Rebel Art, Indie Spirit, Outlaw Marketing - Since 2005

A Preview of Nathan Fox’s Work in Nike’s New Film DEFIANT [VIDEO]

Nathan fox illustrates Nike's Defiant film

Nathan Fox detail from upcoming Nike film DEFIANT

Nike Sportswear unveiled a teaser for their new short DEFIANT which chronicles the story of Athetics West. And they’ve used the artwork of comics artist and illustrator Nathan Fox to bring the story to animated life.

They broke rules. They broke records. They broke limits.
This is the story of the Defiant Dozen that put American track and field back on the map and sparked running as we know it today.

The full film will be released next Tuesday, October 19th and we’ll make sure to come back and let you know about it. In the meantime here’s 42 seconds of Nathan Fox badassery. I especially love how they even followed his trademark lunatic color schemes. This is awesome.

Defiant. The story of Athletics West

Previously Nike Stadiums had collaborated  with artist and graphic novelist Danijel Zezelj on the Heroes of Speed soccer film. Their marketing department obviously has amazing taste in comic artists and illustrators and apparently DMZ fill-in artists.

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

New Danijel Zezelj Art for Brian Wood’s DMZ 58

DMZ 58 cover by Joahn Paul Leon.

Every so often to give the regular DMZ artist Riccardo Burchielli a break the series turns to one-shots with some amazing guest artists. Nathan Fox and Danijel Zezelj are two regular supporting artists for the series. Danijel is back up again with issue 58 coming up in a couple of months. Writer Brian Wood showed off a page on his twitter feed that is currently being lettered.

Art by Danijel Zezelj

It features a nice single full-page panel of one of Zezelj’s infamous cityscapes that he is famous for. I love the atmosphere that he breathes into an image with his thick blacks and whites. Any new work by DZ is good news so consider this a heads up for October.

DMZ #58 – Written by BRIAN WOOD; Art by DANILEL ZEZELJ; Cover by JP LEON

Last time we saw the legendary street artist “Decade Later,” he was in cuffs and headed to a detention camp. Years have passed, and the man is back, walking the streets like he never left – a symbol of art defiant in the face of violent oppression.

On Sale October 20, 2010

And before I forget I stumbled across an excellent write-up on Danijel’s work back in August by Joe Mcculloch over at Comics Comics where he dives into his older works such as Caballo. I especially enjoyed this passage.

All the while, Zezelj’s art grows colder the more detailed it becomes; it’s as if drawing closer to depicting ‘reality’ in an illustrative manner forces a greater acknowledgment of violent struggle. The artist’s brushy smudges, in contrast, form a liquidic reality less observed than sensed, a sweeter realm of the subjective, becoming ecstatic in abstraction. But Zezelj can’t stay there, and neither can we.

Comic Artist, Webcomic and Cartoonist MEETUP Groups Around the World

In late 2009 Sean Fidler and I became aquainted with Meetup.com. A site that allows you to coordinate meet and greets with like-minded folk in your local area. While we weren’t in groups with fellow writers and comic creators we did manage to meet some interesting and colorful characters.

Here’s a good description of what it is they do (taken from their website)

Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 2,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.

It can be prohibitively expensive to make it out to a lot of conventions around the country (and planet). This shouldn’t stop you from networking. And while forums and social networks can bridge a lot of those gaps, nothing quite replaces meeting face to face.

Start Your Own Meetup Group if There Isn’t One in Your Area

If there are Meetup groups in your area then I’d highly advise you to check them out. Even if you do want to start one of your own you should probably see how others are run. There can be a lot of groundwork to be done when getting one of these off the ground. Meeting areas have to be sourced out and often they will come with a rental fee for the evening.

But if there is nothing that fits your area of interest and you want to bring like-minded people together you may have to start your own Meetup Group.

I decided to have a look around their site for Meetup groups for comic artists and cartoonists. I found quite a few. A lot of them are concentrated in States like California and Texas and cities such as London, UK. But even Wisconson had two different options.

UNITED STATES Meetup Groups for Comic Artists

ARIZONA
Scottsdale/East Valley Comic Book Fans, Phoenix, AZ

CALIFORNIA
The Los Feliz Lifedrawing Meetup, Los Angeles
Comics Makers Los Angeles, Los Angeles
Prime Cuts: Graphic Novel Book Club for the Rapacious Reader, Los Angeles
Los Angeles Graphic Novel Book Club, Los Angeles
Los Angeles Film, Animation, Music and Entertainment, Pasadena
Semantink’s Comic Savvy, San Diego
Southern California Cartoonists Society Meetup Group, San Diego
Graphic Novels, San Francisco
Metro’s Pop Art Symposium, Santa Barbara

COLORADO
Squid Works Comics Cooperative, Denver

DELAWARE
AD Designers and Creative Thinkers Group, Newark

GEORGIA
Graphic Novel Creatives, Atlanta
The DoActCrazy Group – Augusta, Augusta

INDIANA
Indy Webcomics Group, Indianapolis

ILLINOIS
Kinky Arts, Chicago

MASSACHUSETTS
WiP Boston Figure Drawing, Boston
Artists, Rock Stars & Geeks, Shrewsbury

MINNESOTA
Twin Cities Webcomics Meetup Group, Minneapolis

NEW YORK
Comicbook Artists Guild New York Metro, New York
Capital District Drink And Draw, Schenectady
Staten Island comics group, Staten Island

NEW JERSEY
The New Jersey Drawing Society Group, Glen Ridge

OREGON
Portland Web Comic Group, Portland
portland graphic writers, Portland

PENNSYLVANIA
XION, The Philadelphia Comic Book Group, Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Animation Meetup Group, Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, Philadelphia

TENNESSEE
Organized Play Comic Discussion Meetup Group, Knoxville
BB Sketchers Art Club, Knoxville

TEXAS
Austin Life Drawing, Austin
The DFW Sketch Group, Lewisville
North DFW Comic Book Group, McKinney
San Antonio Comic Book Guys (and Gals), San Antonio
A.C.E.S (Anime Culture Enthusiasts Society), San Antonio
First Storm Manga, San Antonio

VIRGINIA
And then there were cupcakes!, Midlothian
Richmond Drink and Draw Sketch Group, Richmond
757 Comic & Cartoon Creators, Virginia Beach

WASHINGTON
Artists for Enlightenment, Langley
The Seattle Web Comics Meetup Group, Seattle

WASHINGTON D.C.
Comic & Graphic Novel Self-Publishing Stalwarts, Washington D.C.

WISCONSON
Mad City Comics Group, Madison
Waukesha Graphic Novel Get Together, Waukesha

INTERNATIONAL Meetup Groups for Comic Artists

I’m surprised that I only found one listed in Canada but I’m sure that will grow this year.

CANADA
Studio Technique-Drawing, Montréal, QC

UNITED KINGDOM
The International London Comics Grid, London, UK
Cartoon figure drawing, London, UK
Manga Artists and Animators Meetup Group, London, UK
the Cartoon Heart Club, London, UK
Manga Artists and Animators Meetup Group, London, UK

Sean Gordon Murphy – Pure Talent and Hustle


By Jason Thibault

Late last year Newsarama had a feature on rising stars in comics. Artist Sean Gordon Murphy was one of the featured creators. I stopped dead in my tracks as soon as I saw his art. I read the interview twice, sought out his website and just knew that I’d have to track him down for more Q&A’s. Seven months later I give you this interview. Let’s get to it.

What inspired you to first start drawing? Did you struggle in your formative years or did it come easy to you?

Drawing came easier to me than it did to the other kids in my kindergarten class. I remember one day when the teacher asked us to draw self portraits, so I did mine and then looked around at the other kids’ drawings: they were awful. I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t see that the nose was located between the eyes and mouth, not underneath mouth. Or why they thought people had four fingers instead of five. Like with most talents, I think being a good artist starts with having a knack for it.

First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.

My first pro work was for Tidal Wave doing a comic called Zack Raven. I never got paid. From what I can tell the owner has published that stuff illegally and is continuing to burn people under a new name, Bluewater. I think they’re with Alias Comics or something like that.

But shortly after that I got my first PAID gig with Dark Horse doing a Star Wars Tales 8 pager with Scott Lobdell. The Tales stories were a lot of fun.

Were you self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)

Both. I had a master/apprentice type of thing with an artist named Leslie Swank who was a WWII vet and a great illustrator. He put a brush in my hands at an early age, and as much as I hated it, eventually the brush made sense. But I stupidly switched to microns and sharpies for a while. It wasn’t until I was inking a Zach Howard (Aliens, Shaun of the Dead) on a Vertigo project that I picked up the brush and quill again. It was a little like riding a bike.

I also went to MassArt and SCAD, but formal art education is a little overrated. We all spend a TON of time in a room alone, working from scripts, analyzing lines and messing with perspective that I think it’s safe to say that we’re ALL mostly self taught. Every time you draw something you’re giving yourself another lesson in art.

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?

Mainly brushes: Da Vinci sable hair #1-#3, also a 102 crow quill nibs and calligraphy nibs. I use rough 500lbs Bristol and speedball ink. For mistakes I use Pro White mixed with some water. I rarely use microns except for quick fixes.

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

The three guys whom I keep going back to are Sergio Toppi, Jorge Zaffino and Bill Watterson. I’m basically a blend of those three guys, but dressed up a bit to hide the fact that I’m ripping them off. I think “normal” American comic styles are stale, so I tend to seek out the guys who have a more interesting take on style and storytelling. Sloppy styles are grabbing me more lately because a) they have more energy, b) they’re illusively easy but hard to master, and c) they’re more organic and natural.

Other favorites of mine are Mignola, Nowlan, Brunner, Coker, Andrew Robinson (older stuff), Leonardi, etc. But I also dig me some Buscema and Wrightson.

I have nothing against mainstream styles at all, in fact I’m glad they exist because they fuel 80% comic book sales. Without mainstream styles, the indy styles would have zero funding. Plus they’d have nothing to revolt against.

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

First I’ll try to read the client. Is he picky? Does he know what he wants, or is he allowing me to just be myself on the project? Then I’ll operate accordingly, doing my best to be thorough and ask lots of questions. I think clients like to be let in on the process as much as you can allow them. Sometimes I’ll specifically ask them for references or other questions just to keep them busy while I get to work. If a client is unreasonable or wants to make me into a monkey, I’ll usually sense it quickly and then decide not to do the project.

After the project is done I’ll explain what I did and why I did it. Usually the client is happier knowing that you gave his project a lot of thought, and throwing him nuggets about this or that is like him watching the “extra features” on a DVD. He can go back to his meeting with the “inside scoop” and feels more involved with the process.

But not all clients need to be handled like that. Comics are great because usually the editors don’t really care. As long as you’re on time and follow the script, they’ll leave you alone.

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

I’ve been listening to a lot of Clutch lately.

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

I own a Rocketeer print signed by Dave Stevens. I bought it from Golden Apple in LA when they were switching locations a few years ago. It was only $200, framed and everything. I don’t own a lot of original art, and I have even less comic book “stuff”, so it’s weird that my favorite thing is a Rocketeer poster. But it’s nice reminder of an artist who was wildly talented and widely unappreciated. But maybe some of that is Stevens’ fault. Some people don’t want the limelight of comics and I respect that.

What’s the last novel you read and last movie that you saw that you’d recommend? Which movies and books do you always return to?

Last book I read was Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan. The last movie I saw in the theater was Moon with Sam Rockwell. I recommend both.

Current and upcoming projects?

Right now I’m penciling and inking issue 2 (of 6) of a Grant Morrison book called Joe the Barbarian. I’m also waiting for my Hellblazer work to finally be scheduled. But after my exclusive contract with DC is up I plan on working on my next OGN.

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?

To pull off being a self-supporting professional artist, it’s not enough to just want it. You have to be smart about it, constantly analyze your work and your business plan, utilized new technology like Deviant Art and have a website on the side, plus you need to reach out to other artists who you have something in common with. I think people should be as creative with their 5-year plan as they are with their art.

To an artist who’s still struggling after many years, I might ask, “what could you be doing wrong? Is it your artistic ability or are you not hustling enough on the side?” Some might say that they’ve had bad luck, and that I understand because I had bad luck for a long time, too. But you can defeat luck by creating opportunity, and you create opportunity by continuing to hustle and though brutal scrutiny of every line that you’re putting down. It’s important to find that next gig, but I think it’s also important to think about your entire career as a legacy. Legacy is a strong word but what’s the harm in taking your life that seriously?

For more on Sean go to seangordonmurphy.com and his deviantART page.