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Just a thought…


The #1 reason why a small comic publisher will fail:

Poor marketing strategies. They rely on the book to sell itself.

Nothing sells itself. This is the world that consumers have created by demanding better products. Competition arises and consumers fall into confusion about which one to buy. Poor, dishonest marketing strategies have pushed the consumer to distrust the companies that create the products they buy on a regular basis. Moronic consumer practices (like buying something packaged in a box with a person of a certain race on it) have led to unreliable sales projections. So here we are, in a constant battle between companies trying to gauge their buyers and buyers bitching endlessly about the air in the top of a Lay’s potato chip bag.

Most artists and writers of comic books would say they’re different. They’d say this because comic books are a combination of art and literature; a closely relatable product near to the reader.

That reason is bullshit.

Comic books ARE different. They are an entirely different breed. But that’s because they ARE the package. In a comic book, you’re actually buying the theme; the message of the book. The art and story are the vehicle but the biggest reason why a fan stays with a title is that they are touched by something in the message.

But packaging on a product does little to sell it. Great art will, of course bring in people. (Horrible art will drive the masses away like they’re escaping from the london riots.) But it’s not enough. Great artwork cannot mask a sophomoric story. They may make initial sales by piquing curiosity. Those numbers will most assuredly fall if the great hero with the beautifully rendered city-scapes turns out to be as one dimensional as the paper you so desperately flip through to find a single goddamn redeeming quality for him.

But no one will get to see the art if you’re hidden away somewhere on the internet or in the back of some comic shop.

Marketing strategies are inherently important to any publisher. So much so that the marketing budget of a comic book publisher should be one third or more of its total budget.

Advertisements must be engaging. They must be interesting and relatively on target. They don’t have to tell the whole story of each book… but they do have to give the audience some idea about the overall feel.

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Nikko’s whip ring and a thought on characters.


Characters are important to me. Literature gives allowances for poorly designed characters. You can argue with me, but it’s true.

You never see them.

A normal novel has intricate characters with great back story… ok, let me rephrase… a good novel has intricate characters with well-developed back stories. But compared to visual mediums, like comic books, the development stops at certain stages. Going further, to time-based mediums (animation, video games, film), you have a high degree of effort being put into every movement and facial tick a character has. Read the rest of this entry

LEARN TO DRAW IN 1,029,398,382.24012 EASY STEPS!


There are a lot of great videos, tutorials, books, and classes out there that teach you how to be a great artist and more specifically, a great illustrator… Well, they try.

They tell you that in a couple of weeks, you’ll be drawing like the pros and have the ability to make money from your own artwork.

But we have to look at this like adults, like businessmen/woman/hermaphrodites/transgender/asexuals.

The problem with their claim is that if it was actually working, they wouldn’t be doing it. Competition is everything to an illustrator… Sure, some of them have contracts, but they all want to be in demand for a long time. The quicker new artists reach a certain level, the more artists that reach that level at the same time, the higher the chance for one of their styles to become the next big thing. If you’re a comic book illustrator, for example, you have a style… Even if it’s not actually yours. The ‘greats’ have their own style, which influences others for years… If a great really had the capacity to teach a less talented person how to become as great as they are, they wouldn’t be great for long.

To become great at anything, you have to study, yes… But contrary to popular belief in our compulsory schooling society, you don’t have to study in an institution. They help, yes… They help with guidance, help and they also give you a mindset of seriousness. It becomes a ritual. The school becomes your temple. Read the rest of this entry

Myth Concept – Hartour Lantern


This is a far more utilitarian piece from me. I need to conceptualize the city of Hartour, the setting for the first chapter of Myth… So, the first thing I like to do is figure out lighting. What lights a city at night? Street lamps, duh.

© Aaron Shively 2011

This was made quickly, in about fifteen minutes. It’s meant to be a single piece of textured crystal with an emitter crystal in the ball at the top. An electric field is created by the spiral (which is fed by cords that feed into the base) that activates the crystal and engages it into emitting light.

I like it.

Do you?

Myth Concept – Jax


There’s a poor little rich boy in the first chapter of Myth: of Men and Monsters. His name is Jax. Even though the chapter ends pretty badly for the kid, he’s still a part of a huge aspect of the story.

He’s an Aelphi.

The Aelphi are an interesting species. Easily one of the least and most complex I’ve ever developed. They’re highly intelligent, tall, physically greater than their human counterparts (though never the two shall meet, sorry folks, none of you Homo Sapiens here) but they’re easily led. They have a strong ‘group’ mentality which leads them to have a greater focus on fitting in and spreading out. They follow the orders of their lord, Obeiron, to the letter. Obeiron is a title, by the way.

Obeiron holds god-like power, both literally and figuratively. The Aelphi don’t know how or why, or even who he REALLY is… but they worship as well as obey him as their ruler. It’s as if Jesus was president, that’s what I’m trying to get at. But it’s not… because Obeiron isn’t always the most benevolent. In fact, he’s downright Malevolent. As a matter of fact…

wait… no, I almost gave something away ;). Read the rest of this entry

Boyd Project update – phase 2


No one ever gets it absolutely right the first time… not if they work with humans who have a vision.

My friend has a vision.

He told me that my drawing was a “total piece of pig-snot wallowing monkey shit”. I may be paraphrasing.

I am paraphrasing, he said nothing of the kind.

© Character, Boyd Dodgen 2011. Image, Aaron Shively 2011.

I did, however, redesign it and he’s much happier with this version.

Most of the difference from the previous one is style… but there are some physical changes in the character that really stand out.

What do you think?

OHHHH MY GOD! IT’S FILLER AGAIN!!!!! HOLY SHIT! YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M TYPING! 

I COULD PUT ANYTHING HERE! I HAVE SO MUCH POWER… OK… WHAT TO PUT… UHMMMMMMMMMM…SHIT.

Errrrrr…. Poop… yes… poop… SO WHAT IF I SAID POOP! IT’S MY FILLER TEXT!!

– Aaron Shively

Is that? No, it couldn’t be. You’re right, it’s not.


As with all things, practice is necessary to ensure that artistic skill remains intact… More so, when one is lacking in skill, one must go diligently into the unknown and force oneself to focus on the underdeveloped area.

What is mine?

Well… I’m not sure. I’m a crazy summ-bitch and I really just want to be the best there is… so I’m constantly practicing at EVERYTHING, be it figure drawing, perspective, writing, mathematics, science, corn-holing (midwest term, look it up), what-have-you.

Today, I went to focus on some pencil sketches of ‘industry standard comic figures’. You know the types… You have the women, the giant breasted, fluid and dynamic celebration of soft curvature, with their lovely poses and tight little… er… sorry… You get the idea.

Then there’s the big burly men (Some Norse gods, sometimes cast as black men) with giant pecs and rippling abs leading down to the delicious cut of… wow… didn’t see that coming.

Anyway…

© Aaron Shively 2011

I started sketching and this little chickety popped it.

Most of you will probably not know who she is.

If anyone does, please come forth so you can claim your prize and I can dub you the BIGGEST LIAR ON THE PLANET!

HA!

GOT YOU!

IT’S AN ORIGINAL CHARACTER!

I WIN!

AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

But, she does look like a character that’s pretty well known in the Marvel world, Rachel Summers/Grey.

She was a Phoenix host in the late nineties when her mammy wouldn’t accept her cause she was bitching about some odd stupid non-continuous future having the possibility to come true… You get this a lot with Marvel.

I was sketching and nearly completed with the line weights (the thickness disparity in the lines that can signify multiple things, like shadow and movement and other things that you have no knowledge of) when I took a look at her and thought… All be damned, it does look like her.

So I decided to color her up to be in a mock phoenix outfit (definitely nothing like what she actually wore) and there you have it.

It’s a small pic and I err’ed on some of the coloring (sue me, that’s not what I was going to go into the industry for anyway.) But it’s pretty good for the less than an hour it took me between drawing Power Puff Girl porn working on my major projects…

Hope you enjoy her, because I’m not really one to go by industry standard. My women aren’t generally this robust.

Claire sure as hell isn’t.

– Aaron Shively

Boyd’s Project – Concept 1


A friend of mine by the name of Boyd sent me some info on a project he’s working on. I thought it was fascinating ,with a lot of potential.

Boyd is an interesting one, himself. He comes from an entirely different perspective than I do. I stay as far away as I can from things that may influence my pool of inspiration while he tends to immerse himself in them.

I’ve been developing Myth by bouncing things off of a lot of people but few have been quite as readily available and immediately responsive as he has. He has a knack for being as blunt as possible. He’s always been able to give me real feedback I can use rather than fluff-balled reflections of my own thoughts that a lot of others are more than willing to throw at me.

So, for that, I agreed to help him with his concept, of which I’m going to tell you nothing at all… because it’s not mine. See how that works there? xD

You only get my end of the deal. You get what I send back.

Concept © Boyd Dodgen 2011. Image © Aaron Shively 2011

And up there, right above this line you’re reading, is what I sent back to him the day after he gave me some info on his main character.

The character is his but the smoke-cape and the sword effect is mine. I thought it’d be interesting for the character to use his own smoke emission as an accessory. The sword is a more practical addition… It’s metal, metal heats up when in contact with fire… To me, that’s a gimme.

– Aaron Shively

Myth Concept – Nikko’s Dagger


This has far more of a place in the backstory… but it allows me to show you an example of improvement in the design process just within the few years I’ve been using 3D software to create weapons for the projects.

Here is the original:

© Aaron Shively 2009

Read the rest of this entry

Imagined Nation – Harold Character Sketch


This is Harold…

© Aaron Shively 2011

Harold is an interesting one.

He works for the Haunters… It’s not so much an organization as a union. You see, they’re not in it to power anything or to collect anything… There’s a secret purpose to the Haunters existence. They were placed in their roles by a much larger force with much grander schemes… More on that later…

In the hierarchy of resident room haunters, it goes like this: Read the rest of this entry