Thursday 20 April 2017

…should I stay or should I go...

...there I was reading through my 'Old Guys Who Like Old 
Comics' posts on facebook, and there's this advert for a 'Comic Book 
Inking Masterclass!' - with Cam Smith. Well I've heard of Cam Smith, 
and I've seen his great work on Bryan Hitch and Gary Frank - but I've 
never heard of a 'comic book inking masterclass' or anything like it. 

An offer I really shouldn't refuse.

Oh, hang on a minute, it's not the 60s, 70s or 80s, 'cause we never 
had anything like this back then. If you wanted to draw comics, well you 
just copied from them, and got on with it. And kept getting on with it. 

Ok, I did send off for and take part in the 'We're looking for people 
who like to Draw' mail order course which was advertised on the back 
of loads of comics in the 60s and 70s. 

This simple one with the happy
dog and the bright colours
- this is the one I sent off for...
Not this one - too formidable.
And Norman Rockwell -
which comics did he draw?

I know when I received it, I completed all the drawing tasks - 
perspective, anatomy, patterns, still life, tone, contrast, colours, 
hands-faces-eyes-ears and-God-help-me-noses and sent 
it straight back to the distant land that was America. 

No idea what happened to it after that. 

There were a couple of classes in the mid 80s, one was run by 
Wyn Wiacek, near the Elephant & Castle I think. I remember us 
all talking about comics - particularly Barry Smith's legendary 
pencil only pages in Conan #19 that Wyn said that he had 
seen up close and personal like. (What! He knew Barry!?)

Talking to anyone about a subject you generally kept 
close to your heart was a novelty. A room half full of 
like-minded people was a revelation!

...of course the other class was David Lloyd and Steve 
Marchant's London Cartoon Centre - 'not quite sure where in 
London it was, me being a Croydon boy. I do remember a large 
mainline station, taking a couple of tubes, and then passing 
Trellick Tower (?!) to get there. All looked a bit dodgy to me.

Just like the poster says - it was a lot of fun. Tutors were David 
and Steve, Dave gibbons, who invited us all to the pub and regaled 
with tales of meeting Steranko in London and Jack Kirby 
in the States. Unimpressed he said by Jim's stage entrance 
"...I am Steranko…" but of course justifiably 
impressed by Jack 'King' Kirby! 

The magnificent John Burns (of Countdown and Zetari!) did a 
night and Paul Neary (who I remembered from Skywald 
magazine 'Psycho' and Marvel UK of course) too. 

Bought this at Victoria - still got it!

One of the tutors whose name I forget, gave 
us all some some excellent and prevailing advice - 

"...drawing from comics is fine, but if you really want 
good understanding of anatomy and the body in action - 
nothing beats life drawing! Find a life drawing class and 
go to it regularly. And keep going." 

Brian 6/15 - Ouse Life Group
Eva 7/15 - Ouse Life Group.

…so where was I ? Oh yeah - Orbital Comics, 
Little Conduit St in the heart of London, is indeed a conduit 
to other worlds, and an ideal location - surrounded as we were by 
an enviable and inspiring array of Silver and Bronze Age mags 
(all at reasonable prices) - for Cam Smith's Inking Masterclass!

Definitely bigger on the inside than outside!

All told we were a thirty or so strong all ages group. We had a choice 
of two blue line pages of artwork to ink. One was predominantly Batman,
the other Spider-Man - being an old time Marvelite I chose the Spidey 
page less for company loyalty as for the dynamic drawing by 
Giuseppe Camucoli! No disrespect to the great Gary Frank!

In orbit.

We all brought along a variety of tech pens, markers, 
dip pens, brushes and ink. This being a traditional inking class there 
were no wacom tablets or macs in sight. After twenty minutes of advice 
and instruction from Cam followed by a demo viewed onscreen, I noticed 
people around me were taking the inking bull by the horns and going for it. 

I hadn't used my dip pen for months, and my 'Superhero Workshop' 
not withstanding, had not drawn any superheroes for ages. So this was 
as good a time as any to take a deep breath and go for it!

And what fun it was! 

A big thank you to Cam (and Orbital) for a hugely enlightening evening. 
Reinforced a few things I did know and learnt many things I didn't know 
- like which pens and brushes and pens the pros use (and more to the 

Cheers again to Cam for additional 
post workshop advice.

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