To revisit that tale of high adventure, go HERE and relive the glory that was!
In the meantime...
The new page (pg 49) has been posted over at HIMcomic. Click on the pretty preview of this week’s action to get more comics! BUH!!
As fate would have it, “the Fan” is in fact Michael Reed Thureson. Somehow, he found my site and read the story and was kind enough to write to me and send a photo of the HIM/Tick sketch. As soon as I saw his name in my inbox, I remembered exactly who Michael is.
So a personal thanks to Michael for sending me the picture of the sketch. I will update the old blog entry to include your name and the photo.
And here is the sketch...
I learned very early in my career that whom one works with and how that person’s personal taste jives with yours is pretty essential to a harmonious and productive relationship on any given creative project. Butting heads can work, but only if there is serious mutual respect for each other’s abilities. In most cases, being in the same chapter of the stylistic book is usually enough for everything to be smooth. That said...
A long long time ago, when I was just starting out as a Storyboard Artist (less than a year into it and maybe having done only 10 or 11 partial storyboards) I was out of work and looking. I’d just finished working on The TICK season 3 and feeling pretty good about my abilities. The TICK people seemed to like what I was doing and I had gained some confidence from that experience: I realized that I knew what I was doing so long as I was working for people who liked the kind of storyboarding esthetic I leaned towards (I can do many different styles, but my personal taste still comes into play regardless of series style). By contrast, when I worked with someone whose sensibilities ran counter to mine, the storyboard experience was a disaster.
One quick example: After handing in a rough storyboard for approval, the Director said of it, “You are like the Orson Welles of animation”. He then proceeded to shred the storyboard into what no longer could be called my work and was 99% all his. I guess he didn’t think much of Orson Welles’ work. It’s a good thing Welles didn’t work in animation.
I won’t mention any names for the rest of this story as it doesn’t really matter towards the moral of the story.
I knew of someone in Toronto who had a storyboard contract with a big L.A. studio to provide said studio with storyboards that would be produced in Toronto. It was an action show with realistic (animation realistic) characters and I really wanted to do more of that kind of show after having done The TICK. I arranged to meet with the subcontractor to show him my work. I brought along my best TICK storyboard which was the first act of The Tick VS. Prehistory. After looking over the board I was politely told that I wasn’t right for the series. I was pretty bummed about that. After all, The TICK people seemed to really like my work. Needless to say that my fragile newbie storyboard artist’s ego took a big hit that afternoon. Luckily for me, I managed to pick something else up, that day, so I wasn’t out of work, I just wasn’t working on the series I wanted to take part in and it was because I wasn’t good enough. Wah.
My section starts after the opening at 00:30 and ends at 07:32. The sound is off in the video and I can’t take credit for any timing or animation issues, but I can take credit for the highs and lows of the storyboard. I don’t detect any changes from what I did.
About a week later, I got a call from a studio in L.A. saying something like, “Hi, I’m Ms. L.A. Animation from Big L.A. Studio. Producer from Sunbow said you are good and reliable. I was wondering if you were free to work on Action Show for us?” It was the same series I was trying to work on for the subcontractor in Toronto. Only now it was the original studio offering me the job. No meetings, no samples, no fuss and no muss. Of course I agreed to work on the series. I was only supposed to do one episode to help them out of a jam, but the L.A. people were very happy with my work and they asked me to help them with one more before the season finished.
Needless to say, I was extremely happy about this turn of events and fortune and I learned another important lesson: although one must always listen and process the feedback one gets, there are times when it isn’t “you”, it’s “them” and that’s fine because that’s just the way subjective art is. Some people will think you are amazing and some will think you stink. It’s up to oneself to decide if the feedback you get is valid. Opinion factors in heavily when it comes to art and one man’s Orson Welles is another’s “Orson Welles”. I wasn’t good enough for the subcontractor studio, but just wonderful for the studio hiring the subcontractor to do the very job I was rejected for. Go know.
The upside to my ego being crushed for a week was that the L.A. studio payed more than the Toronto studio was going to. So... I learned something important, got to work on the series after all, and I got paid better than I would have had I got the job from the subcontractor in the first place. Not a bad deal at all. Just goes to show that nothing is good or bad: it’s were the good or bad leads you.
My wisdom is endless.
The new page (pg 35) has been posted over at HIMcomic. Click on the cover insisting preview of this week’s action to get more comics! AA-AA-AA!
Part Three: The Tick vs. Steve Remen
By the time December had rolled around, I actually managed to get into storyboarding for the animation studio I was working for so I had a few episodes under my belt. So, I called Ben Edlund up to see if they needed any storyboard artists for the third season of The Tick animated series. He told me they did and to call Hank Tucker at Sunbow Productions, in L.A.
Being the sort of chap I am, I called Hank Tucker, who was the series Director, and he agreed to give me some work. I really didn’t expect it to be so easy as I was accustomed to being asked for samples of my work. So, I offered to send some sample storyboards to Hank and he said I didn’t need to send any. The exchange when like this…
Steve: “Do you want me to send you some storyboard samples?”
Hank: “No. You have experience, right?”
Hank: “And Ben says you can draw, so it’s ok.”
Within a couple of days I had a script and the designs and I was working on season 3 of The Tick. Very cool!
The first episode I worked on was the third act of “The Tick vs. Dot and Neil’s Wedding”. It was the first time an animation script made me laugh out loud. The Tick’s line “I wrestled his tongue!” made me laugh. It was a great script and I was thrilled to be on the show. It was clearly going to be fun to draw and storyboard and… it was.
The only comment Hank had about my first storyboard was, “Don’t make it so flat”. My training in storyboard was standard animation cutting and staging, which means like a stage play or a 1970s episode of… well… anything. Real dull stuff. Hank’s comment to me motivated myself to just forget about what I was told was the “correct way” to tell a story and design a storyboard and just do whatever I thought was best and not over think things too much. It was the best Director’s note I ever got and my work improved 100%, almost overnight, as a result. I can not thank Hank Tucker enough for that.
The other two I storyboarded were “The Tick vs. Filth” (I did the stuff in Sewer Urchin’s lair leading up to the commercial break where the Sewer Czar is revving up his troops) and the first act of “The Tick vs. Prehistory” from the start, where the cave man is transported into the present day and runs around Tick’s apartment, up to the first commercial break.
After the series finished, I took a trip to New York and visited the Sunbow offices and was treated real nice by everyone. I was shown around and later taken out to dinner to a fantastic Indian restaurant by Chris McCulloch, also known by the pseudonym Jackson Publick (creator of The Venture Bros.), who was writing for the show and drawing storyboards.
The Sunbow staff in New York and L.A. were simply a great group of people who couldn’t have been more fun to work for and with. I did work for them, on and off, for several years after The Tick until the studio closed. It’s a shame they folded because it was a great place.
If a DVD set of The Tick 3rd season ever sees the light of day, you can see some of my work for it and even my name in the credits; however, these episodes have been posted on YouTube, so there ya go.
Needles to say, I had a blast on The Tick while it lasted.
One last thing: One day, a package arrived at my door from Sunbow. I wasn’t working for them, at the time, and had no idea what it could be. I did the logical thing and opened the envelope (I’m like Sherlock Holmes, that way). To my great surprise, I pulled out an animation cel of The Tick holding a block of wood, that he would eventually carve Little Wooden Boy out of. Didn’t I say the Sunbow people were a great group?
Part Two: The HIM/Tick Crossover
Note: This is NOT the sketch mentioned in the article, below. This is from a jam drawing that, I believe, proceeded the events in this part of the story. HIM was penciled by me and The TICK by Ben Edlund. It was inked by Steven Peters for his own comic Awakening Comics #0.
Jump ahead in time several years, and I find myself and the other Lethargic Guys are in Chicago at the annual ChicagoCon. I think our latest issue was Lethargic Comics #4. A fan of ours came up to me and asked me to draw him a sketch of The Tick and to leave one side of the page blank. Being the sort of chap I am, I drew him a sketch of The Tick and I left half the page blank and the fan went away (But, if you ask me to draw Mr. Fantastic, I’ll draw him eating a PB&J sandwich. If you ask me to draw Ghost Rider, I’ll draw him ironing his pants. My policy).
He came back later and showed me the sketch, but now, next to my Tick sketch was a HIM drawing by Ben Edlund, Creator of The Tick. That was a very cool sketch (for me at least) and it gave me the thought that I should go over to Ben Edlund’s table and meet him.
Note: If you, “the fan”, are reading this PLEASE EMAIL ME a scan of that sketch. You did , years ago, but I fear it is lost in an old computer’s hard drive. I beg you!!!
UPDATE: Begging helps. “the fan” is in fact Michael Reed Thureson. He sent me a photo of the sketch. This is a stand up guy in my books.
Ben and I got to talking: The Tick animated series was airing its second season, at that time, and doing well. Personally, I was still drawing animation layouts and I wanted to draw storyboards, but the studio I was working for wasn’t seeming like they were going to give me a chance, so I thought I’d ask Ben if he needed anyone to draw storyboards for his show. Not expecting him to say anything but “No, we have everyone we need”, he simply said, “Call me in December. We’re starting up again, then.” Great!
So, I waited until December and I called him.
To Be Continued…
As a footnote: Sometime before or around the start of The Tick animated series, I had met Bob Polio, the Art Director (and more?) of The Tick comic series and we talked about my possibly drawing a Tick comic for him. I drew up two or three sample pages (I think one was of The Tick and one was a Red Eye page that I drew as a proposal for a Red Eye mini-series) and showed them to Bob at the next convention I saw him at.
I liked the pages, but I don’t think Bob did, since I didn’t draw the next Tick comic. Later, when I saw whatever the next Tick comic published was, I understood why I was rejected (or at least I’m pretty sure of it): I didn’t draw The Tick like Ben Edlund - I drew him how I liked to draw him. It would have been fun to draw a Tick comic, but Bob’s reason (so I suspect) was a good one and I wouldn’t think to argue with it. After all, Ben’s style of drawings sold more comics than mine.
I still have my sample pages in storage somewhere. If I find them, the next time I have access to the boxes of stuff, I’ll post them on the website. Hmm… Maybe I’ll see them again and revise my opinion as to why they were rejected.
The new page (pg 10) has been posted over at HIMcomic. A bonus page (Page 11) has been added to celebrate that special day called May 15th!
Part One: “HIM’s just like The Tick”
Pretty much since HIM first saw print in the original Lethargic Comics, Weakly mini-comic, HIM has been compared to The TICK. More accurately, I was told over and over, “HIM’s just like The Tick.” Often, that was said with some manner of dismissive sneer. What’s HIM connection with The Tick? Originally, none.
When I created HIM, (in 1989, about a year after The Tick first appeared) about the only think I knew about The Tick as in the form of a very small head shot of The Tick in the New England Comics ads that were placed in Marvel’s comics in the late 80s. I’d never seen the actual comic, let alone read one.
When it became apparent that so many people said HIM was like The Tick, I started to actively avoid looking at the Tick comics. I just didn’t want to know what was similar since, up to that point, any similarities were 100% coincidental. But, curiosity got the best of me when one of my friends bought some Tick comics to read and he liked them a lot. So, I borrowed them and read them. I also liked them a lot. Yeah, there were similarities, but I didn’t think they were the same character then and I still don’t think they are all that similar, now. Though, if someone does think they share similar qualities, I’m not unhappy since I think The Tick was a great comic.
Back when I was drawing HIM for the mini-comic, a classmate, known as Zee, came to my defense when I was being attacked by some critics (I was not present). He said, “He’s a big guy with a big chin - What do you want?” I’ve been using that argument ever since.
To Be Continued…