I'm a cartoonist/comic book writer originally from New Zealand, now living in the UK. My work's been published in some form or another since 1988.
Best known for writing and drawing "The Muppet Show Comic Book" and writing "Thor The Mighty Avenger" & "Popeye", I'm most proud of my own creations ("Fred the Clown" and "Snarked" being the most readily available examples).
14 And let's say your own path as a horror artist has led you to increasingly bold and flashy page layouts and panel compositions. That approach won't be very helpful to a mentee working on his deadpan boarding-school comedy. Ask lots of questions and learn about what they're doing so you have better context for the problems you're helping them solve.
13 TAILOR YOUR ADVICE TO THEIR NEEDS, NOT YOURS
Sometimes what worked for you is the exact opposite of what another artist needs. My own work in the past few years has benefited immensely from shooting photo reference. It would be very easy to follow that by telling every mentee to shoot more photos. But that would be a bad idea. For some artists, the right path is steering away from representational reality into greater levels of abstraction and stylization.
11 SHOW, DON'T TELL
One of the best ways I've found to guide a cartoonist's development has been exposing them to the right influence at the right time. Darren had a killer work ethic and spectacular drafting skills, but didn't know when to stop crowding his pages with detail, or how to organize that detail effectively. I showed him some work by an artist with a similar skill-set and inclinations—Wally Wood—and let him see the strategies Wood deployed to control all that rendering and detail.
10 It's okay to say, "I don't know." Maybe you know someone who does. You can perform one of the most important tasks of any mentor, expanding your mentee's network. If you HAVE to give an answer on the spot, hedge your bets. Put aside the surety with which you'd usually respond and make sure to frame your observations as being based on general principles rather than specific knowledge. You might be totally wrong, but you'll still be communicating something of value.
9 BE AWARE OF YOUR OWN BLIND SPOTS
I know a lot about making comics and existing in this industry, but I certainly don't know everything. I'm ignorant of trends and tropes in Manga and BD. I mostly work in black and white, so my eye for color is functional but nothing special. My eye for fashion is awful. There are people, publishers, and situations with which I'm completely unfamiliar, tech I've never tried, and contract clauses I've never encountered.
8 "But I could tell them lots more about the subject! And they're going to need it!" That's great. But if you tell them now they're not going to retain it. Hold back. If it really is important, it'll come up again. Share that tidbit at the moment your mentee needs it, and they'll learn it for life.
7 DON'T INFO DUMP
You might have an understanding of color-theory that rivals Titian, but don't drop a whole textbook on someone when they're struggling with getting the palette for a scene to work. Just show them how to do that one thing. In my experience, the things I teach that get retained are the ones that solve an immediate and painful problem.
•How do I handle taxes?
•Where can I find a lawyer who understands publishing and IP?
•How do I maintain a useful online identity?
•How do you get a table at a convention?
•Is this convention the right one for me?
•What do I do if I don't have a contract from a client?
•What if I don't like what's in a contract?
•What do I do if I agree to a schedule and it turns out I'm not as fast as I thought I was?
•I'm not getting along with my collaborator. How do I handle this?
4 Cori's already accumulated solid professional skills: She can tell a story, and produce clear, engaging pages. A good mentor for Cori will probably split their time talking between business and art. A cartoonist in the early years of her career will have a thousand questions about how business works. What sort of questions?
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