TODAY is the 2nd non-profit Inkwell Awards BLACK (ink) FRIDAY! All items listed in our website’s Store is 50% off the listed prices this weekend (as long as funds are received by midnight Sunday the 27th EST) plus s&h. Books! DVDs! Prints! and more, while supplies last! (T-shirts are a flat $5 each but please email us to ask about the remaining designs, colors and sizes as they aren’t presently listed in the store.) You can follow the instructions when you add items to the cart like about using a special code to activate the discount. If there are any problems while shopping please simply email Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Bob Almond
As the mission statement on the banner masthead above says “To Promote and Educate About the Art of Comic Book Inking”. It’s basically what we do and have done now for going on nine years.
We at the Inkwell Awards never shine a poor, public light on any publishers regarding a lack of inker credits and recognition, preferring to keep it all positive and speak in generalities. I and some organization members also work for Marvel & DC and one has to be sure to not go over the line when it comes to a professional, freelance relationship and promoting one’s non-profit mission on the promotion of inking. But having said all that, I also believe that a publisher should be given kudos when doing a job well-done, from our perspective at least. This article will be somewhat of a high wire act;-)
Between 2000 and 2007 I had some areas of concern about changes regarding inking/inkers from publishers that had to do with inker credits being removed from solicitations, removed from trade or HC collection covers, and not being included under swatches of sample art in handbooks, magazines, special projects, etc. (There are other areas like the Eisner Awards suddenly removing their voting category for Best Inker after several years of activity, editors skipping the production step of inking in comic books by using Photoshop manipulation of the pencils with cleaning & darkening, and other stuff, all not really applicable to this article.)
From everything I’d been aware of DC Comics had/has kept all traditional credits for inkers in place. Thanks to former committee member Erick Korpi, who had been attending the monthly DC meetings in Manhattan as a guest: he opened up a dialogue with us and the likes of executives Jim Lee, Dan Didio and Mark Chiarello and prompted us to send them Inkwell gift bags (brochure, Joe Sinnott Challenge book, t-shirt) for the next gathering. From there it lead to Jim (and his able assistant Eddy Choi) authorizing and approving our efforts in organizing the spinoff event from the Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge with the JSIC Spotlight on Jim Lee, our first artist for this program. Besides the program being a huge hit in the realm of education about what inkers do, by selling the various original art blueline pages in our auctions, all signed by Jim and the ink artist, they helped us raise just shy of $6000. No small feat of support! I hold nothing but praise for the team at DC.
I have done most of my career work at Marvel Comics going on 25 years (and have been a fan/reader since 1976) so I had been very much on top of what the House of Ideas was producing. I’d like to salute the team in the collections/special projects department for making a bold effort to bring inker credits back to where they had been before the millennium. I had reached out and tried opening up a dialogue with Marvel and I found what I felt was the right time in the summer 2015. I even offered the department senior editor Jeff Youngquist our services in any way. It took Jeff a while to reply but considering that many emails sent to editors sink into a black hole or limbo, never to be responded to, he replied three months later with an apology and an honest “no promises” statement. He’d keep it “in mind” and “look into it”. It was noncommittal but realistic; I’d cross my fingers but not hold my breath.
Later, while working with the collections office for two columns of the Black Panther by Christopher Priest: The Complete Collection (sharing art/design extras, reformatting an afterword, etc.) I again offered our services to Mark Beazley and Jeph York and Jeph and I had some subsequent back-n-forths regarding identifying who inked what. I even organized an Inkwell “Credits Council” of comic book original art experts for those questions I couldn’t answer and/or to validate my answers.
Recently I finally picked up an item my retailer at Rubber Chicken Comics had been holding for me, The Captain America 75th Anniversary Magazine. Now I don’t pick up every Marvel magazine or handbook or special project (but I do get a lot of Marvel Masterworks editions and several trade collections) so I’m not quite omniscient about all their output. But this magazine impressed me. Ten or more years ago, a project like this would have been very different and not in a way the Inkwells would appreciate. This had inker credits almost everywhere! If that product was representative of what these departments have been producing then we commend them for giving recognition credit where it was due and, at the same time, showing honor and respect towards the art form of inking and it’s artists. Jeff, Mark and Jeph have shown nothing but professionalism and integrity in their words and actions and we’re completely thrilled at La Casa Inkwell. I will be certain to promote them at my annual live awards ceremony at the end of the season in June that I mc at Heroes Con, much like I did about DC at the last ceremony.
I see promise with both companies and their respective teams. May they continue to carry the torch high!
Now if only the Eisners will take us up on our repeated offers to help THEM!
(Thanks to Mike Pascale for his assistance)
To celebrate the release of the long-awaited MS. INKWELL GALLERY book this fall (co-produced by Harvey Awards nominated Red Stylo Media), the Inkwell Awards decided to release it’s first interview with Holly Black AKA Hailey Skaza-Gagne, their present, fan-favorite spokesmodel Ms. Inkwell. After a brief period of artists mistaking her for her predecessor Anna White, she has carved a path and left an impression all her own. The organization has had a proud history and roster of ladies take on this role but what is it about Hailey that has made her the most prolific and fundraising successful version to date while most of the others only appeared once or twice? Hailey took a few moments to sit down and talk to us recently so you can find out more about her right here:
IA: Where are you from and what is your background with comics/conventions and cosplay?
HAILEY: I’m from New Bedford, MA, just like Bob! I am not a comic buff but I was introduced to a lot of pop culture growing up and I know a few things here and there that have always interested me, especially Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios’ films. I’ve only been attending conventions for the past 2 years or so and I’ve only cosplayed for about a year but it was loads of fun and I plan to do it in the future when I get a chance.
IA: How did you hear of the Inkwell Awards and how did you become the Ms. Inkwell spokesmodel?
HAILEY: I heard of the Inkwell Awards after I became good friends with director Bob Almond through a mutual friend <Inkwell volunteer Darnel Staley>. After I expressed my interest in the comic convention world and my knowledge of geek pop culture he offered me a volunteer position which I was more than happy to take and over time I assumed the role of India Wells AKA Ms.Inkwell which I absolutely adore.
IA: Is your name Holly Black or Hailey Skaza-Gagne? You’ve been publicly listed and called both.
HAILEY: It’s Hailey:) At first I decided to take on persona of ‘Holly Black’ (which BTW was intended to contrast the previous spokesmodel alias of ‘Anna White’) because I felt like using that
alias would make it easier for me to separate my convention life and my real life but, in reality, I’d just rather be called Hailey. Trying to run two, separate Facebook accounts and trying to
keep up the whole Holly thing turned out to be more difficult than I expected so from here on out I’d rather be known now and forever as Hailey Skaza-Gagne, or just Hailey because its way
easier than trying to remember and pronounce my two last names:)
IA: What do you think of the character that you portray? Do you feel that you bring anything extra to reinforce her persona or add to her image?
HAILEY: I really love the character I portray! When I’m working as the spokesmodel I feel like me being my happy, bubbly self is the little, extra kick that I bring to the table and the character. My fangirl enthusiasm is authentic and I’m always thrilled to be at a show, whether a return visit or a new venue. It honestly never gets old.
IA: What do you like best about representing the Inkwell non-profit organization?
HAILEY: In itself, the fact that I am an essential part with raising funds for the non-profit is the best! Besides that I get to meet various artists who donate to us that are a lot of fun to chat with and know. Not just the creators, but also the fellow, volunteer Inkwell members! I’ve made many friends who I’m excited to revisit at various shows.
IA: What shows have you attended with the organization? Do you have a favorite venue and why?
HAILEY: Not counting the ones I attended as a cosplay volunteer who assisted the former Ms. Inkwell Anna White, I’ve attended 9 shows, 1 ceremony and 10 convention appearances to date- from 2015 Heroes Con, Connecticut ComiCONN, Hartford Comic Con, Albany Comic Con, and Rhode Island Comic Con, and for 2016, the Kubert School awards ceremony, Albany Comic Con, Heroes Con, and recently Twin Tiers Comic Con and the Terrificon at the Mohegan Sun <formerly CT ComiCONN>, but my all time favorite location has to be Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC. It’s where I first made my debut as Ms. Inkwell and there’s always something exciting going on there wherever you look. And its also the biggest show of the year that we attend!
UPDATE, JULY 12: While we waited for the ceremony video to be uploaded and prepared, I posted the full, original transcript on June 23 below. Tech-God Rhys Evans was able to set up the video above today and upon viewing you’ll see that I clearly had to improvise and cut out most of my prepared speech to make time for all of our guest speakers and award recipients who made statements. Now we have the best of both worlds. (Video taken by James McGee) Bob
Welcome to the Inkwell Awards 9th annual, and 6th live, awards ceremony! To all the new attendees, a sincere thanks for your support for the recognition of and promotion for the art form of comic book inking, and for returning attendees and members, much gratitude for your ongoing solidarity. This year we have a special treat and privilege to share with you. We are tossing the script and usual structure of the ceremony for a more than worthy reason as we will be starting off with a milestone, special appearance and presentation by Jim Steranko. But before I officially present him, I want to make a request and a note: please refrain from using any flashbulb photography while Jim is on stage. And second, Jim will be discussing a variety of things related to inking and among those things will be mentioning of a couple of notable ink artists who happen to be the latest lifetime achievement award recipients. They will be further mentioned later when I present all of the 2016 award winners. So now that we have that all covered, I am truly honored at this time to call to the podium, illustrator, publisher, author, musician, escape artist and Eisner Hall of Fame comics creator, Jim Steranko!”
Before proceeding I want to give a Heroes’ thank you to Shelton Drum who reached out and welcomed us six years ago for this convention to be our host show. I also want to pass the love on to Andrew Mansell, Rico Renzi, Trey Alexander, Karla Marsh and the entire Heroes Con staff. Unlike some, Shelton and company are not dismissive of ink artists. They are true supporters, friends and fans of inkers and it’s thanks to them that we get our own day to be heard and recognized.
Abbreviated version: the full article was posted today at FirstComicsNews.
(New Bedford, MA/USA—June 20, 2016) The Inkwell Awards has released the names of the winners of its ninth annual awards for excellence in the art form of comic book inking. As before, nominees were chosen by a separate and independent nomination committee. Voting via live ballot at the non-profit advocacy’s website ran from April 15-30. One winner was chosen in each of five categories based on American-based interior comic-book work cover-dated 2015.
Separately, the Inkwells selected internally the two recipients of the annual Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award and the Special Recognition Award (SRA) category. Winners were contacted and some invited guests were present to receive their trophies at North Carolina’s Heroes Con, the host show for the Inkwells, for the sixth live ceremony on Friday, June 17. Winners and nominees are listed below, along with the percentage of vote received, where applicable. Continue reading POST-SHOW: THE 2016 INKWELL AWARDS AWARD RECIPIENTS ANNOUNCED!
(New Bedford, MA/USA—June 9, 2016) Results from the 9th annual Inkwell Awards will be presented at the inking advocacy group’s 6th live awards ceremony this June 17-19 at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC. Eisner Hall of Fame award-winning creator Jim Steranko will be making a special appearance at the event.
“Graphic artist, comic book writer/artist, historian, magician, editor, publisher and film production illustrator….Jim is a modern Renaissance Man, globally recognized and respected in the sequential art medium for his epics and innovations in the field” said Bob Almond, the non-profit organization’s founder and director. “Having a legendary icon like him speaking on behalf of ink artists and the art form of inking is an immense honor.”
The Inkwells have five categories: Favorite Inker, the “Props” award for under-recognized professionals, the S.P.A.M.I., for Small Press And Mainstream-Independent work, Most-Adaptable Inker and the “All-in-One” for the artist who inks his/her own pencil art. Thousands of voters visited and voted from April 15-30 at the group’s website to show their support.
The awards ceremony is scheduled for Friday (not Saturday as in the past), June 17, 5:00 PM at the Charlotte Convention Center in room 209-210. In addition to Steranko, other speakers include host and presenter Almond, hostess Holly Black as spokesmodel Ms. Inkwell, legendary creator Mike Grell and award-winning author (and Inkwell special ambassador), J. David Spurlock. Announced with the award-winners will be the two recipients of the annual Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award and the second recipient of the Special Recognition Award.
“Very cool. I’ve always understood how penciling, coloring and even lettering styles can differ from person to person. Never could quite wrap my head around inking though. This shows the same pencilling inked by different inkers. I think I finally get it.”
As reported today at FIRST COMICS NEWS:
New Bedford, MA/USA—April 13, 2016) The Inkwell Awards, a non-profit organization devoted to the education and promotion of the art of comic book inking, invites everyone to vote for the industry’s best of the past year. The official public ballot will be available on the Inkwell Awards’ homepage from April 15 through April 30.
Voting is open to everyone, whether fans or professionals. Besides “Favorite Inker,” categories include “Most Adaptable,” “PROPS” (inkers deserving more attention), the “S.P.A.M.I.” (Small Press And Mainstream Independent) and “All-In-One” for pencillers who ink their own work.
As a courtesy, the ballot also lists the nominees for the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame (“HoF”) and the Special Recognition Award (SRA) lifetime achievement awards for an outstanding inking career of 25 or more years in American comics, whose winners are chosen by an internal HoF committee to avoid a “popularity contest” where recent names have more influence than past masters.
The SRA differs from the HoF award due to one or more factors such as the artist being out of the “public eye,” having limited name-recognition due to semi- or full retirement or death, limited-yet-influential output, social barriers such as gender/race, or other factors that would otherwise possibly limit them from being nominated for a traditional HoF award. This award was also chosen internally.
“We’re always thrilled for this event, where the best of the best ink artists and their work get the recognition they deserve,” said Bob Almond, founder and director of The Inkwell Awards. “Inkers have their own fans and followers, yet often go unnoticed or glossed over by most awards events. Ours caters specifically to ink artists and allows them to be recognized and appreciated in various categories. We hope to have even more voters than last year.”
Once voting closes after April 30, the winners will be announced at the live awards ceremony at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC on Friday, June 17th.
The Inkwell Awards is an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and promote the art form of comic-book inking, as well as annually recognize and award the best ink artists and their work. Now in its ninth year, the organization is overseen by a committee of industry professionals and assisted by various professional ambassadors and numerous contributors. They sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award.
Upon accepting the position of Inkwell ambassador as reported last month Rich Buckler graciously offered the non-profit organization to share this new, fascinating material on his thoughts on the art form of inking and his career experiences with it. Rich is an accomplished teacher on sequential art storytelling and master of many of the necessary skills involved in comic book production including INKING. He has had several comic How-To books published in ’80s-’90s on these crafts.
Inking As Drawing…
©2015 Rich Buckler
Most comic book art is a collaboration of a pencil artist and an ink artist. Two artists who produce, in separate stages, the finished art that (after being lettered and colored) goes to the printer. So really, every printed page has actually been drawn twice.
Most comics fans do not have a good understanding of that creative process and what that involves. Misunderstanding what an inker does can can cause all sorts of distorted ideas. Comic book pencillers have all sorts of ideas about inking. Some think inkers are only tracers (which is not accurate) or, at best they are a necessary evil (which is very inaccurate). Sometimes the inker gets too much credit for the look of the final art–sometimes, not enough.
I see the penciller/inker collaboration as a team effort. Inkers are artists. And every team effort of pencillers and inkers on a comic book is almost always a compromise.
There are no “super inkers” who make every penciller look great no matter whose art they ink (I wish there were!). That is just a gross exaggeration. Some combinations do work better than others. Generally inkers do a judicious amount of embellishing and make “improvements”–but not all of them do this. And nobody is perfect.
So let’s take a look at what inkers do.
The inker is responsible for the final look of the art–to make it as sharp and attractive for reproduction as possible. In that sense, they do correct things as they work. For example, a stray line, a missed detail, or some appropriate added black areas here and there–things like that. Pencillers who ink their own work do this too.
Nobody even attempts to duplicate exactly all of the subtleties and nuances of the pencil work. That is not only not desirable, it is practically impossible. What the inker is expected to do is faithfully render the drawings effectively in ink. He/she is expected to know good draftsmanship but not expected to redraw what has already been drawn.
Which is not to say that that doesn’t involve drawing; of course it does! So, ideally, every professional inker should have a good grasp of the basics of drawing. Why is that essential? When the inker comes on board everything has already been drawn, right?
Well, consider this: A good professional inker will never merely trace pencil lines with a pen and brush. That’s not inking; it’s just tracing. Trust me, that approach is amateurish and only produces mediocre results. A really substandard inker (one who is not competent or whose drawing skills are not up to professional standards, that is) may get work, but not for long–and certainly not on a regular basis! Okay, in the comics a few bad inking jobs may happen. (And it’s a wonder that there are not more!) But that almost never occurs on a top book. And I don’t know of a single instance where a totally inept artist was ever afforded the opportunity to make a career out of it.
We now have a Tumblr account to our line-up of social networks! When the Inkwell Awards started out we used to have accounts with MySpace and ComicSpace and even our own forum, but those venues lost popularity so we changed with the times for maximum exposure. Our Facebook (group page and fan page) and Twitter accounts have expanded and thrived over time and members Stacey Aragon and Sarah Covert later added both a YouTube and Google+ account. (And this doesn’t count our Comicart Fans Gallery maintained by Damon Owens, entry on Wikipedia, eBay Store, and our subsidiary page on DeviantArt, The Inkers Challenge which is maintained by JL Straw.) While Dorian is still in the early stages of designing it please drop in from time to time as he refines the look of the page.
Another huge development is that our Store is (finally) upgraded to modern levels! For years I dreamt of having shopping carts and being able to calculate shipping and payment for online shopping but there was either never the time or tech-skill capabilities, or both. But now that our book line and inventory of products has expanded committee member and the latest website maintenance supervisor Rhys Evans has been working on this option over the past several weeks and as of a few days ago finally completed it. Please feel free to check it out and browse down the aisles to see if anything catches your fancy to assist us in fundraising. Let us know if anything doesn’t work proper or if you have any questions. All we ask is patience as we’re a bare bones operation, meaning that I’m the cashier, bagger, stocker, manager, heck, I’m the entire crew working in the store…and I only can devote part-time hours– LOL! But you will hear from me.
I’ll keep you posted about any further social network or website updates.