Local cartoonist to draw classic comic strip

Cartoonist Terry Beatty's sample of The Phantom.
Cartoonist Terry Beatty's sample art for The Phantom. " I'm drawing the strip a little 'grittier' than this," the artist says on his blog. (Click to enlarge)

In the jungles of Bengalla, criminals quake in fear of The Ghost Who Walks — the masked crime-fighter known as The Phantom, who has patrolled newspaper comics sections since 1936.

Terry Beatty, a Kansas City area cartoonist, will be the new artist of the Sunday editions of the The Phantom comic strip. Beatty’s first strip will appear January 29th in newspapers around the world.

Beatty’s previous work includes comic books featuring Batman, Ms. Tree, Wild Dog, and Mike Danger. Recently he illustrated the graphic novel Return to Perdition, a sequel to Road to Perdition, which inspired the hit 2002 movie starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman.

Beatty originally accepted the assignment on a temporary basis due to the ill health of artist Eduardo Barreto. Sadly, Barreto died in December at age 57, making it necessary for King Features Syndicate to find a replacement artist on a permanent basis.

“Eduardo was a terrific guy,” Beatty said. “I was shaken by his death at such an early age. Originally, I was hesitant to go after this assignment because it somehow seemed disrespectful to him. In the end, I decided that someone would need to take the job and that I could do it in a way that respects Eduardo and the other tremendous illustrators who’ve drawn the strip.”

The Phantom was created by writer Lee Falk, who continued to work on the strip until his death in 1999. Over the years it has been drawn by a cadre of respected illustrators including Ray Moore, Wilson McCoy, Sy Barry, Fred Fredericks, Graham Nolan, Paul Ryan, and Barreto, among others.

Terry Beatty
Terry Beatty

Beatty’s first strips were needed quickly, so he produced them entirely in digital form. “I can work quickly in an all-digital format,” Beatty said, “but I prefer a combination of digital and traditional techniques. Now that we’re in a better shape on deadlines, I’ve switched to the combination approach.”

Beatty begins the strip digitally, adding panel borders, lettering, and basic pre-drawing. He then prints the digital effort on illustration board and finishes the drawings using brushes and black India ink. The strip is then colored by artist Tom Smith.

Beatty, who moved to the Kansas City area in 2011, will be a guest at Planet Comicon on March 24th and 25th in Overland Park. You can learn more about Terry Beatty on his blog, terrybeatty.blogspot.com.

Supergirl in Kansas City; the Helen Slater Interview

Here’s a great full-length video of the Planet Comicon 2010 panel with actress Helen Slater (Supergirl, Ruthless People, City Slickers). I was honored to have the opportunity to moderate this panel. Thanks to our friends at www.scifi4me.com for recording this and posting the video.

Local cartoonist creates a children’s book for the whole family

60 Ways to Leave Your Mother (Alone)
Local cartoonist Michael J. Buckley created the new children's book 60 Ways to Leave Your Mother (Alone).

From webcomic to children’s book, Michael J. Buckley has created an ode to childhood with 60 Ways to Leave Your Mother (Alone). The Kansas City-based cartoonist’s new book presents the imaginative adventures of three siblings as they “Make a Toad Happy-Tat”, “ Bee a Bug”, and “Have a Happie Meal”, among other vignettes.

Buckley spends his days doing design and web development for Hallmark, and created the book in his spare time. “The most rewarding part for me is that I stuck with it even when the process seemed not worth the effort, or boring, or difficult,” he said.

The book was inspired by Buckley’s family. “60 Ways was originally a list of things to do, written by my wife for our kids,” Buckley said. “I thought it would make a fun comic since it’s a theme any parent can sympathize with!”

While written from a childhood point-of-view with a kid-friendly approach, adult comics fans will appreciate Buckley’s lush illustrations – which were created using traditional techniques. “Because of carpal tunnel problems, I work in pen, brush and ink as much as I possibly can,” Buckley said. “So, my process is: sketches, inking, scan inks, print scanned image on watercolor paper, paint over the print, digitally composite inked linework with watercolors in Photoshop, then separate to CMYK. Pages are laid out in InDesign and output to PDF.”

60 Ways Interior
60 Ways to Leave Your Mother (Alone) is over-sized, hardbound, and full color. (Click to enlarge.)

Each story is built from comic strips in a traditional four panel grid, which Buckley originally published online as a webcomic. For the book, the cartoonist has assembled the strips four to a page resulting in a series of seamless comic book stories. Since Buckley had the book format in mind when he created the strips, there were only a few tweaks required to avoid the abrupt pacing changes or repetition that some strip collections suffer from.

“I work pretty large — most of my daily strips are 17” wide. Honestly, I just tried to copy how Milt Caniff worked!” Buckley said. “So when it came to making the book, everything was already at a decent resolution, which was nice. As far as book layout and pre-press stuff, I’ve done that for a number of years for Hallmark so I guess there wasn’t a big learning curve. The hardest part was altering pacing and dialogue to make sense for a two page spread. Sometimes it worked well, mostly it needed a lot of little changes.”

Buckley financed the project through an effort on the website Kickstarter. “I’m indebted to my Kickstarter backers for the financial and moral support,” he said. “Raising the money allowed me to splurge on the quality of the book: full color, large format, hardback sewn binding, local printing. I was fortunate to have a great mix of family, friends and — surprisingly — complete strangers contribute, and they have been very patient through the long process. Were I to do another Kickstarter book, I would make sure I was farther along in the production process before I launched. I still think Kickstarter is a good way to go — if you have a good product and a wide fan base. I learned a lot about what self-publishing is and is not.”

The books are available to purchase from a variety of local booksellers including Reading Reptile, Clint’s, Rainy Day, Poptopia, and the Nelson Atkins Museum store. They can also be ordered online from Buckley’s 60ways.com website.

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