Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire have become one of the most prominent creative duos in comic books, and now they want to give a hand up to the next generation of comic creators.
The artistic team behind Image's Injection is opening the doors to their Red Cube Studio in Ireland to budding comics creators for internships in drawing, coloring, and the craft as a whole. While somes spots have been filled already, submissions are open through February 13 for a week-long intensive workshop -- one which the pair will fly out the chosen artist to Ireland from anywhere in the world.
While Shalvey is busily drawing the next issue of Injection, Newsarama talked with Bellaire about the new internship program they're offering, what it offers to creators, and how they came to find themselves in a position to offer guidance for up-and-coming creators.
Newsarama: Jordie, can you describe your and Declan’s new studio and how it came to be?
Jordie Bellaire: The studio has always been here; it's just Declan and I working away in our apartment. We've always kept the master bedroom the studio; in Ireland and in modern apartments, these tend to be large, huge, loft-esque rooms.
Nrama: But you’ve moved to a new larger space now, right?
Bellaire: Yes. We've recently moved to an even bigger place and decided that maybe it was about time we try and have more people over to learn and practice their skills. We have the space and enthusiasm to teach anyone willing to learn. We don't have all the answers but we have our own way of getting by, we're interested in sharing that.
Nrama: How did the conversation start to bring in someone new in an internship/student capacity?
Bellaire: We've had a few successful internships before. We call them internships but they really are more like mentorships, I think Declan and I just feel uncomfortable taking the responsibility of calling ourselves a mentor. Feels very strange!
We had Ruth Redmond in studio, learning basics of coloring, now she's coloring comics professionally at Marvel.
We also had the amazing Elle Power in our studio to spruce up inking and storytelling skills: Elle isn't practicing this skill professionally in comics but she's the sort of person who wears many skill hats - she's like a Swiss army knife of creativity! Given these two wonderful experiences, I think we just knew we wanted to be more organized about it. We're even seeking accreditation with local universities in Dublin.
Nrama: Did either of you do any formal or informal internship or student work for art?
Bellaire: Declan didn't do any interning, technically - Len o' Grady, a great colorist and good dude, took him under his wing for some time and showed him the ropes. Gave him the tools to really get involved in production and coloring of comics. Declan had just began working towards a career in comics and this was a huge first step. Len gave him great support and encouragement.
I did do one brief stint of interning for a film festival local to my art university. I hated it. I was to come up with ideas and I did but the leader of the project was more of a PR person and didn't care about ideas or creativity. I quit after a few weeks. The flustered PR rep/leader was really disappointed and told me something along the lines of, she was going to fire me anyway because I kept giving her “too many ideas.” Yeah.
Nrama: Now you have a place for those ideas.
Comic programs are cropping up in the United States at colleges, but what's the scene like in Ireland and the United Kingdom if you want to learn how to work in comics?
Bellaire: I can't speak for the UK scene but in Ireland, we have a great and excited comic book scene that stretches from Cork to Belfast (Northern Ireland). The issue that I've found in Dublin is that there's not a lot of comic education in local art universities. Declan has taught the occasional workshop and I've also been invited to give a lecture or two about color or storytelling - but outside of this, comics aren't being taught professionally by any comic book professional. We've met many young people excited about making comics but usually have no avenue to begin a direct education, they take up degrees in animation or illustration. These are great and wonderful degrees but sometimes it can feel like a step forward but a few steps backwards too. For the record, Declan majored in Fine Art and I majored in Illustration.
Nrama: You have three internship categories: "Drawing Comics," "Coloring Comics" and "Storytelling & Basics". Can you tell us your plans for each?
Bellaire: “Drawing Comics” will saddle an intern with Declan for a few long months. They'll dabble in drawing, inking and basic professional comic making skills.
Declan will present an artist with scripts and have them work up their own portfolio pieces to partner with a professional script while helping them along the way with their layouts to final execution, to scanning and production and finally presentation in a portfolio. Declan already has an intern for “Drawing Comics” this year but will begin the selection process for an Irish intern again this October.
“Coloring Comics” is a fast-paced internship focusing on the use of color, how to paint with color (not with the computer), presentation and portfolio as well as a crash course in film study and illustration (film and illustration are essential to understanding color and other mediums, they are great resources). I've trained two colorists, Kelly Fitzpatrick and Ruth Redmond - both are solid creators and have created a wonderful professional career for themselves in a short amount of time.
“Storytelling & Basics” is our week-long course where we will fly one person from anywhere to stay with us in our Dublin studio for a week.
The course will be extremely demanding, as it will be underneath such a tight time limit. This course is a blend of the two internships above as well as more of a critique of current standing of the applicant to help them further their career, giving them more professional opportunities. We want every intern to succeed and this particular intern is someone who probably is just barely within reach of their own success. We want to give the final push if we can.
Nrama: The "Drawing Comics" internship is filled -- can you say who they are or anything about their level of experience?
Bellaire: Sure! Our current Drawing Comics intern is filled by the talented and charming Eoin Marron. Eoin came to Declan asking for any help or mentorship (which flattered Declan for sure!). Eoin's commitment to making comics is amazing. He has been resourceful, attentive, enthusiastic and willing to learn. He's working away on an anthology story and a few other exciting things on the horizon!
Nrama: The third, "Storytelling & Basics," looks to be different -- a one-week intensive session, with you two offering to fly the person in and provide room and board. What's so different about this one?
Bellaire: This person should already have a sequential portfolio, they've already got their eye on the prize - they probably wouldn't be in college.
We're hoping to give this one individual every chance to get them out in the professional market, taking any of their questions and giving them our tips/advice for how we create comics.
Our submissions are open until February 13. We're only accepting application requests and we will be in contact after the weekend of the February 14 with further instruction. Please remember, the Drawing Comics and Coloring Comics internship are very Irish residents only! The Storytelling & Basics is open to global applications.