Today the artist’s sketchbook is a very common item in the comic book sub-culture. However, there was a time not too long ago when practically no on was producing these. There was the occasional big name artist that published one, Barry Smith’s “Shelf Stuff” (1975) comes to mind, but other than often crude and unauthorized fanzines, artist’s sketchbooks were not being produced.
So when did this all change? When was the era of the modern artist’s sketchbook ushered in? I am certainly no historian but I have been a regular con attendee and art connoisseur since the early 80’s and the first notice I had of a “con” sketchbook was from William Stout. Bill’s published his first sketchbook in 1992 which was the year I first met him. At that time he impressed upon me the importance of having a booth presence at shows and creating merchandise to sell.
He greatly inspired me in a lot of ways but I left our first meeting bound and determined to not only become a better artist but to also be a better business man. (One of Bill’s great strengths). Unfortunately at that time I was a complete unknown and was struggling to just get an assignment in comics. I did not have the exposure or developed talent to warrant a book on my work. But I kept my eye on Bill as he continued to produce sketchbooks and took notice that it was still not catching on with mainstream comics artists.
By the year 2000, I had been working steady in comics for about 7 years and I felt it was time for me to get a booth at the San Diego Comic Con and start promoting myself. So with the use of a color copier at my local Lazerquick I “published” my first sketchbook with a print run of 20! (talk about a rare collectible) I felt at the time that I was not getting the proper respect from publishers and they were unaware of what I could really bring to the table so I came up with the title for the book, “You’ve Never Seen This Before”. This was a play on the content (unpublished art) and a call out to editors who didn’t think much of my work (probably warranted).
This first book was just the beginning….