Hello there! My name is Lew Newmark, and I've been reading comic books from DC and Marvel comics for most of my 64 years of living.
Part 1:The Bumps in the Road
Where to begin…well, I guess I have to take you back to 1964 when I was just a seven-year-old. Back then I was already into reading comic books thanks in no small part to my grandfather Max.
I remember my grandfather taking me out for breakfasts on Saturday mornings and after that, we’d go to a small little candy store that just happened to have comic books that were housed in one of those tall metal wire racks that you could move by just spinning the rack either left or right.
I’m pretty sure that my first introduction to comic books was DC comics’ characters, Batman and Superman. I’m not sure exactly when I began to draw, but I do remember doing a couple of things…
At this moment in time, I was exposed to a soap opera that featured macabre settings inside cemeteries and mausoleums, and whose main characters were a witch, werewolf descendants, and a certain vampire that people loved to hate called Barnabas Collins, and the name of said soap was Dark Shadows.
The Famous Artists School: The Advertisement That Got My Dream Started
I was a fan of the character and the person of portrayed him…Jonathan Frid. I asked my grandfather to buy me a paperback book from the series that had Barnabus on the cover, and I remember doing a drawing of the book’s cover, and looking back on this moment in my youth that was a pretty good free-hand drawing of the pic of Barnabas from the cover of that book.
This was my first attempt at drawing something, and my grandparents and my father encouraged me…then came an advertisement in one of my comic books for something called “The Famous Artists School” and I remember sending away for one of their tests…you know to see if I was even talented enough to draw, which I found out that I was. Of course, again, I was just a kid…so while the encouragement was there, the money was not.
The thing is, at that age, I really didn’t know about money, so of course, I wasn’t deterred from pursuing what was now my dream…drawing comic book characters. I followed my dreams of drawing, something that led me to art courses in middle school and high school.
Watercolors and a Comic Book Tryout from Marvel Comics
Once I entered the tenth grade, I was all in as far as art was concerned. I began taking watercolor classes, and I had a very patient art teacher who guided me and nurtured my talent.
I was encouraged by having some of my paintings hung in the hallways of my high school, and was asked to contribute to a local art event put on by my school called “Art In The Park.”
In my junior & senior years in high school, I went to a vocational school and took a two-year “Commercial Art” course. While I was exposed to tools I’d never used in my watercolors class, I didn’t really enjoy the class as much as I would have liked.
While I still was pursuing my dream of comic art, this class wasn’t the place to chase that dream. Years later I was frustrated with my lack of progress in pursuing my dream, and then one day, comic book publisher Marvel Comics put out a publication that I took immediate notice of.
At a book store at our local mall, I saw this oversized book called “The Official Marvel Comics Try-Out Book.” This was a book in the form of a contest that encouraged up-and-coming comics creators (in my case comic artist) to try their hand at getting a job with the company, and the winner would be awarded a professional assignment with Marvel.
What I Did For Marvel's Try-Out Book,Their Response Letter and My Discovery of Udemy
The book described the respective jobs and accompanying tools of a writer, penciler, inker, letterer, and colorist, and then provided pages ready for the hopeful cartoonist to work on.
An unfinished Spider-Man story (titled "Personals") was the springboard for the try-out portion, which among other features contained blank, pre-ruled pages for pencilers, pre-penciled "non-photo blue" pages (by artist John Romita, Jr.) to be inked and lettered, and completed black-and-white pages to be colored, and this gigantic book was printed on two-ply 11" × 17" paper, replicating the size that a typical comic book was drawn on.
I remember driving home totally excited about this book from Marvel. At the time I was working in what would be the first of several “Factory Jobs” that I would hate, along with two or three fast-food-type jobs that I would also not enjoy.
I wound up doing the ink work over Romita’s pencils, and a page that I painted using acrylics, which actually took me a little more than two weeks to complete before I was satisfied enough to take a chance with what I’d finished and send the completed pages of the test back to Marvel and then wait to hear back from the company.
It was almost three months before I received a letter back from Marvel, which was a polite rejection saying I wasn’t what they were looking for at the moment.
It’s a shame because, at that time, at least as far as I knew there wasn’t a school dedicated to comic book drawing, and I didn’t find out about the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art until much later like around 1990.
Many years had passed since then and I just basically kept at the dream and this brings me to 2018 and the discovery of an online school that featured many different courses including learning to draw and the school is called Udemy.