Answers to Your Questions

I get asked a lot of questions, and some of them are recurring.  So I thought I’d share some of them with you since people seem to be curious.

Why aren’t you coming to the convention in my area?

I like this question, because I’m always flattered to hear people want to meet me in person.  At this time I cannot afford to be a part of any show that requires real travel, so I’m basically limited to areas that I can easily drive to from Sacramento or San Jose.  Though I am considering doing some in southern California at some point in the not too distant future.

I’d like to do more, but adding travel costs to my convention costs just wouldn’t work at this time.  Typically I lose money at shows, so losing more is not an appealing prospect.  This is not my main job, and won’t be until I can start making a profit.  I’m always trying to figure out ways to make the shows profitable, and at the next show I’ll be doing sketches and commissions.  So hopefully that will help cover costs and allow me to do more shows.

However, if you really want me at your show there is something you can do.  Contact the people running the convention and let them know you want me to be there, and if enough people do that they may invite me as a guest and cover my costs.  Which would be great!

When is the next Black Snow book coming?

Good question.  I honestly don’t know.  I’d like to have it done in one year.  Is that realistic?  Based on my track record it will likely be closer to a year and a half or two years.

We’ve got a general outline for the book and the first two scenes written with work done on the third.  Alex has taken on a lot more of the writing this time around, so that will be almost entirely on him now.

Drawing was going well on the first scene, but I wasn’t satisfied.  So I’m attempting to start over using pen and ink instead of digital.

So the answer is “We’ll see!

What tools do you use to draw?

For the first six issues of Black Snow and about half the run of I’m Famous! I used a rollerball pen and and 8.5″ x 11″ printer paper.  Nothing special.  I drew on a handheld drawing board and used a mechanical pencil, then inked and erased, then scanned and added any colors or grey tones or text in Photoshop.

For Two Drink Minimum, Optimistically Cynical and the second half of I‘m Famous! I digitally drew on tablets.  At first I used a Wacom Bamboo small tablet, which worked pretty well and was a good value for the money.  It’s a nice beginner tablet.

Once that tablet got worn down significantly and started having unresponsive patches I upgraded to the Wacom Intuos medium tablet.  I like that one a lot more.  It feels more sturdy and is easier to use.  It knows the difference between my hand and the pen!

That tablet is about at the end of its shelf life now.  It is starting to have bald areas and more glitches connecting.  Plus the pen has fallen apart a few times, and I’ve had to patch it back together.  And I lost the buttons for it.  And my dog bit through the cord, so I had to reconnect that myself.  It’s seen better days.

I’d really like to get a Wacom Clintiq so I could draw directly on a screen, but that’s too rich for my blood.  I don’t really know what I’ll get next, but I’ll probably keep using my Intuos until it dies completely.

But as I mentioned above, I’m going to try drawing Another Round with pens and markers on paper.  This time around I got some Strathmore Bristol 200 and 300 series 11″ x 14″ paper to draw on, and some Copic grey and black markers and pens, and Pentel pens.  I’m hoping the more professional tools will help me give it a better look.

Where can I buy your books? 

You can buy them online or from me in person at a show.  Are they available in any stores?  Not that I know of, but maybe.  You’re better off buying them online.

Did you go to school for this?

No.  I have very little formal training in drawing.  I took two art classes in high school that included some drawing, and a beginners life drawing class in junior college.  I did earn a BA, but it was in Film.

I’m self taught, mostly just from doodling and practicing.  I’ve read quite a few books on the subject, some of which were more helpful than others.  I also try to pick the brains of other artists I meet.

I experiment a lot.  Sometimes they work, sometimes not so much.  A lot of people tell me “I wish I could draw like you”.  Honestly, you probably could if you just put in the time and tried.  People seem to be born with some amount of innate ability, but by in large it really just comes down to practice.

Can you help me publish my comic?

I’m happy to give advice based on my admittedly limited knowledge and experience, but I don’t know how much I can really do for you.  I am not a publisher, I’m a self publisher.  I do not have the resources and industry connections to print your book and get it in stores.

But like I said, I’m happy to steer you on the correct path or review your work.  Just remember me when you make it big.

What is your ethnicity?

I think there has been confusion on this because we have “Black” in our name.  Maybe also because we’ve used Detroit as a setting so often in our comics.  But over the years I’ve been labelled as an urban artist.  Which, if you know me in person, is pretty funny.

Just to clarify, I am white.  I’m half Italian and half a bunch of white races, like German and Irish.  There is also evidence that I’ve got some Spanish lineage as well.

Does that mean I am not an urban artist?  I don’t know.  I didn’t come up with the term, and I’ve never used it to describe myself.  Is it based on your race, or on the type of content you produce?  I have no idea.

I do not go out of my way to draw things that are “urban”.  I draw whatever interests me, or whatever the story Alex writes dictates.

So hopefully that clears up any mystery or controversy.

Michael Balistreri
This is about as “urban” as I get.

That’s all for now.  I’ll try to answer some more soon, so keep asking!





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