Unnatural Talent-Creating your Comic in a Digital Age- A Review

Jason Brubaker recently published  a book called “Unnatural Talent” about making a graphic novel that covers everything you need to create a graphic novel in todays digital age. Jason Brubaker created Remind which is composed of two graphic novels that he self published last year and has sold over 8,000 copies (which he printed using funds he raised from Kickstarter, over$125,000)


Lets get  into the review of  Unnatural Talent! unnatural-talent-creating-printing-selling-your-comic-in-jason-brubaker-paperback-cover-art

This book covers  the nuts and bolts of how to build your comic or graphic novel from start to finish. The first 1-2 chapters covers Jason’s story and a breakdown of what you want to do with your graphic novel.  In the book he gives you all the information you need to start, its just whether you’re going to grab that pen or stylus to start or both.  But then he steps on the accelerator and gives us a  look into his experience creating Remind, his webcomic  which later becomes a high quality printed graphic novel.  All of the things he mentioned in the first part are invaluable.   When I first started reading part I. I thought,  okay here it goes. Motivation..inspiration from the general ideas of doing your comics to the nitty gritty specifics. I thought I could skim over the readings in part I. But guess what?  I started to really dig in and read every word. There was something there that hit me. I had heard about Parkinson’s Law, (work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion)but the way Jason explained it in the context of comics and graphic novels made so much sense.


So after reading Jason motivating first part, reading the 2nd part has the title “Where do you go from there”? Publisher or Self Publish, the myths and truths of each one of these. Jason asks the tough questions and answers them. Will you get an advance with an publisher, will your publisher pay to market your book? There are also great sections on keeping books in print, turnaround time, contract negotiation and where the money goes.  His argument is convincing in terms of self-publishing, when you compare the pros and cons of being published by a corporation or choosing to self publish.

He’s also got a great section on agents and whether you need one or not, his experience with a good and bad agent as well as how you get one.  The book also covers practical aspects of making a graphic novel. Writing your script, character design, what tools you can use to help you finish your graphic novel, flatting, RGB oR CMYK, and DPI. And  oh, yes there is a section on outsourcing, when to use it and whether you want to use  it. I found the lettering section adequate ,but more helpful in terms of making your own fonts and how to go about producing your own font.   Helpful for the new guys, and refresher for others.

Getting your webcomic online can be tricky. Nowadays people are posting their comics on Facebook and Tumblr, but its still extremely important to have your own website. Unnatural Talent gives you some  insight on using WordPress, Comic Easel and some WordPress plugins Jason has found success with and ones you don’t want to be without when you get hit with a huge amount of traffic (WP Cache)


In the 50 ideas to grown your fanbase section, Unnatural Talent goes into how to build awareness of your content.  This is by far one of the most valuable parts of the book. If you think you have a great webcomic in terms of story and art and you don’t let the world know that you are there. How are people going read your content?  Who is your target market? Do you sell your content online or give it away for free?  What social networks do you use. One of the most helpful things he uses is a chart that I find invaluable. You can see part of it below.

Marketing audience


You’re going to have to read the book to see the completed chart, but it is quite useful in what techniques to use if you have no money or some money some content or no content, or if you have less then 500 visitors a  days. I found the subscribe section valuable, with information on Feedburner and how to get you audience to subscribe to you easily. Unnatural Talent covers the importance of using social networks, and give you explicit information on how to increase your Twitter followers. Joining forums is critical and he gives you a list of a forums that are thriving communities to promote your work. There are too many to list of the 50 that I like, some are common sense, but a lot are very specific and he gives concrete examples to each one. I find myself employing some of his techniques everyday as I get ready to launch my webcomic.


The next section is printing, and  also very helpful in terms of how Jason printed his graphic novel “Remind” Who do you collaborate with? Do you print it here or overseas?  How do you get started.? He goes into an elaborate section on using Indesign and talks about hiring the right designer.  He also covers quite a bit of information on Prepress, Proofing, ISBN numbers and Copyrights. The question is also raised about what printer you should you when printing your graphic novel and suggestions  about using POD and Offset printing are clarified. Again Jason gives you some of the names and websites of printers he’s worked with, so you have a good starting point.


When he goes over  copyrights, he goes over two things, Copyrights and the Internet, and Fan protected copyrights.  There is some real helpful information about protecting your image and how your fans can help you protect your work.

The  chapter called streams of income is really the most important, because really how do you make money with your online comic?  Advertising? Affiliate LInks. How much can you make from direct sales, and from various sources. Lots of good specific information here based on Jason’s experience with Remind.


His Kickstarter chapter goes into detail how he ran his campaigns. What kind of incentives he had, and what kind of stretch goals were the most effective?  What kind of promotion did he use to raise over 125,000 for the two  Kickstarters he ran?  He goes into international shipping and really helpful points on the time required to run a Kickstarter. Last but not least he goes into selling, selling and selling. What distribution channels do you use. What are the major distributors and what if you want to go with an Indie distributor, and other distributions channels. How do you deal with digital downloads, and who do you deal with.

There is a ton of useful information in this book that will help anyone get their webcomic seen and get brought into print It could help possibly make you money with your comic by making it into a graphic novel, and help you find multiple streams of income with your intellectual property or comic. This book is a complete guide for anyone deciding that they want to self publish their own comic. There are a ton of resources in the book. What’s particulary valuable is the last 2-3 pages  which list all Jason Brubakers resources. Everything on making comics, from lettering,anatomy, outsourcing, website creation, growing your fanbise websites,mailing lists, advertising , blogging information, journalists reviewers, printing companies in America, Canada and overseas and more.

I couldn’t have asked for a better book to use as a manual to prep my webcomic for release in the next year. Sure there are other books on the market, but none that really focus on todays climate in comics.   I hope I’ll be ready, after reading this book not once, but twice, maybe even thrice.  As a creator and an educator, I can say that this book will be a boon to anyone thinking of getting a graphic novel or online comic out there. I hope to have it by my side when I get my content done. Without good finished content, this book is rendered useless. So its off to my drawing board and my Wacom to finish my graphic novel!

Jason Brubaker is working on his 2nd graphic novel called Sithrah. You can read it here . If you’d like to be a patron of Sithrah and help fund it. Go here


Jason Brubaker will be speaking at Nucleus Gallery (Along with Ethan Nicolle,creator of AxeCop and Travis Hansen (The Bean) in Alhambra on Saturday March 1st from (1-5pm) about how he makes a living with webcomics and signing his book Unnatural Talent and his graphic novels 1 and 2.

You can sign up for it here

We’re also streaming it live here



How To Be An Entrepreneur Concept Artist with Khang Le.

Khang Le is an one of the amazing concept artist on entertainment field today. Several years ago I took a workshop at Concept Design Academy, and he showed us his process. He did some thumbnails, quick layouts,and pumped out an amazing scene in less then 3-4 hours. If it was a complicated scene that had 3 point perspective or high horizon, he would set it up in Maya and set up all the lights and he would render it out and do a paint-over in Photoshop. He shaves off hours of his time doing this process. But can any Larry, Moe, Dick or Harry do this?.. NO! Khang Le studied for years without 3d reference. He has a good understanding of the fundamentals, he also has a solid grasp of perspective and knows composition. He’s done work on movies,film and games. And know he started his own company, and they’ve produced a hit game called Hawken.

He’ll be speaking at Art Institute Inland Empire this Saturday, Feb 22, 2014 at 1pm on being a game company owner, and a concept artist as well as being a creative director. This is a free lecture! You just have to show up and enjoy the amazing work and lecture of Khang Le! Brought to you from the Brillante Media Group (Tom Brillante) This is over 5 years in the making. So come down and check out this great lecture!


Check out more of his work here!




‘Joan of Arc” by Dana Guerrieri

'Joan of Arc'' by Dana Guerrieri

Love this piece by Dana Guerrieri. There’s this animation concept design quality to it that I really like. Here’s the link to her site.

FYI. Looks like her site got overloaded!

Its now back up!

Here’s another great piece.




Panel about Graphic Novels (Part I) Stephen Platt, Angie Wang, Roger Kupelian

Society Illustrators Los Angeles had a great panel about graphic novels  last year with Stephen Platt, a comic book artist who started out at Image doing Prophet and worked for Marvel for a time, who now does storyboards for feature film and freelance comic work. He’s joined by Roger Kupelian, a well respected film matte and background painter (Lord of the Rings, Hugo and Oblivion) who published his own graphic novel “War Gods”, and new comer Angie Wang who has published several mini comics, and has deal with First Second to publish a graphic novel and works in animation full time.

Take a look and enjoy the panel!


Storyboarding and Quick Sketch classes-Art Center at Night Classes Start January 13!

Marion Eisenmann is teaching two classes at Art Center at Night this winter. Marion is a freelance storyboard artist whose worked on numerous commercials for clients like MTV, Victoria Secret, FX Television, and several live-action films including Jim Cavaziel’s Outlander and many live-action projects.




STORYBOARDING – 14 Week Studio Course – 01.13-04.19 – Thursdays 7-10 pm

This course provides an introduction to the versatile field of storyboarding. Class discussions and demonstrations will cover different styles and techniques of sequential art used in live action, animation and commercial applications. Through a combination of in-class and homework assignments, this course will teach you the necessary mechanics of visual storytelling and help you develop an individual and industry-typical style. Special guest speakers will round out the classroom experience. Students may draw by hand or work in digital formats using Wacom boards and laptops. (Note: access to Art Center’s computer facilities is not included. Please provide your own equipment and software if you wish to work digitally).

QUICK SKETCH FOR ENTERTAINMENT – 7 Week Course – 01.18-03.01 – Saturday 9 am-12 pm
A “quick sketch”, a sketch done quickly from live action, differs from the classroom sketch/gesture poses done from a model. The challenge of this class is to learn how to quickly capture on paper the impression of a one-time event or gesture, and to plainly depict the personality and actions of a subject. During the first class meeting you will learn to recognize and apply four basic shapes to your drawings, and examine anatomy (human and animal), balance and line of action. Subsequent class sessions are “hands on” and will be held off campus at locations where people gather-the zoo, local parks, shopping centers-where you will sharpen your sketching skills and learn to analyze your subject quickly.





Imagination Storyboard Animatic from Steven Gute on Vimeo


SILA presents a Graphic Novel Panel with Steven Platt, Roger Kupelian and Angie Wang

Society of Illustrators Los Angeles presents three artists/authors discuss the graphic novel and where its headed, and the part they’ve played in creating sequential images and graphic novels in today culture. Steven Platt who started with Image, and has done work for all the major comic publishers, is doing work as a storyboard artist and directing cinematics at Marvel. He recently worked on Iron Man III, and Oblivion. Roger Kupelian is a matte painter who has worked on Lord of the Rings, Hugo, Oblivion, and a number of other films. He continues to work on film, while working on Vol two of War Gods. Angie Wang is an illustrator who does illustration and comics for fun and clients who include Dark Horse, Image, First Second Publishing, and Houghton-Mifflin.

Come join us November 26th at 8pm at The Little Victory Theater 3326 W Victory Blvd Burbank, CA 91505 (818) 841-4404 RSVP – info@si-la.orgm or call toll-free 800-799-6368

Hear 3 graphic artists talk about the state of graphic novels

Hear 3 graphic artists talk about the state of graphic novels

Here’s Roger Kupelian with some clips from War Gods and a review of the Jot stylus for Ipad


Alina Chau Exhibition at South Pasadena Mercantile and a Watercolor Process Video

Alina Chau, illustrator, animator, and children’s book author is exhibiting her work at South Pasadena Mercantile this weekend. Alina Chau has been an animator and illustrator for the last 15 years and is actively doing children’s books and now a children’s book app. Come see her breath-taking water color work at the South Pasadena Mercantile this Sunday Nov. 17 7-10pm. 1105 Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, Ca. 91030

Alina Chau at South Pasadena Mercantile

Watch her do her watercolors at 4:05 is this video

And watch her do her watercolors in another short video.


Free Event with renowned illustrator Mike Butkus!

Tom Brillante does it again with a free event at AI-Inland Empire. This time with Mike Butkus. Mike has worked on about 3,500 movies, TV and gaming projects, including the conceptual development, character design and pre-production. Django Unchained movie posters, Harry Potter, and a ton of other stuff. Read the flier about more information. This is a chance to see Mike Butkus do a live demo!


Careers in Concept Final video Part V!

Here’s Part V of Dave Hobbins. Sorry the sound isn’t as great as I’d like it to be.

Dave Hobbins is a freelance concept artist who has worked a number of features, working at Marvel, Lucasfilm, Robert Zemeckis and number of films and’s his advice on becoming a concept artist and the road he took!


Guardians of the Galaxy [2014]
Director: James Gunn
AD: Virginie Bourdin
MPC/ Marvel Studios, LLC.
-Concept Artist [Freelance]

After Earth (1000 A.E.) [2013]
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
PD: Thomas E. Sanders
Spy Post
-Concept Artist [Freelance]

Flight [2012]
Director: Robert Zemeckis
AD: Doug Chiang
DC Studios/ Paramount Pictures
-Vehicle Designer [Freelance]


Illustration West with James Gurney, Iain Mccaig, Bill Perkins, Donato Giancola,Dean Yeagle and More!

What do James Gurney, Iain Mccaig, Bill Perkins, Donato Giancola, Dean Yeagle, William Wray, Will Weston, and Alina Chau have in common? They’re all judges for Society of Illustrators Los Angeles, Illustration West #52.

Illustration West 52

Illustration West 52

What is Illustration West? Its the 52nd Annual Illustration Exhibition Competition put on by Society of Illustrators Los Angeles. The show will be in March 2014, with the location to be announced soon!

Here are some great interview with two of the judges.

Here’s a link to the James Gurney interview. Click here

And here’a link to our Will Terry Interview Click here

There’s a ton of categories to submit for. Check it out blew.