“Very cool. I’ve always understood how penciling, coloring and even lettering styles can differ from person to person. Never could quite wrap my head around inking though. This shows the same pencilling inked by different inkers. I think I finally get it.”
Author: Bob Almond
As reported today at FIRST COMICS NEWS:
New Bedford, MA/USA—April 13, 2016) The Inkwell Awards, a non-profit organization devoted to the education and promotion of the art of comic book inking, invites everyone to vote for the industry’s best of the past year. The official public ballot will be available on the Inkwell Awards’ homepage from April 15 through April 30.
Voting is open to everyone, whether fans or professionals. Besides “Favorite Inker,” categories include “Most Adaptable,” “PROPS” (inkers deserving more attention), the “S.P.A.M.I.” (Small Press And Mainstream Independent) and “All-In-One” for pencillers who ink their own work.
As a courtesy, the ballot also lists the nominees for the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame (“HoF”) and the Special Recognition Award (SRA) lifetime achievement awards for an outstanding inking career of 25 or more years in American comics, whose winners are chosen by an internal HoF committee to avoid a “popularity contest” where recent names have more influence than past masters.
The SRA differs from the HoF award due to one or more factors such as the artist being out of the “public eye,” having limited name-recognition due to semi- or full retirement or death, limited-yet-influential output, social barriers such as gender/race, or other factors that would otherwise possibly limit them from being nominated for a traditional HoF award. This award was also chosen internally.
“We’re always thrilled for this event, where the best of the best ink artists and their work get the recognition they deserve,” said Bob Almond, founder and director of The Inkwell Awards. “Inkers have their own fans and followers, yet often go unnoticed or glossed over by most awards events. Ours caters specifically to ink artists and allows them to be recognized and appreciated in various categories. We hope to have even more voters than last year.”
Once voting closes after April 30, the winners will be announced at the live awards ceremony at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC on Friday, June 17th.
The Inkwell Awards is an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and promote the art form of comic-book inking, as well as annually recognize and award the best ink artists and their work. Now in its ninth year, the organization is overseen by a committee of industry professionals and assisted by various professional ambassadors and numerous contributors. They sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award.
Upon accepting the position of Inkwell ambassador as reported last month Rich Buckler graciously offered the non-profit organization to share this new, fascinating material on his thoughts on the art form of inking and his career experiences with it. Rich is an accomplished teacher on sequential art storytelling and master of many of the necessary skills involved in comic book production including INKING. He has had several comic How-To books published in ’80s-’90s on these crafts.
Inking As Drawing…
©2015 Rich Buckler
Most comic book art is a collaboration of a pencil artist and an ink artist. Two artists who produce, in separate stages, the finished art that (after being lettered and colored) goes to the printer. So really, every printed page has actually been drawn twice.
Most comics fans do not have a good understanding of that creative process and what that involves. Misunderstanding what an inker does can can cause all sorts of distorted ideas. Comic book pencillers have all sorts of ideas about inking. Some think inkers are only tracers (which is not accurate) or, at best they are a necessary evil (which is very inaccurate). Sometimes the inker gets too much credit for the look of the final art–sometimes, not enough.
I see the penciller/inker collaboration as a team effort. Inkers are artists. And every team effort of pencillers and inkers on a comic book is almost always a compromise.
There are no “super inkers” who make every penciller look great no matter whose art they ink (I wish there were!). That is just a gross exaggeration. Some combinations do work better than others. Generally inkers do a judicious amount of embellishing and make “improvements”–but not all of them do this. And nobody is perfect.
So let’s take a look at what inkers do.
The inker is responsible for the final look of the art–to make it as sharp and attractive for reproduction as possible. In that sense, they do correct things as they work. For example, a stray line, a missed detail, or some appropriate added black areas here and there–things like that. Pencillers who ink their own work do this too.
Nobody even attempts to duplicate exactly all of the subtleties and nuances of the pencil work. That is not only not desirable, it is practically impossible. What the inker is expected to do is faithfully render the drawings effectively in ink. He/she is expected to know good draftsmanship but not expected to redraw what has already been drawn.
Which is not to say that that doesn’t involve drawing; of course it does! So, ideally, every professional inker should have a good grasp of the basics of drawing. Why is that essential? When the inker comes on board everything has already been drawn, right?
Well, consider this: A good professional inker will never merely trace pencil lines with a pen and brush. That’s not inking; it’s just tracing. Trust me, that approach is amateurish and only produces mediocre results. A really substandard inker (one who is not competent or whose drawing skills are not up to professional standards, that is) may get work, but not for long–and certainly not on a regular basis! Okay, in the comics a few bad inking jobs may happen. (And it’s a wonder that there are not more!) But that almost never occurs on a top book. And I don’t know of a single instance where a totally inept artist was ever afforded the opportunity to make a career out of it.
We now have a Tumblr account to our line-up of social networks! When the Inkwell Awards started out we used to have accounts with MySpace and ComicSpace and even our own forum, but those venues lost popularity so we changed with the times for maximum exposure. Our Facebook (group page and fan page) and Twitter accounts have expanded and thrived over time and members Stacey Aragon and Sarah Covert later added both a YouTube and Google+ account. (And this doesn’t count our Comicart Fans Gallery maintained by Damon Owens, entry on Wikipedia, eBay Store, and our subsidiary page on DeviantArt, The Inkers Challenge which is maintained by JL Straw.) While Dorian is still in the early stages of designing it please drop in from time to time as he refines the look of the page.
Another huge development is that our Store is (finally) upgraded to modern levels! For years I dreamt of having shopping carts and being able to calculate shipping and payment for online shopping but there was either never the time or tech-skill capabilities, or both. But now that our book line and inventory of products has expanded committee member and the latest website maintenance supervisor Rhys Evans has been working on this option over the past several weeks and as of a few days ago finally completed it. Please feel free to check it out and browse down the aisles to see if anything catches your fancy to assist us in fundraising. Let us know if anything doesn’t work proper or if you have any questions. All we ask is patience as we’re a bare bones operation, meaning that I’m the cashier, bagger, stocker, manager, heck, I’m the entire crew working in the store…and I only can devote part-time hours– LOL! But you will hear from me.
I’ll keep you posted about any further social network or website updates.
The following press release was released today at First Comics News:
(New Bedford, MA/USA—January 7, 2016) Legendary “Bronze-Age” comic-book artist Rich Buckler (Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Thor, creator of Deathlok, et al.) has agreed to support the artform of inking by joining the ranks of professional ambassadors for the Inkwell Awards inking advocacy.
In a statement, Buckler said:
“Let’s hear it for the ink artists of the comics! And they are artists. And you know, I have so many favorites! I will even go so far as to say that a capable and skillful inker is, for pencil artists, a veritable treasure. I have written a lot about inkers and the craft of inking comics. Many pencillers do not appreciate them enough. That’s what I think.
“As a comics industry insider, I have endeavored in my writings on various blogs and websites to increase comics fandom’s awareness of the valuable contributions of these craftspeople who devote their careers to drawing in ink. I sincerely hope I have shed some light on just what these artists contribute to the pencil art and what it is that they actual do.
“I love to collaborate. I always have. And over the years I have had the pleasure to team up with many of the very best! For that I am grateful. Yes, I do also ink my own comic art. But comics, when it comes to the covers and interior art and the sheer magic of the medium, are for the most part a collaborative art.
“So let’s hear it for the comic book inkers!”
Ambassadors have been recruited since the formation of the organization in 2008, starting with artist Adam Hughes and editor Mike Marts. The most recent recruits were author Clifford Meth, writer-artist Jim Starlin and color artist Laura Martin. Members are drawn from various community skills and professions in a display of support and solidarity for the promotion of the art form of comic-book inking.
Season 8 began last summer with a “Help Wanted” announcement to replace departed volunteers from the previous season. “We were able to reorganize and fill some vacant roles and train them on the job over the fall,” said Inkwell Awards director Bob Almond. “We can always use more capable, dedicated people to help build and strengthen our organization, especially with matters related to fundraising. But there were also some advancements in the ranks from those members who’ve been paying their dues.”
Among those is the promotion of artist-writer Mike Pascale to assistant director. Pascale, a committee member since 2013, fills a position left by outgoing assistant director Michael W. Kellar. Besides administrative matters, Pascale handles copy and graphics, proofreading, and assists with fundraising. Joining the committee as contributors are two new members recruited from last fall’s membership drive: Rhys G. Evans, who handles website maintenance and has been acting as auctioneer (along with Pascale), and inker John T. Dixon, a disabled veteran who’s taken on the duties of Inker Resources & Database updates, advertising, and Nomination Committee Assistant.
In addition, Holly Black, who portrays the company spokesmodel Ms. Inkwell, is now a senior contributor after attending and fundraising at shows in that role for nearly a year. Daniel Best, a founding committee member, also returns to the organization as a senior contributor after a several month absence.
This is a copy/paste of the invitation that went out earlier today. But all the relevant info is there for those interested. Bob Almond
2/26/16-UPDATE: THE FINAL DEADLINE IS MARCH 15. WE MUST HAVE THE 400DPI HI-RES SCAN BY THEN AND YOU MUST SHIP IMMEDIATELY TO MARK SINNOTT. THANK YOU! BOB
WHAT IS IT?
The Inkwell Awards invites you to the sixth annual Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge. Our Hall of Fame Award is named after Joe and, with his approval and support, we have taken a couple of his pencil donations intended for our fundraising, originally rendered on blank variant cover comics, and blown them up and converted them to bluelines for inking. We have chosen ink artists who are A) part of our organization, B) Inkwell award recipients, or C) notable for their career inkwork ranging from the veteran embellishers of the
silver-age through to the respected delineators of today, but any inker can take part, including novices. Since last year some of you who missed previous Challenges asked me to be added to the list and you are included here. For fundraising and educational purposes, we’d like to know if you would be willing to voluntarily participate in inking one or both of these pieces. We will take the final images and post them on our Comic Art Fans gallery in comparison to Joe’s initial pencil art in order to showcase to the public the contributions of various ink artists and what they bring to the table. Secondly, these pieces would be auctioned off to raise funds for our vital operational needs and philanthropic programs like the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund to the students of the Joe Kubert School and our COMPliments Program which allows HoF inkers who are singled out from receiving collections of their work from publishers to receive them through us and not have to purchase them. Last year’s successful program brought in over $3000 on our eBay auctions and this year we anticipate an even better outcome. You can see previous samples of donations from our first four years at our Comic Art Fans gallery (top left labeled links): http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryDetail.asp?GCat=35444
It was reported today that Murphy Anderson passed away this Friday morning at the age of 89. He was recognized by the Inkwell Awards with a Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award in 2013 (alongside Dick Ayers) but he was not well enough at the time to travel to the host show at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC. Mike Pascale wrote up a wonderful tribute article on account of this accomplishment at our website. Inkwell director Bob Almond wrote the following today on his Facebook page:
My sincerest condolences to the family of Murphy Anderson who it’s been reported to have passed away this morning at 89. I was always more of a Marvel guy growing up so I didn’t follow a lot of the silver-bronze age DC artists/inkers but he was recognized even by me at that time as the top tier of their house assortment of talent since the ’50s. Perhaps their DC inker version of Joe Sinnott….or he was to Curt Swan (as ‘Sanderson’) what Joe was to Jack Kirby as a team. I met him a couple of times at conventions, always professionally dressed in a suit, and he was a true gentleman in public. My son Nathan Almond sat next to him at a Boston Comic Book & Toy Spectacular show from 2005 (the same show he posed with Joe Sinnott) and Murphy was gracious about letting his play make believe and sketch alongside him. He was recognized with a prestigious Inkwell Awards’ Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame award in 2013 and Mike Pascale wrote up a wonderful tribute on his life and career. Rest in peace and thanks for all of the accomplishments and entertainment, kind sir.
It’s been mentioned from time to time and images have begun appearing on Facebook but some of you may be asking exactly what is the Sinnott Inking Challenge Spotlight?
It’s an Inkwell Awards spin-off of the popular and successful original Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge that has been an annual event since I introduced it in 2011. Named and focused on the Inkwell special ambassador and Hall of Fame namesake, Joe Sinnott renders a character in tight pencils and another in loose pencils (breakdowns) and the challenge is for other inkers to interpret his work in ink. This idea has worked on two fronts. First, the artists donate their page, inked over blue lines of the pencils and signed by both Joe and the inker, to the Inkwells and we auction them off on eBay for fundraising. Second, between the event and the subsequent book collection we visually reinforce what the ink artist brings to the table in a ‘before & after’ comparison. The goal meets our mission state about educating what the art form of inking is. The first collection debuted in 2012 and the fifth and latest came out this past June 2015. All are available in our Store (with free signatures by Joe). Continue reading BOB’S BLOG: INKBLOTS: Introducing the Sinnott Inking Challenge SPOTLIGHT on JIM LEE!
RECRUIT, REORGANIZE, REBUILD
On July 6 we reported about the need for Inkwell Awards volunteers and positions sought after an exodus of volunteers. Season 8 contained several departures, especially in the final 2-3 months prior to the big awards ceremony finale at Heroes Con. Three core committee members stepped down (including the assistant director) and multiple contributors left for reasons that included: simple resignations due to an increased ‘real job’ workload, disappearance, illness, and personal reasons, with a couple of members not departing but needing sabbaticals. So the Help Wanted press release went out this summer and I was happy with the results. Here is where we stand to date:
As reported at FirstComicsNews:
(New Bedford, MA/USA—July 6, 2015) The non-profit Inkwell Awards, the sole advocacy for promoting the artform of comic book inking and recognizing its artists, is looking for dedicated volunteers within the comic book community.
As the organization begins its ninth season, it needs extra hands as well as heads. “While we’ve retained devoted members for years at a time, turnaround is common amongst charitable organizations and we’re no exception,” said Bob Almond, the Inkwells’ founder and director. “Finding volunteers is tough enough but finding capable and dedicated ones to last long-term is the challenge.”
Positions/skills of immediate need (and their requirements) include:
*eBay Auctioneer (helps set up and run fundraising auctions; some original comic art/collectibles experience necessary)
*Press Coordinator (interacts with/expands press contacts and forwards PR announcements; public relations experience a plus)
*Volunteer Coordinator and convention volunteers (collects donations for both operational/program expenses and scholarship fund; the Coordinator reaches out to creators via email)
*Nomination Committee Liaison (to oversee, communicate with and recruit new members of the “Nom Com,” who research and nominate candidates for the ballot)
*Nomination Committee volunteers (retailers, bloggers, podcasters, creators, etc. Prefer those who are familiar with current comic book titles, ink artists and their work)
*Website Maintenance (to help perform maintenance/updates; must be familiar with Word Press)
*Advertising (specializing in recruiting advertisers for our books and website)
*Ballot Nominations Supervisor (reviews ballot-nominated candidates and their cited work; must be well-informed regarding current published comic books)
*Inker Resources/Inker Database Assistant (researches inker-related data and posts to the website- must be familiar with Word Press)
*Social Networks (to handle circulating all announcements and boost membership)
*Any charity professional proficient in setting up and running a multi-tier membership incentive program
These positions are voluntary (unpaid) but part-time. Requirements range from annually, quarterly, intermittently, to semi-regular frequency. A résumé and/or references are required in most cases. Scheduling flexibility is negotiable. Communication, reliability, professionalism, altruism, stability and passion for the art form are required; being a team player is a must. Serious inquiries only, please.
Any interested parties can contact Bob Almond at email@example.com.