By Kevin Mellon
There happened to be a comic shop a mile or so away from my house growing up, so I would bike there and use whatever lawn-mowing money I could, or change I had scrounged together, to buy comics that I would then take home and pour over and study. I memorized the names of creative teams and began looking for more books by those people.
I realized, at a young age, that these were things made by people and I wanted to be one of them.
So I made the decision to go to college. But I didn't want to go to just any college. I'd been through high school and knew that it was full of distracting classes that wouldn't further me in what I wanted to do. The state-school experience wasn't going to be any different.
I had always been aware of the Kubert School from ads in comic books from when I was really young, and after some extensive looking and comparing I came to realize it was the one school that offered EXACTLY what I was looking for. I feel like it was one of the best things I could have done to prepare myself for working in the industry.
The adage of "do the work to get the work" was and is how I operate. I've always been bad at making and sending out portfolios, but I can make a comic and put that out and let that speak for me. I have never liked waiting on others to tell me what to do and when I can do something. I try to just do it, then be mindful about the choices I make if and when things come to me after.
My first year full-time freelance was 2008. I have to be honest, I screwed the pooch on that one. I quit my day-job as a cook (can you blame me?) and threw myself into the first signs of money that I was getting. That ended up biting me in the ass when clients didn't pay on time, or didn't pay at all.
I went back to a part-time job in 2009, and also took some time to re-evaluate where I was with my art and my "voice". I knew that if I was going to get work for any reason other than being "fast", I'd have to break my process down and get "good". So I took on very little freelance work in 2009 while I regrouped. In 2010 I got offered a graphic novel to draw, and a did artwork for an iOS game that financed me through that year.
At the same time, I was a fan of the show Frisky Dingo. So I was stoked when those same guys announced they were doing a new show called "Archer". The show is smart, witty, dirty, and just plain fun. Around the time of season 2 beginning to air, I tweeted about how good a birthday present it was that the s2 premiere was airing on my birthday. Neal Holman, the Art Director, tweeted back "You're welcome" or something like that.
I started following him on twitter and talking to him occasionally that way. In the fall of 2011, he put out a tweet that Floyd County(the company that makes Archer) was hiring for various positions: one of them being storyboards. Casually and not expecting an actual answer, replied to him "Oh f@$k, I wish I could apply for this." A few hours later he messaged me to send him my portfolio. I quickly scrambled one together (remember, I had never really put one together) and sent it off to him, assured that it wouldn't go anywhere.
But it did.
He sent me back a few pages of script to test on, telling me how long it should take, and some other details to keep in mind.
So I did that, sent it back and then got an email saying they'd hire me on a part-time basis for season 3.
In the next post, Kevin talks about working on ARCHER, and how he uses SketchBook Pro in his personal work.
Come see Kevin in person at Autodesk CAVE.
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