mabfan (Michael A. Burstein) (mabfan) wrote,
mabfan (Michael A. Burstein)

Reflections on Comic Book Art Lessons

So, as some of you may remember from my October 27 Brief Personal Update, gnomi and I signed up for art lessons at the Brookline Arts Center. Specifically, we signed up for private lessons in comic book art and cartooning. The main reason I'm doing this is because after spending so many years reading comic books, I thought it would be fun to see if I could actually learn to draw. Nomi has her own reasons for taking the lessons; perhaps she'll share them in her own blog.

I've always wanted to be able to draw better than I can. In high school, we had art classes that included some drawing of still life figures and people's faces, but I was never any good at it. Former students of mine might recall the amusingly low quality of my blackboard Physics diagrams, especially the horse and cart diagrams I would attempt to draw. The horse always ended up looking more like a hot dog with legs and a tail. So on the one hand, learning to draw could be just a waste of time; I do have a lot of other things on my plate, after all.

But on the other hand...the impetus has always been there. I just remembered last night that as a kid, I created a superhero called "Power Mouse" and drew a few small-sized comic books about her adventures. Power Mouse would fly through the air, a mouse in a cape, above tall city buildings, doing the usual good deeds that superpowered mice tended to do. (I was seven years old, so give me a break.) So when we saw the Brookline Arts Center booth at the Brookline 300 street fair two months ago, it was fate. I asked about art lessons, and one of the directors gave me information on their classes and faculty. The class schedules weren't convenient for us, so we ended up going for the private lessons.

Nomi and I had our first lesson last night, and it went extremely well. We really lucked out with our teacher, an artist named Raul Gonzalez. His official bio at the BAC website says, "Raul Gonzalez is an illustrator/cartoonist and designer living in Somerville. He also teaches at the Museum of Fine Arts, Phillips Academy, and Roxbury Preparatory Charter School." He maintains a website of some of his work at Although his own artwork is not the style I want to learn, he clearly has the ability to create comic art in the styles I want to draw. He brought a bunch of different comic book collections with him last night, and was able to imitate the work of Deodato and Ramos, among others. He's also a very good teacher, extremely encouraging and able to help me relax and just draw with the flow. I don't know why, but for some reason I was tensing up as I tried to draw faces last night. Raul helped us both relax as we put non-photo blue pencil to paper. We drew a lot of ovals, and Raul showed us how to start turning them into faces. We learned about drawing eyes and noses last night, and this morning I sketched one of my co-workers in a meeting. It's still not perfect, but it wasn't bad.

So next week Nomi and I have our second lesson, and then we'll have to schedule some more. Raul is having us bring in our own ideas for comic book characters and stories; I'm using a script I wrote ten years ago for Denny O'Neil's course in comic book writing at the School of Visual Arts. I have the feeling that Raul's final goal is to have the two of us each complete an entire story as a comic book, written, drawn, inked, and lettered by ourselves. I'm looking forward to it, but even more so, I'm enjoying the journey that has just begun.
Tags: comics, personal

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