Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sketchbook: October Girl color experiment...

Quick color experiment on the Cintiq. Still playing around with different approaches to drawing and coloring digitally.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Adventures in Time and Space and Comics...

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #11 hits shelves today, marking the last of my new Doctor Who work for IDW before their license expires in December.

Looking back in my files, my first WHO piece for IDW is timestamped February 11th, 2009, so it's been four years working off and on with a character that has loomed large in my life since the first time I watched Doctor Who in 1977.

Anyone who knows me knows that there's a part of my brain that is always thinking about Doctor Who. Both as a fan and as a comic book creator. The show is one of the biggest influences on my creative interests and my creative approach. It's a key piece of my creative DNA and informs everything I've done as an artist and as a writer.

I've told the story of how I squealed like a little girl who got a pony for Christmas on the phone when Denton Tipton from IDW called and asked if I'd be interested in drawing an arc in their new Doctor Who ongoing title. It was in part because of the first WHO piece I did for them, an inventory cover that led the BBC's art approval person to say, "Too bad it's just a cover."

Four years later, and I've drawn more Doctor Who than I could have imagined. More than other American. And I've even gotten to write some WHO comic book stories of my own, including a special 50th Anniversary comic that the BBC included in their big Blu Ray collection of the first seven series.

It wasn't always a smooth road, and there were times I'm sure Denton wanted to throttle me for being too precious with my work, too slow, too opinionated about WHO stories, too... well, too much of a WHO fan and not enough of a professional. There was even a time I decided to step away from WHO to focus on my own projects and develop my writing career.

That didn't last long. It was only a matter of time before Denton found the right carrot to bring me back in the IDW WHO fold, a series of covers featuring one of my favorite classic Doctors, Sylvester McCoy.

And once he had me back in the fold, Denton kept me on the hook with things like the anniversary story for the BBC boxset until handing me my last assignment, the 11th Doctor issue of their year long 50th Anniversary maxi-series, Prisoners of Time.

It's been an amazing run, and I'm sorry to see come to an end. I've always thought IDW handled WHO well. They gave it the respect and effort that few licensed comics receive from publishers. And I'm thrilled I got to be a part of it.

I don't know where the WHO license will go next. So far, all we have are rumors. But if I never get a chance to write or draw Doctor Who again, I can learn to live with the stack of work I got to do for IDW. As a little kid sitting watching Doctor Who with my older brother, I would never have believed I would grow up to draw and write the character. It's been a dream come true.

Thanks as always to Ted Adams, Chris Ryall and Denton Tipton at IDW for helping make it happen, and to my many collaborators on WHO over the years, including Tony Lee, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Len Wein, Mitch Gerads, Charlie Kirchoff, Horacio Domingues, Rubén González and Phil Elliott.

Friday, November 1, 2013

October Girl livestream pages...

Spent Halloween live streaming work on the next issue of October Girl. The first time I've tried to draw in that particular style on the Cintiq. Still a bit rough around the edges, but here are the results...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

On Shelves Now: LotDK #74...

On sale now from DC Comics on Comixology! The first of my three issue Legends of the Dark Knight story, Ashes to Ashes. Script by Doug Wagner, art by me, colors by Wendy Broome, and a cover by the great Francesco Francavilla!

You can pick it up here!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sketchbook: Shaz from Ashes to Ashes...

Too busy of late to do much sketching, but needed to clear my head tonight, so I worked up a quick digital sketch of Montserrat Lombard as Shaz from the show Ashes to Ashes.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Friday, July 5, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Because of my workload, I don't take commissions often, but I'm taking them now to help cover some unexpected bills. So... five slots, $200 for a full figure piece, more for multi-figure pieces. If you're interested, email me at matthewdowsmith (at) gmail (dot) com.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sneak Peek: Doctor Who Classics #5 cover...

Just got the okay to post this, my cover for issue #5 of IDW's DOCTOR WHO CLASSICS series, featuring Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor. This was one of the first things I drew on the Cintiq, and the first thing I've ever tried to color in a naturalistic way.

Work In Progress: 10th Doctor Sketch...

A look at a 10th Doctor warmup sketch in progress.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sketchbook: Supergirl cosplayer...

A quick digital sketch of cosplayer Jessica Nigri as I work out a new approach to superheroes while drawing on the Cintiq.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Original Art Sale...

If you haven't seen already, I've added a whole new batch of pages to my original art for sale blog, including lots of pages from my run on Crossgen's THE PATH, and two pages from Randy Bowen's DECAPITATOR featuring my pencils and inks by the great Mike Mignola. You can check them out here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

On The Art Table: Pinup Layout...

Can't show you what's really on the art table today (secret things), but here's a look at a quick layout I worked up on the Cintiq for a Doctor Occult/Blue Devil piece I might use for warmup next week.

Sketchbook: Doctor Occult...

Another quick Cintiq sketch, and another DC supernatural character -- Doctor Occult.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sketchbook: Blue Devil...

A quick Blue Devil sketch on the Cintiq. I've always loved "Big Blue", as Geoff Johns calls him. One of my favorite DC characters.

On The Art Table: Another WHO Warmup Sketch...

Another digital warmup sketch in progress as I work on getting more comfortable drawing on the Cintiq.

Monday, June 17, 2013

On The (Digital) Art Table: WHO Warmup Sketch...

Another look at the Doctor Who piece I've been playing with this week as a warmup and to practice drawing on the Cintiq. I suspect I'll drop in some kind of background and some colors at some point and add it to my portfolio.

Friday, June 14, 2013

On The (Digital) Art Table: WHO Warmup Sketch...(UPDATED)

I've never really done much in the way of warmup sketches. Usually I start the day by just jumping right in on whatever I need to do. It's why I try to always have a page half finished at the end of the night, so that I'm never having to start a page from scratch in the morning, which makes starting the day a lot easier. But this week, I've been drawing on a Cintiq for the first time and still getting used to it, so I've been slowly working on a Doctor Who piece a little bit at the start of each day, just to warm up. Here's a closeup look at a small section of the piece, featuring the Doctor's current companion, Clara.

UPDATE: And here's a look at the Doctor from the same warmup piece...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

So You Wanna' Be a Comic Book Artist, Part Three...

I saw a report a few months back about the Screen Actors Guild which mentioned the average yearly income their members made from acting, which was $5,000. Now, I've never been particularly good with math, but if that's the average, that means for every multi-millionaire actor, there are far, far more actors making far, far less.

I've also been fortunate to know a lot of working, published novelists. And while some of them have made quite a bit of money writing, the vast majority of them have made far, far less.

A few years ago, a fairly well-known comic book writer who had several movies made from his books took to Twitter to raise money to help pay for a beloved pet's medical expenses. The writer was flooded with responses of support and donations of money and art that could be sold on ebay to raise funds, but there were also a few responses that struck a less positive note...

"You're a big comic creator, why do YOU need money?"

"Maybe you should have saved all that Hollywood money."

Reading those responses made clear the disconnect between the realities of being a comic book creator and the fantasy of it that many readers and aspiring creators have in their heads, particularly in the wake of the incredible success of people like the Image founders and the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

But the days of getting rich writing or drawing a comic were over. They ended with the collapse of the collectors market in the '90s. There were (and still are) elite creators making large amounts of money with their work in comics, but like the Brad Pitts of the acting world or the Stephen Kings of the writing world, they were the exception, not the rule.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Work In Progress: October Girl #5 cover...

A sneak peek at work on the cover for October Girl #5. Can't show the whole thing without revealing some big spoilers, but I can tell you one thing... there's a lot of blue on this cover.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

So You Wanna' Be a Comic Book Artist, Part Two...

I'll be honest, for a shamefully long period of my career, I wanted to be rich and famous. I'm not proud of that, but it is what it is, and what it is existed for a reason -- Image Comics.

At some point in the comic book boom of the late 80s and early 90s, when sales were going through the roof, something unexpected happened... people were making lots of money making comics. If you were drawing a big book like X-Men or Superman, you were getting royalty checks with a previously unheard of - in the comic book industry, at least - numbers of zeroes on the end.

Some of those artists with all the zeroes decided that it would be better if instead of some of the zeroes going to the companies that were publishing the comics they were getting royalties from, they started their own companies, made their own comics and got all of the zeroes themselves.

There was more to than just money, of course - creative control, owning the characters you created - but the end result is that they made a lot of money. Lots and lots of money.

And suddenly, they were rockstars.

There'd been superstar creators in comics before, but not like this. These were gods, with big houses and flash cars. Well, I'm assuming flash cars, but you get the point. To comic book fans, they were celebrities, and they were getting a lot richer than the generations of creators that came before them.

Soon, the superstars who created Image started creating superstars of their own, a new generation of talent that were becoming nearly as famous as the creators they worked for, and with page rates that would make most people blush. You started seeing creators described as "Hot New Artist" and "Superstar Creator", you saw them mobbed at signings and conventions, and they saw their bank balances grow.

It was a time of rockstars, but like the voice always says in those old "Behind The Music" documentaries, the good times wouldn't last long.

Friday, May 24, 2013

So You Wanna' Be a Comic Book Artist, Part One...

There are two questions people ask me at conventions more than any others -- "Is it weird drawing Matt Smith as the Doctor?" and "How do I break into comics?".

I usually answer the first question with a joke about how funny people at the BBC think it is to have Matt Smith drawing Matt Smith, but the more honest answer is simply, "No weirder than being a life-long Doctor Who fan who wakes up one day and discovers the actor now playing the Doctor has the same name as you do".

And believe me, that's a little weird. But then it's also weird to me that anyone let me draw Doctor Who at all (and occasionally write him), so the fact that the character is being played by another Matt Smith just adds to the general background weirdness.

The answer to the second question is a little more complicated. What I normally tell people is that the best way to break into comics is by networking. And the truth is that's a major part of it. You have to meet working comic book people -- whether online, at conventions, or in some random social setting where working comic book people are present -- hang out with them, get to know them, and eventually someday, if you're lucky, you'll be in the right place at the right time and fall into a job drawing (or writing) a comic. Turning your lucky break into a full-time career is a whole other story.

But the thing I really want to say when people ask me how to break into comics isn't "do A, B or C", it's a question -- "Why do you want to work in comics?"

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to be a jerk or take a swipe at an industry that has kept a roof over my head for almost 20 years now. But there's more to being a comic book artist than just being able to draw well, and for most people, the reality of doing it for a living is a lot different than the fantasy most people seem to have in their heads.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sneak Peek: October Girl #3, revised cover...

One more take on a cover for October Girl #3. Still wasn't quite satisfied with my earlier attempts, so I took one more run at it. This one, I'm satisfied with. Or at least as satisfied as I ever am with anything I draw.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sneak Peek: October Girl cover, colors...

Final colors, with the title lettering treatment added. In the end, I decided to go with this image for the issue 3 cover instead of my earlier take.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Original Art For Sale...

Just put more pages up for sale over at my original art blog, including pages from Doctor Who, Blackburn Burrow, and The October Girl!

Work In Progress: October Girl cover, rough pencils...

Here's a sneak peek at another October Girl cover in the rough pencil stage. I wasn't quite satisfied with my color treatments for the cover to #3, so I started playing around with color sketches in Manga Studio last night, trying to find some combinations that I liked. You'll see one of them below. I liked the color scheme, but the pose wasn't wasn't hitting the magical note I aim for on these covers, so I roughed out the more dynamic, windy pose above.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sneak Peek: October Girl #3 cover, color treatment...

Playing around with possible color treatments for the October Girl #3 cover. Here's a very red and pink take.

UPDATE: And here's another possible treatment I'm playing with. More red and purple.

Sneak Peek: October Girl #3 cover, inks...

And now, a sneak peek at the inks for the cover to October Girl #2.

Sneak Peek: October Girl #3 cover, pencils...

A quick sneak peek at the pencils for the cover to chapter three of the October Girl. More sneak peeks coming soon!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sketchbook: First Doctor, digital doodle...

Working on a secret comic book script for the last week or so and didn't get a chance to draw much of anything. Did this quick doodle of the First Doctor in Manga Studio this morning to loosen up the drawing muscles.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sketchbook: Ninth Doctor, digital sketch...

Another quick doodle in Manga Studio as I continue to work on getting comfortable with drawing on the computer. This time -- the Ninth Doctor, who I never got to draw in my time on IDW's DOCTOR WHO. As far as I know, this is actually the first time I've even attempted to draw him.

And speaking of characters I've never had to draw before... here's a very, very quick Manga Studio doodle of Clara from this season of WHO.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sketchbook: Self-Portrait, digital sketch...

More playing around with drawing on the computer. Needed a doodle of myself for a FCBD book my friends Ron Marz, Paul Harding, Jennifer L. Meyer, Richard Clark and I are doing for two of our favorite shops in the area, Excellent Adventures and Comic Depot, so I did this very quickly in Manga Studio.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sketchbook: Doctor Who, digital sketch...

If you follow me on Twitter, you may know that I've started experimenting with Manga Studio. As someone who has been making comics with pen and paper for 19 years now, the idea of drawing on the computer seems very science-fiction-y, but I'm intrigued by the possibilities.

So.. here's a quick sketch I did while working out what all the tools in Manga Studio do and just generally trying to get used to drawing with a tablet while looking at a computer screen.

And I should mention my friend Doug Hill's excellent Manga Studio tutorials, which helped me every time I hit a snag. Doug literally wrote the book on Manga Studio, and his tutorials are excellent. You can find the first of his 3-part 'webinar' on MS 5 here.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sneak Peek: October Girl 3, cover layout...

Here's a sneak peek at a quick layout sketch of the cover for October Girl #3, which I'm wrapping up as we speak, along with issue 4 & 5. Lots more sneak peeks on the way.