Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Now that school’s over I had to make some serious changes in my life. Nobody likes change, or at least, nobody welcomes it with an anxious-free attitude. The reason for this is mainly because even minor changes can screw with your routine, comfort and an already established efficiency. It’s been four months since my last entry and I hate to admit that I have not drawn enough. That does not mean I haven’t been busy. In these months I had to move from New York, one of the greatest cities and the art capital of the world to my hometown, Guayaquil, in Ecuador. It may sound as a downgrade, but this is simply not the case. You see, I love my city and my country, and there are apparently some advantages here that New York could not have offered me, ever! Let’s start with the fact that I have my family here, which support me no matter what crazy idea pops into my head. Also I have a lot of connections here. Living in a small city for around 30 years will do that to you. Food is cheaper and time goes slower. It is hot in here, and it will get hotter in the winter, go figure. It sounds as if I’m saying it backwards, but lots of things are backwards here and that is one of the facts why I love it so much. Space is an important factor since in New York I had none, at least compared to what I have here. For instance, I designated one room as my man cave/studio/comic room. All the inspiration I can get in one place. I even have a vintage comic book roulette rack. So it took a lot of effort and time to build my perfect spot for working, so it would be absolutely wrong not to brag about it ;) Here are some pictures of it and I have made a list specifying some of the stuff I have in it so you can know me better. I’m pretty sure you will end up with some opinions about me and you may not be wrong about some of them.

Panoramic Picture of Journey Studios

Journey Studios 1

Journey Studios 2 

Journey Studios 3

69 Things to Brag About
  1. Mask collection.
  2. Original art of Eddie by Derek Riggs. (The official Iron Maiden illustrator)
  3. DC Eaglemoss figurine collection. (almost complete)
  4. Lots of art books and references.
  5. Lightbox. Never use it, and I don’t think I ever will L
  6. Soccer Trophy. Granted, it was from elementary school and we ended up sixth but they still gave it to us as consolation price. I have no idea why the hell I have it. I play no soccer whatsoever.
  7. Favorite Flash cap.
  8. Drafting table. The one I used in New York.
  9. Comfy chair. Kind of expensive though.
  10. Portable easel when I feel like painting with traditional tools. Sadly I have no room for it at my place so I think it will stay that way for a while. Also oil painting stinks the whole apartment.
  11. Vintage comic book roulette rack.
  12. The Flash cardboard. (Wally West)
  13. Batman statue. (Museum Quality)
  14. The Hulk. (He is always angry as you can see)
  15. Golden Link of the Legend of Zelda. #Truefan
  16. Darth Maul with mechanical legs. (Sideshow Collectibles)
  17. Luke hanging from Cloud City after learning the truth from his father. Honestly, ruling a galaxy as father and son doesn’t seem so bad.
  18. Journey Studios. (Based on my signature JO)
  19. My beloved Cintiq.
  20. UPS voltage regulator. Believe it or not, blackouts happen regularly.
  21. Favorite mug of the Man of Steel.
  22. iMac.
  23. Comic-con badges. Yes, I collect them too.
  24. Cork with lost of essential information and reference. Also I have a picture of my nephews up there.
  25. Marathon finisher medals. (New York, Miami, and Chicago)
  26. A3 Hewlett Packard printer.
  27. TV used as an extra monitor.
  28. Darth Vader helmet.
  29. Poster of Showcase # 4. (First appearance of the silver age Flash)
  30. The Flash placemat with his origin revealed.
  31. Poster of Eduardo Risso’s illustration of 100 Bullets, dedicated to me of course.
  32. Conan O’Brien sculpture I made of clay.
  33. Coca Cola through the decades.
  34. South Park characters.
  35. Blu-Ray collection and some small books.
  36. Original Art by Greg LaRocque. Favorite interpretation of the Flash.
  37. Manga collection. (A very small one)
  38. Favorite trade paperbacks.
  39. Female figure Artist Model. (The male is lying around somewhere)
  40. Absolute hardcovers.
  41. Victoria Secret catalogs. (They are used for reference!)
  42. Comfy chair again. It is so good that it needed to be mentioned twice.
  43. I guess the Superman cup is as good as the chair since it’s already on the list.
  44. Flash mouse pad. (I guess you’ve figured it out already. I like The Flash)
  45. Gentle Giant Star Wars Bust collection.
  46. The Flash by Alex Ross.
  47. Pull up bar to stretch my back. Rarely used for exercise.
  48. Rorschach bust.
  49. DC Comics superheroes lithography by Warner Brothers.
  50. Leia in the golden bikini of course.
  51. Storm Shadow bust.
  52. SVA Graduation cap.
  53. Kingdom Come Superman statue sculpted by Alex Ross.
  54. Star Wars statues collection.
  55. Other statues.
  56. The Joker statue collection.
  57. Custom Joker statue. Who is the artist I wonder?
  58. The Flash collection.
  59. Comics. Lots of them.
  60. Munny Flash painted by Jo. (That’s me)
  61. Resin statue made by Jo.
  62. More trade paperbacks.
  63. Even More trade paperbacks. (That Flash hardcover is in Italian)
  64. Dylan Dog collection (in Italian of course) donated by a good friend of mine.
  65. Luigi, number one! (This time number sixty five)
  66. Mug of the Flash and me, given as a gift from my brother.
  67. Books.
  68. Preacher action figures.
  69. Souvenir from my honeymoon. A man drawing on a drafting table made of tin. (Granted, the tin figure is supposed to be an architect, but you get the idea)

It is important to add that there is no comic book market here. Ok, so anybody with an inch of common sense will argue that this is not such a good scenario for me, a freelance artist who specializes in drawing comics; but the fact of the matter is that there is a lot of potential on this virgin soil and I’m one of the few who knows how to do this kind of magic (comics) in this city and probably in the whole country. It’s true that I’d have to start a campaign in order for people to start caring more about graphic novels at all, but if I would have to guess, and correct me if I’m wrong, there is a strong tendency in the world of people taking what I do more seriously. I still have to battle with some people who cannot, for the love of God, understand what I do for a living, after I have explained it to them thoroughly. It is not a popular career here in Ecuador, and I don’t think it will be anytime soon. I don’t blame people for not understanding. It seems that in third world countries, politics, businesses, and agriculture dominate the economy; art, on the other hand, occupies the last entry in the priority list. Things are changing though, slowly, but they are changing, and I will be part of this cultural shift when storytelling and art takes an important role in Ecuador. Create awareness seems like a lot of work, especially if I am eager to make some money doing what I love, so my plan is to sell my products to international markets right away. The good news is that I do have some commissions but they are not precisely in the comics department.

Portrait of my sister Mariella

In any case, this is my home now and I’m happy to be here, however, I’m also nostalgic and kind of regretful of leaving New York behind. The city that never sleeps made possible my biggest dream, so I will always be in its debt. Hopefully I will be back to visit soon in order to walk those noisy but beautiful streets under a 14 degree Fahrenheit morning to get to one of the many great restaurants in the city to have an unparalleled brunch. So yeah, I miss it, a lot. Like people say, “You will love to hate New York”, but now that I’m not there I can only think good memories of it.

So now that I have no classes to go over with you, what are we going to cover? You see what I mean with minor changes? The task of achieving 10,000 hours doing art is still going on so I guess I will show you my progress and cover the most interesting phases of my life while showing you my latest work. I hate to admit that I will not be showing every piece as I did in previous posts when I was in school. The reason for this is that I have to be more careful in showing my content. I’m afraid of people illegally using my images and sometimes I will be legally obligated to restrain myself of showing some artwork. In any case, I will upload whatever I can even if I have to watermark some of my work. The idea is to get my art out there so, what are you waiting for, spread the word. The only way to be great at this is with the help of the fans, or some publisher who can see not only the talent and sacrifice, but also the potential in me.

Soon I will be uploading my new website, and not to worry, Master Art Skills WILL be a part of it. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but I can tell you this, the name of my studio will be Journey Studios. You see, my family and my closest friends call me Jo. It all started when my sister, Mariella, was just a baby and could not say my whole name, which is Jose Luis by the way. So she started calling me Jo 20 years ago and somehow it stuck. I decided that if some people change their names to help recognition and awareness, my artist name could easily be changed to Jo. Why Journey Studios you ask? Well, it starts with “Jo” right, but I have put more thought into it, believe you me. The Journey was the first mini-comic I made in Jessica Abel and Matt Madden’s storytelling class. It was a compilation of all my homework in that class but it was my first comic nonetheless. It seems premonitory now that I think about it. This has been and still is, my journey, so without further ado here I present my logo designed by none other than my brother Oswaldo.

Journey Studios Logo

Mini-comic The Journey
I’ve been doing a lot of illustrations and I’m happy to say they have been well received. I’m trying to post them all via Twitter (@bielero), Instagram (@bielero), Tumblr (Mastering Art /, Deviantart (bielero), and Facebook (Jose Molestina). Feel free to follow me or request a friendship if you wish to do so. I will gladly accept. I wish there was one application so you could post once and upload them in all the social networks available. Sometimes I spend so much time posting my work when it could have been more productive making more art. Anyways, I don’t think this will happen anytime soon and if you do know one software or app that does this, please do tell me about it.

There are two anecdotes with two of my illustrations. The first one was a comic style painting I made of “El Chapulin Colorado”, which is a character in a comedy about a Mexican Superhero performed brilliantly by Chespirito (You may have heard him in “El Chavo del 8”). I dare to say that the majority of Latin America and mainly my generation hold this actor with high regard. He made our childhoods sweeter and everybody will remember him as what he really is, a legend. The fact that not only he acknowledged my illustration but also thanked me for it and reposted it using his own account in Instagram made me smile for the rest of the day. The second work was a caricature of a well-known politician and now major of my city Guayaquil, Jaime Nebot, who not only thanked me for it but also took a picture of himself holding the caricature. I respect him a lot so it was a great honor to get this recognition. Also via his Facebook account my work reached almost 10,000 likes, which is not too shabby, no, not too shabby at all ;)

El Chapulin Colorado

Jaime Nebot caricature

Jaime Nebot with caricature

I also made a Superman with and angry Lex Luthor, a Batman colored sketch, a Hulk fighting the Marvel Universe using digital inks, the infamous Joker, a new re-imagined Justice League based on the next generation of sidekicks of the DC Universe, and a couple of new superheroes based on two good friends of mine. I don’t think they are too happy on me promoting this illustration but their attitude towards it was refreshing and very positive. Still, nobody paid me for that one; it was paid off with my laughter ;) I made most of them using Manga Studio 5 EX which I highly recommend.

Superman vs. Lex Luthor

Batman colored sketch

Hulk vs. The Marvel Universe

The Joker

The New Justice League

The Buff and The Photogenic Kid

So why is the title of the entry “Back to Unreality? Mainly because although I’m back to reality, meaning that I’m back in my home country making my stay in New York learning art and comics just a great memory, it is not the life I left behind when I first travel there. I’m back, but to be able to make comics in this city feels unreal, bordering in unbelievable. It is a dream come true and nobody can take this way from me. I though it was going to feel weird but ‘au contraire’, it feels just about right. I was always sure that I made the right choice, but now I’m even more convinced that I’m in the right path. Follow your dreams, the payoff is so much greater that you could possibly imagine, and it IS attainable. It took me 3 years of my life, but it may as well have taken me a lifetime or not happen at all if I hadn’t had the courage to make the leap unto the uncertain. I will say goodbye now, but before I do here is a  couple of videos of my process in making the Joker that you can also see via You Tube The Joker Video



Jose Luis

Thursday, May 16, 2013


It’s been a while. Four months have passed since my last entry. What was I doing? Have I been drawing? Well, as you can see I’ve been adding hours to my challenge nearly completing 1/4th of my objective of reaching 10,000 hours at the moment of this entry. Still, the one thing I’ve been focusing more is in graduating with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts located in the art capital of the United States, New York. Let me get this straight, graduating with a BFA does not make you a master in arts, not even getting an MFA (Master in Fine Arts), so my challenge does NOT end here. What makes you a master (in Malcolm Gladwell’s perspective and now my own of course) is the accumulation of ten thousand hours. Still a long way to go, and my will to achieve them is still intact. Don’t get me wrong, I feel more confident than before and I have learned new skills and techniques that makes it easy for me to make a professional career now that I have to be in the real world of freelance illustration and cartooning.

Bachelor in Fine Arts
Now everyone says to me that the hard part is yet to come, and they may be partially right. You have to remember that I’ve been in this situation before, back in 2000 when I got my Bachelor in Business Administration. There was as much anxiety back then as there is now. The difference now is that I’m not afraid of working professionally since I did it for ten years before deciding to study again. What I’m concerned is that I don’t really know how this industry is going to welcome me. Is it going to be with open arms recognizing the talent or at least the potential in my work? Or is it going to be harder than I expect with lots of trials an errors and disappointments along the way? Realistically I think it would be a combination of the two. I heard that some professional artists when critiquing your portfolio they can be mean as hell. Their attitude comes from the belief that they have to trash your work and if you don’t let them break your spirit you deserve to be a comic book artist. They literally tell you that you stink and that you won’t ever make it in the industry (It hasn’t happened to me yet, probably because I haven’t showed my portfolio to anyone yet). Let them trash my work if they want, I have the will of a Green Lantern (geek reference) and it won’t be bent. My only fear is fear itself. No, really, let me paraphrase, my only fear is discouragement. I’m afraid that if things go too slow I will be making more business choices rather than art. I still have to earn an income, right. I made it this far and I’m not about to quit now, I just need focus and some incentive :) 

Since I haven’t been able to tell you about my classes for this semester, I will show you my grades first and then I’ll walk you through the work I’ve done for the aforementioned studies with their proper course descriptions. Now without further ado I will present my grades for this semester and also the cumulative GPA (Magna Cum Laude) for the whole curriculum at SVA.

Grades - Spring 2013 semester
Magna Cum Laude

As you can see, I took 5 classes in this semester. I was going to take 6 but I decided that since I didn’t need those extra credits I would go easier on myself this semester and focus more on the important classes. I will be discussing each class in the next paragraphs.

Cartooning Portfolio 2 is a critical class and by far the most important in this semester because I had to build, as you can guess, a great portfolio to show my work to professionals in the field. Remember than in art you don’t need to show your potential employer a résumé. They are not interested in how well you did in class or how many A+ you had, what they really need to see is your portfolio, and believe me they will know your strengths and your weaknesses from page one (considering that they are art directors or artists in general, of course). Your weaknesses just pop up and there’s no way you can embellish them if you have not yet learned those skills. Your portfolio is your life (or at least professionally) and you have to build it and constantly include better and more recent pieces in it so you can make it attractive for the people looking for a freelance artist. Also as important is the fact that I will be doing freelance work since the comic industry is not in the habit of employing artists. They make you agree to contracts for individual projects but you are still a freelance artist nonetheless, hoping that when you finish that job you have another one waiting for you.

The goal of this class was to create a strong portfolio so after graduation you can actually get work in the real world. I built a good portfolio, but I still think it needs more work, at least taking into account my artistic ambitions. My “perfect” portfolio will come in time, or perhaps never since I’m a perfectionist at heart and I will always feel a little apprehensive about my work. There has been a lot of improvement since my previous semester but I believe if I work hard for the rest of this year I will be able to make a great portfolio for next year’s comic conventions.

The main work throughout this semester was finishing my story “Turmoil”, an 18-page comic book that deals with Alzheimer and the turmoil this disease causes in one’s mind. By now I may have spoiled the story for you but although it is a twist just revealed in the second part (first part is shown in my previous entry of this blog), it does not affect the tale as a whole. I also decided to digitally paint the last four pages so I could add more color to my portfolio. I edited the cover you probably saw in my previous entry (if not you should read it now, or at least look at the funny pics) with a basic and yet powerful modification, which make it works better than before. You already know it is about Alzheimer, so by looking at the cover now it makes a lot more sense, I hope.

Turmoil p8
Turmoil p7

Turmoil p9
Turmoil p10
Turmoil p11
Turmoil p12
Turmoil p13
Turmoil p14

Turmoil p15

Turmoil p16

Turmoil p17

Turmoil p18

Turmoil edited cover

I don’t need to talk much about Professional Cartooning since it was a non-credit mandatory class that teaches young artists on how to make a living in illustration and cartooning after school. Based on what I’ve seen, I would dare to say that this class was essential for the majority of my classmates. I’d even say that SVA needs a more comprehensive business class for artists than this one. Even though there was some key information I learned from this class, it was kind of unnecessary. I liked the teacher just fine and it was a fun class, but having a degree in business made the subject a little redundant for me. The class teaches you how to make invoices for Christ’s sake. If I didn’t know that by now then I was living in a hole for ten years. I don’t mean to rant or be obnoxious about it since it was very productive for my classmates. I always have to remind myself that I’m the one who is misplaced studying to get a BFA at 35.

Anatomy was just another figure drawing class, but you know what, I enjoyed it a lot. I was expecting more focus on the muscles and bones and their proper mechanics and what I got was more of the same as prior figure drawing classes. We had to draw a nude model in different poses every week. The pros about this class is that the teacher was really sweet and although she had a fine arts approach on teaching, she really knew what she was talking about. What I found most interesting was the final project. We had to create a new creature based on skeletons on different animals. Then we had to create its skin and its environment. It’s harder than it seems because you have to really research about it and concentrate on why some limbs are the way they are according to its environment, why the skin has its texture, probably for camouflage or for defense against predators. I decided to go for a strong predator. I mixed a sabertooth with a bear and a dinosaur. My research was more complex than just combining the three creatures and my imagination ran wild but you get the idea. Here is the final project along with a sketch I made of Ganesh (Hindu deity and remover of obstacles) at the museum.

Creature in habitat
Creature skeleton


Multiepisodes was a writing class and it taught me how to write a script. I already knew the basics and I learned some new techniques. The final assignment was a full script for a 22-page story, but we have also sketched out the whole story arc, which my teacher thought it was very original story and that made me a happy panda ;). I cannot talk much about this project though, since I will be starting to draw this issue anytime soon and I will be posting those pages in future entries. I also needed a humanities class so History of Religion fitted the bill. It was a fun and interesting class and it broadens your perspective on faith and religion. In any case, this is not a philosophy blog so I will skip this class altogether.

It is important to add that I had my first two commissions as an artist and that is a HUGE deal for me. My very first one was a portrait painting of a very close friend commissioned by her husband who is also a dear friend of mine. He had seen my work through this blog and I suspect he had more confidence in me that I had in myself. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I could do it and I really hope they liked the final piece, but I will always treasure that blind vote of confidence. He didn’t even questioned the cost of the piece and as an artist that is always appreciated it. I think I had come a long way in portraits and I really enjoy making them. Still, I will be a comic book artist first and a portrait artist second. I decided to do something different for her. I wanted to create a triptych consisting on three different approaches and styles. The first approach was a pencil drawing, which was her favorite and the one that comes more natural to me; the second one was a digital painting made in Photoshop. This was my first painting in Photoshop so it was very challenging but at the end I got the results I wanted; and finally, I chose to make a portrait based on comic book line art with some basic grey tones. I really liked the final piece; the only thing is that I won’t be doing triptychs anymore. I don’t know, the fact that the three pieces compete with each other in one piece doesn’t sit well with me. Regardless of that I think it was a successful job.

Susana - commissioned by Mauricio Martinez

The second commission and first sketch comic-con style commission was for my brother. He is pondering the idea of making a custom costume for cosplaying at his next comic convention. I also think it would be great as a mannequin for exhibition. He had this bizarre and great idea of mixing the Star Wars saga with The Game of Thrones. He wanted to mix a Snowtrooper with the bastard John Snow. Hence, the character John Snowtrooper is born. I made some research on the costumes and decided to ink it. I will be painting it soon so hopefully a future entry will show the final piece. By the way, if you desire a sketch, or a portrait for that matter, I’m willing to do them, just contact me through Facebook (Jose Molestina), Twitter (@bielero), Instagram (@bielero), Deviantart (bielero) Tumblr (bielero), e-mail ( and through this website. Believe you me; if you really want it you will get a hold of me. What say you? :)

John Snowtrooper
Commissioned by Oswaldo Molestina

Finally, I made one illustration based on Wally West, the missing Flash, in Photoshop with a campaign design based on a previous campaign to promote Mark Waid's own comic book to ask DC Comics to bring the character back since it has been MIA since the New 52 (the geek alarm went off), and another sketch with my new Copic markers of Green Lantern. The latter was done very fast on my sketchbook so I wasn’t looking for a professional look but rather experimentation with markers. They are not as hard to master as I’d thought but I still need a lot more practice, and probably a lot more colors along the way.

Wally West aka The Flash

Green Lantern sketch - markers

By the way, here are two pics, one from C2E2 (comic convention in Chicago) and the other from the commencement graduation. The first photo was when I met my favorite artist, Alex Ross. You have no idea how significant was to meet this talented and extremely successful artist two days after I finished my classes at the School of Visual Arts. The other one is when I got my diploma at the commencement in Radio City Hall with my wife and family. This could not have happened without your support and faith in me. Thank you so much, I love you, and I dedicate this achievement to you.

Alex Ross and me at C2E2


The final question remains, do I think that studying at SVA was the right call? To spend all that money in tuition when I could have by self-discipline study on my own and spend much less. Well, it is done, so it is kind of a moot point, isn’t it? Still, I will provide the best possible answer. I could have studied on my own and possibly draw even better by now, which I find doubtful, but in any case, drawing is not everything in this career. I’m pretty sure I took for granted some lessons learned and some I don’t even remember but are ingrained in my brain. It’s easy to look back and say: I would have done this differently, but the fact remains that I did not. My decision was one of the hardest decisions of my life, and it cost me much more than just money. Now, I did it and I can call myself a comic book artist, because I’ve learned the tools, the skills, and the secrets of the trade.  For that I am truly grateful at my wife, parents, family, friends, teachers, and all of the people who supported me in my journey at SVA. I don’t feel like I have already mastered the fine arts just yet, but you know what, that will come in time, probably in finishing those 8000 hours left. I might have been late for the party, but I will definitively be the one who is going to make the most noise. It’s been a hell of a ride!

I came, I saw, I conquered.


Jose Luis

Ps- I will keep updating this blog until I reach 10,000 hours. Although I reached a major goal in my life, the challenge is not yet completed.

Friday, January 11, 2013


As I’m an avid runner, or at least I was prior to deciding on being an artist, I’m going to borrow today’s title from the runner’s slang dictionary. Let me explain this to you. A marathon is a race consisting of 26.2 miles. Basically, you run the first 20 miles without any real problems, considering you’ve spent months training for this difficult task. You enjoy this part of the race, look at the scenery, listen to your body, experience the great energy from the crowd, and feel very proud of yourself for achieving this extraordinary challenge; but wait… It’s not over yet.

You still have to run 6.2 miles (10 km) and that’s when you ‘hit the wall’, with that last leg of the race left to go. There’s a scientific reason for this involving the amount of energy (carbohydrates) that the body can save, but I’m not going to bore you with that. Basically, you run out of energy and you have to start running with conviction, mental strength and strategies (My mantra was the song of the Mickey Mouse Club yeeeeiiii Mickey!). You have to start running with heart. It’s the only way to break through the wall. Every part of your body aches, no amount of carbs can replenish your energy expenditure, you’re sick of Gatorade and bananas, and you’re short of breath. The most horrible sensation is that of failure. You feel as if, at any moment, you’re going to break and not be able to finish the race you’ve trained so hard for. It’s really difficult and some people fail miserably, while other runners make it but with their last breath. One more step and they would have fainted. A select few finish strong.  

I happen to fit into that ‘last breath’ category, and I think it has something to do with my personality. I always have to be sure that I’ve done everything in my power to achieve the best possible results. If there’s passion I will always try my best. Sure, there will be mistakes, but you learn from them and thrive.

And that’s where I am right now—the wall. I feel tired, unmotivated, mentally exhausted and physically drained, and most important, I am afraid. I’m not afraid of not finishing my studies, I know I can do that, instead my fear consists mainly of wondering if I'm going to be a distinguished professional in the field or if I'm going to feel disappointed in my artistic abilities or even in the industry as a whole. But in the meantime, I’m going to keep doing my best. I’m going to keep running with my heart, and if I fail, which I won't, you'll be the first to know.

Now that you’re up to date with my feelings of despair, let me tell you what I was up to this past semester. Overall, it was a very good semester: I had time to work on assignments but still had some free time to enjoy with my wife all that New York has to offer. Now that she is here with me everything seems better and more fun, and the cooking is so good although I think she is losing some steam in that department :) My experience from last year was so traumatic that I don’t think I’ll ever have the energy just to work, work, work. You have to have hobbies, enjoy a good movie, do exercises, I don’t know, have a life besides drawing comics. I have to admit that I don’t think I’m working when I’m drawing, even though it IS hard work, but it’s also fun and rewarding. Still, some assignments are boring and don’t speak to my needs and ambitions as an artist.

So I was thinking of doing something practical for any aspiring artist. Below I’ve compiled a reading list for you for each different aspect the accomplished comic book artist needs to master, with only one book per category so that you can dive in straight away. Yeah! I’m that nice! ;)

1.     Comics: Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud
2.     Storytelling: Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative by Will Eisner
3.     Drawing: Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson
4.     Anatomy: Drawing the Head and the Figure by Jack Hamm
5.     Perspective: Perspective for Comic Book Artists by David Chelsea
6.     Inking: The Art of Comic Book Inking by Gary Martin 
7.     Coloring: Hi-Fi Color for Comics by Brian & Kristy Miller
8.     Writing: Writing for Comics with Peter David

Read them, study them, copy the drawings and create new ones. Practice, practice, practice and you will get all the basic concepts ingrained in your mind. There is an infinite number of books I could recommend, but I think these are mandatory and easy to understand. Once you know the basics, things will get more complex. Read them in order if you like (recommended) or start reading whatever interests you the most, but the most important thing is to start. You can always ask me to recommend more books. Also, if you are on a budget I will recommend one book to know everything about comics: Drawing Words& Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel and Steve Madden. If you go this route make sure to get the sequel Mastering Comics by the same amazing team. Or you can always get How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way and learn from that. Either you feel inspired by the concise and practical information or you feel unmotivated and untalented by the simplification of it all. My personal feeling regarding this book is that although it has great material it is simply not enough. Of course, there will always be those artists who believe God gifted them and feel proud of having mastered comics only by using this book as a guide. As true as it may be for some, let me assure you that the majority of people need MORE.

I have a confession to make. I’m kind of lost regarding my audience. It’s true that I enjoy writing, but I write for you, my loyal fans. (Who I’m pretty sure include my mom, family, and closest friends). I may be getting too technical for the people who want to know about the challenge, or maybe too biographical for readers that only are interested in comic book making. So in order to clarify what this blog is about I’ve come up with a theme:

“Mastering Art Skill is a blog written by an aspiring comic book artist who happens to be studying art at the age of 35, in which he talks about his experience as a way to inspire readers to follow their dreams and also guide newcomers in the comic book industry. All of this following one simple rule: to draw 10,000 hours in order to master the subject at hand”.

I hope that’s clear enough. Is it? Anyway… Here are my grades for this semester:

Fall 2012 grades

Let’s start with that infamous and undeserved B. I don’t want to come off as a complete nerd, but I was very disappointed with this grade. I worked so hard and I never received a heads up that I could be getting a B. It is disappointing because I thought I deserved an A based on effort. It is the teacher’s prerogative and his explanation was that last year there were 4 students whose pages deserved an A, and I quote: “So, to give anyone this year an "A" who is not yet performing to last year's "A" level would devalue the grade and would not be right”. Mmm, I respectfully disagree. I’ve always been a fan of the curve system. What I mean is that you will not always get the same batch of talent or preparation by students every year. Maybe last year those students had better teachers, or were better prepared based on another curriculum. (For instance, Perspective class in the Cartooning department was cancelled two years ago, which I myself find inexcusable and irresponsible). From my point of view, especially in art, grading is very subjective and cannot be compared considering the “talent” factor and preparation (some of those kids did nothing in math class in high school and drew all the time, or others had art classes since they were kids.) Art is relative and it should not be compared, but if you have to, at least compare it within the same group of students who are somehow receiving the same lectures from the same teacher. There I said it. I’m a frustrated teacher so I have a clear idea on how I would teach if it were the case. Maybe I deserved a B, who cares. Stop whining Jose and move on.

I’ve been working on a single comic named “Turmoil” and it is about a guy who finds himself chased by unknown people, until he realizes that what he’s been running away from is created by none other than himself. Sketchy, I know, and probably not a good pitch if I’d like to sell the script, but I promise I will do my best to make it fun. I believe it has a good ending and will make you think a lot. Here are the first six pages plus a cover all done with ink. It will be an 18-page comic and the rest of the pages will be done this semester.

Cover Turmoil

I’ve also been coloring some pages in my Digital Coloring class. Since I needed to color pages made by me I decided on doing three pages from last year’s thesis. One of them I already showed you in my previous post, so here are the other two. Also I colored my “Turmoil” cover and a caricature I made of a friend back home from Guayaquil, Ecuador, where I am from.

Cover Turmoil colored

Ifood Delivery Biker

My perspective class was great, although I wanted a more technical approach more commonly used in comics. Still, it was a challenging class and I got a better sense of perspective. The only thing with perspective is that you have to apply it everyday because you easily forget about some obscure rules. In any case, I hereby present you two of the eleven assignments I had to make. One is a still life that was an exercise of almost every rule of perspective, focusing more on shadows, and the other is just a patterned floor, which may not seem too impressive but was a pain to draw.

Still Life - Shadows

Pattern in perspective

Finally, in my drawing class I’ve been working hard on trying to understand drawing formulas to represent fabric. Clothing for me is very hard to depict and after the class it still is, but at least now I know some rules. I guess you get used to drawing fabric (like anything else) and it becomes easier the more you practice. The formulas in drawing clothing makes it so much easier and they help your figures look more real. I’m more inclined in drawing noir comics so I need to master the clothed figure sooner than later.

I’m going to level with you. This entry was supposed to be written and posted before New Year’s Eve, so I had a great paragraph written on wishing a happy holidays and the importance of the New Year’s resolution As I procrastinated quite a bit during my two weeks vacation that I’m a little late, but I still wish you the best and want to take a moment to emphasize the importance of goals. Make quantifiable and attainable goals. Be realistic, but do not DARE stop dreaming. Sometimes dreams do come true, you just have to be a little unrealistic, close your eyes, and jump to the void, even though it seems you’re jumping to hell itself (as Doctor Who did… doesn’t ring a bell? Go watch those episodes... NOW!). Ok, so I’m really tired. I have nothing more to say for now. May this year be the best for you, and for me :) This is, after all, graduation year!

As a bonus for the aspiring artists, I made a chart of expressions. I just put all the expression drawings into a single page in Photoshop. The illustrations are from a book on Facial Expressions that I highly recommend: The Artist’s Complete Guide to Facial Expression by Gary Faigin.

Facial Expressions Chart

If you want to be involved in comics in any way and don’t know where to start, I may have a few suggestions. Please write me an e-mail to or find me on Twitter @bielero


Jose Luis