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Optimum Wound?

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Guest FADoss

The artwork for these comics is killer. I've been following their posts on myspace and am truly impressed with everything I've seen.

 

Here's there myspace page:

http://www.myspace.com/opwound

 

Here are some samples:

 

By Jason Thibault:

 

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By Richard Serrao:

l_ddbad243def2d61619fb8735323af4c1.jpg

l_ab0b089d1154ad0091c06c41b54184d3.jpg

l_0c5ad02202322492cc7fe0c62497c90d.jpg

 

Check em out...

 

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I love this... but I have to point out, that the panel with the chick firing the pistol?...3 bangs and 4 empty cartridges...I'm no gun expert but I think that's wrong?

 

But nit picky aside, this is really cool to look at. Hows the story? What I can read on the posts seems pretty interesting.

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I love this... but I have to point out, that the panel with the chick firing the pistol?...3 bangs and 4 empty cartridges...I'm no gun expert but I think that's wrong?

 

But nit picky aside, this is really cool to look at. Hows the story? What I can read on the posts seems pretty interesting.

 

 

i thinkthe art looks pretty good, at least the artist isn't afriad of using black. LOL!

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Like to start this off here by saying in no way do I think I am Mr. Hot Shit, or know everything. I am not, and I don't. I do have plenty of experience in comics and illustration, and I am looking at these pages and the Optimum Wound site and I see something in this work that the artists at Optimum should consider taking note of. While I am also influenced by Tim, and many other artists, the only regret I have is that I do have some personal and professional work out there that is obviously derivative of my heroes. Heck, it happens...we all do it. Certainly our influences make up who we are, but these pages look like an exercise in attempting Tim's style more than truly studying it...using that influence to create something new for themselves.

 

That aside, what's not working at all is the storytelling. It's fine that these are clearly photos, but the art of leading a reader through the composition of a page has been set aside for style here. No matter the style of art, the story comes first. We read left to right, and from what I see in this work...even that has been overlooked. The panel of the sniper is leading me away from a natural way of reading, and the panels where one scene is split into 3 shots are leading the reader in the reverse direction again.

 

The style is attractive, as it is a familiar one, but the story suffers here. I cannot tell without words what is happening. That should be the ultimate goal. It's not easy, it takes dedication and practice, but random shots of gun barrels and awkward scene changes are just not working at all here. I think the homage to Bradstreet's work is probably flattering to him, but they should go back to the drawing board on the page layouts. The story should be clear, and no amount of style or flashy panel layout can hide that the sequential art is flawed and without direction.

 

Now, that may seem like a harsh criticism....but anyone can make boxes on a page and fill them with images. I would suggest they pick up Scott McCloud's book "Understanding Comics" and read it like the Bible. Will Eisner had a great book too, and to be honest even the old "Draw Comics the Marvel Way" would benefit these folks. They need to study other comics too I think.

 

This may also come off as a cut on the taste of Fred, and it is definitely not that, but it is strange to see this posted amongst threads about Berni Wrightson and Frank Frazetta. Optimum Wound, in my opinion, has a lot of foundation work to do before they should even draw another page. It's about the story fellas, if that part is broken...it's not sequential art.

 

s'all.

--Jim

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Guest FADoss

Yeah James, I may have misused this section of the forum a bit. I saw the art on myspace and thought it was really cool and reposted. My favorite comic artist has always been Whilce Portatio. Love his work. No offense taken.

 

Frederic

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Hi Jim,

 

Thanks for taking the time out to give your two cents. And thanks to everyone else for piping in as well.

 

No, that wasn't harsh criticism. It was well thought out constructive criticism. I've gotten a lot worse from people on myspace. We didn't expect to find ourselves on this thread and to be fair, those images posted are from several years ago when I was in the height of my Tim Bradstreet / John Van Fleet obsession. Tim was a lot of help 5 years ago when I emailed him specific art technique questions.

 

I've been working on loosening up my style a lot lately and tightening up narrative flow. It's why my webcomic has been on hiatus for 8 months.

To be honest, yes some of those pages were a pile of illos thrown together and forced to make sense. I was and am quite fascinated with hyper contrasted realism and photo realism and wanted to see where I could take it in comic form. My comic Battles is experimental in that regard.

 

Our stark black and white styles have worked in drawing in thousands of viewers, but yes, the words and story will tie together a lot more tightly in the coming months while the artwork will gradually loosen up.

It's all a work in progress.

 

And no we probably shouldn't be listed alongside greats like James Bama and Jim Steranko.

Our friend Danijel Zezelj however should be. If nothing else, we got a master class in comic creation putting together the English edition of his graphic novella, Rex. And Tim was kind enough to provide a back cover blurb. I guess I should start a seperate thread for Danijel.

 

Best,

-Jay

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I don't think you have any reason to feel like a dumbshit sir.

You simply posted that you dug our stuff in an "Artists We Love" thread and we're extremely flattered.

 

If this conversation was taking place in an "Artists We LOATHE" thread I think I'd be more concerned.

We love all of you who take the time to show us appreciation. Especially in a public forum.

An artist's fans are the ones that truly matter to him/her. Anything else is just an opinion.

At least coming from Jim Daly, it's an informed opinion with merit.

 

Tim has taken his share of BS over the years as well, but we the fans have always stood by him.

If you get a reaction or a comment at all about your art you know you're doing something right.

-Jay

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No one is a dumbshit. Well I might be, but only because I am up at 2am typing instead of dreaming about oversleeping for work. But, I did get to see Sunshine on DVD finally, but that's for another thread. ;)

 

First, I would also like to say that Danijel Zezelj is definitely incredible. I could stare at that style all day, and the storytelling is just plain inspiring.

 

I have had some fortunate opportunities, I have gotten to learn from very generous people as I go, and the telling of the story is the skill that hopefully keeps improving each time. It's the part of this process that seems the most mentally taxing. Page composition, pacing, camera angles, problem solving the amount of panels, the room needed for balloons and getting the characters to act. Moving readers through the pages, and how to best do that is always a challenge to me. I will always try to learn more, and I nervously check layouts looking for things that would take away from the flow all the time. Knowing for me that this is something so important, and an effort that takes time and careful scrutiny, makes it difficult to not respond passionately in viewing pages where that's been overlooked.

 

I could have presented my opinion more positively, but clearly passion won out. Artists....go figure.

 

I was influenced by Tim, not just for his style or technique, but Tim has always been one of the most helpful humans in this industry. Given that I have gone as far as to critique your work indirectly here, which while in context of this thread may be fair, please know I have the patience and willingness help.

 

Looking forward to seeing your new stuff, and trying out different styles or techniques is a sure way to evolving your work. I agree with what you said about someone commenting on your work, and that it means you've done something right. Your rendering, or high-contrast style choices, would be great if the story work is solid there.

 

Best,

-Jim

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest AdminGuyX

Jim, I'm gonna have to take exception with your posts in this thread. I hope you can understand this is done with 100% respect of your opinion. I just happen to disagree with you on many of your points.

 

You know, when artists start talking about rules and the way things should be I always get a little voice in my head that says "This is artwork, not math." The left to right reading style is certainly a style, yes. I've also heard you're page layouts should have a subtle triangle in them, and that you should never draw/or black in with a sharpie. They say you should never draw a character so the panel cuts off at their ankles. I've also heard that splash pages are for pussies ;) and if you're drawing pages that will be colored later on, you should never use heavy shadows.

 

The reason I enjoy the pages posted, and lots of the work coming from Optimum Wound comics is because they break the "rules" of comic storytelling defined by folks like Scott McCloud, and Marvel. I can't say I'm a raving Scott McCloud fan, in fact you could say I am not a fan at all. :)

 

This kind of work, more abstract, more visceral and gritty, to me is comparable with the difference in summer blockbusters, and art house/Indy films. If you want the summer blockbuster, you can watch or read X-men. If you want the art house action flick, you watch Leon, or read Optimum Wound. It's a simple matter of taste, not right or wrong, for me.

 

Mind you, I like to read japanese comics, and since I was a boy I'd read comics backwards. I don't usually concern myself with how other people say I should and should not tell my own stories.

 

Jim, you're a hell of an artist, but what works for you as technique and style may not work for these guys, and more over, may not even be how they WANT to tell the story.

 

My girlfriend edits novels, and a weekly alternative newspaper for a living. She could not read a screenplay (which is what I write most of) to save her life. The format kills her, she can't get past it. She can read my comics book scripts a little easier, but still, she keeps telling me I am breaking basic rules of how to structure a paragraph. I'll ask her "Yes, but are the motive and the action clear to you? You understand that in a screenplay I am not writing prose, I am writing stage direction, right?" And she will just shake her head and say things like "It doesn't matter, writing is writing."

 

Then one day I showed her the screenplays for Blade Runner, Terminator, and The Matrix. After that, she got it, those are movies she has seen, so she understood how the words have a different purpose. She still hates reading screenplays though. ;)

 

ANYWAY, my point is, I don't much like rules. I like indiviuality and attitude, and I take what the storyteller is offering from there. I certainly don't need books to fit into a pre-defined set of styles and parameters for me to like it or dislike it, or to feel it's right ot wrong.

 

I hope that makes sense. To say it another way, I don't slap right or wrong on the things I see. Only whether it works for me or doesn't work for me, and the rest to me is academic.

 

OK, this is long enough now. :)

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Guest FADoss
Jim, I'm gonna have to take exception with your posts in this thread. I hope you can understand this is done with 100% respect of your opinion. I just happen to disagree with you on many of your points.

 

Thank God! I thought you were going to say that I was, in fact, a dumbshit. :P

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Wow I'm glad I joined up on this board.

 

Hi Noeland.

 

All I can say is that I've been having a lot of fun on my comic and I hope to pick up the pace tenfold on the productivity front.

There hasn't been a lot of dialogue spoken in the comic yet. It's mainly been captions layered over illustrations .

Perhaps like narration over a segment in a Scorcese film that brings you up to speed. Or maybe not.

 

It doesn't always work for me but I'm playing around with techniques.

I hope you guys like whats coming down the line at the end of the month.

Let's see how I do with a conversational scene. I'll be sure to check in with you.

 

And yes this is strictly a black and white comic.

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Guest FADoss

It's a pretty cool place to be. We've got a lot of smart folks on here and some GREAT discussions. Stick around.

 

Frederic

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Well....Thanks Jim for the critiques ,they were very well thought out and well written .When i drew and wrote MM ,i experimented quite a bit with panel layout and the pacing ,yes i'm very guilty of trying to draw the panels to look as cool as possible and yes Tim has always been an artist that has influenced me but i think i draw a lot ,lot faster and looser than Tim and by saying this i'm not commenting on Tim's speed or trying to disrespect anything Mr Bradstreet has done in the past (Don't send hate mail please) and i utilize an approach that allows me to complete pages sometimes at an insane pace ,as was with the case of MM, which i tried every week to have update after update ,regardless of my health or sleep.I'd like to think i'm constantly learning as i go and i'm gonna make mistakes but i think that can be said for a lot of artists when they first start out .That being said ,thank you to all of the fans of Opwound and their support .

 

My favorite artist would have to be a combo of M.Mignola,T.Bradstreet,A.Hughes ,B.Steelfreeze and G.Darrow.

 

Rich. :blink:

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OH!!! Geoff Darrow!!!! Such detail. I was enthralled with "Hard Boiled".

 

Dude,

you have excellent taste in comics.I think Hardboiled ,Watchmen,Darknight and Elektra Assassin were the books that really blew my mind way back when and still do now to this day.If i can achieve even half of what Mr.Darrow did in Hardboiled i'll be happy.

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Jim, you're a hell of an artist, but what works for you as technique and style may not work for these guys, and more over, may not even be how they WANT to tell the story.

 

Noeland,

 

First off, thanks much. I think I have a lot of growth and hard work ahead of me.

 

These criticisms are not to be confused with my taste, or what process I prefer individually, but the expectations of your audience....or better... the expectations of professional editors and art directors. Working under some "rules" or being challenged to grow under some restrictions or guidelines is something we can all benefit from. In this case, I think both you and Jason would grow enormously if you were being art directed.

 

It is often difficult to improve one's work in a vaccuum, and it sounds like you feel like you confidently have no one to learn from. Judging by the work I have seen you post here, you could benefit from concerning yourself more with what others think. Noeland, your inking work is good, but in many cases the backgrounds suffer from what looks like a lack-of-interest in illustrating them. Your use of brush strokes blanket everything so similarly in texture that it all becomes very flat. Your work could be much more 3dimensional if the figure drawing was stronger and the lighting was falling across shapes more naturally. Better use of perspective in the scenes you draw will improve the depth and credibility of the work in general.

 

You say that art is not math? The golden mean exists for everyone, people naturally look for order in things. Problem solving occurs in the most creative places too. Left to right reading is simply how western comics read. If you have a story to tell, that's pretty much the format. When an entire country, and beyond, injests information the same way...it goes beyond "style". It's the way people read comics, books, signs, and it ensures we all know how to get off an exit, find what we want on a menu, or follow the directions on a bottle of medication. It's a given, and while much cleverer people than you or I have employed some experimentation or chaos in their approach to telling a story...it was done with blatent intent, and did not look like a flaw in their process.

 

Ash Wood, Sam Kieth, Dave McKean, and others push storytelling in comics, but because they already were skilled at doing something linear it does become a confident departure or "style". The Optimum Wound work was not showing confidence, it was revealing where the time was spent. It was spent rendering, not telling us a story. As artists we are all certainly free to do what we want. I see the value in that, but when the foundation skills are lacking in figure drawing, perspective, storytelling, texturing, lighting...it is an obvious excuse to say "artists" don't need rules. At your skill level, or Jason's, I would love to be a fly on the wall in a meeting with an art director or editor where you tell them that reading left-to-right is a "style".

 

Frankly, neither of your work stands out as pushing any boundaries in comic storytelling intentionally, so if you really stand behind being an "artist" go big or stay home. Otherwise, tow the line and get your chops up in storytelling and drawing. Anything inbetween looks like an excuse for not learning the basics. Comics, like film, can take your story to broad audience. You can challenge the audience, but you have to give them some ground to stand on. The pages I see from you are not particularly bizarre, but in fact ride along in the same car as a lot of intellectual properties out there. Your audience is the same people who count on reading left-to-right mainstream comics. Unlike say Pop-Bot, Stray Toasters, etc. where the standard storytelling is being manipulated.

 

Also, if all you gleaned from Scott McCloud's book was a distaste for his style of illustration...you missed the point. Scott talks about compostion, pacing, creating the illusion of time passing, and in general shows examples of many excellent tools we have at our disposal to tell stories page-to-page... regardless of the stylistic approach we might employ.

 

I want to make clear that my critiquing any art comic-related is to help others understand the expectation of editors, or working professionally in comics. I have opinions on art, sure. But the following of "rules" you speak of remain fairly consistent with finding paid work.

 

anyway, that's where I am coming from.

lot's of love, not punching or fighting.

--Jim

 

 

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Hi Jim,

 

After the initial shock wore off the other night of reading your message and our further private messages to each other I'm comfortable with your criticisms.

 

Meaning that I agree that there is a lot of room for me to grow both as an artist and a storyteller. Heck we're all still in our 20's and 30's on this board. Hopefully we all have decades of learning and improving ahead of us. We have a moral obligation to our fans and readers to constantly improve.

 

I consider Frank Miller the Miles Davis of comics, having changed is style, for better or worse, several times over the course of career. I think he only tripped up when he went back and revisited DC's superheroes. Miles Davis' pop era in the years leading up to his death were nothing to write home about either. But they both were constantly trying new things.

 

A big part of me wants to tackle illustrated prose and maybe too much of that seeped into the first part of my comic.

 

I had been concentrating too much on technique in my earlier experiments with photorealism. I'll be keeping an eye on Dave Sim's upcoming Glamourpuss as he's probably going to be taking realism in new directions (with hand-lettering to boot).

 

After spending the summer scanning, lettering and formatting Danijel's book, holding those originals in my hands, it set off alarms in my head that there was still a lot of work left to do.

 

Some of my favorite artists include Michael Lark, Ash Wood and Sean Phillips. Ash is unconventional and most of the time it works. Sean is one of the best at what he does and reading the second volume of Criminal drove that home.

 

I agree that we're all putting our work out in front of a mainstream audience. We get a lot more enthusiastic responses from DH and Marvel readers than we do from the alt comics crowd. I'm not and never have sought out paying work from other publishers, but some interaction with an art director would certainly be interesting. We're in the webcomic to self-publishing crowd.

 

I'm putting together a monster reading list for all aspects of comic creation for our website. Understanding comics and its' sequel have been on my shelf for years. I think I'll give each of them another read as it has been a long time. Same goes for the Eisner books.

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Guest AdminGuyX

Holy jeepers in a jumping bag of hot tamales Jim.

 

If I didn't know any better I'd think you were saying "because I have deemed your skill level beneath me, your opinion does not count." Wait, you DID say that!

 

Given that I don't owe you a resume, or a portfolio of my best work to express opinions on other peoples work (cause this thread isn't about me), or to express how I feel about certain things like art, math, science, storytelling etc. I am just going to say this. I think you're a bit out of line. Not entirely out of line, but a tad bit. Yeah. And honestly, I kind of like that.

 

;)

 

I had drafted a really long reply post with direct and articulate responses about style, culture, foundation, art directors (which is what I do for a living) and why I enjoy Mike Mignola and John Paul Leon so much more than artists like Mark Bagley and Alex Ross. I spent about an hour on it too, ya' bastich.

 

But then I sort of stepped back and said "He thinks he's right, he's not going to change his outlook because you tell him or show him that you can draw backgrounds just fine, or show him how they read things in other cultures."

 

But there you go. Even that is more explaining to you than I feel I need to have done for you.

 

I'm not making excuses for anyone Jim, I'm just disgareeing with you. and YES, I'm disgareeing with you about the very fundementals and foundations of what I think makes good or bad artwork. And my points are not hinged on sitting in a room with an editor or art director. Work for hire, and self publishing are not the same thing. When you're hired to do a certain kind of art, a certain number of pages in a certain time frame, and tell a story a certain way, obviously that's what you do. I really didn't feel that was the issue here.

 

None of the things I've stated in this thread (or anywhere on this board) are things I wouldn't say to anyone in person either.

 

You can stand on technical merit all day long, and say "this is right, and this is wrong, they should do this, and not this" and I'm still going to like Optimum Wound comics. I'm still going to dig the quirky nature of their books, and the way they tell a story. Even if you feel they are all wrong and have no business publishing their work because it's not up to par with your own.

 

And I absolutely abhore that you questioned my (or anyones) professionalism, skills, and credibility to try and make your point. Maybe that is not what you intended, but it's how I read it. And yes, it bothers me, as I feel you must have intended to.

 

I like artwork that makes you feel something, and every time I look at an OW page, I feel mood, pacing, and an intention to provoke the reader in some fashion. It's not a passive reading experience. It makes an effort to suck you in.

 

Technical skill are wonderful, but not every technical artist can kick you in the balls, make you feel closed into a room, or like you're being chased down a dark alley just by applying black ink to a white page.

 

In fact, some very good technical artists create some very beautiful lifeless images. And while obviously Optimum Wound's line may not be super technically perfectly rendered ultra sooper dooper mainstream comics, I they are quite successful in other ways. Quite confident in their own ways, and also a fun read.

 

I really want to say more, but some of your remarks, while I'm sure to you seem like a very fair critique, in the context of the post read very much like a personal attack. I don't want to seem like I"m lashing out at you.

 

I'll say this much in closing though. I appreciate the passion you have for what you believe. But I would never, ever, try and raise myself above you in any way to try and prove my point as right or wrong. If my previous post came off that way, or pompously declaring I know more than you do, and I have nothing to learn, then it came off all wrong.

 

That said, don't question my passion for what I believe, or why I believe it. I feel just as passionately as you do on this subject.

 

I was just trying to express that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and my favorite work always breaks the rules.

 

OK, this is long enough now.

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Well hot damn, at least everyone is being honest around here and not hiding behind aliases and that's what I respect the most.

 

From reading Jim's comments, I'm not sure if he was critiquing individual pages posted or if he actually read the first 24 pages of my webcomic so I'm a little confused there. Our myspace page isn't a portfolio gallery hoping to attract publishers, it's a full blown webcomic portal that compliments our webcomicsnation page.

As far as building up an audience we have the largest comics page on myspace. That happened by accident. My comic has gotten 135,000 pageviews and Rich's comic, Memento Mori has received over a quarter million hits on the 80 pages that he has up.

 

These numbers aren't posted to brag as they're a drop in the bucket compared to the most successful webcomics. The top 10 webcomics receive that kind of traffic EVERY DAY. I'm just pointing out that thousands of people have stopped by, wished us well, asked where they could buy the damn thangs, or when more pages would be up. There is already an established and growing fanbase for our works.

 

 

Our biggest problem right now is creating new pages fast enough to keep our fans happy and coming back for more.

 

I haven't had many dealing with pros in the comic industry. Other than Danijel Zezelj, Tim Bradstreet, Brian Wood, Ho Che Anderson and a few others we are completely on the fringes.

 

We're not trying to "break in" but we're always trying to improve.

 

DC, Marvel and Dark Horse will always be around in one form or another, but the 21st century-web 2.0 way of doing things has me a lot more excited.

A webcomic creator can print up 2-5000 copies of a collected book, sell them directly and do better financially than work-for-hire arrangements. It's far from a sure thing as all self-publishing is risky, but from what I can see, there's never been a better time to be creating new comics.

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Guest AdminGuyX

Happy to hear the readership is that big! I am honestly not well versed in webcomics, and I don't know of many.

 

What are some of the cool ones we should look out for?

 

Njc--------------

 

 

 

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