Comic Life is the good life
A panel of seven comic artists was featured by the Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) Alta. South division on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018 at the Fort Calgary Theatre.
Jillian Fleck, Tyler Jenkins, Nick Johnson, Troy Nixey, Ben Rankel, Riley Rossmo and Dave Whamond, all giants in the comic book industry, are gathering for the panel organized by Guy Parsons, a cartoonist and a member of the National Cartoonist Society.
Parsons organized the event to expose and connect individuals who were interested in entering the art industry to professionals who are able to give them advice.
“A lot of people do cartoons and a lot of people are interested in doing it, but maybe seeing somebody talk about what could be successful, and what’s not going to be successful [would help],” Parsons said.
Rossmo, an artist who has worked with DC and Image Comics, stumbled into his profession.
“My family is fairly blue collar,” Rossmo said.
“Art was not a thing that you do.”
Rossmo worked in his uncle’s restaurantout of high school and was apprenticingunder its head chef before attending the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD).
He fell in love with the school after visiting some friends, and joined ACAD’s Artstream program.
He began his professional career by doing art for advertising storyboards and local newspapers, getting paid up to $400 for drawings that took only two days to
Johnson, an instructor at ACAD, was 27 years-old when he realized that he needed to go to art school.
He freelances as a comic book artist and has self published several of his works. Fleck is another graduate of ACAD.
By day, Fleck enjoys working at Sidewalk Citizen, a local Kensington bakery, and by night, they enjoys making their comic creations.
Fleck said they began in comics by posting their comics online and developing a small following that would eventually consist of publishers.
They said that they found it was best to stick to their own styles and themes and believed that other up-andcoming artists should develop their own personal style as well.
“Don’t play at being somebody else because people have already seen that,” Fleck said.
“I see a lot of younger artists who are trying to be Michael DeForge [an established comic book artist] and that’s great, but Michael DeForge is still better at being Michael DeForge than you are.”
The artists said they are excited to attend the panel and eager to share their knowledge with those who were willing to listen.
“The idea of being a paid artist feels like a myth sometimes, almost like finding a unicorn,” Johnson said.
“I’m excited to talk to people, to tell them that it is achievable to live a life as an artist.”
Parsons had seen several of the artists at a similar talk put on by the GDC about two years ago.
“The last talk I saw them at was a lot of fun,” Parsons said.
“I wanted to see that again and I think a lot of people would like to see it as well.”