RICH BUCKLER: 1949-2017

Rich Buckler passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer.  He was 68 years old. His career spanned decades starting in 1967 to the present and in the 1970s-1980s he had significant runs at the mainstream publishers like Marvel Comics (Jungle Action with Black Panther, Fantastic Four, Thor, Spectacular Spider-man, and Astonishing Tales with Deathlok, a character he created), Archie Comics (Red Circle Comics line), and DC Comics (All-Star Squadron as created by both Rich and Roy Thomas, Justice League, World’s Finest Comics). Rich, or “Ron Validar” a 1970s pseudonym, rendered a wide assortment of covers for the “Big Two”; in a sense his work became a cover house style for them to draw in readers. As an artist he specialized as a penciller, inker, painter, an editor (Archie) and even a writer who wrote How-To books for Solson Publications. He also mentored and recruited artists as assistants that entered the comic book field. Two examples being George Perez and Denys Cowan.

In 2015 Bob Almond asked Rich if he’d accept the position of Inkwell Awards ambassador after listening to Rich repeatedly praise the necessity of comic book ink artists, a position that he accepted. He followed-up in 2016 with a reworked article on his views of inking for exclusive use at the Inkwell website. Rich was the last ambassador inducted to the non-profit organization to date.

Joe Goulart, a former Inkwell core committee member and close friend of Rich, shared the following announcement on his Facebook timeline and the FB Inkwell group page today:

“Yesterday the Art Community lost one of its greatest Ambassadors. Rich Buckler lost his long battle with cancer. Rich, having put smiles on so many of his fans faces, is an understatement to his ability to bring comic heroes to life in comics. From the Avengers, to Superman, from the Fantastic Four to the Secret Society of Super Villians, from Black Panther to Black Lightning, from Namor the Sub-Mariner to the Crusaders, and to his Iconic Creation of Deathlok. Rich was not only an artistic creator I had the privilege of bringing to my shows’ artists alley, Rich was my friend. Along with his wife, Mila, they became a part of my life and my family.
I will cherish all the times and memories Rich and I have spent together, he is no longer suffering.
Rest in peace my dearest friend.
RIP, Rich Buckler.
Heaven now has an artist of utmost talent.
I will miss you.
Joe”

Rich with Ms. Inkwell (Hailey Skaza-Gagne) at the 2015 Rhode Island Comic Con

The 2017 Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship is awarded to…?

Inkwell Awards friends from the Kubert School Michael Chen and Carol Thomas Hon have informed me and announced publicly today that the award recipient of the 8th Dave Simons Inkwell Awards Memorial Scholarship Fund was awarded on Friday May 5 at their annual awards ceremony to student Brian Benjamin! I regret that Hailey Skaza-Gagne, our spokesmodel Ms. Inkwell and I could not attend this year and appreciated special ambassador and scholarship maestro Clifford Meth filling in for us again. Dave’s sister Bette Simons has been notified and is excited as usual about this. Congrats to Brian and all the students awarded! And thanks to all the donors over the past year for their support!

For the group photo this is the copy that came with it from the school:

Brian Benjamin

Congrats to all our scholarship and award winners!

Back row from left to right:
Alexander Manrique (Perfect Attendance),
Derek Arneson (EGBAR Foundation Scholarship winner)
Matt Pace (A Wave Blue World Scholarship winner)
Anand Ramcheron (A Wave Blue World Scholarship winner)
Emma Kubert (Dean’s List)
Andy Kubert
Ian Denney (Perfect Attendance)
Hailey Brown (Norman Maurer Scholarship winner)
Justin Franklin (Herb Trimpe Scholarship)
Dillon Snook (Dave Monahan Scholarship winner)
Gregory Ramos (Charlie LaGreca Scholarship winner)

Front row from left to right:
Catalina Murcia Alejo (Dean’s List)
Al Urrutia (Perfect Attendance)
Josh Maikis (Gene Colan Scholarship winner)
Elizabeth McBride (Dave Cockrum Scholarship winner)
Bane Duncan Wade (Dean’s List)
Michael Chen (Academic Supervisor at The Kubert School)

Missing:
Tyler Chin-Tanner (A Wave Blue World publisher)
Brian Benjamin (Dave Simons/ Inkwell Awards Scholarship winner) Sarah Fletcher(Dean’s List)

Voting is over but the Challenge auctions still remain…!

The final wave of the 7th JOE SINNOTT INKING CHALLENGE is running now in our eBay Store until Saturday May 6.  After that we will run two more biweekly miscellaneous donation auction waves (mostly from Indiana Comic Con) with some scattered remainder and new, belated Challenge pages (from both Joe and Neal Adams). These auctions help us cover the travel expenses for our season finale and 7th live awards ceremony at Heroes Con which include trophies and costs to bring in award recipients. (Below, the 2nd and final Sinnott Challenge gif as designed by Mike Pascale.) Happy bidding and thanks for the support!

 

BALLOT VOTING IS NOW OPEN APRIL 15-30!

UPDATE: THE BALLOT BOX IS NOW CLOSED FOR THE 9th SEASON.  THE WINNERS HAVE BEEN CONTACTED.  RESULTS WILL BE ANNOUNCED FRIDAY JUNE 16 AT THE HEROES CON 7TH LIVE AWARDS CEREMONY AND IN PRESS ANNOUNCEMENTS FOLLOWING THAT EVENT. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

 

Ballot Voting for the 2016 Inkwell Awards categories is now open at the following link
 
Click HERE to vote.

Inkwell Awards Voting Open From April 15-30

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Inkwell Awards Voting Open From April 15-30

New Bedford, MA/USA—April 12, 2016) Who’s your favorite inker? The Inkwell Awards, a non-profit organization devoted to the education and promotion of the art of comic book inking, invites all to vote for the industry’s best of the year. The official public ballot will be available on the Inkwells’ homepage from April 15 through April 30.

Voting is open to fans and professionals alike. In addition to “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, also listed on the ballot are the nominees for the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame (“HoF”), a lifetime achievement honor for an outstanding inking career of 25 or more years in American comics, whose winners are chosen by an internal committee (to avoid a “popularity contest” where recent names have more influence than past masters).

Two years ago the Special Recognition Award (SRA) was introduced and nominees for it also listed on the ballot with voting being done internally. This lifetime achievement honor 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 might otherwise limit them from being nominated for a traditional HoF award. The SRA nominees are not listed this year but they will be discussed at the awards ceremony along with the SRA award recipients.

“We’re as excited as ever 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. “Though inkers have their fans and followers, many 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. The more voters, the better.”

Once voting ends after April 30, the winners will be announced at the live awards ceremony at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC on Friday, June 16th.

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.

 

Inkwell Awards Offers Joe Sinnott Challenge and Neal Adams Spotlight Contributions

Neal Adams and Joe Sinnott (seated) with Inkwell senior contributor Jim Tournas behind them

Neal’s pencils from BATMAN: ODESSEY#3, page 5 (DC Comics, 2012)

 

Ink finishes by Kevin Conrad
Ink finishes by Johnny B. Gerardy

 

(New Bedford, MA/USA—March 31, 2017) The non-profit Inkwell Awards, devoted to promoting the art of comic book inking, is offering the artwork for their seventh annual Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge, beginning in April. They have an additional “spin-off” Challenge program, The Sinnott Inking Challenge Spotlight, which this year focuses on the pencil art of legendary creator/artist/writer/publisher Neal Adams. That art will also be on the auction block in April.

“The original Sinnott Challenge has been such an ongoing success, we decided to expand the program last year, with even better results,” said Bob Almond, founder and director of The Inkwell Awards (AKA “The Inkwells”). “We added something new to showcase other contemporary, fan-favorite talents, only on a smaller scale with more established artists who may not have participated in the original program. Last year we proudly featured the amazing pencils of DC co-publisher Jim Lee and this year we’re thrilled to have the great Neal Adams.”

The original Inking Challenge program educates the public about inking by having industry legend and Inkwell Special Ambassador Joe Sinnott do a tight pencil of a character plus a “breakdown”, or rough sketch. This year, the characters are Marvel’s recent film success Dr. Strange and DC’s soon-to-be blockbuster-film-star Wonder Woman. Sinnott’s art is scanned and the file sent in blue-line form to various inkers around the globe to finish and/or embellish in ink. This year, as an additional Challenge wrinkle, both drawings were looser.

Ink artists contributing their skills this year include Neil Vokes, Rusty Gilligan, Alex Garcia, Michael Munshaw, Mark McKenna, J.L. Straw, Johnny B. Gerardy, Mark Stegbauer, Vaughn Noel, Ken Branch, J. David Spurlock, Keith Williams and dozens of others, including members of the Sinnott family. All submitted art may be viewed at The Inkwells’ ComicArtFans gallery. All pieces for this challenge are personally signed by Mr. Sinnott and include a certificate of authenticity.

The Challenge Spotlight program was launched last year by former committee member Erick Korpi with full authorization from Lee and DC Comics. This year’s spotlight on Neal Adams was handled by Inkwells supporter Joseph Goulart and finalized by Almond. Like Lee, Adams chose the specific page but for an extra challenge he chose a sequential sequence instead of a splash or pin-up. All pages will be signed by the inkers and Neal Adams. All will include a COA as well. Submitted pages at press time include those by Jose Marzan Jr., Branch, Kevin Conrad, Richard Bonk, Williams, Sal Velluto, Gerardy, Rodney Ramos, Gerry Acerno, Arne Starr, Mike Barreiro and several students from the Kubert School. Almond added, “Much kind thanks to Neal, Joe and all involved for their cooperation, support of our program, and appreciation of ink artists.”

Auctions for the Adams Challenge art will begin April 1 at the Inkwells’ eBay store and every other week thereafter with the Joe Sinnott Challenge art being offered and possible some late page additions included for the Adams event. The Sinnott art will eventually be collected into book form. Previous book collections in various editions, along with other merchandise, are available for donations to the organization through their Web Store.

BERNIE WRIGHTSON: 1948-2017

 

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.

Dave Hunt: 1942-2017

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.

Photo: Heidi McDonald

 

“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.”

GUEST ARTICLE: Dan Panosian- a few words on Inking

A wonderful article from Dan Panosian’s Facebook 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.