Dinosaur-drawing dynamo Mark Schultz visited CCS for a guest lecture last Thursday, and it was a treat to hear about his career thus far. Not only has the man won multiple Eisner and Harvey awards (among others), but his skill set is so varied that he moves fluidly between illustration, sequential art, and writing– either for himself or for others. Schultz is also one of the few comics professionals to work in both comic books and newspaper strips, so while he’s best known for writing and illustrating his acclaimed, creator-owned series Xenozoic Tales, he also “plays the keyboard” scripting King Features’s long-running Prince Valiant strip, which is illustrated by Gary Gianni. (If the connection between dystopian dino sci-fi and King Arthur’s Camelot escapes you, know that the strip’s creator, Hal Foster, was an enormous influence on Schultz.)
Schultz was a gracious guest and generous with his time and expertise, giving an inking demo earlier in the day and hauling along a smorgasbord of original art and publications from over the years to show us. (He also introduced us to the existence of Wolff carbon pencils, which he’s been using to illustrate his upcoming novella, Storms at Sea. They allow deeper blacks and less shine than straight graphite, but are not as messy as charcoal.) His most recent works– including sketchbooks– have been released by Flesk Publications, and their production values are excellent. The 352-page Xenozoic collection in particular is a beaut, and features new scans of the original art.
So imagine this part-time librarian’s delight on hearing that Schultz wanted to donate that collection, the two most recent volumes of Mark Schultz: Various Drawings, and the sold-out hardcover edition of Al Williamson’s Flash Gordon: A Lifelong Vision of the Heroic to the Schulz! What marvelous assets to the library and gifts to the CCS student body, present and future. I’m looking forward to reading both Schultz’s essay on Williamson– who was another principal influence on him, alongside Foster– and the introduction by longtime favorite Sergio Aragones. (If you’re likewise interested and your local library does not oblige, a softcover edition of the book is still available here.) The art collected in those sketchbooks is pretty jaw-dropping, with excellent scans, and many finished pieces are published alongside their early roughs. Say yes to process!
It’s illuminating to hear a creator’s perspective on their own work and doings in the industry, as everybody’s path through this curious profession is different, and likewise instructive to see what changes they made and the groundwork they laid down over the course of making individual pieces. This kind of thing really rings my bell, so I was glad to get better acquainted with Schultz’s art and approach. (If you’re craving further details, a great interview with him can be found here.) And one of these months I hope to carve out the time to read The Stuff of Life, a nonfiction graphic novel on genetics from Hill & Wang that he wrote and Kevin and Zander Cannon illustrated a couple years back! (The only trouble with working at a funnybook library is the lopsided ratio of quality comics to one’s spare time, folks.)
Our sincere thanks go out to Mr. Schultz for his superb gifts to the library. It’s always neat to see an author’s name on the “donated by” seals that appear in many books throughout the collection, and we’re pleased to add these titles to the ranks.
Librarian, the Center for Cartoon Studies