My return to the Looney Tunes comics: The looney way to learn
After a long and involuntary absence, I officially return to the DC Comics Looney Tunes comics on issue number 223.
This doesn't mean that I've been off the comics at all. But before I get to that, let me say that being laid off the DC comics on the first place made me think a lot about my performance as an artist. In short... What the hell did I do wrong?
This is a road of self teaching. The only person who knows how to improve is yourself and the circumstances will teach you either you like it or not.
I started working on the Looney Tunes comics while still in college. To me it was a wonderful thing. I enjoyed every story and tried to make every panel fun for the reader. I made more than 50 issues, met 4 different editors and made a lot of books for consumer products. I was enjoying that when all of a sudden I was laid off. I remember asking why and I only got an email with a copy-pasted comment from the licensor that read: "He doesn't know how to draw the Looney Tunes".
My mind went numb...I mean... I drew these comics, books and merchandise for so many years... How come I don't know how to draw them now? Did I lose my touch? What was I doing wrong?
Sometimes you just have to step back to see the whole landscape and learn about it. And then I realized...It's true! I didn't know how to draw them because I was drawing them in my style. I developed my own style for something that was meant to be an established product. The Looney Tunes are not mine, but drawing them for so many years made me feel like they were and I started doing what was comfortable to me but not loyal to the franchise. I was being careless and I couldn't see that.
So I took this moment to self teach myself the ways of character design and consumer products artistry.
Long after my forced retirement, I was offered a job as a storyboard cleanup artist for the Looney Tunes Show.
This helped me strengthen my drawing line. Working in animation is more disciplinary because you have to follow a model sheet and keep the characters looking the same on every panel. At some point I was promoted as a character designer for season 2. It was a great learning ride.
Shortly after that WB asks me to do some comics for Egmont Publishing. This time, I get to do the whole art, not just pencils. This was a great opportunity because now I get to do things differently. I wanted to give these comic book stories the feel and treatment they from their animation origins. the first thing was the backgrounds. I went and studied all of Maurice Noble's designs. I wanted the stories to have those angled and almost half-colored backgrounds that he used to do.
Then we have the characters. What could I do with the already approved models that could stand out? Simple. I drew them in new animated ways. I still got to do what I wanted but with elegance.
Doing this was a lot more work, but I wanted the readers to finally have what they always wanted. The animation translated to comics on every panel.
I made some new comics with this new system for the Egmont books and apparently they worked well. Writer extraordinaire Bill Matheny was called back to write new stories and they were funnier than ever.
This new technique brought in other licenses like Scooby Doo and Tom and Jerry.
A year later DC Comics contacted me to make some new Scooby Doo comics for them and eventually the comeback to the Looney Tunes comics by their new editor Jessica Chen.
So, this is it, peeps. When someone tells you that you can't do something, prove them wrong by doing it better.
Hope you dig the new comics!