Marvel, DC and Star Wars artist shares three rules of comics

Based on his experiences depicting the Marvel, DC, and Star Wars universes, artist Walter Simonson shared three lessons about comics.

Based on his experiences illustrating the universes of Marvel, DC Comics, and star wars, the iconic artist Walter Simonson shared his three key lessons about creating comic book art. For fans aspiring to work in the industry, his advice is not to be missed.

Throughout his career, Walter Simonson has worked on titles such as Thor, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Orion, Wonder Woman, Manhunter, and Detective comics among many others. For longtime fans, his style is instantly recognizable and his name on a number is a sign of quality. While he’s usually associated with those past eras of the Silver and Bronze Ages of comics, he continues to work today and teaches a course in visual design. Recently, Simonson illustrated the cover of Beta Ray Bill #1released on March 31.


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In an interview featured at the end of the issue, Simonson said his NYC Visual Design course could be compressed into three simple rules for drawing comics. First, he advised artists to question their own work, regardless of the specific comic they were bringing to life. “Whenever you have a question in your work about the comic you create – writing or drawing or coloring or lettering or whatever – your direction should always be: my answer to this question improves- Is it my story? Because that’s what you should be doing in your comics – telling stories to the best of your ability. And whatever your answer is, if it doesn’t improve your story, you need to rethink it .

Simonson followed up on this point by recommending that artists always consider using references for their work. Whether they use photographs or visit a specific site to get a more realistic understanding of perspective or find references in other ways, he strongly recommends that this be part of every artist’s process. “What you see, really see, goes through your eyes into your brain, gets scrambled, and comes out through your hand. So you need to train both your eye and your hand and their interaction with your brain, because that’s what makes both training and improvement possible. Finally, Simonson bluntly addressed the fact that being a comic book artist is not an easy job. “Comics are hard work. Get used to it. For anyone with a background in illustration, this is a stark reminder that it doesn’t necessarily get any easier and the job requires a ton of determination and dedication.

In fact, it might even get harder in some ways, as personal preferences may change and self-imposed norms will change. Even when an artist invests in their craft as much as humanly possible, it is never a guarantee that a company will be interested. By following these rules Walter Simonson lays out the lessons he learned throughout his career, he encourages followers to pursue the arts as he did. However, it’s not going to be as easy as one might hope and it’s going to take a lot of hard work.

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Daniel K. Denny