Friday, February 11, 2011

From The Vault - Marvel Trading Cards 1993

Long before I actually worked for Marvel Comics directly I worked in an art studio as an assistant artist during my last year of art school and for a few years after that. We did a lot of production artwork and licensed trading card series from comic book companies but we never did anything directly for Marvel Comics.

Until one Thursday afternoon when my boss got a call from Marvel directly saying that they needed some trading cards painted quickly and wondered if he could do a few. He said yes and the blue line boards of the cards showed up via FedEx on Friday morning.

During this time in the studio the other assistant artist and I would usually take home work from our job over the weekends, do some coloring and airbrushing on cards, and make a little extra money. The funny thing about this was that we were still paid by the hour for our work. So, even though I was faster and got the cards done quicker than my studio mate, I was paid less because he took longer to paint his set of cards than I did. Makes sense, yes?

So, anyway, because there were so many of these Marvel cards needing to be painted by Monday, I was given six of them to take home over the weekend and work on. It was the first time I had painted on the blue line boards (we usually painted right on photostats of the art, kind of like a really nice photocopy on a photo type paper), so I was looking forward to it.

As you can see by the cards, I really tried to do my best on them. It was my first time working for an actual comic book company and I really wanted these pieces to shine. Even if my name wasn't associated with any of the work I wanted to do my best. I put a lot of extra detail into each card and really took my time.

Too much time, I realized, when I spent all night Sunday before work still painting them. I didn't get any sleep that night before work because I just kept painting these cards.

But, I got to work, finished cards in hand, really sleepy with a nine hour day ahead of me.

I gave the finished cards to my boss who really liked them until he asked me how many hours I had taken to paint them. When I told him the amount of hours I spent he got really pissed (you remember, he was paying us hourly) and really freaked out.

So, I spent the day after I painted my first actual Marvel Comics work tired, working a nine hour day, with a boss who was angry with me. And, I wouldn't even get any credit for painting the cards.

But, in the end, I'm sure I used these cards as samples when I did approach Marvel Comics myself and started receiving work from them directly. In fact, I got so much work from them that I ended up quitting the assistant artist job and went out on my own.

So, taking my time, losing sleep, and having a boss angry with me seemed like a small price to pay in hindsight for starting a career with Marvel and always doing my best.

When I was painting stuff for Marvel directly, and even now with projects I do, some people in the industry look at my work and what I do and tell me I work too hard. But I figure it's a small price to pay for doing something I genuinely enjoy and love.

But, that day I did these cards, I just felt tired, beaten, and had a boos who was angry with me. An interesting way to start off my, what turned out to be years long, career with Marvel Comics.


Manu said...

I like this article ! Very interesting, and encouraging !

I perfectly understand. Even if I can't compare me to you, or to Marvel's artists, I can forgive me a mistake, or my ignorance (even if sometimes ignorance is a fault), but I would not forgive me for not doing my best ! I can't sleep if I haven't done my best, anyway, some kind of little voice talking to me in the dark "hey, you know the truth, you know you have not......" So bad to hear this voice ! (: O

Sean Tiffany said...

We always have to do our best, Manu. Even if it means people being confused and angry with you.

rob! said...

I miss the people; don't really miss the work! :)

Sean Tiffany said...

Robbo, I go back and forth. Sometimes I remember those days as tons of fun and I really miss them and other times all I can think about is being broke, lonely, anxious, and having people wish death upon me. :)