Thursday, August 24, 2006

Advice for Young and Old Artists

I grew up learning to read from comic books as much as anything school had to offer [I know this sounds like blasphemy for a Board of Education member - ah, well life adds perspectives]. One of my favorite artists was Wally Wood.

In tooling around the internet looking for inspiring subject matter for this blog I came upon this gem, Wally Wood's 22 Panels That Always Work. This is a legendary insiders set of comic panel templates that every self-respecting comics artist defaults to when in doubt. Students should note that these panels translate nicely to theater and film as well. The link this post points to will offer full sized copies of these panels for free non-commercial use.

But this link is more than that. Joel Johnson who bought the templates also investigated their origin and received a response from Wood's assistant Larry Hama. Here's just a taste of great advice that could just as well apply to like activity involving homework, art, sport or employment. [Nota Bene; he's not advocating plagiarism.]

The "22 Panels" never existed as a collected single piece during Woody's lifetime. Another ex-Wood assistant, Paul Kirchner had saved three Xeroxed sheets of the panels that would comprise the compilation. I don't believe that Woody put the examples together as a teaching aid for his assistants, but rather as a reminder to himself. He was always trying to kick himself to put less labor into the work! He had a framed motto on the wall, "Never draw anything you can copy, never copy anything you can trace, never trace anything you can cut out and paste up." He hung the sheets with the panels on the wall of his studio to constantly remind himself to stop what he called noodling."

Enjoy Joel's website. This is a very interesting set of insights into the mechanics of art and story narrative.

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