DC Comics artists Amanda Conner (“Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre”), Tony Daniel (“Detective Comics”) and Francis Manapul (“Flash”) joined a small group of aspiring artists and DC fans at Fan Expo Canada to discuss their craft and provide a live look at their drawing process.
First up was “Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre” artist Amanda Conner. She took her place at projector to give the crowd a live look at her drawing process. She decided to draw the title character from her “Before Watchmen” book, Silk Spectre.
As she drew, Conner discussed how she approaches drawing Silk Spectre.
“I approach her by looking at Dave Gibbons’ stuff. I tried to young her down a little bit… I just tried to take her and turn her into a 16 year old. I thought a lot about what would go through her head. When we started working with her, she’s pretty innocent. Her mother is overprotective but also trains her in hand-to-hand combat. I had to make her a butt kicker, without making her too mean.”
Conner continued to draw for the crowd, quickly showing how some light pencils can become an astounding piece of art.
She continued, “It’s a coming-of-age story, or, as I like to call it, a romance novel with severe beatings.”
A question was then asked about Silk Spectre’s most notable feature to draw.
“Her most notable feature is her cute little mole,” Conner said. “Going back to the original comic, she’s really, really pretty. Keep in mind her mom was a sex bomb back in the day. She inherited her mom’s good looks.”
Conner’s drawing was starting to come along with inks, showing the crowd the beauty of Silk Spectre.
“I do give her the ’60s eyelashes. I look at all these ads in the 1960s, and the makeup was spectacular back then. I use a lot of reference. The hair is amazing,” Connor said.
As Conner finished up her sketch to huge applause from the crowd, “Flash” writer/artist Francis Manapul then took the spotlight to discuss working on Flash and show his process for drawing the character.
The discussion began on how he broke into the industry.
“I read comics as a kid, mostly to learn how to speak English,” he said. “The comics back then just looked okay.”
It wasn’t until he found the work of DC co-publisher Jim Lee that he decided he loved comic art and wanted to break into the business. Manapul continued to make progress on his live drawing of The Flash as he discussed how he approaches the character.
“Especially with a character like The Flash, what I try to do is express his fluidity. I try to do it that way with the line work. It’s almost kung-fu style. It’s flowing. It’s more about the gesture than the line work,” Manapul said.
Showing his in-progress drawing on the projector, he continued, “There are only so many ways a runner runs. There are other ways and angles, but they look funny. There are only a few positions when running that are attractive looking.”
Manapul finished his sketch of The Flash on the big screen to more very loud applause from the small crowd. As he exited, Tony Daniel showed an in-progress Catwoman he had been drawing while the other artists had their turns. It was almost finished and absolutely gorgeous.
Daniel looked very comfortable showing the room his drawing process and was very candid when answering a question about the worst thing he has ever been asked to draw.
“Are you serious?” he asked with a smile on his face.
“You don’t have to name names,” the fan said.
“Okay, well I will,” Daniel replied to laughs from the audience. “Brian Azzarello,” he announced to the surprise of the audience. “Now you guys are wondering, when did you two ever work together? Have we? I think we have. Brian was my editor at Comico when I used to do the ‘Elementals’ back in 1991. I did my very first work, ever, and I am ashamed to admit it, but it was on a book called ‘The Elementals Sex Special.'”
Daniel pauses as the crowd laughs.
“I had to draw a sex scene between one of the characters and a minotaur.”
The crowd erupts in laughter.
Running low on time, Daniel quickly finishes up his drawing of Catwoman and does a quick sketch of Harley Quinn. The three artists graciously give away their artwork to four lucky members of the audience to conclude the intimate gathering at Fan Expo.