I'm curious about your cintiq , i assume you already know how to use a regular tablet , what was so uncomfortable about it ? since you draw on the screen it should be a lt closer to the classic pen and paper experiance, should'nt it be easier with it?
Weeell, it’s kind of hard to explain. First the pen is not directly exactly on the surface you’re painting on. There’s still a screen over it and it is not thin enough to be easily forgotten, even with a good calibrating.
Then there’s the fact that during 10 years, I actually drew without a hand hiding part of my drawings. I really was used to it and it kept bothering me at the beginning.
Finally there’s always a little lag, even with the simplest brush.
But I really got used to it in the end. And being able to use it in portrait mode is really a huge advantage.
I am always writing about how some months are leaving me exhausted. I am forgetting to say how much my job is demanding. If you just discovered my cover art, I guess you think it’s a dreamjob and I would be the first to admit that my conditions are some of the bests I could have hope back when I started.
I am actually making a living with illustration and only illustration, that’s already a victory, but even now, it’s still a real fight.
Here’s how I started the year.
At the beginning of 2013, my collaboration with MARVEL seemed to have reached a deadend. Both of the series I’ve been working on regulary stopped and it quickly appeared that my main client didn’t know what to do with me anymore, regardless of the great opinions of the readers regarding my work.
I had always thought that one of the worst mistake you could make as an illustrator would be to push all your options on the hands of a single editor and that was exactly what I did in 2012. The work with MARVEL had been incredibly exciting, the lesson was hard.
At the moment I just had moved in Berlin, where I quickly felt isolated, stuck in a neverending winter, not knowing anybody.
One of my FB friends offered me to join his illustration studio as a guest but it didn’t last, the oppening hours didn’t fit my way of working.
I still met great people there.
I thought I would work on personnal project to not lose myself in self loathing and also mailed some of the professionnals contacts I have been keping for later. I knocked on a few doors, sent portfolios and had a few lucky opportunities.
2 years ago, I had met a DYNAMITE editor at NYCC, He remembered me and hired me for the cover of Damsels. last year, at the same NYCC, I had met an editor from BOOM, she offered me a few covers for Suicide Risk. I’m still working on it :)
I was hired to paint and design illustrations and characters for a video game. That was really fun but the company went bankrupt and I was never totally paid for my work. It still was a good experience.
I did a test for some figurines character design but it didn’t work out, my style didn’t fit.
In february, I painted a cover for Fearless Defenders. The editor likes my work, she knows I am looking for interior art. She offers me to paint the whole 7th issue of the serie. I finish it in May, reviews are incredibles. It fills me with hope.
In the end of february, I am offered to work on the comic book of Once Upon A Time. Unfortunalty, the deadlines of this book and Fearless Defenders are too close and the editorial comity of MARVEL fears that I won’t be able to do it. I have to let go Once Upon A Time with a very heavy heart.
In March I paint covers for french Young Adult books for Hachette and Flammarion.
In April I take out the representation contract I have been keeping since january without signing it. I am very hesitating. After all, I always did ok by myself, but the truth is I hate to promote myself. I sign for an exclusive worldwide representation for illustration, minus the comic books field and the french territory. I keep my former clients and am free to accept some minor contracts. I think that in worst case scenario, I would call it quit and I wait.
I have been lucky, until now my agent had jobs for me every month.
In may I do not go out of my flat anymore. The fearless defenders pages are literally eating away all my time. It’s exhausting and exciting in the same time. At the end of the month I fall asleep while walking in a museum. It’s really time to rest. A friend makes a stop in Berlin, leaves, I barely saw her.
Finishing a comic book is always an ordeal. You have to recover from intense weeks of work while trying to deal with the free time you’re not used to have anymore. It’s as if a treadmill would suddenly stop while you’re running on it wildly.
May, the weather is warm. I finally come to enjoy Berlin and got my first contract with a big north americain literature publisher. Penguin Press pays me 4 times my usuall rate for a cover. I’m still speechless.
They will ask me for a lot of retakes but will offer me a big compensation for my time.
I also paint a cover for a movie in preproduction.
July, I work on some BOOM covers and I illustrate the cover of a magazine.
August, I am offered a new 20 pages comic book.. I feel lucky.
While waiting for the script, supposed to come around the 10th of september, I finish a few cover works. The next NYCC is in only 2 months and I start to accept commissions.
French comic book publisher DELCOURT contacts me for the covers of the soon to come Superworld new serie. I am very happy to be welcome once again in the french comic book market from which I grew appart these last couple of years.
All year long I’ve been sending my portfolio to my former publishers or contacts. I keep them informed with my progresses or my wishes. After all, I’ve known for a long time that, in this job, you have first of all to stay visible. Each year there are new and very talented new illustrators. I have no illusions about my work. I kow my qualities and I work on the rest. Editors know that the quality of my illustrations is even, That I never, never miss a deadline and that I am always willing to listen to every suggestions or retakes. And if sometimes it annoys me, I never show it because I know that we are all working as a team to promote a book with our very best . The book comes before my ego. Editors appreciate that.
In september, Dynamite gets in touch with me through my contact form for a cover for Red Sonja. I already worked with DYNAMITE in january but apparently the editor didn’t know about it. Comics books publishing studios are huge, it’s understandable. Still it’s funny.
I finish this cover, another for BOOM, and a last one for a magazine and I wait for the soon to come comic book script.
September is quickly gone and I still don’t have the script. I start to panick since I am supposed to spend 15 days in NYC for the convention and I know I will need 2 more days to compensate for the jetlag. My MARVEL editor offers me a spidey cover meanwhile. I refuse in order to stay fully available for the script. I am still regretting it.
The script doesn’t come and I fly to NYC. During the con, I will explain to the readers that I am supposed to work on a new comic book and that my deadline is in less than a month but I am not panicking. Panicking was 2 weeks ago, just behind freakin’ out. Now I m just floating over all this while chanting to myself the “whatever will be, will be” mantra. The publishers I meet keep cheering me up with some “you’ll be fine, you’re gonna do well”, I suspect they had instructions :)
At the con, I also meet one of my first marvel publishers, he now works for valiant and wants to work with me soon. We exchange emails and I sign a contract the next month.
I work on 2 covers for my agent, finish them and finally get the 2nd alf of the script. At the moment, I only have 12 days left to paint the 20 pages of the book, colors included. The deadline can’t move anymore.
I send a mail to my editor to explain that expecting the book done in due time seems a bit utopical. They extract me from the project. I guess I won’t be paid for the sketching I did.
Luckily, at the same moment Marvel trusts me with the “superior spiderman : inhumanity” one shot. I have more or less a month to sketch and paint it.
I am very excited and a bit afraid. It’s a lot of pressure to work on such an iconic character. I know very well that usually MARVEL usually hires me on projects with a more feminin readership. My style is not “girly” but I still wonder how the spidey fans are going to see it. Some of them are really engaged in the book and already have a hard time dealing with the last freaky friday plot of the house of ideas.
I use what’s left of my NYCC earnings to buy me a cintiq to save some time.
I do not really like Cintiqs; each time I’ve tested it, I’ve felt uncomfortable but I make the bet I will get used to it . The lines of NYC and the spidey costume convinced me I needed to invest.
Today I realise it was well spent money and that I can use the screen in portrait mode. That’s a huge plus, almost a revolution.
November is gone in a moment. I paint a cover for BOOM, another for a young adult book, always for my agent but what really occupies my time are the pages. Print day is the 13th of december and I absolutly have to be done on the 10th since I also accepted 6 covers for the same month.
Among them, a cover for the new Tomb Raider comic book for Dark Horse. I already worked for Dark Horse a couple of years ago and I am very glad to have their trust once again, since I was a big fan of the video game when it first was published. Was it in 1994 ?
December 8th, I am done with the black and white of the comic book, I grant myself 2 days for the colors and retakes.I realise at that moment that I work 13 hours a day and haven’t gone out of my appartment for a week. My boyfriend is worried, the food deliveries services love me.
My absolute obligation is to finish a page a day. I do not go to bed before finishing the page because it would mean walking up to an unfinished work. I cannot afford to fail. nevermind if sometimes my work is uneven, it has to be printed on due time.
However, I have to note that it’s far from being the most exhausting final rush I ever did and I think that soon I will be able to finish a book without going to bed at 5am each days of the final week or even just being exhausted.
I finish the last covers of the year, two of them had an extended deadline and finally, here am I , today, at the dawn of a new year.
This year was not exceptionnaly difficult. It’s just the regular way of life of an illustrator. I guess it’s easier for the really famous ones. I am not really even sure about that.
Honestly it was even a good year. I had a lot of very good opportunities and diversified my field of activities. I am rather proud I of what I achieved and of the contacts I had with most of my publishers.
The most difficult moment of the year was certainly when I opened the script of the spiderman script and realised I would have to paint a broken NYC. Because a floating alien city had fallen on it. I think I cried. A little :D
Being an illustrator is a tough job. Each year is different and you can never know what is gonna happen the year after. You have to stick to your plans, never give up and never leave the commands of your life to destiny, chance or other people.
I know now I have a new book for Marvel for June; till then I guess I will go on knocking on doors and trying to secure my place in the market.
I do not know what is gonna happen to me in 2014 but I will work hard to make it a fantastic year.
Hello Miss Hans! I absolutely adore you art and was wondering, if nobody has asked already, if you'll be attending any UK cons or signings coming up? I always scour the guest list for your name but haven't managed to find you yet. Your art is some of my favourite in comics, it would be beyond a pleasure to meet you~
I’d love to visit a UK con one day but never been invited yet. I hope to attend at least thought bubles once, maybe next year.
So, it’s basically been almost 9 years since I started doing comics.
Here are a few facts.
In France, one basically takes 1 year to create a comic book.
Usually it’s between 46 to 54 pages when published with a major editor.
It’s not unusual to be a few month or a year late …
I’ve been offered rates as low as 76 euros for a full colored page all included ( turned down that shamelless offer by a publisher nor that small after a lecture on the freelance life )
I have once been paid 500 euros a page but it was only for a few pages unfortunatly.
Once a french comic book goes on sale you earn a small percentage of the selling price, something around 7 to 10 %. With it, you pay back what the publisher gave you upfront. Only when or if he has recovered your upfront paiment will you actually earn something.
There were 5560 french comic books published last year and 2000 translated comic book or mangas, that makes a lot of concurrence in the same time on the comic books shop and a very fast turnover. The obvious result is, you do not have a lot of time to sell enough books to hope to earn royalties.
in 2000, there were only 1000 new books each year. The yearly amount of books sold in the end stayed more or less the same.
In 9 years I have never touched any royalties.
I have only been teased twice because I was a woman. Once by an illustrator who asked me to “bend myself on the table” obviously because he thought I was a fan (I was visiting a friend at a convention) and he would have love a better view of my cleavage. I called him the most unrespectfull guy I had ever met, told him that I didn’t want to hear the sound of his voice anymore and left him dumbstruck. He tried to come to say good morning the day after but I offered a big smile with a don’t you dare and he didn’t dare .
The second time, was in a US convention where an old illustrator teased me with calling me his little assistant. Twice .. The second time I told him that I knew he wasn’t used seeing a lot of girls in this market but there were a lot of girls coming after me so guy, get used to it or you’ll feel very lonely.
At the beginning I was always the only woman on conventions. People always assumed I was a colorist or a girlfriend of a male author. It was annoying but I really was an exception so it was understandable.
Nowadays, there are more women on the market. Or at least more of them wishing to enter the market.
I think I attended more or less 50 to 60 signings and conventions.
My attitude is to always be the more professionnall I can.
It’s unfair but in this market, each woman is a significant percentage of all of us, I always keep that in mind.
I started comics because I wanted to create something that could enter the everyday life. Art for everybody, without limiting it to a certain part of population.
STEPHANIE HANS FIRESTAR FINE ART PRINT SIGNED in Collectibles, Comics, Original Comic Art | eBay
I am a little bit disapointed to see that somebody is actually selling one of my prints that he bought this week end. For the record, I sell them 10 $ because I think it is great that anyone can afford somemething for me, according to his budget. Seeing someone selling it for no less than 50 $ destroys the joy I have in meeting people.
Im sorry to keep bugging you, but do you prefer doing panels or cover art? I personally think my talents would be better for covers because replicating the same image more than once is very difficult for me.
I usually prefer cover art but both are so different that comparing would be very difficult. I love to be the first person to talk to a reader about a book, and it’s always a challenge to try to be efficient in composition as well as in color and to think about something original which may bring the attention to a book, but I also love actually telling the story and try to bring the text the right kind of mood, and also to give the something to remember. I try with interiors to be like a colorist. When you work on colors, the lineart comes first and you never should crush it. With the script, it’s the same. Story comes first, no matter how good you are. it’s about telling story.
Hello! I just found your blog and love your art :) I had question though, how on earth did you get into being a comicbook artist? It's something I've thought about, and seems like something I'd like to do but I have no idea where to start or how to get started.
I think that the first step to be a comic book artist is basically to start drawing comics. publishers want to see how you tell stories. You can be the best illustrator in the world, that wont make you a sequential artist because pretty picture are a plus but the main thing is really about serving a story.
every comic book artist has a story. there’s no straight way to break into this market. I graduated from an art school in France and wrote several stories. I met a small publisher in a comic convention and had my firt graphic novel published. The rest just followed. I worked a lot and had a bit of good circonstances.
Dear reader, are you a fan of spidey ? I am looking for models. Get a picture of yourself in your most spiderman-ish pose and get the chance to be in an actual spidey book. Post it in the comments or pm me.
( I won’t be responsible for broken bed if you jump to high, just sayin’ )
I am currently writing my dissertation and have a small section on the different techniques used in comic book art. (Art History major over here) I have been on both your french website and tumblr and I know you have discussed your process but I can't find it. If its not too much trouble can you link me to that post? It would be very much appreciated. Thanks so much and I love seeing all your updates even unrelated to my paper! :)
sure. This is the main post. Since then, things changed a bit though. Now I use ( for paintings ) inks from the brand colorex. Sometimes ecoline but for a lot of reasons, colorex suits me better.Colors are smoth and vivid, not grainy at all and you can add layers over layers for delicate hues.
BUT, for all my professionnal works, I use photoshop and an intuos. I have some custom brushes I did myself and that’s it.
Thanks a lot everyone for all the love and the great welcome of Fearless defenders #7. You really make it worth. All the work and the creazy nights before the deadline are soon forgotten when readers have a great time reading it…