Comic Character Sketching
with “Comic Book Genie” Mikey Martinez
Hi ya, my name is Michael Britt Martinez III or Mikey, and I’m an American Comic Book Illustrator known as the Comic Book Genie. My educational background is in Business earning a B.B.A. in Management at the University of Texas in San Antonio. My artistic skills are mostly self taught, with the majority of formal training coming from advanced art classes in high school. My passions in life continue to grow, but as of this moment my close friends and family might say “illustrating, learning more about illustrating, and growing / developing my artistic style.” I honestly feel that I’m still new to this game, with so much room to grow and really develop my style.
I got into comics, like most, as a young lad and slowly moved away from them as I grew older. I returned to comics around age 21 when I bought and read Watchmen written by Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons and colored by John Higgins, published in 1986 by DC Comics. After reading the first few pages, flabbergasted by the way the dialog, art, and colors amalgamated into one beautiful flow of storytelling, I had this gut feeling that somehow, someway, I would figure out a way to do this.
It took finishing my University degree, a few dead-end jobs, fruitless romantic relationships, and deep depression for me to unearth the courage to pursue creative art forms as a way of living, with illustrating comic books as the end goal. My inexperience and lateness to the game created a morbid motto, “I’m going to make make it in the art world, or die trying.” Not very original, I know, but when you lose people in this lifetime, you quickly snap to the realization that it’s “now or never”.
Comic art for me, personally, is the most relevant and modern branch of the oldest form of storytelling. Synchronizing still images with the written word is the greatest way to tell stories for me, with movies and books as a very close second and third. I truly believe that if Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were here with us today, they would be the top titans in the comic cook industry right now. I say this because when I look at the Mona Lisa, I think of comic book cover art, and when I look at the Sistine Chapel ceiling, I think of comic book sequential art. Even though I interpret every form of art as a medium for storytelling, whether it be a painting, photo, sculpture, movie or poem, I honestly believe the ultimate storytelling apparatus is comic books (Manga included).
Comic Book Genie is my “Super Hero” alter ego and the title I use for my custom comic book business. The idea has been to provide a custom comic book illustrative service for people of all ages. I wanted something that allowed me to play around with the idea of making a customer’s comic dreams a reality, and after trying a few different names I finally arrived at the idea and title “The Comic Book Genie”. I truly feel that bringing people’s comic ideas to life is equivalent to granting real life wishes, hence the name and slogan “We Make Your Personalized Comic Book and Cartoon Wishes A Reality”.
My creative process is under some fine tuning, but I’ll go over the main steps. For my elf and goblin characters, I usually start with a quick sketch using a mechanical pencil and computer printing paper.
I then sift through drawings deciding which ones will work and then take pictures using my iPad Pro. Once I decide which one to continue with, I drag it from my photos app over to the Concepts app, usually placing it on the bottom most layer.
I then lower the opacity down past forty percent, keeping it faint yet discernible, add another new layer above, and begin to digitally sketch out the shapes and details using the lower photo layer as a guide and reference, like a digital light box for tracing.
For the coloring stage I create a third layer, placing it between those previous two, and I start coloring using the watercolor and colored pencil tools. The final stage ends with a fourth layer on top of the previous three, where I use black and white colored inking tools to give a fresh pop that complements the colors before. Then, like magic, the Concepts app has helped the Comic Book Genie grant another wish!
I have a true love for physical mediums when drawing, but thanks to the amazing synergy of Concepts combined with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, the digital realm is really blurring the lines for me when deciding favorites. The real life feel and flow I get using the Apple Pencil’s tilt and pressure sensitivity in Concepts has me reconsidering and modifying my creative process monthly, weekly and daily.
But my absolute most favorite feature of Concepts is the infinite canvas. It has allowed me to create and brainstorm in new ways I didn’t think possible. My 600 page sketch books have now been completely replaced using this feature.
I’m truly thankful for the people who created this app, they made this Comic Book Genie’s wish come true, thank you!
Mikey B. Martinez III is a comic artist and fan with his own alter ego Comic Book Genie, who transports fellows into alternate universes via his super-powered drawing skills. Specializing in dashing-good looking trolls and goblin people, Mikey is working on making his own and other’s comic book wishes come true. Visit his site or follow him on Instagram.
Interview by Erica Christensen — Director of Community at TopHatch