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1. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Enrique Alcatena

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I was turned onto artist Enrique Alcatena’s work by my friend Jon Vinson(DUB Comics). Alcatena is well known in his native country of Argentina and has garnered international respect for his dark surrealist art. There are many comics by Alcatena still unpublished and untranslated here in the States. Hopefully some independent(or major) publisher picks up the slack soon and gives us some English language editions of his work.

In the meantime, you can still track down some of his earlier work in back issue bins, such as Predator vs. Judge Dredd and various Batman comics, including The Batman of Arkham Elseworlds Special with writer Alan Grant.

You can read more about the art of Enrique Alcatena in a recent article The Comics Exotic by the aforementioned Jon Vinson.

You can find Enrique Alcatena’s Art & Comics Facebook page here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com – Andy Yates

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2. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Steve Rude

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Comics artist Steve “The Dude” Rude(note: he was The Dude before Jeff Bridges’ infamous character was..) graduated from the Milwaukee School of Art and Design, before co-creating one of the 80’s most iconic independent sci-fi/fantasy comics Nexus. Rude drew most of the 100 or so issues of the Mike Baron written series, which spanned from 1981 to 2009. Rude has proven himself to be one of the modern masters of comics illustration and I hope to see his work in a future “indy” comic, although for what he can make drawing popular comic book characters, he doesn’t really need to do that.

Steve Rude has also worked for many of the major comics publishers including a Batman/Superman World’s Finest mini series in 1990 for DC and Spider-Man: Lifeline mini series for Marvel, just to name a couple.

Rude won the Russ Manning Outstanding Newcomer Award in 1984 and is a rare recipient of all 3 of the following awards: an Eisner, a Kirby, and a Harvey for Best Artist.

You can get the latest updates and see more of Steve Rude’s artwork on his website here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com – Andy Yates

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3. Interview: Penelope Bagieu Kills With Her Graphic Novel “Exquisite Corpse”

Exquisite CorpseBy Nick Eskey

Penelope Bagieu is a French illustrator who over the last ten years has become more involved in making comics and graphic novels. Some of her works include Josephine, Not Bad, White Page, and Stars of the Stars. She also has a comic blog, My Life Is Quite Fascinating, where she portrays everyday life in a humorous light.

In honor of her debut English-language graphic novel Exquisite Corpse (published by First Second), we discussed with the artist her career and newest work.

How did you find yourself doing graphic novels?

By accident, mostly. I always wanted to make cartoons (actually, as a child, I said wanted to grow up to become Tex Avery. Great ambition). I studied animation in art college and everything. But then, one thing led to another, and I started to do commissioned illustration for magazines (mostly because I had a rent to pay), and one of these magazines offered me to do their weekly last-page comic strip, and I thought “hey, why not, it’s not that far from what I want to do, which is drawing and telling stories), and it had a little success, and it was turned into a book, and another, et ExquisiteCorpse voilà.

How are the stresses of making a living off of art?

On that aspect, I think it’s the same everywhere: very few people make a real living off of it. I’m lucky enough to be one of them, but most of the cartoonists I know also work for advertising agencies, or take commissioned anonymous jobs to make both ends meet. Comics is such a long-term business. It’s hard to be bankable when you need years to finish a book. French politic on books and arts in general is very compliant and we pay less taxes than most of the self-employed people in other domains. We also have our cherished law on the price of books, which prevent stores from giving away books on sale like it’s a TV screen. But it’s a very fragile economy.

How did you get the title “Exquisite Corpse?”

As often, my editor came up with the idea. I don’t want to reveal too much of the story, but I thought this surrealist technique of writing, in which a story alternates from the hands of one author to another, and also had some sort of macabre to it, well, it made sense.
Obviously the story takes place in France, and the main character is a woman. What kind of parallels have you pulled from your life for the book?
Well, that’s it, pretty much! Except all the inspiration on her crappy dead-end jobs and moron ex-boyfriend, that I kept in a corner of my head from my previous own career in crappy dead-end jobs and moron ex-boyfriends. I knew it would be useful one day!

What inspired you to write this story?

On one hand, it was a part of the world I come from, that is the people who never read and only know a famous name if it’s on TV, and on the other, this other world I got to know later, that is the tiny literary Parisian scene, a planet that spins by itself, without a care for anything other than prizes, critics and book reviews. I don’t judge either of these two worlds, and I don’t think any of them is better than the other. I just wondered what would happen if they happened to collide.

Not giving too much away, the main male character is an author who thrives on attention, and wilts without it. As also an author, do you feel any similarities with the situation?

Oh, the character of the author is so me. Which is why I have so much empathy for him. On the selfish aspect of creation, where nothing and no one exists but my story while I’m writing it. The world around me may fall apart, the plants die and the cat starve. It’s exactly like I’m starting a new love relationship and I’m totally devoted to it, and bore my friends to death while speaking about nothing else. I think it’s hard to be the boyfriend or the children of an author.

One of bigger themes I’ve noticed is people using each other to live, whether it’s physically or mentally, or emotionally. Do you see this cycle in your life, or life in Penelope.Bagieugeneral?

I think you tend to step up as you grow older, and don’t get fooled by people who make you believe you need them while they’re totally using you in a one-way system. But it’s not necessarily the case when you’re younger, or confused, or don’t really know where you’re going, like the character of Zoe. Because you have the feeling that these people you meet, who look so self-confident and strong, well they know. So you’re willing to follow them anywhere, and support, and help, and be used, because you think they have a plan. But in the end, they have no idea what they’re doing either and they need you just as much.

There are a few scenes in the book where breasts are exposed. With the U.S. having different censorship compared to some European countries, how do you feel that your book may either be censored, marketed to an older audience, or how it might affect who will carry it?

I found out about that while reading my first reviews! I read several times “uh-oh, not to be put in the hands of a younger audience,” and I honestly really scratched my head, mentally browsing my entire book and thinking “Wait, what? Where? Did I put any sex scene? Or a violent murder? Or a massacre? Oh, right! The image with NIPPLES!” So breasts are considered obscene here. Oh, well, we French have our weird little habits too, I guess.

The editor character seems to play an important part in Rocher’s career. Do editors really carry such an important role? How has your editor(s) affected your life and/or work?

There are two schools on this: either you consider you need to be absolutely alone to write, and you expect nothing from your editor but the publishing part, that is printing well and promoting even better. If so, you take his observations as interfering, because you know exactly where you’re going. I’m from the other school, where I need my editor to comfort me every ten pages, to be the cheerleader on the side of the road, to be able to tell me “this chapter is crap,” or “switch these two panels and it will be a lot more efficient.” Usually, I talk for hours with my editor while my story is just a tiny seed, something that is starting to itch my brain only. And we talk it over until it becomes clearer. And then, all along the writing process, I know that he knows my story just as well as I do. I always have this image of the crazy scientist in The Nightmare Before Christmas, Dr Finkelstein, who splits his own brain in two and give one half to his creation, so that they will understand each other perfectly. Well, I like that my editor has the exact same amount of information as I have on my own story. He can tell me at any time “Hey, you should read that book, it would help you on the subject,” because he knows what it’s truly about. Of course, it’s not easy finding people you trust enough, that you will blindly listen to them when they suggest you should dramatically change your story, or your images. But if you have these people around you, it is so comfortable, to know that you’re not alone, and that someone will warn you if you’re actually heading right into a wall. It’s a very lonely and insecure job, otherwise.

EsquisiteCorpseIf we were to use the character of the author Rocher as a sliding scale, where in your life do you see yourself now compared to his journey?

Haha, that’s a funny one! I suppose I’m at the point where I never really had bad-bad critics, and I still have the pressure of having had a very successful first book. I’m not famous enough to have really mean reviews, because if critics don’t like my books, they just don’t write a word about it, that’s how they show it. You must be very famous to have people finding a column in a magazine (and time, energy) to write all the horrible things they think about you. I didn’t marry my publisher, and I still have millions of ideas for my future books. But I quit reading things about my books a long time ago: I usually rather take credit for things that people tell me to my face.

What do you hope readers will take away after reading “Exquisite Corpse?”

I hope they miss their subway stop while reading because they’re too captivated by the twist, the tension and the suspense. Do you think they could do that for me?

Be sure to pick up Exquisite Corpse by First Second at your local retail store.

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4. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Stacey Lee

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I’m having trouble finding background information on Stacey Lee, so I’m mainly going to be sharing links to her social media presence. She’s new to me, but I think her work on the new Marvel series Silk is exceptional, so I thought I’d share some of her work here. Lee is from Boston, currently lives in New York, and specializes in graphic design and illustration. I hope her run on Silk is a long and memorable one; she’s doing great things with that character!

Stacey Lee’s website.

Her art blog and twitter.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com – Andy Yates

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5. Samples: “The Guided Path” Illustration

Below is a sample (in my cartoon-style) of a spot for the “Heartmatters” column I create illustrations for bi-monthly. All of these stories are uplifting and faith-building. I am blessed to be able to read this and then created illustrations to enhance the story.

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6. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: George Bletsis

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George Bletsis provided this week’s stunning Adventure Time cover, so he gets Comics Illustrator of the Week honors! Bletsis brings his carefully constructed drawings to life with rich, bold colors and seems to have a real knack for field of depth & space in his work. Working and living in Southern England as a freelance illustrator for print media and as an artist for the film/video game industry, Bletsis has collected quite an impressive list of clients thus far including Jamie Oliver, BBC, Penguin, and The Royal Academy of Dance, to name a few.

You can find more art by George Bletsis, including some pages of his own comic strip, on his blog here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

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7. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Dan Mora

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I’m so impressed with artist Dan Mora’s work on Michael Alan Nelson’s Hexed, that I had to share a sampling of it here with all of you! The little bit that I can find out about Dan Mora on the web is that he lives in Costa Rica, he’s done graphic design work & many illustrations for numerous print/online publications, and loads of concept art/character design work, as well. In it’s previous incarnation, Hexed introduced the great artist Emma Rios to the world, and now it’s Dan Mora’s turn to find legions of new fans.

Hexed, published by Boom Studios, is up to issue 9 now; it will be interesting to see if Mora sticks with that series a while longer or if one of the “Big 2″ scoops him up. Either way, I’ll be following for the good arts!

You can find more of Mora’s artwork, and see many revealing artist process posts, on his “Behance” site here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

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8. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Chris Samnee

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A couple years ago, Chris Samnee was in the unenviable position of having to replace artists Paolo Rivera & Marcos Martin on Marvel’s Daredevil, as regular series artist. Now, 40, or so issues later, that memorable run on Daredevil(which is still going) will now be remembered by most folks as the “classic Samnee/Waid Daredevil run” thanks to Samnee stepping up to the plate artistically! Chris’ stunning visuals match Waid’s character driven scripts perfectly! Studying the great comics artists he grew up with in the 1980’s, and working hard at his craft since he was kid(he got his first professional comics credit when he was 15!), Samnee has become one of the most respected artists working in comics, today.

Chris Samnee won an Eisner Award for Best Penciller/Inker for his work on the The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom, and a Harvey Award for Most Promising Newcomer for 2011’s Capote in Kansas, published by ONI Press.

You can follow the steady stream of updated Chris Samnee art on his website here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

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9. We all know what happens to the curious cat, right?! #pencil...

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10. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Michael Golden

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Michael Golden is part of an elite class to emerge out of comics Bronze Age(1970-85), along with other legends like Mike Zeck, Frank Miller, and John Byrne. He worked briefly at DC in the late 70’s, before making a name for himself over at Marvel with his dynamic, detailed drawing style on the miniature superhero team, The Micronauts. Golden would go onto create one of the most popular Uncanny X-Men characters, Rogue, with writer Chris Claremont, and enjoyed critical success with his work on The ‘Nam(a war comic written & edited by Vietnam War veterans Doug Murray & Larry Hama).

Michael Golden is also an accomplished advertising, and commercial design artist, but he still finds time to create covers for some of the biggest titles in comics, including The Fantastic Four, and The Walking Dead.

You can listen to a recent podcast with Michael Golden talking about his early days in comics at Panel Borders here.

For the latest news, and art images from Mr. Golden, you can follow his facebook page here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

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11. An exercise in perspective, not one but two steam turbines and a...

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12. and with the appearance of the horrible monster, the #pencil...

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13. A fine blend of non-sense engineering and cats. #sketch #pencil...

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14. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Amy Reeder

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Amy Reeder is the co-creator, and artist of Rocket Girl, published by Image Comics(issue #6 hits the stands on May 6th). The other creator on the series, writer Brandon Montclare, was an early supporter of Reeder’s, helping her get her first gig at DC/Vertigo drawing Madame Xanadu. The two also collaborated on the original comics series, Halloween Eve.

Amy Reeder first cut her comics teeth with the original English language manga series Fool’s Gold from Tokypop.

Other credits include a collaboration with artist JH Williams on Batwoman, and various cover work, including a memorable run on Supergirl.

Interestingly, Reeder has gone from drawing digitally, to now drawing 100% by hand(minus the coloring). She decided to make the switch to traditional media, because she feels more in control, and says she can better see the “bigger picture” of her work.

You can learn a lot more about Reeder’s art, and benefit from some great tutorials like”Perspective in Storytelling” on her blog here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

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15. Starting to #ink my #comic The Boyler Kat. #sketch (at 17th...

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16. First few passes of color. #comic #kidlit #illustration #sketch ...

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17. My earliest known comic.


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18. the clay pot against the iron pot

A little while back I was asked why my book was more expensive in my shop as opposed to on Amazon. It is a good question. It is a fair question. I tried to answer it in an illustration. How else?
It is an issue that faces all of us that run a small business. There's no way of competing with the big guys, no way at all, there is no point in trying. But we do have an advantage over them and that is the service we give.
I am not making big bucks off my book, hell, I forgot to even mention, in this illustration, that I have to buy my book off my publisher in the first place - as well as the currency conversion and bank charges that that entails too. That's before the, above, process even begins. No, I'm just scraping by. Always just scraping by.
But when you do buy from a small business or independent seller/artist you are also supporting them in creating their work. Thank you for that. I really don't mind where people buy my book from. It is an honour that they do buy it at all.  
I'm glad I was asked this question. It's an important one and it gave me the chance to try and answer it. Quite coincidentally, I was chatting with my publisher, whilst I was in the middle of this drawing, about the price issue when he said "in French we say 'le pot de terre contre le pot de fer'. It's a kind of  David and Goliath" and that's how this drawing got the title.

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19. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Michel Fiffe

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Michel Fiffe has just released the second collection of his self-published comic book hit, COPRA: Round Two. Launched in 2012, COPRA was Michel Fiffe’s dream project inspired by Ostrander & Yale’s memorable Suicide Squad series from the late 80’s/early 90’s. It’s about an eclectic group of super-powered “agents” out for revenge after one of their own betrays them. Fiffe self-publishes COPRA in small batches, and sells them on his Etsy shop here. The comics are eventually collected into volumes published by Bergen Street Comics.

Previously, Michel Fiffe published his personal comics anthology Zegas, an infamous Suicide Squad tribute comic Death Zone, and various contributions to independent anthologies.

Fiffe creates his art using various media including brush, pen, ink, watercolor, color dyes, color pencils, paint, nibs, marker, pencil, etc. etc.

You can keep up with all things Fiffe at his blog here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

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20. The title for my Boyler Kat #comic. #Sketch #pencil...

0 Comments on The title for my Boyler Kat #comic. #Sketch #pencil... as of 3/14/2015 5:34:00 PM
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21. All prepped for the #HartfordMFA! #comic #cat #illustration #ink...

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22. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Jill Thompson

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Jill Thompson has been bringing her distinct watercolor illustration style to comics for the last 25 years.  Early on in her career she collaborated with legends like Neil Gaiman on Sandman, George Perez on Wonder Woman, and Grant Morrison on The Invisibles. Thompson has gone on to create her own characters, including The Scary Godmother, which has been adapted for children’s live theater, and two T.V. holiday specials. She also created the children’s series Magic Trixie, and Beasts of Burden with author Evan Dorkin for Dark Horse Comics.

Jill Thompson graduated from the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and has been honored with multiple Eisner Awards for illustration in comics.

You can catch up with recent updates, and see more artwork on Jill Thompson’s tumblr site here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

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23. Cricket Magazine Illustration: “What’s Wrong?”

I love doing big, busy spreads with a lot of activity going on. This one was for Cricket magazine. See if you can find the sports-related “wrongs” in this illustration.

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(c) Cricket Magazine/Carus

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24. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Babs Tarr

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Babs Tarr is a core member of the new Batgirl creative team that has been making waves, lately, with their new interpretation of the character, and fresh, modern approach to superhero mythology. She works as the interior artist on the book, while artist Cameron Stewart provides story breakdowns, and cover art. Babs Tarr has drawn a number of dynamic comic book covers herself, like this week’s variant cover to another trailblazing book, Gotham Academy.

Babs Tarr is an accomplished painter, video game concept artist, and all around versatile freelance illustrator. Her many clients include Hasbro, Disney, DC Comics, Boom! Comics, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Boston Globe. Tarr received her BFA in Illustration from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD.

You can catch up with Babs Tarr’s convention schedule, and more artwork on her website here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

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25. Comics Illustrators of the Week :: Marian Churchland

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Going the less taken route of traditional media, over digital, young comics brewmaster Marian Churchland wows with her delicate line work & deeply human characters. Her 2009 graphic novel Beast propelled Churchland into the indy comics scene limelight. It’s a masterfully rendered loose reinterpretation of the classic Beauty and the Beast story. As I learned from her art blog, Churchland usually approached her page first with a brown colerase pencil, then(if working in color) she’ll add value with copic pens, watercolor wash, or sometimes acrylics. The final finishes are done with a black color pencil.

Other notable works by Marian Churchland include a few issues of Richard Starkings’ Elephantmen, Dark Horse Presents on MySpace, Conan: The Daughters of Midora & Other Stories, Madame Xanadu, and Once Upon a Time Machine.

2015 looks to be a big year for Marian with the upcoming release of her new collaborative project From Under Mountains with friends Claire Gibson & Sloane Leong, a new comic with fellow artist/husband Brandon Graham called Arclight, and a gallery of her art being featured in the inaugural volume of Island, a new independent, star-studded comics anthology hitting shelves this Summer.

You can follow Marian Churchland on her tumblr site here. She updates it regularly with new art, and answers fan questions.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

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