As many of you fledgling comic book artists/writers out there know, when you’re starting out, one of the most terrifying experiences you have no choice but to put yourselves through, is the portfolio review. With all the hours upon hours of sweat, passion, and (more often than you’d like to admit) tears that you’ve put into your work, the last thing you want to subject yourself to is someone (albeit, an epic professional of heroic proportions) telling you that you suck.
But it’s a necessary evil. It’s a humbling experience that, if you are open minded enough, you can always learn and benefit from in terms of growing as an artist, in both skill and wisdom. At WonderCon, this past weekend, I had a review that was neither terrifying, nor evil in any way. It was the most encouraging, motivational, and thoughtful review that I’ve had thus far; and it came from the legendary editor, Mr. Bob Schreck.
I met Bob at last year’s WonderCon, where even though I stood in line for over an hour, I ran out of time to have him see my portfolio. Undaunted, seeing him in the hall afterwards I mustered up the courage and approached him. He was gracious enough to take my ashcan (The D’Honneur’Bane), and my card. He also gave me his card, and happily told me to email him a link to my website and, more notably, he said, “Keep bugging me.” And so I did, even though I was certain that I would never hear from him again.
Despite my lack of optimism, I was given a glimmer of hope when I was recounting the tale to my friend and fellow artist, Dave Crosland, who told me that Bob, after repeated reviews, said that he was ready and, giving Dave his first big gig, broke him into the industry.
To my surprise (and complete and utter joy, I might add), not only did Bob get back to me with a fabulous critique, in which he told me that my illustration skills were quite advanced, but that my inking skills were still a little tame. He also reiterated that I should continue bugging him.
So time warp to this year’s WonderCon, in which I once again, just missed my opportunity to have him review my portfolio at the officially designated time and place. Oh well, I thought. There’s always next year. But to my surprise, when I swung by his table the next day, he granted me my review, enthusiastically, I might add.
Again, he was honest in his critique. He compared the positive inks in one panel to the negative ones on a subsequent panel. He was critical of the lack of texture on one page, but he told me to check out Milton Caniff, and jokingly insisted that I slap my instructor, Mick Gray, who hadn’t introduced me to Caniff in the first place. Later, upon relaying the story, Mick gladly let me slap him for this unacceptable oversight.
Bob gave me a highly energetic review, in which he graciously encouraged my strengths, and motivated me with optimistically critical, yet, positive feedback. He congratulated me on my skill, and gave me suggestions on ways to improve upon my weaknesses. He told me less is more, and ironically, that he wanted to see more when next we meet. And to further the future likelihood of said meeting, he gave me a homework assignment. As you may imagine, as daunting as that task appeared, I was still on cloud nine. And now I’m hard at work on, not only that glorious homework, but my own projects, with renewed vigour.
So to all you up and coming artists/writers, don’t be afraid of the critiques, in the end, they simply strengthen the foundation of your skills, and broaden your potential.
Jared W Lindenberg
©2012a D’Honorsmane Prod.