Deviant Login Shop  Join deviantART for FREE Take the Tour
I'll be attending Boston comic con this year from August 8-10th. I don't have an official table, but I'm sitting with my student, good friend, and fellow Cafe Racer Tana Ford :iconjt-ford: in artist alley (TABLE 427). Tana just started working for Marvel doing stuff for New Warriors, so come on over and say hello!

I'll be taking quick 10 minute inked commissions for $30 each, first come first serve (no pre list).

Tana might be taking a pre list, so I'd hit her up NOW before she gets huge at Marvel! My other student :iconcmccormack414: will also be around, so be sure and hit up as well.

SGM
Hey all!

Everyone that donated to the Kickstarter, thanks for being patient. We hit a few delays due to the loss of our dog, Red, and my broken collar bone/shoulder which delayed The Wake. But me, my wife, and my students are almost done making the final touches, and we hope to have digital and hardcover editions available soon.

I'm thrilled to say that 3 out of 5 of my students have landed work with major publishers--two with Marvel and one with Boom! Studios...and Cafe Racer isn't even out yet. I'd love to think that the Apprenticeship had a hand in their success, but the truth is that each artist got work based on the caliber of the talent they possessed long before I got my hands on them. I did what I could for them on my end, which included sharing all my editorial contacts, vouching for their professionalism with publishers, and advising with contracts where I could. When Cafe Racer is published, I plan on handing out copies to every editor I can while visiting the Marvel and DC offices until I get 100% placement for all my students.

If you're interested in attending, the next session will be in summer 2015 (we'll make plenty of announcements before then to take applications). Not only is summer a better time to be in Maine, but I find this will open it up to college students. The Apprenticeship works best for students who've attended art college in some form--whether you're a graduate or soon-to-be (but it's not required).

A focused class like mine can take the cream of the crop and give them the next steps toward being a professional:
1) a pro work environment with a consistent, repetitive 9-5 schedule to work out your kinks
2) inside knowledge I've collected from friends and colleagues at the top of the biz (as well as one in-person guest speaker and other personal Skype sessions)
3) access to any networking connection I have

Thanks again for all the support, and spread the word!

Sean

Hey all!

 

I should have written something sooner regarding the Murphy Apprenticeship (where I took 5 students into my house in Maine and taught them comics for 2 weeks). Mostly I think I wanted to let the experience settle in before saying much about it. And now that I've had a few weeks back to my real life in NYC, I think I'm ready to post.

 

For photos and a student's perspective on the Murphy Apprenticeship, check out Tana Ford's page:

duckacomic.blogspot.com/2014/0…


Here are the names of the students for the 2014 winter session (along with their Twitter):

 

Tana Ford duckacomic.blogspot.com/

Corin Howell rinpin.tumblr.com/

Jorge Coelho brandnewnostalgia.com/Jorge_Co…

Clay McCormack digboston.com/tag/dead-meat-cl…

Stephen Green stephengreencomics.tumblr.com/

 

I caught a lucky break for this first session: 5 talented students who were already at publishing levels. Clay and Stephen I'd met before, and knew they'd be considerate house guests who were motivated to complete the work I gave them. Corin I'd met briefly at NYCC--I respected that she sought me out via my autograph line to say hello. Jorge was already a working pro for Boom! Studios, so that was a no-brainer. And lastly there was Tana, who's enthusiasm was obvious even over Skype.

But the biggest part of the Apprenticeship was my wife, Colleen Katana. Not only did she cook for us and run errands while I taught, she also gave up her husband for two weeks while I focused on giving everything to the students.  

We spent a lot of time together. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, trips to Walmart, pub crawling, watching movies, learning from our guests (Klaus Janson, Fiona Staples, Becky Cloonan and Scott Snyder), and not to mention drawing Cafe Racer pages for 14 hours a day, 6 days a week. I kept waiting for a blowout to happen, but it never did.

 

Well, there were a few heated discussions about GMOs, religion and women's rights, but we settled like adults. :)

It was exhausting, but completely fulfilling. I'd start each day with a lesson, stuff ranging from perspective tips to how to manage taxes. At one point I was able to help a student negotiate a higher page rate on a gig they were offered--the extra money they'll make MORE than pays for the cost of the Apprenticeship.

I'm not a very patient person, and to be frank, I never had any desire to teach professionally. But I do have the gene in me, otherwise I'd never write those long journals where I get teaching off my chest. I'll do it a handful of times per year as an invited guest, and I've had vague offers to teach at a few different colleges, but it never take time away from comics. The most I ever learned about art was from apprentice type relationships, not from overpriced colleges. So I always knew that if I DID ever teach, it would have to be on my own terms with a selected group of hand-selected students who would absorb the information fully (rather than teaching 30 college students, 80% of whom don't have the chops). And that's what the house in Maine allowed me.

 

As much as the students got out of it, I got more from them. My wife and I can't have children, so doing this was a chance to fill that need to give back and imprint on other human beings, even if most of them were my age. Having 5 people live with you in an intensive environment with lack of sleep is a great way to start a cult, so I was careful to separate fact from opinion. I was happy to have students challenge me, which they did. I also tried to be clear that my path wasn't the only path--each student would have a unique career, and part of that would mean ignoring some of my advice. Which was fine.

 

Watching them leave was hard. Each time one left, another drawing table was cleared off in the studio, which made me sad. And when it was over, I realized the chances of us all ever being in the same room together again was zero.

The final artwork of Cafe Racer is all turned in, and we're working on getting the book out very soon (as soon as I'm done my set of 10 pages). As far as the Kickstarter deadline and getting copies of Cafe Racer, we're going to be a little late because of my Wake schedule--which is completely on ME and not on any of the students. It'll be out when summer begins, and rest assured I'll post another journal when copies are available for purchase.

Sean



I did a very open (maybe too open on my end) podcast with Becky Cloonan over at Multiversity last week. We talk about the (so called) diminishing role of artists, the new fans you get as a writer, and our plans to write for other artists. We also talk about our "5 Year Plans" and how we each put more effort into our own stories that we do into other peoples (we think it's about 30%).

Enjoy!

multiversitycomics.com/intervi…

SGM
There's a discussion brewing in comics about artists being more diminished as of late--that readers, reviewers, and publishers are focusing too much on writers rather than the artists who draw the book. I agree it's happening, but I'm not sure it's worth sounding an alarm over. I never felt diminished, but maybe I'm part of the exception. Maybe it's because I'm an artist and a writer.

Either way, I do have a few thoughts on what artists can do to pull themselves out from under the rug.

1. DON'T DRAW LIKE A COG.

If you conform to a "house style", then you're at higher risk of being treated like an interchangeable cog in the comics machine. Yes, you're more likely to get consistent work, but you won't stand out as much. Therefor you'll be sought after less by big name writers, you're less likely to make a lasting impression on reviewers and readers, and you'll have a harder time getting raises (12 others draw like you and for less money).

I also suggests inking yourself if it helps. Pencils get covered up, so the key to retaining more distinct personality in your art is through inks (unless you publish pencils). If you're not into that, then work with an inker who will help you BOTH stand out, like JRJR and Klaus Janson.

2. DON'T GET OVERSHADOWED BY BATMAN.

I drew Batman/Scarecrow: Year One in 2005, and then things dried up for a while. You think doing Batman means you've made it? Wrong. More than likely, Batman is the star. Not you.

Around the same time I did Batman, I wrote and drew a book called Off Road. My sales were much lower (only made about 4K that year), but my art started getting recognized more. Most of the projects I've taken since are books that had no history, no fan-base, and no Batman to overshadow me. Joe the Barbarian, American Vampire: SOTF, Punk Rock Jesus and The Wake. And I have two Image books I'll be working on in 2014 (one with Mark Millar), and they're both from scratch. I try and pick stuff where the writer and I are the main event, not the characters.

*I admit I've found weird success by taking on creator-owned books more than mainstream stuff. It's a risky path, for sure. Mathematically, more artists have found success by eventually overcoming the Batmen they're drawing. But things are shifting to creator-owned, and with digital distribution and Kickstarter, this option should be more tempting than ever before. Think about it.

3. FIND BETTER PARTNERS

Currently, I'm drawing The Wake with Scott Snyder. Scott's a great partner, but it's not because he's a top writer at DC. I work with Scott because he's talented, a hard worker, he takes his job seriously, he's available for questions, he asks my opinion on the story, and he writes around stuff that I want to draw. He's also very considerate toward my schedule, my needs, and never does an interview without mentioning me, Matt Hollingsworth, and the other people who work hard on his books.

Some writers don't want to share. They lord over their books and keep artists away from interviews, contracts, and other business affairs in order to maintain control. Which is totally within their right to do--I'm not judging writers who run their books this way. But if you're an artists working for a writer like this, and you're feeling diminished, then find a new writer. And try to do it amicably.

4. AVOID SPORADIC SCHEDULING

Readers need to know where to find you. Rocking Superman for a single issue and doing a mic-drop isn't enough to get attention. The minute you leave, readers will be like, "who the hell was that?" unless you're already a name.

The other thing to avoid is double shipping schedules--where a single title is handled by one writer and multiple artists. That's like trying to get noticed from inside a crowded, revolving door. Yes, you'll be well paid for your talents. And people might buzz about your art. But it's better to be on a title where you're the only artist on a substantial run.

5. CHECK YOURSELF

Here's a quick list of complaints that I hear from artists when it comes to feeling diminished, followed by my response. In my opinion, artist who employ these arguments should look again at the reality of the job they signed up for.

"How come we don't get flown to summit meetings with the writers?"

-Writers plan years ahead with stories. They make blueprints, whereas you're the architect who's brought in later. There's not much point in flying you to a summit meeting so you can sit on your ass for two days going, "Yeah, that would be cool to draw."

"But I have good ideas on what works in comics. I should be included in summit meetings!"

-You have good ideas? So do they. No offense, but your two-cents isn't worth the $400 plane ticket, the $60 in food and the $15 of hotel porn.

"It's a writer's industry. It's not fair for artists"

-Artists ran the show in the 90s, and look how that turned out. You want artists in charge? Because I don't. Somewhere in the middle is best.
-Learn to write. Ever read a comic you thought sucked? Think you can do better? Then do it. Bad books hit the shelves all the time, so there's no reason why you can't write one, too. Or work harder and put out a half-decent one.

"How come I don't do as many interviews?"

-How many books do you draw a month? Just one? And a writer writes 3-4 a month? Then he gets to do 3-4 more times the interviews. Deal with it.

"I don't sign as many autographs as the writer!"
or "How come I don't get as many questions during panel discussions?"
-Story is in our DNA, art is not. Proof? People can do a great job describing what a movie meant to them--the characters, the plot twists, the surprises, the music, the action, and the ending. Send those same people to an art museum and they get much quieter. Why? Some of them don't get art. Some of them like it, but don't know why. Even the ones that loved it can only use limited vocabulary to describe it: neat lines, nice color, good mood, blah blah blah. And that's totally fine--it took you years to learn about art, so ease up on people that don't have your education.
Hey all!

I hope you don't mind me plugging my wife's book. She contributed to an anthology called "Scribbling Women and the Real Life Romance Heroes who Love Them." In there is a short story about how we first met.

I haven't read it yet, so I'm not sure how revealing it is. If you SUDDENLY see this post removed, that means I've discovered it was filled with embarrassing stuff I don't want you knowing about. :)

All proceeds go to a charity called "Women in Need".

www.amazon.com/Scribbling-Wome…

Sean
There are lots of tips, chestnuts, and other pieces of advice that I've heard over the years--tidbits of wisdom passed on from one generation to the next, from professional to professor to prospective student.  Some of them are drawing tips, some of them are tricks to dealing with publishers, and some are general guidelines on how to survive in comics. Most of them are useful and true and will stand the test of time, but a few of them  have become hackneyed platitudes and have gone unquestioned for too long. Here are 5 that I'm questioning...

1. READERS WILL ONLY LOOK AT A PANEL FOR 5 SECONDS, SO DON'T SWEAT IT TOO MUCH.

I understand the intention of this bit of wisdom, and I mostly agree with it: drawing great interiors is important, but at the same time, you don't want to get bogged down with small details that most readers won't even notice.

But here's my concern with this: if you treat every panel like it's disposable, then you're less likely to make an impact with readers.

Think of it this way: even if readers ONLY look at a panel for 5 seconds, and your book sells 20,000 copies, then that tiny panel you were fretting over will be looked at for 100,000 seconds, which is around 28 hours of total viewing time. So, if you have the time and energy, try not to phone it in.

If the art is good enough then people will look longer than 5 seconds; readers will appreciate your extra effort even if they don't see every detail. And if you get REALLY good--if your art is thoughtful, layered, and compelling enough to withstand a second, third or forth viewing without falling apart-- then other artists will study you, which means they might be looking over your panels for hours.

2. TO BE A PRO, YOU NEED TO BE AT LEAST 2 OF THESE 3 THINGS: TALENTED, NICE, OR ON TIME.

I wish this was true. In fact, I wish that a professional artist had to be ALL 3 of these things in order to succeed--but they don't.

If you're talented enough, then you don't need to be timely or nice. Proof? We all know that some creators are always late. And on Twitter, we often see these same creators acting unsavory. So why do they have careers? It's because they're talented and sell well--publishers see them as an asset are willing to put up with difficult/late creators if the sales are high.

Keep in mind I'm not giving anyone full license blow deadlines and act like a jerk. If you can be all 3 of these things, you're better off. I've always liked this bit of wisdom, but I'd like to adjust it:

For me, success is...
70% talent
10% being nice/easy to work with
10% being on time
10% blind luck.

The numbers are all subjective, of course.

3. IF YOUR PAGES ARE GOOD, THEN EDITORS/PUBLISHERS WILL NOTICE.

You can be the best artist on the planet, and some editors/publishers might not see it. They tend to respond more to sales figures, internet hype, and buzz by the office water cooler. It's frustrating, but understandable. At least to me.

Try to keep in mind that most editors aren't trained as artists, they're trained as administrators and coordinators. They worry about shipping books out, not about facial expressions, mood lighting and fish-eye lensing--that's your job. Most editors are swamped with more work than they can handle, and they work for publishers who have hundreds of creators to keep track of. Getting dozens of books out on time is a difficult task, and while most everyone at these companies makes a genuine effort to put out a good, consistent product, sometimes things fall through the cracks. Plot lines don't come together, books ship late, and sometimes valuable talent gets overlooked.

So if you think you're talented, and you're frustrated that editors aren't noticing, don't take it personally. Hang in there, keep plugging away, and if you're truly talented, eventually someone will notice.

And if you meet a talented editor who DOES have an eye for art--someone like my friend Mark Doyle who edits me on The Wake--stick with him.

4. DRAW EVERY DAY.

Yes--practice, practice, practice. But once in a while, take a break and PURPOSELY let your drawing skills erode. When you relearn them, you'll come back a bit stronger.

This job is demanding, and if you're not careful you can end up in a sweaty, nervous, nail-bitten mess as you struggle to hit your deadlines. When you're in this state, you're probably putting out B level work. You start making mistakes you don't see while developing other bad artistic habits. Your style becomes stale and incestuous (when was the last time you actually LOOKED at a photo ref of a tricep?). And when you're in this state, you're usually not growing as an artist because your main goal is output--things are going out, nothing is going in.

Taking a break from drawing and letting your skills erode seems counter productive, but it's a good way to ditch bad habits and re-approach your style in new ways. It's like when master chess players set up matches with amateur players--they end up learning more about chess when the game gets shaken up.

5. DON'T GOSSIP.

It's naive to think you can avoid gossip, so I say embrace it in a healthy way. Gossip is a commodity, and it should be traded just like any other commodity.

I know "gossip" is a dirty word. And yes, gossip can often lead to useless, Jersey Shore style hen-pecking. But there's a lot of good information in gossip, and I don't see the shame in filtering it in a fair, balanced, and mature manner to help you make better decisions. Gossip can create friendships, solidify loyalty, help you avoid swindlers, spread helpful memes, weed out unsavory trends and raise awareness about issues that need fixing.

The "women in comics" issue is a perfect example of gossip being well utilized. The information came along with a lot of mud slinging, of course, but at the end of the day we've all had our awareness raised, and it's a good thing.

The trick is to utilize useful gossip while discarding TMZ style gossip. There's an art to it, and getting good at it requires practice. If you can ignore it--fine. But it might be worth listening in every now and then.

Hey all! The Kickstarter has been a huge success. We're a short skip away from 50k--when we hit that, we'll be upgrading everyone who bought a softcover book to a HARDCOVER for free!

www.comicsreporter.com/index.p…

We've responded to your demands, and we now have a $20 tier on our Kickstarter that gets you the Café Racer PDF via Comixology! Plus EVERYONE who bought an unleaded tier and above is getting the FREE digital download! Stay tuned for details on the HARDCOVER...

 

www.kickstarter.com/projects/1…

We hit our goal for the Kickstarter! Here's the link if you missed it:

www.kickstarter.com/projects/1…

Within 24 hours, we had about 25k which is more than we wanted. Most of that extra money will be going to the added printing and shipping costs to fulfill the tiers, but we're also using some of that money to add stretch goals. If there's anything else you think I should add, let me know on Twitter or here on dA. We're considering the following:

-a DIGITAL download tier

-extra print tiers by artists like Dave Johnson, Dustin Nguyen and Tommy Lee Edwards (though nothing is verified yet)

-a hardcover tier

-and if we get funding to 50k, we MIGHT upgrade everyone to a hardcover Café Racer!

It's all in a flux now, so bear with us. I just wanted to fill everyone in. Thanks again for your time.

 

SGM

We hit our goal for the Kickstarter! Here's the link if you missed it:

www.kickstarter.com/projects/1…

Within 24 hours, we had about 25k which is more than we wanted. Most of that extra money will be going to the added printing and shipping costs to fulfill the tiers, but we're also using some of that money to add stretch goals. If there's anything else you think I should add, let me know on Twitter or here on dA. We're considering the following:

-a DIGITAL download tier

-extra print tiers by artists like Dave Johnson, Dustin Nguyen and Tommy Lee Edwards (though nothing is verified yet)

-a hardcover tier

-and if we get funding to 50k, we MIGHT upgrade everyone to a hardcover Café Racer!

It's all in a flux now, so bear with us. I just wanted to fill everyone in. Thanks again for your time.

 

SGM

It's finally up! The Kickstarter to help fund the Sean Murphy Apprenticeship up! Any way you all can help spread the word would be REALLY helpful, so here's the link:

www.kickstarter.com/projects/1…

 *We need to charge shipping, so for example, a $20 tier will end up being $27. I hope it's not confusing.

I'm putting together an anthology with 6 students called Café Racer. The Kickstarter will not only help fund the publishing costs, but also to help furnish the house I bought in Portland (Maine) with drawing tables, chairs, art supplies, etc. We're looking for 15k to get started, so if it's something you're interested in supporting, then check it out! Some of the tiers include t shirt, prints, original pages, and Skype hangouts.

Here's a Newsarama interview I did about it: www.newsarama.com/19501-you-re…

 

As always, thank you everyone for your support. I'll be posting more details about the Apprenticeship once we're rolling, so stay tuned!

SGM

I have the best readers of anyone I know.

 

No lie--I really do. Other pros who have sat next to me while I'm signing have, on more than one occasion, told me that they'd gladly trade readers with me. Most everyone who comes up to me feels like someone I would hang out with. Lots of artists, writers, students, and other kind people from all walks of life who make it all worth while.

 

After shows, I'll usually end up drinking at some event. And while everyone is usually cool, once in a while I'll overhear a pro talking about the weirdos in their line, or about how an over zealous fan was rude to him/her about how Batman's utility belt wasn't drawn properly. I've NEVER had that in my line. I drew an absurd "Dark Knight stick" on my Batman statue, and I've NEVER heard any crazed Batman fan get worked up about it! Adding things to Batman without permission will usually cause trouble on some forum SOMEWHERE, but I've never gotten that.

 

Not sure what I've done to deserve you guys, but thanks for being the best readers a guy could ask for. I promise I'll try to continue putting out quality so I don't harm our relationship. :)

 

SGM

Last week I was trying to get a visa for a trip to FIQ--the largest comic art festival in the southern hemisphere. The process was frustrating, so I posted a Tweet. It was soon picked up by a Brazilian newspaper, and that's when the drama started.

"The Brazilian visa process is ridiculous. One more snag and I'm canceling the convention at FIQ." was my Tweet.

A few hours later, the "story" was picked up by a large Brazilian newspaper, seen here: www1.folha.uol.com.br/ilustrad…

Which started a 48 hour session of my Brazilian readers fighting off the hundreds of offended Brazilians (most of whom have no idea who I am) attacking my Tweet. After retweeting the more ridiculous tweets, I finally signed off of Twitter for a few days. I also asked my Twitter followers to halt the conversation because it was just getting worse. Even this morning, I deleted a few threats in my email account. And I've just been notified that the Brazilian embassy is upset.

No, none of this is made up.

Last year I did a comic about a clone of Jesus becoming an atheist, and Brazil remained mostly quiet (you know, the country that built a giant Jesus statue performing a spread eagle over Rio de Janeiro). Who would have thought that of all thing, my stupid Tweet would have started such a storm.

I've been dying to go to FIQ, a huge (and free) comic convention in Brazil for about two years now. The handler is great, his assistants are great, and they've agreed to pay for everything. I have a lot of wonderful Brazilian readers, so I was anxious to go down and say hello. I understood that the visa process wouldn't be easy, but didn't mind. I even took a day from work to create a "The Shadow" piece for a gallery the show was having.

But after spending an accumulative three days trying to get the visa, I was ready to quit. The website for the Brazilian consulate in NYC kept crashing, it has the wrong address listed (that was a fun morning going to the old consulate, which had been moved months ago), and the process to file payment wasn't clear. I got a post office money order twice (they accept no other payment) because the amount was wrong (is it $160 or $180?), and at the end I was told that I had to start over because I needed a visitor visa, not a business visa (as I was previously told).

I was furious, so I did what we all do: I sent out a tweet.

As far as I knew, every person on the planet knows that government bureaucracy is frustrating (in any country), and going through the hoops of international travel can be stressful. The lines are long, the people are mean, and the rules are vague. In the US, criticizing the government is a part of life. And when I criticized the Brazilian visa process, I assumed it would be harmless. After all, I wasn't blaming the entire country of Brazil, just a the politicians who make US/Brazilian travel difficult.

Again, I blame US politicians as well.

Brazil has what's called Reciprocity Laws in place for people looking to enter the country. I'm not an expert, but from what I understand it vaguely means this: whatever hoops the other country puts Brazilian travelers through, Brazil matches with the same hoops. Which makes perfect sense to me, which is why I was willing to go happily through them.

When I angrily left the consulate for the second time that day, I wasn't just annoyed for myself--I was annoyed that Brazilians go through the same confusing process (sometimes it's even worse for them). As far as I know, Brazil and the US are on friendly terms. We've both survived the economic crisis (for now) with Brazil being the 6th largest economy in the world. My hope is that as Brazil continues to rise (and as more business in Brazil continue to boom), politicians on both sides will make it easier for us both to visit one another.

And I know the US makes it hard for most people trying to visit, and for whatever it's worth, I'm sorry it's like that. If I was a politician, I'd look into it. But I'm just a lowly comic artist with a schedule to keep, and it's not my arena.

I have no idea what that article written in Portuguese says about me, but I'm told I was taken out of context. I'm not trying to stoke the flames again, but I do have a right to defend myself.

As far as the show, I'm still not sure if I'm attending. FIQ has generously stepped in to try and help with the process. And with the threats coming in, there's talk of getting me a bodyguard--maybe even some Stormtroopers--which would be awesome. But I'm not sure if it's worth the risk. Stay tuned.

Thanks to those Brazilians who stood up for me! And thanks again to FIQ for your amazing support. Hopefully see you all soon. If not this year, then in the future.

Hey all. Here's where I'll be for the rest of the shows this year. Also, I'm taking SOME commissions. To get on the list, the man to see is Jason@essentialsequential.com  The prices are a bit different per show because of travel costs, but Jason can help you out.


Dublin, Ireland.....September 28-29th
NYCC......October 10-13th
Belo Horizonte, Brazil......Nov 13-17th CANCELLED
Thought Bubble, UK........Nov 23-24th

 

See you there!

Here we go, folks! If you're interested in the Apprenticeship, then read below. At the bottom you'll find a link--just click to download the application WITH your finished pages to Murphy.apprenticeship@gmail.com

---------------------------------------------

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

1. Submit 5 pages of black and white sequential art (along with application below) to Murphy.Apprenticeship@gmail.com . The pages must be inked, no pencils and no "darkened pencils" using Photoshop. I want students who can do both! Because I use traditional tools (pencil/ink), I'm more capable of teaching students who also use those tools, but I'm happy to accept digital inking as well. However, if you work digitally, be prepared to bring your own computer/wacom/cintiq materials.

2. The pages can be from any genre/character/script you like. Feel free to write your own story, or use a professional one you find online (I don't know where to find them, so don't ask). The 5 pages must all be in sequence and from the same script.

3. The pages must be done recently--either for this submission or in the last year.

4. Send the files as 200dpi b&w jpgs--nothing too huge, please.

5. DO NOT send pencils and DO NOT send the script.

6. DO NOT use Photoshop gray tones or digital effects--I want to see your work bare.

7. DO NOT paste Sketchup models into the pages--I don't care if the industry allows it, I don't.

8. DO NOT send pinups.

9. DO NOT trace photos or Sketchup models.

10. You must be 21 years old to enroll--as long as you're 21 by February 24th, 2014 you're fine!

11. International students welcome.

 

SUBMISSION TIPS

1. Include plenty of backgrounds. Not for every panel, but enough so that the pages don't look empty.

2. Focus on 3-6 panels per page. Stay away from splashes and spreads if you can.

3. Including some sort of tech would be helpful. The script I'll be providing you (for the anthology) will have a car or motorcycle in it, and part of the course will include lessons on handling machined objects.

 

DATES

1. The apprenticeship starts on February 24th and ends on March the 9th, 2014.

2. Along with 5 pages of sequential art, the students will also fill out an application (which we will be provided in the coming week) due by October 1st.

3. I'll choose 10 students by October 15th, then begins Skype interviews for the following week.

4. 5 students will have been chosen by November 1st (it would be a good idea for the students to arrange travel in this month). They will have until December 2nd to sign the contracts (provided later if you're accepted) and submit their nonrefundable $1000 deposit.

5. The remaining balance will be due Friday, January 31st, as well as your flight itinerary. If we do not receive your remaining  of $1000 by January 31st, your spot will be given to an alternate.

6. Students will arrive on Sunday the 23rd at the Portland airport where I'll pick them up. Classes will be in session from February 24th through March 9th. They will depart on March 10th.

7. Food costs will be each student's own responsibility. There is a kitchen to cook in and likely we will dine together as a group and all chip in a little bit of money.

 

THE TWO WEEK BREAKDOWN

The goal is to put together an anthology that I'll be writing. I'll be doing 10 pages, while each student will be expected to complete their 5 pages by the end of the session. So week one will be about preparing for the 5 pages, while week two will be spend completing the pages.

Part of week one will be lessons about storytelling, analyzing movies, going over layouts for the 5 pages, and working on character designs. I'll also be teaching tips on how to handle things like perspective and drawing tech. Discussions about the business of comics will be peppered into each day's work schedule. And as we'll all be spending a lot of time together, I'm sure other tidbits about surviving in comics will likely come up.

Week two will be spent drawing and inking the pages. We'll all be set up in the same room, so I'll be working on my own pages while hovering around students who might need help.

There will also be a guest speaker coming in to talk and work with us during week 2. Temporarily, this person will be the great Klaus Janson (Dark Knight Returns). As a veteran teacher at SVA in New York City (and a good friend), Klaus will be invaluable.

 Once the work is all finished, we'll move forward with printing out the anthologies. And within a few months, students will be able to sell them at conventions to help them recuperate the cost of the Murphy Apprenticeship.

 

CONDUCT

While this will be a lot of fun, it'll also be a lot of work. I want serious, well behaved, and hard working "do-it-yourselfers" who are willing to work late nights for 6 days a week in order to complete their 5 pages if need be. there will be no smoking in the house, and alcohol will be limited on the property. 

Interested? Click the link below and download!

 

www.essentialsequential.com/Se…

I'm thinking about taking on some students for a two week "boot camp" course in comics--based off the classic master/apprentice style of education. But before I move forward with the idea (and begin Kickstarting), I wanted to get your feedback and see if anyone is interested in enrolling this winter. Please pass this along (Twitter/facebook) to anyone you think might be interested.

 

THE FACILITY

I bought a house in Portland, Maine this past weekend. It's a 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom Victorian house that's been newly renovated. The top floor is finished and will become the drawing studio for 5 students. The idea is to furnish the building with tables, chairs, couches, beds, a TV, a library, a photo studio (for taking reference images) and all the other amenities that would create the school.

 

THE PLAN

After selecting the 5 students (I'll take submissions that will be juried later on), we'll all meet in Portland this winter for the two week apprenticeship. The students will live in the house with my wife and me, have their own rooms, their own desk, and will work on the project for 14 days.

 

THE PROJECT

I'm going to write an anthology that the students and I will publish after the apprenticeship is over. For the two weeks, I'll be walking the students through the entire comic book process: character designs, storytelling, layouts, perspective, how to draw tech, penciling, inking, etc. We'll be helping each other with critique sessions, group brainstorming, and taking photo references. Not only will we be drawing together, we'll also have discussion about the business side of comics: contracts, negotiating, branding, and other tricks on how to successfully manage a career.

Not only will the published anthology be used to fulfill Kickstarter incentives, the students will also be able to sell the anthology themselves at future conventions to help recoup some of the cost of the course!

I'll be contributing 10 pages of finished art, while each student will be expected to create 5 by the end of the course. Each student will have his/her own story for the 5 pages, as well as a short bio that will help them stand out to publishers.

 

THE COST

I don't know exactly what the cost would be, but I'm thinking about charging $2000 per student, with perhaps offering a one time discount for the first session. Travel costs to Maine would NOT be covered, nor would food costs. However, I could see us as all chipping in a few bucks and cooking meals together as well. The students would be responsible for bringing their own materials.
 

IS IT WORTH $2000

While I'm not yet accredited to give college credit, this is something we are currently researching to see if there's a way to get the program approved with certain schools. While I can't at this time guarantee college credit, what I can guarantee is a two week crash session that will not only be informative, but also a hell of a lot of fun. As we all know, who you know is just as important as what you know. Not only will the lessons be filled with information, but the relationships you will build with our guest speakers, other interns and myself will be invaluable.

While 2k is a lot of money, you will be getting a lot for it. We will provide you a room in beautiful downtown Portland (it's an amazing city), lessons about every aspect of being a professional in this industry, constructive critiques, at least one guest speaker (likely two) and at the end you'll be published in an anthology with me (that you can sell). Also, I'll give each student character equity in whatever they create (this means you'll own a piece of what you've created, in case a movie should ever come out of it).

People are bugging me ALL THE TIME for a sketchbook and I've never done one. If I put out an anthology with sketches, it'll sell. And anyone buying it to see my art will be seeing your art as well. Editors and publishers included.
 

SOCIAL LIFE

It'll be a lot of work, but a lot of fun. The house is a ten minute walk to Historical Portland--a cool fishing town with great seafood and pubs. I have a car and will be happy to take the students to the beach, the arcade or the grocery store if they need. Also, I'll be hooking up my old NES and Atari so we can all talk shop after hours and hang out at night.

 

WHOM IS THIS FOR?

I'm guessing I'll get mostly college students: either ones on break or ones that have recently graduated. But this course might also be helpful for the artist who's been published once or twice and is having a hard time getting to the next step. I'm happy to take international people as well--keep in mind that travel costs are on you. And I'm looking for people at least 21 years old.

--------------------------------

So that's the plan! Let me know what you think, but also let me know if it's something you'd be interested in attending. If I get enough buzz with this, I'll begin taking submissions!







Here's an old journal from 2010 about storytelling. Because I have a lot more readers these days, I think I'm going to start reposting some of my earlier posts for my newer audience. So for you old timers, feel free to skip.

In full disclosure, I slightly edited this journal to make it a little more balanced (while also fixing a ton of typos).

--------------------------------------

I feel like the word "storytelling" gets thrown around a lot in our industry.  Yet when I look out there at some comics, I don't always see a lot of evidence for it.  

It feels like people in comics pros--myself included--often use the word only because we feel like we're supposed to.  Over the years enough professionals have been accused of being poor storytellers to the degree that everyone is now afraid of being a pinup artist as opposed to a bona fide storyteller.  But it's not enough just to claim you're a storyteller.

Most people reading this probably have a few artists in their heads right now that are probably awful storytellers—some we don't agree on, but some who are so notoriously bad that very few would defend them (it's funny how we train each other to agree on trends).  Even though most artists own books by Will Eisner and Scott McCloud, many don't seem to understand them on that deeper level.

Or maybe they have read them, but they haven't utilized the information.  They're fans of the IDEA of storytelling and they honestly believe that they ARE storytelling, but they're not internalizing it like I think they should. Of course, much of it is subjective--often what successfully emotes one reader will completely lose the next. In other words, there aren't many rules, just guidelines. And because I spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff, I've found it helpful to divide "storytelling" into four categories so it becomes an easier concept to employ.

1.Traversive storytelling


Traversive isn't even a word, so I'm inventing it.  Have you ever climbed a mountain?  Then you've traversed it.  You've gone from the beginning of the trail of the mountain, up the side, to the top, and back down on the other side.  Storytelling works in much the same way.  And your panels should be visually traversing people through the story.  Is it clear where Logan is standing?  Did you introduce that doorway before he walked through it?  Why did that beer he's drinking come out of nowhere?  Where's the bar?  What kind of bar?  What are you drawing that clearly indicates this stuff?  If a reader can't get SOME sense of what's going on without the word balloons, then you're not telling a story.  But this one's a no brainer—even most editors look out for this one.  At least during portfolio reviews.

2.Symbolic storytelling


Remember how Scarface had that cut over his eye?  It wasn't just
there to look cool.  De Palma was also telling us something: Scarface is permanently wounded, scarred, and he can't hide it.  That scar reflects something about that character.  But that's an obvious one.  We often see obvious symbolism through storytelling: rain=sadness, autumn=death, snow=a blanket.  Or a character is drawn really small to show how large and scary his world is.  But some directors push it further.  In THE ROAD TO PERDITION, Mendes linked water with death.  Young Michael witnesses death paired with ice at a funeral, rain at an execution, and a lake when his father is shot at the end (spoiler alert).  Anything can be used as a symbol if you set it up properly.  Symbolism isn't necessary to a story—it's just the gravy.  And the guys who use it stand out, so we should all be using it.

3.Acting

The way you draw you characters acting and interacting is a huge help to the dialog.  A stone-cold Punisher face is awesome, but what else can you add?  How is he moving?  How is he standing?  Are his arms crossed?  Is he ever so slightly rolling his eyes?  Acting is a form of action, so don't get bored in those talking-head scenes.  There's a lot going on that you can play with if you're smart enough to pick up the ball and run with it. Human beings read body language and faces more than they realize, so be mindful of what you're directing your characters to do. If done right, readers will be getting more from your art without being conscious as to why.

4."Awesome" storytelling
     

Ever see that commercial with Michael Bay blowing stuff up while he's saying "I demand everything to be awesome"?  It stands out, doesn't it?  Whatever your opinion of Bay is, I think he's making a valid point: people want to be moved, and excitement is a huge part of comics. 

 One of my favorite movies is T2, and T2 is far from a perfect movie.  But the reason I love it so much is because Arnold is awesome on that motorcycle.  In one scene he pulls out a shotgun from a box of roses—THAT'S awesome.  He lifts John from his dirt bike onto his Fatboy—THAT'S awesome.  He's wearing one leather glove to cover his metal hand. –THAT'S awesome.  So why all this talk about "awesome"?  The more fun you're having in a story, the more invested and emotionally committed you are.  Having something impact you is important—even if it's just cheesily "awesome".  But there's a fine line between being an "awesome pinup" artist and throwing someone an "awesome camera angle" every now and then.  You can be an "awesome" artist and still be all the other things I mentioned.  Sure, drawing the SWAT team in the foreground wasn't in the script--but fuck it because SWAT teams are awesome!  Comics are a visual medium that can't always compete with novels, movies and video games—so there are times when it MUST be about the artwork.  So give the people a bone.  No editor is ever going to make you redraw that SWAT team into the background because you drew it overly awesome.  (Here's a short list of "awesome" things in comics that you should try to draw the fuck out of ever chance you get: guns, cars, leather anything, swords, anything Japanese, explosions, alleyways, bricks, boots, and anything angry.)


For me, these are the tenets of storytelling.  I'm sure I've missed a few, and I know a lot of these overlap.  Storytelling isn't a science and it doesn't happen completely on the page; it mostly happens in the reader's head a thousand miles from where you're standing.  So I make it a goal to do my best and be as clear as possible.  Not that I'm an expert—I make plenty of mistakes and am still learning.  I'm actually hoping to spark some debate so I can hear your thoughts and make my process better.

I know I'm a broken record, but thank you all for the support! Punk Rock Jesus hit the list in its first week at #4 on the list. This makes me hope that we're one step closer to a hardcover edition, as well as an AMC original series (in my wildest fantasies, anyway). Here's the www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-b…
  • Listening to: Beethoven piano sonatas
  • Reading: Attack of the Theocrats
  • Watching: Science Channel
They're available online! Along with PRJ prints and trading cards! Talk to my friend Jason at

www.essentialsequential.com/Li…
  • Listening to: Beethoven piano sonatas
  • Reading: Attack of the Theocrats
  • Watching: Science Channel