What happens when you lose a member of your creative team? Adapt and reinvent yourself.
I've started taking drawing lessons in the past few months. I've been wanting to learn how to draw for that "just in case" scenario, if by chance, Odin forbid, I lose an artist or for some reason they can't finish drawing the comic book. And it's a good thing I did. When my main artist unexpectedly moved on, I had a choice: find and hire another artist, or start drawing the comic book myself.
This was by no means an easy decision. I'm a writer, publisher, and creator, and hardly an accomplished artist with years of experience. To draw a comic book on my own was a complete and new challenge and something I could not do without help, and because I did not want to risk sacrificing the quality of the work. So I had to weigh my options: To attempt to draw on my own was not an option. However, hiring a drawing tutor was, fortunately, doable.
Enter Andrew Huerta, my drawing instructor. Luckily, he was in the Los Angeles area, and I could meet him face to face and take lessons. So we began meeting every week. And I lucked out in finding an absolutely amazing and experienced teacher. Take a look at Andrew's bio and work. I know I'm in good hands.
It was not an easy start. I was basically starting from scratch, from the ground up. But Andrew is a great and patient and thorough teacher and I'm learning quickly, and practicing everyday. When I lost my main artist, Andrew and I decided that the best thing to do was to actually apply what I'm learning to my own comic book. So Issue 6 became my drawing project. Andrew would help sketch the initial figures, and I would fill in the faces and the rest of the details with what he was teaching me. I didn't want to look like I was taking any shortcuts, but I felt that as long as I was taking the lessons, I might as well apply them to the actual comic book, which meant that yes, I had to really work at it. This wasn't going to be some casual drawing lesson, this was an actual project in progress. So I really had to kick my own ass and make it count. And I really do have to work on it, since Comikaze is only months away and I'm aiming to publish Issue 6 in time for October 2016.
The only thing I could not do quite yet is inking. That in itself takes years to learn, so I hired Andrew Huerta to ink the pages. He fixes up my drawings and inks them. And yes I'm happy to give him credit for making the pages look good! It's working quite well so far. And I'm learning more in the process. It helps me to really take my work seriously, knowing that the final product will be published. And I certainly don't want to make Andrew, or myself, look bad if I didn't apply what I learned to the pages. :) If I wanted to gain respect as an artist, even a beginning one, I had to really work my ass off and listen to what he had to teach me. And follow the guides he gave me to draw my own characters.
I've always "preached" that if you want something done, you find a way. And yes, I'm following my own advice. I'm doing it, and keeping at it is the key.
And in the process, I've found that this is really what I want to do. I've been a filmmaker, a novelist, an actor etc. But comics has become my niche, the one thing I've finally found that I love doing, and will continue doing. And it's my goal to become an artist for my own comic book series. And I know I have a long way to go--inking, coloring etc. That'll come eventually. I just have to keep learning, and there's still a while lot to learn: perspective, figures etc. I'm aiming to draw this on my own eventually without any assistance but that will come with time and practice, and I'll keep up the lessons with Andrew for as long as it takes. I've actually got a head start in that I already have my own comic series to apply what I'm learning to. And for Issue 6, I can actually say, yes, I'm one of the new artists! And thank you very much to Andrew Huerta! As he once told me, things happen for a reason-- good things. And looks like my becoming an artist is one of them.