

Ripclaw promo

Favorite brand of ink:

Black Magic

Type of paper:

Seth Cole Duralene vellum.

Industry of War issue 1 pg. 2

Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are YOUR masters of ink?

(in no particular order) Jorge Zaffino, Kevin Nowlan, Neal Adams, Mark Beachum, Frank Frazetta, Sergio Toppi — to name a few.

Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job. A quick overview of your process.

I’ll start with thumbnail layouts (drawn to scale). Once I’ve settled on a design I’ll submit it for approval. Once approved I enlarge the layouts to original art size and tape my vellum (effectively bristol board quality tracing paper) over the layout and complete the finished line-art from there.

Industry of War issue 2, pg. 4

What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?

Well, considering I have a 200 gig iPod, a lot! Too much to break down, but let’s just say my music tastes are firmly rooted in the 70’s and 80’s. I’ve also always been fond of listening to movie soundtracks — especially when writing or working on layouts.

Marvel Tombs of Terror

What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?

Framed signed/numbered Death Dealer print by the late great Frank Frazetta.

Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?

I don’t really read novels so much as listen to them as audio books (it’s a multitasking thing). Nothing in particular to recommend at the moment, but I do love me some Tom Clancy. Start with The Hunt for Red October and work your way up — you won’t regret it. Last movie I saw was Inception.

Ripclaw cover

Current and upcoming projects:

Werewolf by Night for Marvel’s “Tomb of Terror” (B&W horror anthology available in October). Upcoming project is a question mark. I’m considering pitching a tale for Heavy Metal but I’m also considering doing some storyboard work for film and animation.

Marvel Tomb of Terror

What would you tell an aspiring artist who is working his ass off but still needs and wants to break through to the next level?

Chuck Jones (famed animator) once said: “You’ve got 100,000 bad drawings in you and it’s best to get them out as fast as possible”. Practice makes perfect. These days, however, it’s just as important to learn digital programs as it is to become a good draftsman. It’s important to think of yourself as a commercial artist, not a comic book artist. Comics alone will not pay your bills. Learn other things besides comics. Also, make sure you spend time networking. Relationships get you jobs more so than your portfolio.

Find out more about Jordan Raskin by heading on over to his website.

Vampirella vs. Dracula cover

6 Free Comic Fonts for Commercial Use That are Awesome

Hand Lettering Your Comic Was Sometimes Ulcer Inducing

Lettering your comic used to be a nerve-wracking experience. That is when you were talking about dropping in the lettering by hand with a technical pen or a 107 nib. While digital lettering today can still be a frustrating process it’s miles easier than in decades past.

When I was first hunting for free comic fonts to test out in the early 2000’s the pickings were slim. There were only two or three worthy contenders. Since then thousands of free fonts can be found and downloaded online. By sheer numbers this also means more free quality comic fonts has also surfaced.

While I tend to stick with my paid for Comicraft fonts you should definitely play around with some of the free ones first to get a feel for comic lettering.

My goal for you with this post was three fold.

  1. The fonts had to be free.
  2. They had to be able to be used commercially (or at least partially)
  3. They had to at least be “almost” as good as a paid commercial font.

So I first stopped by Font Squirrel.

Font Squirrel is your best resource for FREE, hand-picked, high-quality, commercial-use fonts. Even if that means we send you elsewhere to get them.

The Comic category had 24 fonts but only two really jumped out at me. You can head over there and decide for yourself.

Laffayette Comic Pro

The Laffayette Comic Pro font is credited only to Jaws Laffayette. This one has been floating around the net for a good 10 years and has been downloaded tens of thousands of times just at alone.

VTC Letterer Pro

VTC Letterer Pro is brought to us by Vigilante Typeface Corporation aka Larry Yerkes who is a tattoo artist, font designer and freelance Illustrator. This one has been around for a while and I remember downloading it back when I was scouring the net for free fonts.

Year Supply of Fairy Cakes

Sometimes you want something a little edgier or more offbeat in your font. I feel the uniquely named Year Supply of Fairy Cakes font delivers that. I don’t know that I’d want to read an entire comic lettered with it unless the point size was set larger. But I think it’d make a worthy addition to your font library.

Blambot Comic Fonts

My next stop was over to Blambot comic fonts and lettering. Nate Piekos has been at this for over a decade and has lettered comics for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Oni Press, Dark Horse Comics and many others. Nate’s work has been seen EVERYWHERE.

He’s designed a lot of comic fonts and has made several of them free via a license agreement for independent comic creation.

· Anyone may use these fonts for non-profit projects.

· If you are a comic book self-publisher/small press publisher you may use these fonts for profit or non profit or as part of graphics printed on merchandise to support your independent comic.

· If you are an independent creator, publishing comics through a mainstream company (see above) there is a license fee.

Some of the standouts are:

Crime Fighter


And I dig Evil Genius as well.

While you’re over there be sure to read his post on how to hand letter a comic. It’s worth the trip.

Have fun with this and when you’re ready trust me, you’ll probably start buying fonts off of Blambot and Comicraft. I always check out the online sales in the summer and New Years over Comicraft.

Be sure to add your favorite fonts in the comments below. It’s always nice to grow a bigger list.


A NSFW Interview With Artist Martin Gagnon

I first met Martin Gagnon last year at the Montreal Comic Con in September 2009. From the moment I first laid eyes on his artwork, I was a fan. His style is very reminiscent of Tim Vigil’s but at the same time I feel he has a lot to offer to the artistic community. He’s an incredibly talented artist and one hell of a nice guy. Over the last year we have become friends and I’m happy that he agreed to do this interview. Sit back and enjoy.

First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.
My first professional piece that was published as the cover for the novel Buddha Airlines by author Louis-Philippe Hebert in 2009. Prior to that was Dead Sexy in 2004 by bizzzart studios and perhaps soon a comic book from Big Dog Ink comics Not much was published beside those ones. I recently (5 years ago) went back to drawing and exploring art to better myself. Now things will get more serious. More ugly.

Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)
I am self-taught. Never went to art-school (my parent didn’t have the money!) I was inspired by my mother who used to draw/paint houses and flowers. Later on I discovered comic books. Marvel and DC published in French by Les Editions Heritage. That was the “calling”. I used to draw Cyclops, Iron Man, Daredevil and Batman. But all those drawings were destroyed in a fire (our house burned down while we were all at the fair!). But, I didn’t give up hope!
My inspirations were by far the “King” himself Jack Kirby. And it still is. All of my first drawings were based on his style. After the fire, I decided that I had to have my own style.

Tools of the trade: Taking a quick glance over at your pens, brushes etc…what tools have you mainly been using over the last few years?

My tools, at first, back in the 70’s and 80’s I think I worked with almost anything I could afford or my parents could. Which was not much. My grand-mother (my father’s mother) was really there to push me and advise me on how to handle crayon, pencils and pens. I think she was in a way a mentor to me! May she rest in peace!
In the 90’s I started working with fountain ink and brushes. That is when I met two great guys Michel Lacombe and Yannick Paquette. We were hired by “The Other Side Comics”. I didn’t quite like the way it worked, the brushes and fountain pens are sloppy. But I still worked with those things from hell. ‘Till I discovered micro pigment ink pens and archival ink. Marvelous, precise and they come in a lot of line widths.
So since the year 2000 or so I have been using pigma micron pens. Me sa like it.

Type of paper:
All sort of paper, from Strathmore to Strathmore..:) Because when I moved in with my father back in 1989, I went to a comic book store on Montreal’s south shore called Hero. A real comic store! Back in Sorel there was none! I met the clerk “Martin Noro” a great guy and a mentor too, he taught me a lot. From what kind of paper to use (paper was the only thing I drew on!), the right pen, pencils and ink. But also he made me discover new comics from Montreal, independent comics like The Jam, Madman and Grendel. I thought that Marvel and DC were the only ones (publishers) out there. Boy was I wrong. And at the same time, discovered more styles.

Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?
My inspirations are by far Jack Kirby, Alex Ross, Mike Mignola and Mike Allred, to name only a few. When I am out of inspiration or feel down I turn to them and it gives me the boost I need. But I discover new artists each time I go to the Montreal Comic-Con. We have great talents here in Quebec. I think that Michel Lacombe is by far a Master of Ink at the same level of Palmiotti and co. I kind of lost contact with comic books and I don’t read as much now.

Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job. Could you provide us with a quick overview of your process?
Well, the way I handle a job or commission is simple. The client will tell me, send me the details (what character(s), what settings). I do some sketches that I present over a coffee (Press cafe is my place of choice!). When the decision is made on which sketches (he, she) likes the most then I go back to my studio. Once the job is done we meet again.
I like to meet the “client” ,because it feels more human than to send the request by e-mail. I get to meet people. Of course, if they live very far then that is another story. Travelling is not my thing.

What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?
Well, I don’t have an mp3 player. Sticking things in my ears I really dislike..But, I do have a portable DVD player sitting on my drawing table, so I can listen to music. (I mostly listen to Mandy Lion(ww111), Avenged Sevenfold, Alice Cooper and so much more. And I can watch movies (I am a movie maniac!). It creates a certain ambiance for me, I hate silence when I draw or write. Except when I sleep.

What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?
What I have on the wall of my studio are prints of Leo Leibelman, Richard Serrao, Noumier Tawilah (a great guy i met back in 2009 at a Montreal Comic-Con.!)  And of course, Alex Ross. Signed comic books by various artists both local and international. Pictures that I took (I like to take pictures!). During special events, stars I met (actors and artists).But, I don’t have much wall space because I am also a collection freak (Actions figures. Marvel, DC (Mostly Alex Ross : Justice, Kingdom Come and movie figures!). But I must say that the most important piece of art that is hanging on my wall in front of my drawing table is by me. It is a “positive vision art”. It helps me focus on what I really want in life. It is a portrait of me surrounded by all the things I want, my goal in life. Which is going forward with my art.

Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?
The last novel I read was (I am not quite finished!) is a novel by Louis-Philippe Hebert which was a gift from him. The last movie I saw was Flesh Eater, Revenge Of The Living Dead!, a B-movie. I love zombie movies! But the last movie I saw in a theatre was The Expendables with Sly and co. I actually loved it. It’s a no-brainer. But it’s very entertaining.

Current and upcoming projects?

Right now I am working on Dead Sexy Vol. 2: Masquerade and Vol. 3 featuring Isabelle Stephen. Some comic book one-shots. A movie script for Sv Bell (Black Flag Productions) and a big one. My graphic novel which is a secret for now. And in between some commissions.  A lot of goodies.

What would you tell an aspiring artist who is working his ass off but still needs and wants to break through to the next level?
I would say to aspiring artists, keep trying, keep working and never give up. Practice makes perfect. Take pictures of buildings, nature and people as reference or use magazines, books and movies. There are  also  books available on how to draw shadows, hands, faces and figures(anatomy). Explore all media, portraits, comic books ,2d, 3d digital colouring etc..The more you can do, the more you’ll be better at and it’ll get you noticed. Don’t be shy to ask questions or advice from professional artists. The most important is perspective, try drawing with fountain ink to pencils, everything. It is very important to be versatile. Have faith in yourself, keep pushing your limits, and bring your portfolio to conventions. Show off. Get noticed.
I just want to tell you “MERCI!”, THANK YOU. It was fun and I hope that the last question will bring confidence to those who are trying and working their ass off. Once again thank you, it is such an Honor for me to have been interviewed by you.

6 Awesome Places to View Original Comic Art Online

For a comic artist there’s nothing more instructive than getting to hold and study a piece of original artwork by another creator. When you want to further your artistic skills, unlock that secret technique or just plain see how someone else accomplishes a great piece of art nothing beats talking with other artists and getting to see their work close up.

But if you’re not travelling to a lot of conventions or you live in an area that doesn’t have a larger community of comic artists what are your options? I have a few for you.

Back in the 1990’s when I first got on the internet one of the first things I did was hunt down interviews with my favorite artists and try to find their artwork online. It was extremely helpful to see original works before they were photographed, scanned, touched up, colored and prepared for pre-press.

Getting to see artwork in the raw is one of the most helpful steps in your artistic journey. Experimenting with your own art always takes priority but sitting back and observing others is right up there.

Here’s a list of a half-dozen places where you can check out original comic art at your leisure with no pressure to buy. I’ve spent hours at some of these sites and always find myself returning. Just click the larger title next to the number of each site and the link will take you there.

1. Albert Moy

Albert Moy is an original artwork sales representative for some of the greatest comic book artists in the industry today. Albert is entrusted by Jim Lee, Bruce Timm, Sam Kieth, Jae Lee, John Cassaday, Darwyn Cooke, J Bone, Erik Larsen, Peter Snejberg, Ken Lashley, and Sandu Florea to bring their artwork to fans and collectors.

Albert has been in the hobby of collecting and selling comic book artwork since 1984 and his wealth of knowledge is known throughout the hobby to help you acquire that unique piece for your collection.

Batman / Planetary cover by John Cassaday

2. Comic Art Fans is a free gallery service for Comic Art Collectors and Artists and once signed up you are free to create Gallery Rooms to post your artwork to. As it is user-generated content this is probably the biggest database online for original comic art. From Dan Clowes to Jim Lee and everyone in between, it’s all on there.

A BLAB splash page by Dan Clowes

Batman Robin All Star by Jim Lee

3. Splash Page Art

Mark Hay is an original art representative and dealer who specializes in selling original comic art by modern era artists. Splash Page Art represents over 50 comic artists including Ben Templesmith, Lee Bermejo, Sean Philips and Tim Bradstreet. You can get up close and personal with thousands of pages of original art.

Daredevil 511 variant cover by Jock

4. ebay

ebay is a huge resource of comic art for sale. Just by plugging in “original comic art” into their search box brings up over 4500 results. You’ll be all over the map here in terms of quality but I’ve seen some pretty impressive pieces for sale on the internet’s most popular auction site.

Warlord cover painting by Mike Grell

5. Masters of Ink Interviews

Rich and I have interviewed over 50 artists on this site. Sometimes they send us unpublished images and sketches. Other times we scour the net looking for original works by our guests. Either way you get a peak into the processes, tools and techniques of some of the best artists and illustrators out there.

6. The Beguiling

The Beguiling is a Canadian comic store located in the Toronto area. It Showcases the largest selection of alternative, underground and avant-garde graphic story telling in the country. They also sell original art from around 45 different creators such as Dave Sim, Ho Che Anderson, Paul Pope and Dave Cooper.

Dan and Larry part 1 page 2 by Dave Cooper

Batman Year 100 issue 4 pg. 17 by Paul Pope

A Crapload of New Pen and Ink Drawings and Paintings

It’s been a while since we showed you what we’ve been up to creatively around these parts. While we’ve been quiet on the comics front in 2010 we’ve been off doing our various solo projects. Richard Serrao has been producing a tonne of black and white pen and ink art for various commissions, cons and movie review illustrations. He’ll have a lot of his original art with him at the upcoming Montreal Comiccon.

Chris Williams has been mainly branching out into painting series and prints. Fiona Ho has been producing single image illustrations and paintings for group art shows that have been going on in the Vancouver area. And I’ve been the least prolific out of the four of us doing a pen and ink illustration here and there.

We’ve been working behind the scenes on some new comics stuff that we’re not quite ready to show off yet.
In the meantime here’s some of our newest creations. Enjoy.

Richard Serrao

richard-serrao-hellboy-pen-and-inkHellboy commission, pen and ink

richard-serrao-death-sentence-pen-and-inkKevin Bacon from DEATH SENTENCE review, pen and ink.

richard-serrao-heath-ledger-joker-pen-and-ink-2Heath Ledger as The Joker, pen and ink

Rich’s take on Starkweather from Battles Without Living Witnesses, 17″ x 11″, pen and ink

Fiona Ho

dirty-pop-green-1Dominatrix for the ‘Dirty Pop’ art show, acrylic on canvas

fiona-ho-pen-ink-heather-1The ‘Mad Hatter’ drawn for ‘Wonderland’ art show, pen and ink.

fiona-ho-pen-ink-mori-1Rapunzel illustration for ‘Wonderland’ art show, pen and ink and wash.

Chris Williams

chris-williams-art-wonderland-1Alice from Wonderland as you’ve never quite seen her, ink and paint.

chris-williams-art-wonderland-2A nightmarish take on Alice in Wonderland, ink and paint.

Jason Thibault

And finally I helped out Matt from Out of the Gutter with a ‘base’ illustration for his new publishing imprint Gutter Books. He took it and ran with it.
jason-thibault-dodging-bullets-cover-inkProposed cover for Joe McKinney’s novel Dodging Bullets, pen and ink