Posted By Art Baxter

christmas_strip-2

This time you get to see the comic first before the "making-of" documentary. That is my gift to you. Click HERE to see it.

Ok, the next year, 1997, I was minding my own business when I received a call from Michael Gentile, the founding art director of the NEW YORK PRESS. The PRESS, in those days, was a new upstart free weekly alternative paper in NY that ran a huge amount of art each week to match its (usually) "first person" articles. Between the NY Press and SCREW, New York alternative cartoonists managed to not starve by getting plenty of work from both papers. I had been a semi regular contributor to SCREW since the 1993 where I was able to get in print and get paid while I honed my craft. By '97 I was also illustrating for the PRESS. I had done a few cover stories and a lot of B & W spots. This was still the precomputer & internet days (for me at least) so I got the spot illustrations to the PRESS in a unique way. Mike Gentile told me to fax him the art as large as possible then he would scan the fax and reduce the art to print size. It worked pretty well. The published version wasn't as sharp as I would like but it was perfectly acceptable considering it was printed on newsprint.

Anyway, Gentile calls me on the phone in mid November and commissions a half page color Christmas theme strip. He called on either Monday or Tuesday and it was due first thing the next Monday for the big Shopping Guide due to hit the stands Wednesday (Thanksgiving was Thursday). So I scramble and come up with an idea for Billy, Tommy & Santa again. I fax him the sketch and he tells me to push the dominatrix more (I had held back a little bit). I believe he suggested the whip ( I already had her on Santa's back). The print size of the strip was 10" x 6" and I drew it twice up at 20" x 12," a pretty good size. I'm notoriously slow. I think I finished drawing and lettering it by Friday night. I still had to color it.

The NEW YORK press had a color chart from there printer that had all the colors and their percentages of cyan, magenta, yellow and black that they gave freelancers as reference when they colored their art "mechanically." Which means the artist would have to indicate on a peice of acetate the percent of a color to "build" the color they wanted.  (Click HERE for more on what I'm talking about.) I picked a palate of as few colors as I could get away with then used percentages of black (gray tones) to expand the range a little. I made a zerox of the art and did a few color sketches with color pencil until I got the color scheme I wanted then I had to do the color breakdowns on the acetate. I won't go any further describing the process except to say it can get very complicated and very time consuming. I had done it many times before but it's a big chore especially when you try to get the best results you can. It's a lot of guesswork.

I was pretty happy the way it all turned out actually.

NEXT: Back in Philly for the answer to the age old question "Where do baby Santas come from?"


 
2 Comment(s):
Art said...
Thanks Slovko. Yeah, I banged this damn thing out pretty fast. Although not as fast as I would have liked. I didn't make the last FedEx flight out of the aitport Saturday night, so I had to deliver the thing myself on Monday morning via Trenton local. Not too terrible really.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008 12:48:24 AM
 
slovko vorkavitch said...
art: I still love this strip just as much as the first time I saw it in nyc a decade ago. practically perfect. pacing, composition, drawing, all excellent. Story broken down perfect for the space you had to work with. never knew how fast you had to pump it out. wow. The best part of the NYPress was the cartoon art sprinkled around the crazy writing. those were the days. who needs fucking computers?!! Have a merry christmas!
Sunday, December 28, 2008 01:50:56 AM
 
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