For three years, I edited a magazine for TwoMorrows called "Rough Stuff". It
featured the many forms of preliminary art for comic books, along with comments from the artists
themselves, and had interviews and articles and various features such as a look at drawings done
by pro artists before they turned pro. Each issue, I also did a constructive critique of a new
artist hoping to break into comics.
The art featured here on my site is art that didn't fit into the magazine, but was too good not
to show you! To order back issues of Rough Stuff, click on any cover image below to go to the
TwoMorrows web site!
here for an interview with me about Rough Stuff at The Comic Book Bin
here to read a review of issue #2 at The Comic Book Bin
here to read a review of issue #6 at The Comic Book Bin
Click on the names of the artists to see their art!
Excerpt from my article in issue #1
"Tight Pencils: The Answer or The Problem?"
In the 1990's, comic book pencil art made somewhat of a dramatic change that perhaps many fans are
unaware of, and that change has had some very serious repercussions. There have always been many
different styles of penciling. Everything from the bare bones openness of, for example, a Gil Kane
Conan page to the densely rendered Conan pages of Barry Smith's Red Nails. Some pencilers have
always been sketchy and rough, like Bill Sienkiewicz, and some very clean, like Jack Kirby. But
prior to the 90's, even the tightest pencils usually gave the inker some room to interpret and put
in their own style. Many of today's pencils are printed without even being inked, and many jobs
that are inked are virtually traced. This is not because the inker is necessarily less skilled,
because many inkers working today are extremely talented. But in many cases, the pencils are so
"tight" there is nothing much left for the inker to do except trace.
On a page of comic art, there are several things which need to be done to make the art convincing
and complete. First, the panel shapes need to be designed, and arranged on the page. Then, the
figures and backgrounds within the panels need to be drawn in a dramatic composition. Next,
details, blacks, and lighting are added, and lastly, a rendering style is applied. Before computer
coloring, the lighting and blacks and rendering had to be done in either the pencils or the inks,
to keep the art from looking too flat. Today, with the gradated color tones possible, some styles
leave all of that up to the colorist, and that can be fine......
to read the rest of the article, order your copy of Rough Stuff #1 from TwoMorrows!
review from SilverBulletComics.com:
Rough Stuff #1
Posted: Monday, September 18 2006
By: Jason Sacks
Editor: Bob McLeod
Veteran comics inker Bob McLeod is the editor of a new comics magazine, Rough Stuff, that's devoted
to showing original sketches and preliminary art from top artists, along with insights into the
process of creating comic art. It's a really interesting mix for any comic fan, especially those who
are fans of the artists spotlighted.
Of course, McLeod picks a stellar group of artists to spotlight in his first issue. There are
original layouts and pencil sketches by artists such as Alan Davis, George Perez, Bruce Timm,
Walter Simonson, Art Adams, Kevin Nowlan, John Byrne and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Timm is the
spotlight artist, featuring typically gorgeous animated-style art from a master of the form. His
illustrations of Frankensteins Monster and the Zombie in this issue are wonderful.
The real revelation this issue is the work by longtime DC artist Garcia-Lopez. Though he drew the
graphic novel Road to Perdition, among others, Garcia-Lopez is probably better known as the key
artist for DC's character model sheets in the 1980s. His clean line style was perfect for that sort
of work, since Garcia-Lopez's characters were always well-proportioned and designed. So it was a
thrill to see pages of continuity from him. McLeod publishes a preliminary page from a Superman
story by Garcia Lopez that is so gorgeously designed, so full of movement and charm, that it was
very exciting to me.
But what I really found fascinating about this magazine was the behind-the-scenes look at creating
artwork for comics. McLeod writes an intriguing article called "Tight Pencils: The Answer or the
Problem?" that explores changes in comic art over the years. One thing that has changed a lot is
the tightness of pencil art in comics. Where previously the inker was given a lot of freedom to
add his style to penciled art, now the penciler is in ascendance. Pencilers are encouraged to draw
in great detail, and are expected to do a lot of the rendering work that inkers have traditionally
done. I've been a comics fan for many years, but I had no idea that any of this was happening
behind the scenes.
I also really enjoyed "Rough Critique," where McLeod analyzes a submission by a comics fan. A
reader can really see McLeod's professionalism and experience show through in his analysis.
McLeod's comments are insightful and interesting.
As essentially an art gallery with a few articles, this zine sometimes feels a bit light in
content. But if you like the artwork, it's well worth the cover price. And the short articles add
a lot to the magazine, too. I'm looking forward to future issues of Rough Stuff.