Friday, March 14, 2008

Comic Art Friday exclusive: Inkwell Awards founder Bob Almond (part two of two)

Previously on Comic Art Friday...

We presented the first half of our exclusive interview with comic book artist Bob Almond, one of the industry's foremost inkers. Bob stopped by SSTOL to chat with us about the Inkwell Awards, which will honor artists who practice this misunderstood, often unheralded specialty. As founder of the Inkwell Awards, Bob is the perfect man to give us the straight skinny on this unique new recognition program.

As in last week's session, we'll intersperse Bob's comments with "before and after" examples of commission projects "The King of Ink" has done for me over the past several years.

We now rejoin our interview with Mr. Almond, already in progress.

SSTOL: In addition to yourself, Bob, who are the fine folks who make up the Inkwell Awards committee?

Bob Almond: The committee consists of several talents as passionate as I am for getting our message out. I'll start off with Bill Nichols, my editor at Sketch Magazine, where the awards were born in my "Inkblots" column. Bill and the magazine were the instruments that allowed me to take my idea and let it germinate. And, besides being another inker, Bill brings an editor's perspective to the game. His goal has been to educate and help other creators in our community.

Then there's Tim Townsend, our unofficial ambassador. He's about as close to "superstar" status as inkers get these days. Tim was my first choice for a team player due to his ability to bridge and connect to professionals from the legendary veterans up to the young hotshots of the medium.

We have Jimmy Tournas, fellow inker and moderator of the Inkwell mailing list on Yahoo Groups. Jimmy is one of the most giving and nicest guys around. He is the reason we have accomplished so much at our site, since he designed and created the bulk of it. He's the tech guy I go to when I'm typically ignorant of some matter. Definitely the "glue" of the group.

Daniel Best
is our resident writer Down Under. His blog, 20th Century Danny Boy, has always impressed me for showing his efforts to help out the little guy, or yesterday's legends who have fallen off the radar. For that reason, he's like the soul of our team mission.

And lastly, we have our non-inker celebrities, Mike Marts and Adam Hughes. Mike is presently a DC Comics senior editor, and has spent editorial stints at both Acclaim Comics and twice at Marvel. In fact, he even edited my run on Black Panther. Mike knows how to motivate the best out of people, he knows and loves the business, and he adds to our credibility by adding a mainstream editor to the fold in support of our cause of respecting and giving back to those ink artists deserving of attention.

And what can I say about Adam that his work doesn't? He's a multi-talented and respected artist with whom we are sincerely honored to be sharing the floor. The man knows how to ink, but he transcends that. And yet, he still feels it important enough to help recognize that what we do is important. Besides overseeing the awards proceedings, Mike and Adam bring a cross-professional, non-partisan atmosphere to the group which amplifies the solidarity involved. In other words, they really make us look good!

SSTOL: You've named your Lifetime Achievement Award after Joe Sinnott. Why did you choose Mr. Sinnott, who's probably best known for his work over Jack Kirby's pencils during Marvel's Silver Age?

Bob Almond: The committee discussed several candidates for the title, in terms of having an ink artist whose name recognition brings distinction and respect to the craft due to his or her quality of work, character, and accomplishments through the years. Ultimately, we all agreed on Joltin' Joe.

SSTOL: I definitely concur with that choice — Sinnott was my favorite inker of that historic period. Who are some of the other inkers who most influenced your own work?

Bob Almond: As a young 'un Marvel fan in the mid-to-late '70s, I always adored and studied the work of Joe Rubinstein, Bob Layton, Terry Austin, Tom Palmer, and Klaus Janson.

I'd collected back issues and was familiar with the great Golden and Silver Age inkers, but I felt that these upstarts were pushing the medium even further along and made the work more exciting overall, almost regardless of who penciled the work. So, while I studied and was inspired by others along the way, I have to say that those five guys were my earliest influences.

SSTOL: One final question, Bob. If you could put to rest one misconception about inking, what would it be?

Bob Almond: I may need to stretch that beyond one misconception when it comes to our work. Not to sound bitter, but there's a belief by some that inkers are talentless hacks. Many ink artists are fine, accomplished pencilers and painters who have cut across to other areas like commercial art, animation, and storyboarding. Inkers know how to draw, but tend to be quicker or better at the inking path of creation, thus making it a more practical career choice.

Some feel that inkers just trace the work. But they don't know what the work looked like when we got it. The reader is actually seeing our interpretation of the work in ink. Often we add, edit, and redraw much of what was there originally, for whatever reason.

Also, some feel that we're interchangeable. I'm sure many could also challenge that line of thinking by recalling some art matches [of penciler and inker] that were ill-conceived by editors over the years. With the right style combination, the inker will certainly bring the best out of the pencil art, and achieve transcendent work that will be cherished for years to come.

Voting for the Inkwell Awards begins April 1. If you're a fan of comic art, please take a moment to drop by the site, and put in a mention for your favorite inkers. The competition covers both classic and modern artists, so there's ample opportunity to acknowledge all of your favorites past and present.

Thanks to my friend Bob Almond for his generous participation!

And that's your Comic Art Friday.

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1 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger DAN-VAN-COOL offered these pearls of wisdom...

Great Blog. Lots of great things to read & see. Excited I got to read an interview on Mr. Almond. I was just speaking to him recently. Super Nice guy!

10:52 PM  

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