2012 was a pretty jam-packed year for sketch cards*, my busiest yet.
*A sketch card is a special kind of trading card; instead of using pre-printed artwork, the art is drawn directly on the card stock, and the finished cards are randomly inserted into trading card packs.
(Marty and Boo)
My main memory of this set was working very fast, late at night, marathoning Jericho on my mini-DVD player while the kiddo slept. It was the first official set where I tried out inking with colors instead of black; it worked really well, and gave me confidence to try out the technique on other, bigger sets.
Basically the opposite of Nevermore Alice; instead of going forward in the dynamic, animated look that seems to be my wheelhouse, I tried for a more painted, “artsy” look, with very mixed results. I really long, even now, to be able to create beautiful paintings, and maybe at some point when I’m not completely swamped, exhausted, overwhelmed (a constant state of existence since October 9, 2010) I can take the time to learn how to do it properly. Even though I wasn’t happy with my cards, though, a lot of other people seemed to be.
Marvel’s Greatest Heroes
I wasn’t going to do this set, believing I didn’t have time, but the Art Director bargained with me, and I agreed. I’m so glad I did! This was the most fun on a card set I’d had in a long time: note the colored lines and minimal, cartoony shading are back. I really challenged myself to do beautiful art and more detailed backgrounds, and it mostly paid off.
For whatever reason, I decided to be all feminist and rebellious on this set, and even though it’s called “Pinups,” most of my cards are pretty far from pinup-y.
Red Sonja & Warlord of Mars
These two are inextricably linked in my mind, because I did them at the same time, and they were completely different. This was another I was invited to do by the AD, and being a huge fan of both John Carter and Red Sonja, I said yes in a heartbeat. The card stock on Sonja was pretty … interesting, which required me to adjust the way I was working. On Warlord I again wanted to try something different, a little more pulp-influenced, but once again being self-taught in the medium kind of tripped me up, and I’m not sure they’re as cool as I wanted them to be.
Nevermore Alice: Flux
(Marty and Boo’s Cards)
I never say no to Boo when he asks me to draw for him; his designs are so clean and fun, and his pulpy, over-the-top worlds are fun to play in.
DC New 52
A number of firsts for me: first time drawing DC characters, first time working for Cryptozoic: a great company to work for, btw. I hope to do more jobs for them in the future. This set was a blast.
(Marty and Boo)
A set for charity that I dashed off in a bit of a rush in between other projects.
Upper Deck was the first card company I ever worked for, back in 2008, and I was flattered to be invited to work on this set, an experiment in sketch cards of sorts. The card stock was a beast that sucked up all the ink out of my markers, and the double-sided cards took about three times as long as I had anticipated. The work was brutal, I was exhausted and burning out on the whole thing…
And then my dad died.
This is the card I was working on when I got the news.
I took a week to deal with things, comfort my grandma, arrange the funeral, all that stuff. I returned home thinking I’d throw myself into my work as a way of dealing with my own grief (and get the work done in time for the already-impossible-before-I-took-a-week-off deadline), but it was only about 50% effective, because any waning enthusiasm I’d had for the project had been thoroughly extinguished.
I think, objectively, I probably did a pretty good job anyway; you can’t tell by looking that I thoroughly did not give a damn.
Batman: The Legend
By contrast, this set might just have saved my sanity. I had initially said no (even though I really really wanted to do it), because of the Marvel Premier deadline, but about a week later I emailed the AD back and begged to be let back on it. I’m so glad I did. After the hell of MP, Batman was a fresh breeze from heaven. I only had about a week, maybe two, but the work went so sweetly, and somehow, drawing angsty superheroes in a decaying metropolis was a balm to my spirit.
Nevermore Alice: Eat Me, Drink Me
(Marty and Boo)
Another quickie for Boo; the cards were meant to be handed out at a UK comic convention.
(Marty and Boo)
Britannia is Boo’s answer to Captain America; incarnated in many worlds and times, she fights to protect Britain–sort of like Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion. This was a fun set, because I got to play with lots of different designs and styles.
This was a set, again, that I passed on because the timing didn’t work out for me; the initial deadline for base art was September, and I definitely had neither time nor energy back then, but circumstances made the AD push the deadline back, which worked out great for me, if not so great for him.
I’m working on this right now, staring burnout in the face but determined to finish all my commitments. I actually had the chance to collaborate with the lovely and talented Lynne Anderson, which was such a blessing, as her enthusiasm helped rekindle my own.
One of the downsides of working on so many official sets was having little to no time to fulfill all the commission orders I got. Thankfully the people who commission me are patient and kind, and willing to wait. Next year I’m going to get all the commissions done, which will make me–and them–much happier.
In 2013 I am going to scale back the number of card sets I work on (I keep saying, “this is the last one!” and then another really cool set comes up that I can’t say no to), because I really haven’t had a break at all since March (funerals don’t count). I’m glad I worked on all these sets; each one has been a learning experience in its way, and doing that much drawing has helped me get better and better at my art. In the year to come I’d like to transition into comic books, I’d like to finish Steel Butterfly at last, I’d like to do something other than draw on little 2.5 x 3.5-inch rectangles. I’m glad 2012 is over, and I’m looking forward to what 2013 brings.
How about you guys?
Anything cool coming up in 2013 that you’re really looking forward to? Any goals or projects you’d like to get under way?
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