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Bernie Wrightson, one of the industry’s most respected and celebrated fantasy, horror, comic-book artists/creators/painters/inkers, has passed away at age 68 after a long illness. One of the four members of “The Studio” (along with Jeffrey Jones, Michael Kaluta and Barry Windsor Smith), Wrightson was one of the select few from the “Frazetta School” of inking whose mastery equalled the original influence, and who in turn influenced new generations to come.
Beginning his professional career at DC Comics in 1968, Wrightson worked for many publishers but is best known for his work on and co-creation of the Swamp Thing for DC, his seminal b/w work for Warren Publishing, and his Franklin Booth-inspired, pen-illustrated adaptation of Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN published by Marvel. For the last 20 years, Wrightson became equally well-respected as a creator designer/concept artist for Hollywood films. He was the first recipient of The Inkwell Awards’ Special Recognition Award (SRA) in 2015.
“Bernie was one of the best examples of new talent coming into the field. I think he carried the EC tradition on.”
—Joe Orlando (Former EC artist and DC editor on SWAMP THING”)
“…He had the best inkline in the business. His work has an amazing grace to it.”
—Len Wein (Writer and co-creator of Swamp Thing)
“There’s never been, to my knowledge, a brush man that could hold a candle to what Bernie’s laid down…”
—Michael W. Kaluta (Artist and Studio-mate)
“Bernie was so well-rounded. He can draw anything…Bernie really was the standard in horror…[he] transcends comic books.”
—Kelley Jones (Artist heavily influenced by Wrightson)
We at the Inkwell Awards offer our sincerest condolences to Bernie’s family and friends.
I heard about Dave’s passing on Facebook today and found brief coverage at The Beat. I typed up a few comments on my timeline, copied below, but I hope there will be more coverage elsewhere. You can read more at his Wikipedia page.
“Rest in peace to ink artist Dave Hunt (1942-2017) He was an ink assistant for Giacoia, Esposito and especially Joe Sinnott for many years before graduating to solo inking jobs in the bronze-age. I only met him 1-2 times at the now-defunct Ramapo NY High School comic cons in the ’90s. We talked briefly and he was a decent guy who I sadly didn’t get an autograph from. But his work over John Byrne and others on Marvel Team-Up and miscellaneous projects left a good impression on me and others.”
A wonderful article from Dan Panosian’sFacebook wall yesterday Friday January 13 on the various essential aspects of inking. He’s a master of the art form and, as a contributor since the Inkwell Awards launched in 2008, has even graciously designed our Inkwell Awards logo! We print the article here with Dan’s permission. Bob
There’s been a lot of discussion about inking lately among professionals. The vast majority of my early career was spent inking. Lots of inking. Inking, for those that aren’t familiar with the term is the black line work aspect of the art before it’s colored. Sometimes Inkers are called Tracers. It makes sense, in many cases the pencils they’re inking are so finished looking that they may not really require inking. But in some cases, an Inker is adding finesse to the drawing. Fixing little mistakes or adding texture. The role of the Inker varies from project to project. And like all professions, some are better at it than others. But there are some fundamentals that are essential to comic book inking.
Inking and line art drawing is basically using lines and in some cases, tones, to replicate Light and Shadow for 2D purposes. Understanding that alone is the perhaps the most important aspect of both drawing and especially inking. Using lines to visually inform the viewer of how light is affecting an object. Or, how it isn’t – in the case of shadows. Simple, right? You would be surprised how often that sort of thinking is abandoned, particularly in the comic book art-form. Even with professionals.
At times, artists forget that very important concept for the sake of artistic expression and call it Style. Style is key in the art world. It separates one talent from another. A well crafted style of drawing or inking becomes, in a sense, much like a signature. It’s what separates us and makes our artistic expression unique. It’s why you like one artist and not another. A style either appeals to you or it doesn’t. Regardless of whether or not a style appeals to you – it’s key that the style adheres to the same rules of nature and what we relate to everyday when we open our eyes. The Principles of Light and Shadow.
So a style can be fancy or it can be bare. It can flourish and it can even occasionally break rules. But unless, you’ve first mastered drawing, like say – Picasso, breaking the rules for the sake of style is a big mistake. It’s not “telling the story” with ink. Drawings are the tools of visual storytellers. If your drawings convey your story – you’re a successful storyteller no matter what the style. But if your style interferes with the story flow- you’re failing. An illustrator can be extremely detailed or extremely bare-bones in their approach but the objective should always be story. That goes for inking as well. If the inking is off, that can affect the reader’s attention. Their eyes try to correct or make sense of what they’re seeing. That is a determent to story and unless it’s intentional -should be avoided.
To demonstrate the most simple and most powerful aspects of inking I’ve used this beautiful Winnie the Pooh coloring book illustration as an example. Years ago, Dick Giordano gave me the most important inking advice of my career. He said to always imagine a light bulb at some point/place in the drawing. If the light shines from the top of the page that means every object with a top and bottom line [ like a cylinder ] is affected. The top line is light and naturally the bottom line is heavier. Suddenly, the object [ cylinder ] has the illusion of real solidity and weight. If both lines are the same line weight, it’s harder to demonstrate weight. It’s a simple concept.
Of course there are examples of single line weight illustration. But if an inker is employing varying line weights and the Principle of Light and Shadow is messed with – things can be confusing. It won’t make as much visual sense. If an inker just likes using a bouncing line weight because it looks pretty – it will lack sophistication. Comic books and sophistication? It’s possible!
So in the example below – note that even the tops and bottoms of feathers employ the same well executed line weights. But let’s remember it’s for a coloring book. There’s nothing wrong with that. But for a comic book, that sort of flourish misinforms the viewer. Style overrides substance. Style is important but it should never distract from story.
Another quick note. Many inkers freeze up on faces. Suddenly they pay more attention and forget that the bottom of a nose has weight – not quite as much as a chin – but it extends outward and creates a shadow. And thus- a heavier line is required to properly illustrate that. The same with the eyebrows. They extend over the the eyes. Our eye lashes have a natural “black” line to them. So the top of the eye should be pronounced. It will make the eyes pop more. Just like they do on our faces in real life. Hair has shadows too. It clumps, it waves. The top of the hair should be light and the bottom should be heavier – just like other objects.
For that matter, notice the trim lines on the “egg” or whatever that object is that the owl is carrying. Some lines are simply there to illustrate a change in color. Similar to the lines encircling Owl’s eyes. They don’t have weight. The should simply denote a change in color – not depth.
Anyway, stuff to think about.
WHAT IS IT?
The Inkwell Awards invites you to the seventh annual Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge. Our Hall of Fame Award is named after Joe and, with his approval and support, we have taken a couple of his pencil donations intended for our fundraising, originally rendered on blank variant cover comics, and blown them up and converted them to bluelines for inking. We have chosen ink artists who are A) part of our organization, B) Inkwell award recipients, or C) notable for their career inkwork ranging from the veteran embellishers of the silver-age through to the respected delineators of today, but any inker can take part, including novices. Since last year some of you who missed previous Challenges asked me to be added to the list and you are included here. For fundraising and educational purposes, we’d like to know if you would be willing to voluntarily participate in inking one or both of these pieces. We will take the final images and post them on our Comic Art Fans gallery in comparison to Joe’s initial pencil art in order to showcase to the public the contributions of various ink artists and what they bring to the table. Secondly, these pieces would be auctioned off to raise funds for our vital operational needs and philanthropic programs like the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund to the students of the Joe Kubert School and our COMPliments Program which allows HoF inkers who are singled out from receiving collections of their work from publishers to receive them through us and not have to purchase them, as well as trophies, flying in award recipients to the annual ceremony, etc. Last year’s successful program (not counting the Jim Lee spin-off) brought in over $3000 on our eBay auctions and this year we anticipate an even better outcome. You can see previous samples of donations from our first five years at our Comic Art Fans gallery (top left labeled links).
All proceeds raised go 100% strictly to the non-profit and the only members paid for their services are legal, accounting and the spokesmodel as a productivity incentive. WHAT TO DO?
If you are interested in contributing please email BOTH myself <firstname.lastname@example.org> and senior contributor Tom Schloendorn <email@example.com to confirm that you have the tools/capabilities to print up a hi-res blueline file on 11X17 2-ply Strathmore vellum board to ship back to me and we will promptly email you the hi-res file of either one or both images– please specify what you want…files will be emailed out within 24 hours of requests in most cases (THE SAMPLES HERE ARE LO-RES SIMPLY FOR REFERENCE)…or if you don’t and are an established, published professional and you’d like us to ship either or both pages of bluelined boards to you, please forward your shipping address to us in your reply. If you cannot participate, no need to reply, we totally understand about your busy schedules and lives making it a challenge (plus, if we do this again, we’d probably touch base with you again). But should you know of another notable inker willing to participate please pass on their email address so we can invite them….however, we have the right to not include a request and please be aware that no work is guaranteed to be included in our subsequent book collection. But to be eligible for the book you MUST send us a 300dpi hi-res scan at full size upon completion and before shipping. We will be following-up with friendly reminders prior to the deadline. The deadline is Saturday, March 25, 2016 (11 weeks). THE ART MUST BE SHIPPED AND RECEIVED BY Mark Sinnott at:
44 Spaulding Lane
Saugerties, NY 12477
***Joe Sinnott will sign every page. If you leave his blueline signature blank then he will sign it there (but it won’t be in the scan if used in the book). If you ink in his sig, he will sign the page outside the borders or wherever there is a good spot. Mark will subsequently ship them to me to make out item descriptions. Auctions will run subsequent to that in 2-4 waves in April. (The less-inclusive Neal Adams Spotlight Challenge art will run in March.)
SPECIFIC INKING NOTES: You can ink it ‘as is’ or reinterpret it, bringing something extra to the table….this year we will have a Dr. Strange and a Wonder Woman, both somewhat loose, with no real tightly-pencilled option due to Joe’s tight schedule (very often what happens in an assignment). You are encouraged to ink the logos to motivate more auction bids but you don’t have to.
Please LMK if you have any questions.
* reply to myself and Tom if interested and request the hi-res blue line file(s) to be emailed or (to vets) the blueline print up(s) to be mailed with your shipping address.
* ship the art back upon completion to the Mark Sinnott address above. After that you can post it online publicly as long as you plug that it’s for the 7th JOE SINNOTT INKING CHALLENGE for the INKWELL AWARDS (http://www.inkwellawards.com) to promote and educate about the art form of inking and to raise funds for their non-profit organization and their annual Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund to the Kubert School.
* we will be happy to mail you tax-exempt receipts upon request for your contribution.
* we will contact you later if we plan to include you in the book collection for the previous year’s contributions and get your bio/photo/comment information.
Thanks much for your time, effort, and support, especially those who have been involved in this program for several years (you know who you folks are;-)).
Finally! 5 years in the making, Bob Almond’s personal pet project is a physical reality! Unlike the Inking Challenge books which target both education on inking and act as a fundraiser, this ‘Good Girl Art’ Gallery book is strictly for fundraising. At 116 pages, this full color book with cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz and Mike Okamoto examines the creation and history of the non-profit Inkwell Awards’ sexy spokesmodel since her debut in 2010. It reproduces past covers, collects Ms. Inkwell artist donations, and in the gallery we present 32 b&w and color interpretations of the lovely India Wells along with prelims, pencils before inks, alternate versions, and comments from several of the contributors. Plus the live spokesmodel photo rollcall of ladies in black and their show stats. All editions will be signed by co-creator Bob Almond and present spokesmodel Hailey Skaza-Gagne. This will be added to the Inkwell store but for now you can email Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org and pay $20 plus $5 for domestic s&h (international buyers can ask about s&h). 25 copies are on hand with more coming early in 2017! While supplies last! See preview pages below:
Mark your planners! This is the verified and official list of conventions and events we’ll be attending. I’ll be traveling with/setting up for the non-profit along with spokesmodel Ms. Inkwell Hailey Skaza-Gagne at each stop unless it says otherwise. This is going to be a much busier than usual year for us but besides our regular con supporters some new supportive shows are bringing us out to new locations and that certainly helps with exposure. FCBD is pending for me.
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 email@example.com
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!
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.