Cliff Chiang

The Comic Archive shows comic book creators creating

The Comic Archive has been putting up video interviews with comic book creators looking at how they create comic books and graphic novels.

Interested in how technology was changing the way comics are being made, comics inker Michael Furth started interviewing comic creators on camera and putting the results up on YouTube. About a year later, he’s still going strong. What makes these particularly unique is that most of them show the artists actually working in their studios instead of just talking heads talking about it.

He recently posted an interview with graphic novelist Craig Thompson, creator of the mega-hit autobiography Blankets. His long-awated follow-up Habibi was just released by Pantheon Books. (Unfortunately this is a talking head interview, but fortunately Thompson gives some good answers.)

To give an example of seeing an artist in their work environment, this next one is cartoonist Anna-Maria Jung showing how she uses Photoshop. She also discusses how she learned composition techniques in designing a scene from animation.

The Comic Archive’s website and YouTube channel have more interviews totaling over 100 videos. Most creators have multiple videos which make for more digestible installments. Other featured creators: Khary Randolph, Wes Craig, Dean Haspiel, Chip Kidd, Steve Rude, JM Ken Niimura, Phil Jiminez, Paola Rivera, Rick Geary, Denny O’Neil, Yanick Paquette, Art Thibert, Zander Cannon, Tim Bradstreet, Steve Niles, Marc Deering, Joe Sinnott, Joe Kubert, Dexter Vines, Cliff Chiang, Cameron Stewart, and Brian Bolland.

Archie and Hero Initiative help comics creators

Click to visit Hero Initiative's Archie 600

It wasn’t too long ago that the men and women who gave their blood, sweat and tears to make comic books for you and me weren’t compensated all that well for their time and effort. Aside from a rather stingy page rate, the vast majority of creators had no health insurance, no 401k plan, little to no rights to the work they created, basically no benefits at all. Today it’s a lot better, mostly for those that are lucky enough to work for major publishers. But the truth remains – the artist’s life and the freelancer’s life are risky ones in any industry.

The Hero Initiative, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization, works to help creators who have fallen on hard times and need some help, whether that be with making rent or covering medical costs. One of their creative fundraising efforts is to work with a publisher to reprint a recently popular comic book with a variant blank cover, and then have comic book artists create one-of-a-kind covers to be auctioned off. An art book of all of the cover sketches is later published. 100% of sales goes to the Hero Initiative to help them maintain safety nets for creators in need.

The awesome image above by Cliff Chiang depicting Archie and the gang as a high school garage band is one of the sketch covers for Archie #600 from Archie Comics. The original version of the issue was published over a year ago as the start of the much-discussed story line by Michael Uslan and Stan Goldberg where Archie finally decides between Betty and Veronica.

To take a look at all 50 covers (they’re all great!), visit HeroInitiative.org. To buy the original artwork and help a good cause, check out the Hero Initiative’s eBay auctions that launched yesterday. Archie Covers: Fifty Times an American Icon collecting and reprinting all 50 covers will be published later in the year.