11-NOV-2011 I can’t even remember when I first heard about the INKWELL AWARDS but I can easily remember the first time I met JOE SINNOTT, comics’ greatest inker.
It was October 24, 2009 when Mark Sinnott drove his father down to New Jersey for Comic Fusion’s Superhero Weekend fundraiser. Joe was so friendly and gracious. He was easy to talk to (or rather listen to) and would spend hours telling stories about his life at Marvel Comics and his love for westerns.
I asked Joe to sign me in my Fantastic Four costume. He blushed but did it. Later, he sent pictures to Stan Lee, who I have yet to meet; Stan sent Joe a letter back telling him that artists have all the luck. Joe let me keep that letter and a gorgeous pencil sketch of Susan Storm, one of my comic book idols.
So why bring this up now in 2011? Because the INKWELL AWARDS honor creators in the dying art of inking comics with a Joe Sinnott award. It’s sad that companies are crushing artists under deadlines so tight that they feel the need to skip over the inking step. Changing contrast to an image digitally is not inking. You can do it digitally but you still need that step of selecting the appropriate brush tools and cleaning up rough pencils. The INKWELL AWARDS also held a Joe Sinnott Challenge on Facebook where penciled sketches were posted and members would ink over Joe’s pencils showing the array of interpretations that could come from different inkers’ styles. As Joe told me, a great inker fixes any mistakes in anatomy and is often not acknowledged for the vital step in making comic book art better. He said, a great inker has to be a great artist in his own right.
To help with their promotions, they’ve created a mascot MS. INKWELL which is portrayed by various spokesmodels at comic conventions around the country. My friend Amy Fletcher is one of these models so I voted for her as my favorite Ms. Inkwell. You can vote at the INKWELL AWARDS. No deadline has been established yet.
Amy Fletcher gave me some insight about being an Inkwell model. “I was very flattered and it’s a lot of fun to do! I’m always happy to help my friends out as best as I can.” When asked about her favorite inker, she replied, “Oh my goodness, I know so many inkers (as well as artists and colorists) I couldn’t just pick one. They’re all incredibly talented and groovy cool peeps.” Her first experience with comics is a trip down Memory Lane. Like so many comic readers, she first discovered the books of her older relatives. “When I was young I would spend my summers at my grandmothers house. One day I discovered my Uncle’s and my mothers childhood comics. Comics like Little Lulu, Casper, Wendy Witch, Baby Huey, Hot Stuff, and many more. I was hooked ever since. ”
How about current books? “Right now I am only reading TAROT WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE, SCHOOL BITES (online) and LOCKE & KEY as I have had to cut back due to being so busy and not having enough time to read lately. ” I often get asked which titles somone new to comics or returning to comics should check out. I thought Amy would have some different ideas. “TAROT WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE for those over 18 which has self containing stories so you can totally pick up any issue and follow along pretty easily! And for all ages, I recommend SCHOOL BITES which an awesome trade just came out in Previews so you can read it from the very first ‘bite’ but you can also read it online at http://www.schoolbites.net Both comics are from Broadsword Comics (http://www.jimbalentstudios.com)! Of course, I’m always going to plug my friends Jim & Holly! hehehe :)”
Bob Almond keeps the INKWELL AWARDS running like a well-oiled machine. There’s the website, the facebook, the twitter and the conventions. Because of the INKWELL AWARDS, I also met another artist I’m proud to call a friend Tom Schloendorn who often mans the Inkwell Awards booth with Bob and Ms. Inkwell. Tom was a great supporter to our Comic Fusion Superhero Weekend fundraiser this year with his partner in crime, Neil Vokes.
There are continuous fundraising opportunities for the Awards. One of them is the annual Ms. Inkwell Gallery Book. “Like the annual Inkwell Awards Donation Drive book that collects the various donations we receive from artists throughout the year, the sale of this book will go towards our non-profit organization’s fundraising. But the art for the Ms. Inkwell book will be donated exclusively for the book with artist rendering their own interpretations of our spokesmodel character. The annual donation books get Ms. Inkwell covers so we had Franchesco do a special one for this book focusing on her,” explained Bob Almond.
Fans can get involved with the INKWELL AWARDS even if they aren’t artists. “By voting on our annual ballot the fans get to help get their favorite ink artists the recognition and attention that they deserve, whether for their recent work or for a career of exceptional performance for the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award,” said Almond. He continued, “The other way to honor these creators is to donate.”
Curious about where the money goes in a non-profit organization like this? Almond filled me in: “Our fundraising allows us to pay for award trophies, flights into Heroes Con for the award recipients, as well as materials. It pay for the comps that our COMPliments program pays for so that Hall of Fame award recipient inkers can receive comps of their work that the publisher excludes the inkers from but includes the writers and pencilers. It covers shipping and fundraising auction fees. It covers the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Fund to the Joe Kubert School. It generally supports our operations so that we can continue to exist and volunteer our time and effort to promote the art form of inking through education and rewarding the best ink artist in the industry. Donations from artists can be artwork items for sale, from fans it can be money bid for the items or offered at our convention booth while on tour.”
In case you’re wondering, I was asked to be a Ms. Inkwell and said yes, but I’m not the right size to wear the costume. They would have to one specially made for my plus-size and I think that costs a couple hundred dollars.
The INKWELL AWARDS have ambassadors like Eric Basuldua, Phil Jiminez and Joe Kubert who bring more exposure and credibility to the Award’s missions.