Weekly Visions 1.12.17: Smithsonian IMAX & Visionary Films

Get CreativeVisionary Creative Services is proud to announce a fun new partnership with the Smithsonian IMAX Theaters to launch our new Get Creative initiative! As part of our weekly celebration of the arts, every Tuesday, Visionary will be promoting all the great new releases and special showings at the absolute best IMAX theaters in the entire DC metro area. With the largest screens (six stories tall), laser projection, high digital picture resolution and sound, Smithsonian IMAX gives you the best movie experience you can find.

Not only that but for the same price, or cheaper than what you would pay anywhere else, you’re then supporting all the other excellent work the Smithsonian does. Smithsonian IMAX Director of Theaters, Zarth Bertsch and a wonderful staff do brief intros, special trailers, previews of exclusive films, and other presentations as well, making it truly unique.

C. Edward Sellner croppedTo make it more fun, Visionary CCO C. Edward Sellner will be kicking off his new semi-regular Get Creative Get Togethers revolving around select Smithsonian IMAX movies! We’ll be announcing specific times of new release films and special showings where our own CCO will be in attendance. Buy advanced tickets, watch a visionary movie then join Sellner in an informal gathering afterward, usually over a meal, to discuss the film, creating in general, and anything else.

“I’ve just been so thrilled with the response to the My Comic Life panels at conventions that I wanted to think of some cool ways to have more informal time with friends and fans to discuss comics, movies, and creating in general,” Sellner stated. “I love Smithsonian IMAX theaters, they are my first theater of choice every time. I also love the Smithsonian as a whole and wanted to do something to support their excellent mission. I spoke to Zarth and we agreed this seemed a good way to start.”

Our first official Get Creative Get Together will be for the January 29th, 5pm  Sci-Fi Sunday Special Christopher Nolan 15/70mm Film Takeover. Join us for an exclusive showing of Nolan’s visionary movie prologues for The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and his upcoming film Dunkirk, and then enjoy an exclusive screening of the full movie Interstellar, all at the Samuel C. Johnson IMAX Theater. Tickets are on sale now!

Check out the latest news from Smithsonian IMAX below including awesome upcoming releases like Hidden Figures, and special holdover, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story! Look for our Get Creative Get Together announcements here in our weekly news updates, our forthcoming Get Creative weekly postings, and social media. We will also be setting up a Meetup group for the initiative. More details on the Nolan night this Sunday! Subscribe NOW!

Hidden Figures

Opening January 27

Based on the true story of the brilliant African-American women working at NASA who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence and turned around the Space Race.
Experience it in IMAX at the National Air and Space Museum in DC and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in VA. Playing January 27 – February 9.

Sci-Fi Sundays
Special Christopher Nolan
15/70mm Film Takeover

January 15 and 29

We’re exhibiting some of the best and unique work of Christopher Nolan for one epic screening all in 15/70mm film. Experience Interstellar as Nolan intended it in 15/70mm film on a 6-story screen! Prior to the performance, we will exhibit three of Christopher Nolan’s movie prologues both shot and exhibited in 15/70mm film including The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and his upcoming film
Dunkirk.

Two Screenings Only! Experience it at the Samuel C. Johnson IMAX Theater at the National Museum of Natural History January 15 and 29.

Rogue One:
A Star Wars Story
Extended for One Week Only!
Through January 26 
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will now have an extended schedule of shows at both the National Air and Space Museum and Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center through Thursday, January 26. Experience it in IMAX with Laser!
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Smithsonian Theaters, 600 Maryland Ave. SW  Ste. 6001, Washington, DC 20024

My Comic Life Sundays: Penciling 101 & Yoda (sorta)!

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Welcome back as we turn our spotlight once more to the creative process. Our last creative series of articles focused on the basic elements of writing, so, now it’s time to turn our attention to the next step in production – penciling – so listen up all you artists and prepare to sharpen some skills!

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My Comic Life Column 015: Penciling 101 Sketched Out

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Penciling comics is one of the most sought after positions in the comics industry and also the one that probably has the most turnover or burnout. There are a ton of people who want in, a ton already in, and a bunch who were in and then disappeared. Why, you ask? Let’s take a look at each of those.

Why is penciling so popular?

That one’s fairly simple: it’s the coolest piece of comics! I’m mostly a writer; I love writing, but even I get all excited and moon-eyed when a piece of art comes in for one of my projects. Art excites people, it inspires, it draws them in (yep, a second bad pun). The comics industry has long recognized this about artists and as a result, the commercial end of the industry and the popularity end have often leaned toward the artists, giving them the clout, the popularity, and the biggest names in comics. No doubt, that focus goes back and forth from writers to artists, but at times, like near the beginning of the Image days, the writer seemed an afterthought in many mindsets. It was the artist, or storyteller, that drew all the attention (yep, another) and got all the praise.

While comics really require both, good story and good art to succeed, I’m more than willing to acknowledge that much of this falls on the artist, at least initially. It’s usually a striking cover that will get some new fan to pick up a book. Someone flipping through pages in a comic-book store is not going ‘cool’ over the story or the sound effects; they love the art. Heck, artists even have more fun at conventions. It’s not like writers can sit at their tables and jot out a few words on paper to give to long lines of fans wanting an original script!

Now, I’m not trying to sound bitter since I’m predominantly a writer, and yes writers have also certainly made names for themselves in comics, but, comics are, after all, a VISUAL medium, hence some focus on the visuals.

However, for all its glory, it’s also a very demanding job. Pencilers have to create an average of a page a workday if they really want to make it in the comics industry on a monthly series. That’s a lot of pages! That’s a lot of work and commitment. This is why many artists will work on a series for a while, then take a break, do a mini-series here and there, and then maybe go back to the monthly grind, or maybe not. It’s this pressure that results in so many late books when artists can’t keep that pace and the major reason why a good number of accomplished artists leave comics for other fields.

Now, for you aspiring artists, this means you perhaps have the easiest opportunity to break into comics…if you’re good. Assuming you have the talent and the skills, there are always publishers who are looking for new artists, including the big guys. If you remember from an earlier column, you folks also get all the breaks for ease in portfolio reviews as well. An editor can flip through some pages of high-quality pencils and make a decision in like, oh, two minutes.

So here you are, wanting into comics, you’re talented, you got your portfolio, editors are always looking, and find it easy to look through portfolios, so, now what? Well, there’s a good bit more, so let’s unpack what we can.

Talent, of course, is the primary factor in making it as an artist. But talent isn’t all that it takes. Now, I can’t teach talent in a column, but I can teach a lot about those other factors! At the risk of repeating myself, the biggest mistake aspiring comics’ professionals make is not knowing the mechanics of the jobs they want to do. This falls into two categories with aspiring artists. First, there are those who still really need to learn to draw and second, there are those who need to learn specifically to draw comic books.

The Art of the Draw(ing)

Learn to draw? Surely aspiring comic artists know how to draw? You’d be surprised. There are aspiring artists that think all they need to do to learn to draw comics is look at comic books. They study comic art and think that by doing so, they can then recreate it and draw themselves. That’s kind of like staring at a toaster then claiming you can build one from scratch. It doesn’t work because ultimately all you are looking at is the surface and not taking into account the underlying work in crafting it.

Admittedly, some comic artists don’t help in making this argument, because if you look at their stuff, they seem to bypass proper anatomy and perspective as well as other artistic principles themselves. They often do highly exaggerated figures and surreal surroundings that seem to break all the rules.  There is a key word in here: exaggeration.

If you look at the collective body of work of any of the popular, mainstream, lasting pencilers out there, even the ones that might have very stylistic approaches now, chances are you will find plenty of examples of them doing far more straight-laced work, especially early in their careers. When Frank Miller drew his seminal run on Daredevil, his style was much closer to a photo-realistic look. No doubt, he still was a master of light and shadow then, but his people looked like real people with proper proportions. Compare that to his more recent and highly stylized work, on 300 or Sin City, and you will see how he’s progressed. Same with Todd McFarlane, when he started at DC on such books as Infinity Inc., his style was far more traditional and straightforward. It wasn’t until he was solid in his career that he began pushing the boundaries and when he launched Spawn that he pulled out all the stops.

As artists master their craft they can bend the rules, but they don’t outright break them. Artwork may be incredibly stylized, incredibly expressive and use exaggeration to heighten the drama of the work but there is an underlying base of solid art mastery underneath. An artist who has not mastered basic art skills and rules cannot then try to exaggerate them and do it convincingly. You have to know how to drive the car in your neighborhood before you’re ready to go on the highway, and be really good before you can hit the Indy 500, well, at least if you don’t want to end up being a rolled piece of kindling. I’ve seen submissions from artists who simply mimic a popular artist, but clearly show they have not learned the fundamental basics that underlie that style. The resulting art, well, looks like it’s good as kindling and that’s about it.

Do you know the difference between worm’s eye and bird’s eye view? What about a two versus a three-point perspective? Or better yet, stop and try to draw a picture that is not a ‘comic.’ Sketch a friend or family member. Draw a picture of a bowl of fruit. Are you capturing your subject? Can you get down the working of the light source and shading? Can you create a sense of texture and substance? Does your portrait of a person look remotely like them? Can you draw a person with fully functional anatomy? (No, I don’t mean that, get your mind out of the gutter!) Do they have elbows, knees, and ankles that line up and work like a real person’s? Do they ‘carry their weight’?

If you’ve never even tried to draw something non-comic-like, most likely, you’re in trouble as an artist.

So, as is my usual advice…
To learn more, you might want to take an art class at the local community college, take private art lessons, or at the very least check out some books that can teach you how to draw. All those fundamental principles you will learn there apply to comics work as well and they are critical in making that leap to any specialized form of art.

Once You Know It…Use it!

As an editor, I get real frustrated when I see a talented artist take shortcuts. The biggest thing on this is perspective and trying to fake it. I know it’s a pain to do the little grid lines and sync everything up. I’m an artist too, but you got to do it, else it looks bad.

Once You See It…Draw It!

Another important tool for every artist is good reference. Don’t be afraid to use photo reference for your work. If you have to draw a ’85 Ford Mustang get a picture of one. Likewise, don’t be afraid to use reference for anatomy as well. Beyond duplicating a photo in your art, there is also using photos to show you how muscle groups work, how they function under stress or when relaxed. Photo reference can also be good to show a variety of facial structures and how facial anatomy works especially in expressions etc. As an artist myself, I will usually compile a reference folder for any art I’m doing – reference that could include specific objects, elements of a setting, anatomy references similar to poses I’m planning to do, showing the relevant body types, etc. None of those photos will be ‘copied’ in the process, but each will help me capture those various elements to the best of my ability.

Drawing Comics…

Of course, once you’ve developed into a good artist, there is still the task of learning how to draw comics. I’ve met some really great artists who don’t know how to draw comic books. Sure, they might do great pinups or covers, but they can’t draw comics.

Let’s face it folks, the meat and potatoes of comics are sequential pages. So, why can’t every aspiring comic book artist realize they have to draw sequential pages in their portfolio if they wish to draw comic books? You got me, but it never fails that I will get submissions with nothing but character sketches, or pin-ups and not a hint of anything that, you know, actually tells a story.

On top of drawing sequential pages period, there is drawing them well. For most comic artists the hardest part of the job is laying out a good, solid, well composed sequential page. Composition, in comic art, is the art of laying out a page such that it draws the reader’s eye, flows, and provides a sense of energy, movement, or drama. It takes the elements of the picture, or panels, and combines them in a way that enhances the mood, communicates the key storytelling elements and advances the story.

Some amateur artists don’t think about this at all; it’s one of those pieces of the toaster you can’t see but it’s integral to getting the toast, or in this case, the art, to pop out. Other artists mostly think about composition only in regards to the panel. This is important, each panel must work on its own, but composition should also be considered for an entire page and some elements of good composition become recurring motifs for the entire book.

Art vs. Sequential Art

Comics utilize not only good art but very specific types of art. No matter what your style, there has to be movement, dynamic energy and incredible mood in your work to really make it in comics. This ranges from the layout of panels and pages (composition again) to characters in exaggerated poses, using perspective and variety in camera angles to increase tension or drama, etc. It’s storytelling, pure and simple.

For this series, I’m going to break down the basic skills, mechanics, and priorities for penciling comics and help you start laying a foundation for pursuing your goals as a comics artist. Pease note, this will not be a basic drawing series, so don’t look to learn those principles themselves so much as how they are primarily applied to the art of comics specifically.

I’ve included a few new online resources for artists below and links to some top-notch educational programs for aspiring artists willing to make that leap.

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We’ll start digging in by looking at composition and layout in more depth and focusing on the key elements of what makes sequential art… well, sequential.

Resources

Creating Comics by Dave Law – I’ve mentioned this one before but this link goes straight to the section for illustrators. Once again, it lists numerous links for artists to find online tutorials, how-to guides, descriptions of materials and tools, etc.

Gray’s Anatomy is the famous Gray’s Anatomy online, and no, not the show, but the ultimate reference to how the human body works. It includes diagrams and illustrations that show the anatomical features of every part of the body.

Anatomy 360 is a site with 3-D scanned models where you can rotate the figures 360 degrees and alter the lighting. (This site is still in development.)

Posemaniacs is an active site with uploaded 3-D anatomical figures of various proportions, in various poses, that you can rotate 360 degrees.

SCHOOLS

The Center for Cartoon Studies is a college level program that offers courses in creating comics. They offer a rounded curriculum that includes learning the history of the medium and then everything from writing to illustrating and finally self-publishing and marketing a comic book.

Joe Kubert’s World of Cartooning is exclusively for aspiring comic book artists. They offer a full range of classes and include correspondence courses.

NOW DISCUSS…

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About C. Edward Sellner

A full-time professional freelancer, Sellner has credits as a comics writer, prose author, colorist, artist, and editor from multiple publishers. He is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Visionary Creative Services, one of the best-known production studios and digital publishers in the industry. The studio opened in 2006 and since then has published over 70 different titles in its digital line, and been involved in over a hundred different projects in production. Its clients range from Hollywood producers to international sports stars to other studios and publishers. It became the first independent studio to enter the licensing game with the announcement of its Deadlands license, which has since been published in comics from Image and IDW and novels from Tor Books. The studio also hosts a successful internship program where interns get practical, real-world freelancing experience, including paid work on actual jobs fitting their skill levels. Learn more at www.visionarycreativeservices.com!

Weekly Visions 01.05.17: Partnerships and Bringing it Local

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Welcome back for another weekly news update on all things Visionary!

Reminder: You can now find us at our new online address:
http://visionarycreativeservices.com/

This time around we put a spotlight on our new and expanded partnerships for 2017, as well as our panel / presentation / workshop services, which are now available for all kinds of events, including local community-based festivals and even small groups! Read on!


Creating Comics – The Visionary Way

Last year Visionary expanded it’s slate of conventions, shows, and other events to twenty-six! That’s an average of one every other week! Even as we are now finalizing our 2017 slate, Visionary is proud to introduce a new tier of events and scheduling.

You can now book Visionary for a local event, small group, or special function! Want to host a portfolio review exclusively at your retail shop? Looking to come up with a different and exciting evening program for your scout troop or youth group? Want a guest speaker at your after-school program or for an arts class you teach? Visionary’s got you covered!

Members of Visionary lead workshops at the 2015 Girl-Con sponsored by the Girl Scouts of America

Members of Visionary lead workshops at the 2016 Girl-Con sponsored by the Girl Scouts of America

“As we expand our services, we want to continue to deepen our ties to our local communities and share our excitement for comics as a medium, an art form, and a dream job,” CCO C. Edward Sellner shared. “This is the next logical step for that process.”

Visionary will book a very limited number of local events, both near our central offices in the DC metro area, as well as around larger shows we send our teams to. These can include art workshops, to overviews and history of comics as an art form, and can be geared for any age group. Workshops and presentations can be a single session, or multi-part sessions depending on the setting and availability. All workshops and presentations will have minimal costs for expenses, but the primary goal is to provide opportunities for small groups in various settings to explore the wonderful world of comics.

If you are interested in booking a portfolio review, workshop, or other session, book now!! >>


New and Expanded Partnerships for 2017

Visionary will be expanding and announcing new partnerships throughout the year, we’re pretty excited about some of the things on the horizon from these great collaborations!

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Artway Alliancea Maryland-based educational and interactive outreach that provides opportunities for children and youth to learn about the media arts, and encourages their own creativity and imagination will be expanding their partnership with Visionary, bringing our art and empowerment workshops to more conventions!

 

 

 

Girl-Con LogoGirl Scouts of America – Girl-Cona local pop-culture and comics event sponsored by Girl Scouts of America for young girls to experience the power of comics! Visionary will be sponsoring workshops once again this year and we will soon be announcing a special promotion for the event in 2017!

 

 

ASU CSI

Arizona State University – Center for Science & the Imaginationa special program of ASU, the Center does creative mergers of science with the power of imagination to inspire and empower students. Visionary is proud to be the first partner with ASUCSI to produce original comic-related content as part of their mission! We will be debuting our first full-length comic later this year.

 

 

NMLThe National Museum of Languagea museum focused on the development, diversity, and rich heritage of language from all over the world. Visionary’s 2017 Intern Class is partnering with the museum for a special online exhibit celebrating regional language in the United States, that will go live sometime this year.

 

 

 
inkwellInkwell Awards a non-profit organization dedicated to the awareness, education, and celebration of the art of inking. Annual awards are presented to the best inkers in the industry, and legacy and hall of fame awards celebrate the legends who shaped the art form and by extension the comics industry. Visionary is partnering to help spread their message, with CCO C. Edward Sellner joining their committee, and by providing a special participation opportunity for our 2017 interns. More details coming later this year.

 

More to come soon! It’s going to be a truly Visionary year!

A Very Personal My Comic Life Sundays Part 2

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My Comic Life Column 014: A Very Personal Message Part 2

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I duly warned everyone – this time was also going to be more on the personal side – but squarely aimed at all my fellow creators, no matter what medium, or level of work you do.

We as creators often face a lot of challenges with our work – how to improve our craft, how to find time, how to earn sufficient income, how to get our work in front of the right people either for publication or to build a fanbase, etc. Most of these are very practical challenges, very logistical.

What often gets glossed over is the internal struggle of the artist vs. the art. Even more so when it gets overshadowed by all those other concerns which often have far more pressing needs for solutions.

But here’s the thing every creator knows down deep, even if we sometimes forget it – the best art we will ever create will ALWAYS come from somewhere down deep in our heart and soul. Our best art will NEVER come simply out of commercial or contract work. We may get paid for it, but our best work will never simply come because we ARE getting paid.

Our best work – whether it be music, writing, art, dance, whatever – will always be a deep reflection of who we are – our priorities, our struggles, our losses, our deepest loves, our biggest questions, our greatest fears and our highest hopes. Why? Well, that one is simple, it goes to the core of what art is really all about. But, it may not seem as simple given today’s norms and perceptions.

We as a culture, as people in general around the world, have become obsessed with entertainment. The Entertainment industry is a multi-billion dollar industry just in the United States. Popular artists, especially actors and musicians, are like royalty, often earning more than just about anyone, with thousands interested in their every outing, thought and personal development in their lives.

Yet, at the same time we’ve become obsessed, many are determined to devalue the art involved and reduce ‘entertainment’ to its most superficial and commercial elements. It’s fun, not meant to be taken seriously, it’s a distraction from our daily lives, it bears no connection or direct impact on the real world. Those self-same artists whom many are obsessed with are likewise often reduced to caricatures of human beings. It’s okay for fans to go on and on about who someone is dating, changes in hairstyle, favorite foods, weight gain, or pregnancy but let any of those artists step up for a cause, make a statement on their values or challenge anything about our society and they are dismissed as ‘simply’ artists. But that’s not art.

Art, since those first scrawlings on cave walls, since those first stories told around campfires, those first songs sung, has always been so very much more.

Art is About Teaching. It has been used to teach tradition, faith, culture, principles of belief and practice. Art has helped to bring to life history and illustrate the power of science. Art has even taught us about ourselves, our fellow human beings, and much about the world in which we live. Unlike many other forms of teaching that simply present dry facts, art teaches by engaging, by connecting with the learner. This means that learning often happens at a deeper, more fundamental level. It also means art can teach things very hard to teach otherwise, including teaching us about our own innermost thoughts and feelings.

Art is About Inspiring. It may be as grand as a painting that inspires an appreciation for the beauty of the world around us, or a song that inspires us to go after a dream, or a poem that inspires us to reach out to one we love. It can be as profound as a super-hero that inspires us to know with great power comes great responsibility, or that with determination we can even overcome the greatest of losses. It can also be as simple as a comic strip that inspires laughter and brightens our day.

Art is About Challenging. Art is not just about the status quo – if it were it would not serve as escapism and would be redundant if you think about it; because of this true art always contains an element of challenge. It may be a challenge to see or think about something different, a challenge to believe in something we felt impossible or to recognize the fragility of something we take for granted. It may challenge something about the world around us or challenge something deep within. But true art should always leave us wrestling with something once we walk away.

001 It Should Be Funny

For us as fans – readers, watchers, listeners – I guarantee you can take every single piece of ‘entertainment’ you’ve ever really, truly enjoyed, the ones that stayed with you and find something of each of these principles in it. Some may be obvious, others you may need to unpack and think about, but when you do those elements will be there, even if you never fully realized it before.

But what then about us as Creators?

We create any given work of art for many reasons, but we create art in general because we feel driven to – sometimes a deep, abiding drive we can’t turn off, much less turn away from. At the heart of that drive is the heart of a student, a heart that is inspired, and a heart that faces its own challenges it so desperately wants to overcome. Now, in other folks, those things may exist as well, but it is for us the foundation of our art – at least when we let it be.

I see this in aspiring artists and even from some established professionals – art with no soul, no deeper connection to who and what the artist behind it is. For aspiring creators, they may be trying too hard to mimic what is already on the market to prove they can cut it as a professional. For professional creators, it may be work they don’t enjoy, that is simply paying the bills, or over time their work may have been reduced to a mere discipline, or distraction. In either case, that art is probably doing little for the fulfillment of the artist.

As a creator, as an artist of any kind – to truly create – dig deep. Face your demons, wrestle with your doubts, push against the rough edges of your life and the world around you and see which ones rub you raw. Figure out what inspires you, what makes your heart sing, what makes you laugh from the deepest part of your gut, or cry tears of joy. Do it for that creator-owned thing you so desperately want to make and find ways to do it for every single paid job you take.

As artists, true artists, we have a calling. It is an awesome responsibility and an incredible honor. We are called to be the touchstones of humanity, to plumb our depths, soar in our heights, and to then transform that into raw fodder and put it out into the world around us so that others might find that work of art that helps them do the same. Your struggles, the ones that keep you up at night, are the same struggles so many others face – the strength you muster to face them and put them out there in the world might inspire another to face their own. A dream that inspires you, might just be a dream that, captured in art, could inspire a generation. Even if it’s not a specific issue, at the core, every hero’s story is a story of overcoming all odds isn’t it?

Last year I swore 2016 was going be the year I got more focused on my own creative work but other than the ongoing My Comic Life strip and a few other things, I’ve found myself struggling. I’ve found myself having a harder time writing and doing full art than I’ve had in a long time. As I shared last column, there’s certainly been a lot going on this year, including a lot of stressful and life-changing things that certainly could disrupt the process, but I had difficulty putting my finger on the exact cause, until recently.

I realized I had been so focused on improving my own writing and art, so focused on managing and overseeing other’s writing and art, thus focused on the form and not the underlying function, that I’d lost touch with some of that deeper passion, that core from which true art arises. Oh, now most of the stories I want to tell come from that deeper core, because I was very much in touch with that when I first formed the seeds for each of those – but now, I think I was trying to start them without tapping the primal energy that originally inspired them in me in the first place.

End result? I realized I first had to do a bit of reconnecting with that fire, that core, that passion. I had to once again truly create in order to create true art, and not just go through the mechanics and motions. That has ended up not only reawakening that art, that creative fire, but it’s also reawakened some other arenas of my life, ones that inspired the column and invitation last week, ones that inspired this column, and ones I will talk more about on my personal sites later on New Year’s Day.

For 2017 and beyond, my resolution is to do the kind of art, to be the kind of creator, whose every piece digs deep, goes to the core, makes my heart sing, and I’m pretty excited about the work so far. Here’s hoping for a very creative year.

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If you want to follow more personal stuff I post regularly on my personal Facebook page which will include a major post later today (New Year’s Day) and will be relaunching my blog first of the year.

To get first looks at all my creative work, you can check out my Patreon, which will be building up after the new year. Right now, I’m doing a Classic-Print-A-Day for the Holidays, sending out hi-res file versions of my entire classic print library to all my patrons. New stuff will be appearing soon.

Next week in this space, we get back to the creative process and start our Penciling 101 series! Don’t miss it!

NOW DISCUSS…

What’s your story? Share if you like, post here or email me anytime at [email protected].

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About C. Edward Sellner

A full-time professional freelancer, Sellner has credits as a comics writer, prose author, colorist, artist, and editor from multiple publishers. He is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Visionary Creative Services, one of the best-known production studios and digital publishers in the industry. The studio opened in 2006 and since then has published over 70 different titles in its digital line, and been involved in over a hundred different projects in production. Its clients range from Hollywood producers to international sports stars to other studios and publishers. It became the first independent studio to enter the licensing game with the announcement of its Deadlands license, which has since been published in comics from Image and IDW and novels from Tor Books. The studio also hosts a successful internship program where interns get practical, real-world freelancing experience, including paid work on actual jobs fitting their skill levels. Learn more at www.visionarycreativeservices.com!

Weekly Visions 12.29.16: Our New Year’s Resolutions

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If you’re a regular you may have noticed – we’re quite proud of our name. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s largely because when we chose a name for the studio, we wanted a name to grow into, and we feel we’ve done a pretty good job of doing that so far. But what exactly does it mean for us to live up to that name, to grow into it?

Most assume it just means producing top quality content, garnering top recommended lists, awards, and other nods, which we’ve done. Others assume it means being first or best at what we do and we’ve hit those marks as well in a lot of ways. All of which is wonderful, but only a part of what living up to that name means for us.

For us being Visionary is about being the best creative studio for creators – a haven where creators are treated fairly with respect and appreciation, where they are front and center in their work, as invested as they want to be and taken care of while doing it.  It’s also about being the best creative studio for publishers – going above and beyond to make sure everything they need is done not just to spec, but to perfection. It’s about being the best creative studio for retailers – where they see us as we see them – vital partners in launching any product or series. Our product carries our brand and we’ve always done our best to support retailers and venues on every front, even when others just step back and let the publishers carry that weight.

Most importantly it means for us to be the best creative studio for our clients and our fans. Whether it’s someone who’s hired us for a project, or someone who’s plunked down their hard earned cash for one of our books, we want to make sure they get everything they expected and so much more. It’s one-on-one client and fan relations, answering questions, working out solutions, getting things done and in the hands of those wanting it that plays a big part of what being Visionary is all about. Call our main line, you get one of our Chief executives, email us, you get one of our key staff, message us on Facebook, you get a response almost immediately. We love meeting people at conventions (it’s why we do so many) and we love nothing more than when someone gets excited about a new book from us because it means we got it right.

But there’s more to it than just that.

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For us being Visionary also means making a difference, making an impact, not just in the market, but in the world. Sure we want to tell great stories with stunning art, stories that are fun, some epic, some twisted (hey, we are the Deadlands people after all). But we also know the power of comics and fiction to inspire, to teach, to challenge and that to us is what truly makes visionary work.

We’ve always done our part giving back, to local communities, to the industry, but in 2017 you’ll see a focused effort on Visionary’s part to broaden that on multiple fronts and begin reflecting that in some of the new content we create. We’re thrilled that in 2017 we’ll be announcing multiple partnerships with museums, learning centers, and other non-profit organizations that are all about broadening our horizons and reaching for a better future as we create stories that embody those bold and visionary ideals.

After all, for a studio that got it’s start in comics and went with a name like Visionary, part of its mission has just got to be about saving the world, right?


Meet Our Latest Interns

Visionary is closing out 2016 with it’s single biggest class of interns ever. We introduced most of the crew already, but we added three final, dynamite members to the team and we are looking forward to great things from all these amazing creators!

JordanJordan Loux
An Alfred University (NY) graduate with a BA in Communication Studies, Jordan has a passion for media. He enjoys reading, writing, film and any other medium that works to convey a story. Recently he has returned from a year abroad working at TTV Productions in Israel.

 

 

 

JasmineJasmine Wilson
Jasmine is an aspiring comic book, children’s book, and cartoon writer. She was born and raised in Atlanta, GA and has always loved visual culture, specifically photography, comics, cartoons, and graphic novels. Jasmine is currently a senior English major at Howard University and plans to utilize her background as a writing tutor, editor, and researcher of comics as a Visionary Intern this year.

 

 

BradfordBradford Spady
Bradford Olander Spady is an artist with a focus on character design. A graduate of Langley High School in McLean, VA, Bradford studies cartooning at the Cafritz Art Center at Montgomery College, Takoma Park, and professional on-line art classes with Schoolism, based in Canada. Bradford has worked on a special White House Project to design the 2011 Christmas card and participated in a half day at Disney with two Disney illustrators for one-on-one tutoring. He has had solo art shows and is now a proud intern at Visionary. Bradford resides in Reston, VA.

 


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Next, in a special release at midnight New Year’s Eve, check out the latest My Comic Life column and strip from our CCO C. Edward Sellner, with some major announcements! Be sure not to miss it and Subscribe Now!

A Very Personal My Comic Life Sundays Part 1

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My Comic Life Column 013: A Very Personal Message Part 1

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Bear with me, this week and next are going to be very different than my standard Sunday fare. Seeing as how this post falls on Christmas Day and the beginning of Hanukkah and next week’s on New Year’s Day – well, how could I help but not get a little more introspective?

Before my comic life, I spent twenty-five years in ministry and outreach – working for a variety of Churches and social service programs. On the ministry side, I am an ordained clergy and worked as Christian Education Director, Youth Director, and Pastor on various levels in various congregations. On social services, I worked in crisis response and management, including a long stint at a teen crisis shelter I eventually ran for two years and an even longer one running an agency I founded and managed for ten years. Needless to say my life was very different then.

I think anyone in that line of work, as well as anyone who pursues a creative life can identify with the concept of a calling, even if we don’t all see it as coming from the same source. For me, it came in my high school years. Like most, that time was a dramatic time for me – lots of change, difficulty fitting in, sometimes feeling the world was against me. Things got bad at times, even once to the point of being ready to give up. When I was in my darkest time is when that calling came and changed my life. It opened me to see those same struggles I had in others, often including those whose lives had far more real challenges than my own.

It first centered around an invitation to teach Sunday school, despite being a naive sixteen and eventually getting shanghaied into taking on a small Junior High Class of four boys. Each of those guys came out of broken homes, had lived through things no kid ever should and yet still showed up every week. Two of the boys were brothers, being raised by their grandmother, and I will never forget the day when she, in tears, asked for my help with them.

That was when I began mentoring, the single most important outreach I ever did. The opportunity and the chance to help them, be there for them suddenly seemed far more important than my own issues. Even though I was not much older than they, we became inseparable on all fronts. I spent most evenings at one home or another helping with homework, spent weekends taking them out to events, attended school, sports, and concert activities, and every time they messed up or needed help, I got the call.

I went on to mentor over forty young people through that chapter of my life, some in limited programs for a few months, others were part of my life for decades. I mentored kids who were dealing with abuse in the home, substance abuse issues, problems in school, kids who lost their parents to suicide and violence, kids with disabilities and many who society was in the process of giving up on.

Through my mentoring and other ministry work, I stood with so many people at the absolute best and worst moments of their lives. I had a chance to witness miracles and more than a few times ended up walking through Hell with someone to see them through to the other side. My time at the teen crisis shelter, my work at my own outreach center, the various youth groups, they all formed a tapestry of a truly wonderful life in many ways, a truly challenging one in others.

Then in 2006 one of those first young men I mentored, Danny, one who had in so many ways been a brother and a son to me, died. He committed suicide after years of struggling with his own personal demons. He had been in my life for decades, our relationship sometimes his safe haven, sometimes strained. He would disappear, sometimes for a year or more, and then out of the blue call when he hit bottom and wanted to come home. When I got the call from his grandmother, that same one who originally invited me into his life, I fully expected her to tell me he needed help and to ask if I could go to him. Instead, she told me he was gone.

My life changed again. There had been other challenges, other losses, and together with Danny’s death something inside broke. I took a six-month sabbatical from most of my responsibilities, although I found myself still often getting called in for one situation or another. I finally realized the only way to truly step back was to step away – completely. I chose to move to the other side of the country and decided now was the time to focus on my fledgling studio. Charlie Hall and I had launched Visionary around that time, but it was always a side gig as long as my other life was central, so it seemed as good a time as any to then focus on it fully and completely.

The next few years opened a new life to me, one I also found rewarding, but I was also still very much a lesser man – much of the time I was angry, depressed, withdrawn. I pulled away from just about everyone and everything other than my work. Over the years, though I didn’t realize it fully at the time, I shut myself off from so many and so much.

Over the years I’ve done a lot of healing and built a life that has truly been a joy in its own way as much as my previous life. But there has always been those missing pieces, ones I often tried hard not to think about because inevitably it would lead me to feeling the loss. Holidays especially became challenging because there had been so many great memories surrounding those.

Most of those missing pieces are people who in the time since have been lost to my life. That happens, people come and go in your life. But there were many, especially among those mentored and youth group members, and good friends in various places I served, I had hoped to have in my life forever, and if things had been different, may well have still been part of my life today.

Now, part of the joy of my current life is that I have made many friends through my years with the studio. I am very fortunate to work with a great group of people and count a number of my colleagues, my staff, and my peers as good friends. This past year, like for many of us, was an especially difficult one. There were many reasons, most critical of all for me was a brutal reminder of the fragility of life when I stood with my cousin as he held his three-year-old son while he died after being removed from life support after a tragic accident.

But through that what spoke to me most was the support from all sides, for him, for his family, even for me – from clients and colleagues, from staff and friends, even at times from total strangers. Oddly enough, coming out of this year and loss what I’ve found is that it has once more awakened a part of me I thought gone. I’ll talk more about that next time.

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Art and Greetings from Ishan Trivedi

For today, whatever tradition you celebrate, beyond the glitter and the gifts, after the food and drinks, the laughter and celebration – remember the most important thing about these holidays – the people surrounding you. The ones you fight with, laugh with, cry with, the ones who drive you nuts at times, and the ones you’re nuts about. Hold tight to the ones surrounding you now, remember the ones you’ve lost who still surround you in your heart, and spare some compassion for those you haven’t even met who still share this spinning blue dot we call home.

For beyond today, to my readers, remember no life is just about one thing. Be a creator, pursue it with all the passion you can muster, but keep that balance, keep in touch with those around you, continue to be part of the larger world we all live in. Many of us on the creative side tend to be introverts, we sometimes get lost in our work, our worlds, and don’t come up nearly often enough to be present with others. Sometimes it may be an intentional escape, sometimes it may sneak up on us, but it’s always harder to get out of then to slide into. Remember, for all its drama, for all its ups and downs, it’s those parts of our life that we live outside our studio, our office, our neverending work that fuel our creative energy, that gives us raw material to process in our art and stories. Simply put, our life? It’s our story, make it a work of art.

To all my friends and family near and far, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Kwanza, happy holidays whatever they may be. Thank you for all you do, for your presence in my life and others, may I be worthy of it every day.

In closing, I need to put out an invitation. I’m not always good at apologizing, or explaining stuff going on deep inside. I’ve always been a much better listener than talker. But today, today I’m also thinking a lot about the people who made my life special in years gone by. Mentees, former youth, friends, all of you. I miss those of you who over the last several years have slipped out of my life. For some, you may have reached out at a time when I wasn’t ready to reconnect and I may have not been welcoming then. I hope you can forgive me. For others, things just seemed to slip away. For a few, there were issues that seemed to throw a wall between us. I don’t want that to be the way things continue. Know I love you all, always have, always will, I think about most of you on a regular basis and if any are so inclined, I’d really love to hear from you, to catch up, to reconnect, to reflect on old memories, and start making some new ones. That would be the best gift ever, one I may not deserve, but would nevertheless treasure.

Sorry for the deeply personal, but, I did say this column would cover every aspect of a freelancer and creative life and I know many out there who struggle with the same things even if not for the same reasons, hope this helps.

NEXT

Some profound (for me at least) New Year’s resolutions, and then I absolutely promise, back to the creative stuff.

If you want to follow more personal stuff I post regularly on my personal Facebook page and will be relaunching my blog first of the year. You can also always check out my Patreon which will be building up this week and after the new year.

NOW DISCUSS…

What’s your story? Share if you like, post here or email me anytime at [email protected].

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About C. Edward Sellner

A full-time professional freelancer, Sellner has credits as a comics writer, prose author, colorist, artist, and editor from multiple publishers. He is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Visionary Creative Services, one of the best-known production studios and digital publishers in the industry. The studio opened in 2006 and since then has published over 70 different titles in its digital line, and been involved in over a hundred different projects in production. Its clients range from Hollywood producers to international sports stars to other studios and publishers. It became the first independent studio to enter the licensing game with the announcement of its Deadlands license, which has since been published in comics from Image and IDW and novels from Tor Books. The studio also hosts a successful internship program where interns get practical, real-world freelancing experience, including paid work on actual jobs fitting their skill levels. Learn more at www.visionarycreativeservices.com!

Weekly Visions 12.22.16: Happy Holidays from Visionary

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From all of us at Visionary to all of you, may you have a truly blessed and happy holiday season!

Whatever tradition you may celebrate, they all point to a spirit of love and peace, so may you find ways to truly embrace that spirit this season.

Surround yourself with family and friends but also reach out to those less fortunate who may be alone or struggling

The greatest gift is not the one we receive, but the one we give. Often the greatest gift received is not the one from those we know, but the unexpected one from the total stranger.

2016: Downs and Ups and More of Both

Our Books Division Chief, Jeff Mariotte wrote a special guest post at the Flames Rising site, all about his year of 2016.
Check it out>>

One Artist’s Take on Santa

Mark Wheatley is an amazing artist who’s worked in comics for many years, he’s also a good friend and supporter of Visionary and has been almost since day one. We asked if we could share the digital Christmas card he sent around this year on our post and he graciously agreed. Click on it to check out Mark’s site.

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Our CCO will share his Holiday Greetings in a special edition of My Comic Life Sundays on Christmas Day!

 

Weekly Visions 12.15.16: SDCC and More 2017 Exclusive Announcements!

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Welcome back everyone! Weekly Visions kicks back into high gear this week for our last regular update (we’ll be doing some special stuff for the holidays).

Below, check out some great reviews, our first spotlight, and some exclusive announcements about the coming year!

 

 

Deadlands: Thunder Moon Rising Reviews

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“Beyond Tuck Bringloe, who has a peach of a story arc, I honestly had little idea which of the cast of characters would become prominent and which would be ruthlessly killed off. I’ve been told by a couple of authors that every single character are the lead of their own story and they should be written that way. Mariotte does a fantastic job of doing that here, because even his minor characters are drawn well enough to invite us into their lives. It felt notable when they died and it felt important when those with a higher purpose met each other.” – Hal C F Astell at The Nameless Zine

“I couldn’t stop reading, the pages turned as fast as I could. What a mix the author treats us to. The book was different and refreshing. Something on the other side of the regular western read. I liked the fact that Tucker was used as the one to actually lead the search. It sent a message while giving the reader a character that you wouldn’t ever expect to have the guts and the character to do what he did.” – Gayle Pace

“This isn’t the Wild West, it’s the weird west. The author not only gives you the gunfighters of the west in Arizona territory but you get scientists that are on the edge of reality and then we get the unexplainable evil forces that exist everywhere. ” –Night Owl Paranormal

Now available on Amazon, and at finer bookstores EVERYWHERE!
Check out the Official Publisher Page!


Spotlight

We often get people thinking Visionary is primarily a publisher, but we’re actually not, we’re a production studio and transmedia development company. Which basically means we’re more focused on creating the great content and then work with partners in getting that content out there.

Our staff are primarily creators, writers, artists, editors, letterers and graphic design artists. We’re a little bit creator studio, a collective of creative braintrusts, and a lean mean transmedia machine!

Our imprints, Visionary Comics and Visionary Books are for the content we actually package and release through our publishing partners, great folks like Tor Books, IDW, and Image Comics for print, and Amazon, Comixology, iVerse, and Drive-Thru for digital. We are also in the process of launching our own online store you can find right on our main site that will soon be stocked with all our exclusive merchandise, both digital and physical, including comics, books, playing cards, prints and more! We’ll be relaunching our digital publishing initiative early 2017, so look for the announcement!

As a creative production studio our focus is providing high quality content for clients of all kinds! We’ve created a couple thousand pages of prose, several hundred pages of comics, and dozens of covers, illustrations and custom art in just the last year and will be doing even more this coming year. Some of those could be for YOUR PROJECT!

We’ve worked with Hollywood producers, top publishers, top creators, sports stars, celebrities, and other studios, as well as great non-profits, universities, museums and other educational organizations! We’ll be doing several spotlights on our various creative services and announcing new packaging deals early in 2017! Interested? Get our Services One-Sheet NOW!

You can also now find us at www.visionarycreativeservices.com!

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Visionary Internship Program Update

Visionary has a long tradition of bringing new creators into the industry and doing our part to educate, inspire, and train the next generation of great talent. To that end we relaunched our highly successful internship program last year. Half of our current staff were promoted up from internships and we currently boast our largest class ever as of the end of 2016, with a total of eight active interns!

What do Visionary interns get to do? They hang out once a month at CCO C. Edward Sellner’s place, eat pizza, learn about making comics, being a professional freelancer, get to participate in comic awards, and get to work on projects as support, managers, and even do creative work! That’s the good news!

The bad news (especially if we just got you all excited about the program) is we are now full for the quarter. We may reopen applications in the Spring. Stay tuned to be the first to know! Spots fill fast! We’ll be introducing our final additions for the year soon!


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Visionary Returns to SDCC in 2017!

Hard as it may be to believe, Visionary is already prepping its 2017 show schedule, and our biggest announcement is we will be making our triumphant return to San Diego Comic Con International in 2017!

We can also already confirm the following shows for our 2017 Schedule:

And more coming soon! Check our Events page for details after the first of the year!

Visionary offers a complete slate of convention and events programming as well as our merchandise sales. Visionary staff do workshops with children, youth, fans, aspiring creators, and panels on numerous topics, from creating comics to crowdfunding, and all topics in between. If you’d like to invite us to YOUR event – contact us now before we book up!

My Comic Life Sundays: Contracts and Conventions!

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My Comic Life Column 011: The Contract!

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Welcome back, and let me apologize for the extra week away. We do try to keep those to a minimum, so hopefully, it won’t happen again!

Last time around we wrapped up a multi-part series on writing where we looked at script format, panel, page, and storytelling. You can get the whole back catalog of columns over at our always up to date Archive page, which also collects all the creating comic resource links I share through here.

In between longer series on creative work, I’m going to try and introduce a number of single column practical topics that can be just as important to aspiring creators and freelancers.

Today’s topic may not tingle your creative urges, but you may end up thanking me tremendously someday anyway.

Why a Contract Is a MUST!!

If you’re going to be a professional creator or freelancer it’s important you realize that professionalism is embodied in a lot more than simply talent or creative skills. It’s embodied in how you conduct yourself, how you relate to colleagues, clients, and employers, and how you present yourself and your value with any potential job opportunity. I’ll be doing a number of columns on important aspects of conducting yourself professionally and the many ways that’s important, but let’s start with one of the simplest, most basic indicators of your professionalism – the contract!

Contracts are legally binding agreements between two parties for the exchange of goods and services. They can be fairly simple and straightforward, or incredibly complex and labyrinthine. I’ve had one-page contracts and forty-page contracts. If you’re just starting out, simpler and straightforward is better. By the time you get in to more complex ones, you really should consider having an attorney at least as a consultant to review those.

But the biggest mistake I see new and aspiring creative freelancers make is the assumption they don’t NEED a contract at all. “Oh, it’s for a friend” or “it’s just a simple commission piece” or “they told me not to worry about that” are never good reasons to not have an agreement in place to protect everyone’s interests. Why, you ask?

First, the fact of the matter is that most contracts are never really needed in good, solid professional relationships. They are set out, agreed, signed, filed and maybe reviewed every couple years to see if they need to be renewed yet or not. That’s good, that means things are going well, that means there is dialogue, negotiation, and everyone is happy with the arrangement. Doesn’t that contradict the admonition to always have one then? Nope, because good relations are not what contracts are for.

Contracts are for when things go wrong. They are the seatbelt, the life-vest, the airbag, the backup parachute, the helmet, etc. for the professional – kind of annoying, a distraction, and maybe even irritating – right up until that moment that you end up REALLY glad you had it. And yes, hopefully, for the vast majority of jobs that moment will never come – but someday – it will.

If you are providing a service there is absolutely nothing out of place or inappropriate about asking for a contract. It is the norm, it is expected, it is a right. Now, your ol’ Aunt Nellie who asked you to draw a picture of Schloopy the schnauzer may look at you funny if you ask for one, and maybe for Schloopy you can let it go. But remember this, the only individual or company absolutely guaranteed to not want a contract in place is the one planning to rip you off.

Second, contracts aren’t magic solutions to every problem but they can be life-saving stop gaps or firewalls that can protect you and your interests. For a lot of smaller freelance jobs, the client not paying, would not even be worth the price of getting to a courtroom to sue them (which is why you put in place other protections we will talk about). There will also be times that despite limits set in contracts clients will push for more and expect it anyway. The beauty of a contract, however, is that, if nothing else, it empowers you to draw a line in the sand and stop things spiraling down. It gives you a signed, legal document where, if it’s written well, you can point to and say THIS is what we agreed.

Visionary, in our experience, has had maybe three times contracts became life-vests on a fast sinking ship. But those three times? We kept control of rights we otherwise may have lost and saved us collectively over twenty-thousand dollars. Glad we had them? You bet.

So, what should a contract cover? Let’s hit the highlights.

The 411

Contracts should include names, contact info, dates, and specific terms of the agreement. They should state clearly who will own the completed work, what rights if any are retained by the creator, and what services are expected, with specific guidelines, along with the costs and payments for those services.

Work-For-Hire

Usually, if you are a creator doing work-for-hire, in other words, being paid for your work, then the material you create is generally owned by the person or company paying you. Every writer and artist working on Marvel and DC main universe titles are doing work-for-hire, they don’t own those characters, those stories, or that art. But, there are exceptions to this general rule, such as the fact that with most standard agreements the artist retains ownership of the original art and the right to sell that original art for personal profit, but does NOT retain the right to print it in collected form and sell it. It’s a small concession, but for many artists with established fan bases original art sales end up generating a steady stream of income.

Workflow – Approvals – Payments – Deadlines

This is getting a little more into the details, but contracts should at least provide some answers to all these questions:

How and in what format or file spec will the work be submitted to the client?

This matters. Especially when getting into digital files it’s important specs be set out at the beginning to make sure all the hard work you put in as a creator is going to end up being work the client can actually use. Be aware, you may need to educate your client a bit on some of these things, but make sure you know their expectations up front and make sure those expectations are what is really needed.

How and on what timeline will the client respond with feedback regarding the work?

This also plays into deadline considerations. Just as it’s important that you as a creator commit the time needed to complete work, it’s also important the client commit the time to respond effectively and fairly quickly, especially in those cases where you can’t really do anything more until you do hear back. Setting limits on responding and noting that extended delays will impact deadlines is one way to help draw that line in the sand early.

What limits are there to corrections, changes, or ‘tweaks’ before additional fees should be charged?

Very important! It’s fair a client have some approval over the work they are paying you for. Build in steps to help protect your time. Doing a script? Submit a plot outline first. Doing pencils? Submit layouts for review. These steps help make sure you are moving in the direction the client wants before you finish something they won’t like. It’s also fair to set some limits so clients can’t just endlessly needle things to death. Allowing three revisions is common – any beyond that, means you get paid additional time for your work.

How will payments be made? How often, how will they be processed, what is the process to GET paid, etc.?

Many companies, Visionary included, require creators to submit invoices. Most clients will have a preferred way to send payments. Make sure tax forms are filed if needed. Have all this in place before you have a payment due to avoid delays once you’re counting on a check.

What deadlines are there, and what understanding is there for factors that could impact deadlines?

One of the biggest challenges for freelancers is learning how to gauge their work speed and amount of content they can regularly produce. Deadlines are important, but it’s also important to understand, by the nature of the work, that things happen. If you are a single creator and you end up in the hospital for a week, not much you can do about that work wise. Discuss this going in and have some backup plans or at least considerations in place for various possibilities.

Defaults

Perhaps the most important piece of any contract is the section that lays out options and limitations for what happens if either party fails to meet their end of the deal. (Remember? It matters the second something goes wrong.)

This is the section where it is spelled out what options the client has available if you fail to produce the work by a deadline. Likewise, this is the section where your options as a creator are spelled out if the client fails to pay for work, or fails to approve work. The reason this section is so important is because it limits the backlash, clearly states how the contract can be terminated if necessary, what can and can NOT happen. This section is literally the emergency exit. Give it careful consideration.

Negotiations and Protections

Part of the vital process of putting together a contract is negotiations. When negotiating anything, it’s important to remember the principle of the act is a sharing of risk and a balance of expectations. Good contracts are not exclusively in the favor of any one party, no matter how much more they bring to the table. Good contracts protect the interests of all parties and put in place steps and processes that assure that.

For an example, I’m going to use the standard process we use at Visionary.

When a client approaches us for a job the first thing we have to do is assess – we have to discuss terms of a contract, we have to look into what resources we have to fulfill that contract, what resources the client has to make it happen etc. This can mean investing anywhere from three to thirty hours of effort that is essentially an act of good faith. No money is exchanged, no agreement is in place, but I’m already working on the client’s behalf.

At the end of that process, we then require a signed contract in place and a deposit paid to the studio before we do anything more. When someone balks at a deposit, I remind them we’ve already invested work to get the contract in place, plus, to move forward, we now need to hire creators, which means we will have contracts in place with them. We need to know we can pay our people timely, and to do that, we need the client to now make an act of good faith by paying a fair deposit.

Details vary depending on the size, complexity, resources etc. involved in any given job, but inevitably there are times the studio is in the hole and owed money by a client, and times we have an installment or payment from the client in the bank, entrusted to us to then pay to creators as they invoice for approved work still in process.

One strict art policy we follow in all cases is that finished work is never sent until the final full payment is processed. We will send lower resolution preview files for client feedback but not final hi-res files for print. If money is still owed at that point, it means it is money we now owe a creator that we will pay no matter what, else that’s on us and out of pocket. So, we don’t hand over the final product until that payment is in, because really, what reason would we have to NOT do so once that check clears? How long would we stay in business if we played those mind games? But, how many clients have failed to make final payments once they have everything they need? Enough to be common horror stories among freelancers.

In Closing…

Now, every creator and every job is going to be different, and there is no way I can write a single column that addresses every aspect of every contract. What I can say is this…

-Require a contract.
-Make sure it protects you as well as your client.
-Make sure it sets limits and boundaries for all parties.
-Make sure you’re fully prepared to deal with every single possibility and clause included in that contract, else don’t agree.

If you’re just starting out, it may feel like this kind of stance may rule out possibilities that could be your big break. It could, but it could also end up saving you a lot of time from con artists, cheats and thieves who will steal your work, your time, and your kindness. So, keep that part in mind also.

I’m including a template contract similar to the one Visionary uses. This is simple, basic, but solid and written specifically for freelancers and creative work-for-hire. The file is in WORD so you can download, add in your information in the highlighted sections, and use it yourself as a starting point. It can be used by you when you are agreeing to work with a client, or when you may be hiring someone to work with you on a project.

Download it here>>>

PLEASE NOTE: The author of this column is NOT an attorney and his advice here should not be construed as legal advice, just some common sense. (Basic disclaimer my attorney made me add…)

NEXT

Time to get back into creative stuff as I start a series on penciling! So, yes, pictures!!!

NOW DISCUSS…

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About C. Edward Sellner

A full-time professional freelancer, Sellner has credits as a comics writer, prose author, colorist, artist, and editor from multiple publishers. He is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Visionary Comics, one of the best known comic studios and digital publishers in the industry. The studio opened in 2006 and since then has published over 70 different titles in its digital line, and been involved in over a hundred different projects in production. Its clients range from Hollywood producers to international sports stars to other studios and publishers. It became the first independent studio to enter the licensing game with the announcement of its Deadlands license, which has since been published in comics from Image and IDW and novels from Tor Books. The studio also hosts a successful internship program where interns get practical, real-world freelancing experience, including paid work on actual jobs fitting their skill levels. Learn more at www.visionarycomics.com!

Weekly Visions 12.8.16: Coming Soon…

Things have been a little hectic around the studio these past few weeks, so we apologize for missing our time together last Thursday, and a rather short update this round! But, the good news is we’re going to more than make it up to you in coming weeks!

We teased sometime back that we were going to start rolling out additional web content on our main site and social networking sites, everything from creator interviews, project previews, features on other goings on in the entertainment industry, and more! Well, that time is upon us, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to start pulling together a ton of material we’re going to start sharing on a more regular basis.

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Weekly Visions will be back in force as of next week, with more detailed news items on everything Visionary. Hitting every Thursday, this will be your main source of news on the studio, its creators, projects, and upcoming events!

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My Comic Life Sundays return this coming Sunday with weekly new strips in the popular webcomic series, along with the in-depth My Comic Life Columns! An addition to this feature will be an ever-growing list of online and other resources for creating comics all of which will be included on the column’s archive page.

Get Creative

Debuting in January, Visionary’s new Get Creative weekly feature will run every Tuesday, chock full of interviews, previews, reviews, and other special features for your entertainment! Get more in-depth behind the scenes from the studio itself, our every growing ranks of awesome creators, and a look at some of the other cool things the studio’s partners, friends, and family are up to!

Spotlight

And starting this month, a new periodic feature, Visionary Spotlight. Unlike our other features, this will run sporadically, and do a focus on a single aspect of the studio. Spotlights will go in depth on our creators, our various services, specific projects, art galleries and more! Look for the first ones to hit soon!


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Another Great Review for Deadlands: Thunder Moon Rising!

The Nameless ‘Zine has quite a few good things to say about our latest entry in the Deadlands universe! We couldn’t agree more! Check out the review, and then head on over to buy it if you haven’t already!

Now available on Amazon, and at finer bookstores EVERYWHERE!
Check out the Official Publisher Page!

And remember you can subscribe to our site to get all these updates directly in your email! Why wait? Subscribe Now!

 

 

 

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