Sketching From Graphic Novels (Comics)

Our group often talks about sketching opportunities and options and almost as often the idea of sketching from graphic novels comes up.

If you’re only familiar with US comics, I’m not talking here about drawing superheros in spandex.  The French comic industry is another thing entirely, targeting adult consumers.  The books are generally hardcover and run the gamet from mysteries, science fiction, political commentary, humor, historical, and adventure genres.

What happened to cause us to actually act on the idea was that finding sketchcrawl venues during Quebec winters is difficult and Yvan learned that the library had a large collection of large-panel examples from French graphic novels.  He scheduled our March sketchcrawl to take place in the art viewing room of our library.  As you can see from the photo that Yvan took of me, it was a much more comfortable setting than sitting on street corners on a tripod stool.  The eight of us who showed up had a ball.

The photo shows me drawing Jim Cutlass, a classic character by Jean-Michel Charlier, one of the best adventure writers and drawn by Christian Rossi.  I hope I did Rossi’s work justice as I created my depiction of the character.

Upon completion I wandered around, enjoying the company of the other sketchers.  A friend of mine, that I hadn’t seen in quite a while, came to the event so we spent a bunch of time talking.  Then I spent a lot of time looking at all of the panels and books available for us to draw from.  This, of course, created a whole bunch of “Oooo…I gotta draw that” feelings, but it didn’t get much actual drawing done.  It sure was fun though.

I’m a building and city sketcher and after looking at a bunch of books with monsters and fantasy world landscapes, my brain was hankering for something weird.  Ill-equipped for drawing such things, I remembered Cathy Johnson’s mantra “they’re only shapes” and I tackled this guy.

I wouldn’t want him chasing me and while this guy looks like one of the orb weavers I remember from Mexico, I couldn’t help but think of the big spiders that chased Ron and Harry in The Chamber of Secrets movie.  As the day came to an end, I was pleased with this ‘out of the box’ endeavour and I think I may do more drawing from graphic novels.


2 thoughts on “Sketching From Graphic Novels (Comics)

  1. This looks like so much fun!!! I’ve actually been mulling this over in my head with two recent comics I’ve purchased. They’re definitely not the average comic book with “comic book art”. When I first read them, I kept thinking… I’d love to try to draw that page/panel… I bet I could learn a lot! If I were to do this and share it to social media, I’d obviously give credit to the original artist and state that my attempt at the art is “After (insert artist name). Is there anything else that I should or shouldn’t do when sharing to social media? I really don’t want to inadvertently infringe on copyrights. I’m so glad you you did this and posted it!! Your drawing came out wonderfully!!

    • It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. Copying other people’s artwork is a traditional way of learning to draw and paint. I do it a lot, though typically I draw only pieces of someone’s art with the thought of getting the feel for how the artist made the strokes, mixed the colors, or whatever. I rarely post any of this because the results are incomplete and not very good and I’m more of a location sketcher so this sort of stuff is just my form of calesthenics. I do think that posting copied art is a touchy business, particularly if you’ve completely copied the piece. A very lawyerly answer to your question would probably be to never do it. In reality, if you’re not commercializing it and acknowledge the source, you’re probably all right, but don’t quote me, I’m not a lawyer.

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