Just because you can get work, doesn’t mean you should work. During the black & white boom in comics in the Eighties that spilled over into the first few years of the Nineties, even if you sucked you could probably find work drawing something for not much money. For me it was The Eradicators, created, written and published by Kris Silver under his Greater Mercury Comics imprint. Silver is probably best known for creating Grips with artist Tim Vigil for his previous imprint Silverwolf Comics.
Download the The Eradicators 3 PDF. You’ll enjoy it more if you read the blog post first.
I don’t quite remember how I got the assignment. I most likely sent a sample package off to him like I did every other publisher. The difference was he called back and signed me to a 16-issue contract. Excuse me for a moment while I laugh at the absurdity of that.
There is a huge difference from being a hungry kid with a lot of passion for the work, and actually being a professional artist. Beyond the drawing weaknesses I was working through, I didn’t have a whole lot of maturity or focus when it came to the discipline of work. I doubt I gave much consideration to what 16 issues actually meant in terms of work. I grabbed the brass ring of ‘getting published’ and being able to call myself a comic book artist, and I was off.
It was a huge shift from doing my own stuff to illustrating something someone else had written. Silver wrote quite minimalist pages, and that first issue was a whole lot of snow. I also came in at part three of a four part storyline. I’m not saying it excuses how I handled things, but it was all new and a good chunk of it was overwhelming. I did my best to meet my deadlines, and I kept them for as long as I was on this book, albeit with the help of a friend to assist on adding tones. But overall I was unprepared to do that amount of artwork while working a full-time job.
While my drawing and finishes were progressing, there really isn’t much of my sensibilities in the storytelling or design. It was all I could do to learn the characters and get the work out. Specific drawing foibles that stand out are remnants of the missing midsections of The Brave & The Bold, and the beginning of a rather lasting phase of unintentional broken or dislocated limbs and some very gnarled hands.
I’ve always liked exploring textures in black & white, and in today’s world of better reproduction most of what you can do on paper can be printed with accuracy. But that was years away in 1990, and using grease pencil, double layering zip-a-tone or using an acetate overlay on page 4 were risky techniques without being part of the repro process. Of course, I didn’t know that because I didn’t know any better but I thought I did. So these pages suffered from overexposure on the film and then a fair bit of dot gain on the cheap newsprint.
These scans are off the comic. I no longer have any of the original pages. I probably sold what I could at convention appearances and then tossed whatever was left some years later during a moving purge.
The Eradicators mark the only time in commercial comics that I did my own covers. I still like this one. It was drawn in ink and then a photocopy was glued to mat board and I applied watercolour and gouache.
I always love drawing skulls even though I’m not a horror fan or all that morbid. That’s a nice one in the bottom right of the cover. Here it is all blown up.
Up next : The Eradicators #4.