31 Aug 2023

It was reported first by friend Walter Simonson on August 21 on his Facebook account that Ink Artist & Painter Dan Green had passed away. Dan died after a long illness on Saturday, August 19 at the age of 70. CBR ran a press announcement on August 22 with a good summary of his career highlights. We at the Inkwell Awards wish his family, friends and fans our condolences. (Apologies for us not posting this development sooner but we suffered from website issues. ~B)

04 Aug 2023

Following my Terrificon convention on Monday 7/31 I read on Facebook from mutual friend Denys Cowan that John had passed away. I posted a notice on our feed since I couldn’t find any press on the loss. He had been getting treated for months for pancreatic cancer and kept it to himself and his immediate family. Before he passed he asked his sister Cindy to inform comic book inker and friend Jim McWeeney to post it to inform the community family he was part of. I posted the following below on my Facebook feed:

“Ink artist John Floyd has died. I read about it from his friend, artist Denys Cowan. I haven’t found a news source yet so I cannot share an article but John had been still relatively active posting his work up until last month. I had no idea he was sick but it stunned me as I would see him time to time at cons and he was an Inkwell Awards donor/supporter and was prolific in the Joe Sinnott Inking Challenges from the start but not recently but I’m not sure if that was from being busy with work or if he’d been getting treatment for his sickness. I don’t yet know his age or any other relevant info and I wasn’t close to him but there was a mutually friendly relationship over the years and he was dedicated to the artform as well as utilizing digital art into his work. Besides Denys he collaborated many times with Barry Windsor-Smith. He was kind, generous and a friend. Below is the pic that gets a lot of social media sharing but not everyone realizes that this is 13 year old John. He started out like a lot of us as a dedicated super fan and made it to the top in this special community. Sincere condolences to his family, loved ones, friends and fans.”

On 10/5/2021 I post a Facebook photo album for “Joe SInnott: A Celebration of Life” memorial event and here’s a shot with myself & John. My caption for the pic said: “John Floyd & I, ink artists both. He met Joe in his youth and Joe was a mentor to him as well. He was a regular participant in the Sinnott Inking Challenge over the years.” John replied: ““In my youth…” Bob, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”- Dylan and “I’m a proud Inkwell Award nominee as well.” I’m the one honored to know you, John.<3

Hailey Skaza-Gagne, 1st appearance of her as the now iconic Inkwell spokesmodel in a pic with John at Heroes Con.

22 Apr 2023

logo: Rik Offenberger

Due to funding delays, we at the Inkwell Awards were not able to include the trophies for the internal/community-based Above & Beyond winners when we released the results for the lifetime achievement winners for the Joe Sinnott Hall of fame and the Stacey Aragon Special Recognition Award (SASRA). The A&B Award is not an annual category but only awarded when the need arises, whenever an internal member of the organization goes above & beyond and when someone in the community promotes the artform of inking and its artists (none were offered in 2020). Begun in 2018 at the final Heroes Con-hosted ceremony, the A&B Award’s first recipients were Mark Sinnott and Hailey Skaza-Gagne to recognize the extraordinary dedication they have provided for the organization, and Robert Haines for being the first Nomination Committee (NomCom) candidate to reach 10 years of service. Since then several NomCom members have reached a decade of service and Heroes Con promoter Shelton Drum was rewarded one for acting as our host show for eight years.

Rik Offenberger

This year Rik Offenberger, journalist and owner of First Comics News, and creator Tony Parker reached their much-deserved 10-year NomCom incentive award. Upon receipt of the trophy Rik said, “I would like to thank the Inkwell Awards for the Award” and Tony said “THANK YOU Bob Almond AND THE INKWELL AWARDS! Happy to help! (I’m horrible at receiving recognition, so thank y’all for understanding.)”

Bob Almond, Keith Williams, Hailey Skaza-Gagne, Little Giant Comics’ Old School Comic Show, 4/14/2023 (pic: Marjet Williams)

Next is Ink artist and former Marvel editor, Keith Williams. First, some background: Since 2011, the non-profit Inkwells has held the annual Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge, where Joe would draw two fully-rendered images of characters for participating pro & amateur artists, to ink over a blueline of Joe’s pencils (shortly after that began, one of the images was drawn tightly and the other loosely for those who wanted to do art finishes). That lasted eight years, six of which were published in book form, helping to bring attention to the contributions of ink artists with before and after images.
Keith inked 17 out of the 18 drawings before Joe retired and later passed away. After that a “Tribute Challenge” began with one of Joe’s top art partners, Ron Frenz, drawing Thor and then (the name changed to “Legacy Challenge”) another common collaborator, Alex Saviuk, was recently featured with a Spider-man & Mary Jane image, both of which were graced with Keith’s inks.

An exclusive spin-off of the event, the Sinnott Inking Challenge Spotlight, featured art by other iconic legends and contemporary fan-favorites, has had six years to date of single characters that Keith also joined up to ink but he missed the event launch with Jim Lee’s Superman. At 22 inked donations out of a possible 24, more than anyone else who participated, the prolific Keith has selflessly contributed to help raise awareness about what ink artists bring to the table and donate to the essential Inkwell fundraising. His award was presented personally at the 2023 Little Giant Comics Old School Comic Show in Concord, NH on April 14.

A longtime veteran since the early 1980s, Keith said:

“Thank you so much for this amazing award! The Above and Beyond Award will have a special place on my fireplace! I would like to thank Bob, Hailey, and, of course, The Inkwell Awards.  I love inking. And enjoy doing the challenges every year. I hope that the part that I play in this helps promote the art of inking as a true art form and inspire new comic book artists to take up the challenge.”

Ray Burke

Lastly, recipient Ray Burke has been an Inkwell contributor since 2011 and his skill set and work ethic led to him being added to the core committee in late 2020. Since then he’s been the “Go-To Guy” due to committee creators like Bob, Mike Pascale and Joe Prado being often beset by work schedule obstacles so Ray has adapted to fit in and reliably assisted in almost every project, picking up the slack with tech matters, graphic design, book production, proofing, communications and more than we want to admit. Adds founder Bob Almond, “In fact, he’s been my right hand guy for some time now. Sadly, as a low-tier non-profit advocacy we cannot pay for these voluntary but exceptional achievements, so offering Ray an MVP version of the Above & Beyond award will show him how much he means to us.”
Ray’s statement after receiving the trophy was: “When I first met Bob Almond over a decade ago, I had a basic knowledge of comic book inking. I knew inkers took pencilled work and applied ink. Like most fans that was about all I really understood. Bob asked me to assist in the live ceremonies to have a slide show presentation for people to follow. I agreed, becoming a multimedia contributor. Since that time, thanks to the Inkwell Awards, I’ve met some of the biggest names in the comic book business. Not only that, I’ve learned that ink artists do more than just lay down ink. They can take finished pencils and enhance and embellish them. I have gained insight about their importance in the comic book world, and how inking can take artwork and add depth. The Inkwell Awards’ mission is to to educate the public and celebrate inking. I’m glad to have been on this journey so far because I’ve already learned so much. Looking back I’m surprised I’ve been a part of so many events and projects with the Inkwell Awards. Looking forward I can’t wait to see what’s in store. It is with great honor that I accept this 2023 Above & Beyond Award, and I’m excited to see what’s next!”
Congratulations to all of our current winners!
The Inkwell Awards is the only official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and educate regarding the art form of comic-book inking, as well as annually recognize the best ink artists and their work. Established in 2008, the Inkwells are overseen by a volunteer committee of industry professionals and assisted by various professional ambassadors and contributors. They sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award. This year they celebrate their 15th anniversary.
11 Apr 2023

We normally have the artist’s birth and passing dates but his bios don’t reveal his birthday or age. But Mike’s wife Eve Machlan announced his passing on her Facebook feed as being on April 1st at 2:40am. Daily Obits dot com described his health issues as such: “passed away unexpectedly on April 1 as a result of complications coming from a stroke he suffered on March 30. His passing was caused by complications. The first of April was the day he passed away. Machlan has a prosperous career as an inker, contributing to a wide variety of publications for both Marvel and DC.” Inkwell contributor posted a column on Mike and his career at his blog. The Inkwell Family wishes his widow, family, loved ones and many fans their sincerest condolences.

10 Aug 2020


(New Bedford, MA/USA—August 10, 2020) The 2020 delayed AWARD RECIPIENT RESULTS were post on First Comics News August 6 and on our website we posted the 2020 Results in the Awards section on August 8 which additionally supplied the nominees percentages and all the winners’ statements, including on video. This article here is an additional run down but akin to the ones we printed by me for the annual Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge Books, with info bits for the record added in.


Favorite InkerFavorite ink artist over the pencil work of another artist.

(Cannot also be nominated for the “Props” award.)

A) Mark Morales: Amazing Spider-man, Avengers (Marvel)

B) Joe Prado: Superman (DC)

C) Norm Rapmund: Batgirl, Batman, Batman Beyond, Flash Forward, Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Death of Superman, Wonder Woman (DC)

D) Walden Wong: genLOCK, Justice League (DC), Crazy, Incredible Hulk: Last Call, Marvel’s Hero Project Season 1: Mighty Rebekah, X-23 (Marvel)

And the winner, with 43% of the votes, is WALDEN WONG! An eight-time Inkwell winner now, this is Walden’s second win for Favorite Inker!



Artist showing exceptional ink style versatility over other pencil artists.

A) Marc DeeringJoker: Year of the Villain (DC); Black Panther, Immortal Hulk, Red Goblin/Red Death, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, Venom Unleashed (Marvel)

B) Jonathan Glapion: Aquaman, Batman: Last Knight on Earth, Joker: Year of the Villain, Terrifics (DC); Spawn (Image)

C) Scott Hanna: Justice League Odyssey, Suicide Squad (DC); Avengers, Dr. Strange (Marvel)

D) Jay Leisten: Absolute Carnage, Daredevil, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man, Return of Wolverine, Symbiote Spider-man (Marvel)

E) Norm Rapmund: Batgirl, Batman, Batman Beyond, Flash Forward, Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Death of Superman, Wonder Woman (DC)

F) J.L. Straw: Aliens: Rescue, Halo: Lone Wolf (Dark Horse)

G) Walden Wong: genLOCK, Justice League (DC); Crazy, Incredible Hulk: Last Call, Marvel’s Hero Project Season 1: Mighty Rebekah, Star Wars: Age Of Republic Heroes–Obi-Wan Kenobi; X-23 (Marvel)

With 41% of the votes, our nine-time winner is again, WALDEN WONG! This is his record-setting sixth Most-Adaptable Award trophy since 2014.


Props awardInk artist deserving of more attention for their work over other pencil artists. (Those nominated for, or past winners of, “Favorite Inker” are ineligible.) 

A) Eber Ferreira: Freedom Fighters, Detective Comics, Supergirl (DC)
B) Stefano Guadiano: Walking Dead (Image); DCeased (DC)

C) Jonathan Glapion: Aquaman, Batman: Last Knight on Earth, Joker: Year of the Villain, Terrifics (DC); Spawn (Image)

D) Le Beau Underwood: Absolute Carnage: Captain Marvel, Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur (Marvel); Noble (Lion Forge)

The winner, with 32% of the votes, is EBER FERREIRA!  This is Eber’s 4th Inkwell Award nomination overall in this category and his second win in this category.


The S.P.A.M.IFavorite Small Press And Mainstream/Independent ink work over another pencil artist (non-Marvel//DC work).

David Cabeza: Superb (Lion Forge)

B) Adelso Corona: Bloodshot (Valiant)

C) Anthony Fowler: Firefly (Boom Studios)

D) Stefano Guadiano: Walking Dead (Image)

E) Le Beau Underwood: Noble (Lion Forge)

With 22% of the votes, our winner is STEFANO GAUDIANO in what turned out to be the closest race! He had previously taken this category in 2016 and last year but has been a nominee and often the runner-up every single year since 2013.


All-in-one awardFavorite artist known for inking his/her own pencil work.

A) Brad Krause: Grave World (Radiance Media)

B) Sean Gordon Murphy: Batman: Curse of the White Night (DC)

C) Stan Sakai: Usagi Yojimbo (IDW)

D) Liam Sharp: Green Lantern (DC)

The winner, with 34% of the votes, is: LIAM SHARP! This is Liam’s second Inkwell nomination AND win in this category, the first time being in 2018! He’s also the first winner to win twice for this category in 10 years.


Other nominees: Jack Abel, Gene Day, Bill Everett, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingles, Dennis Janke, Michael Kaluta, Pablo Marcos, June Tarpe Mills, Bob Oksner, George Papp, Wendy Pini, Stan Sakai, Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave Simons, Jim Starlin, Art Thibert, Charles Vess, Al Vey and Bob Wiacek

THE JOE SINNOTT HALL OF FAME: Bob Layton, John Romita Sr, and Bernie Wrightson

Other nominees: Brett Breeding, Johnny Craig, Mike Esposito, George Klein, Steve Leialoha, Pablo Marcos, Terry Moore, Mike Royer, Chic Stone and Bob Wiacek


The first Hall of Fame recipient had been nominated for this award four times, the last three years in a row, but this year, the fifth nomination was the one for “Babyface” Bob Layton!

Comics writer/artist/editor Bob Layton on Friday, October 10, 2014 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, Day 2 of the 2014 New York Comic Con. Photo by Luigi Novi.


The next Hall of Fame award goes to Jazzy Johnny, John Romita Sr.! At 90, John is now retired.

John Romita, Sr., American comic book artist best known for his work on Marvel Comics’ The Amazing Spider-Man. Taken at the 2006 San Diego Comic-Con International. Photo by Pinguino.


The third and only posthumous recipient is the “Master of the Macabre” himself, Bernie Wrightson, who was our first recipient after the debut of the Special Recognition Award in 2015 at Heroes Con while receiving treatment and surgery from his brain cancer that would tragically take him two years later. Bernie was previously nominated four times for the Sinnott Hall of Fame but the fifth times the charm. He is the first winner of the SASRA to also win the Sinnott Award.

Joe Sinnott, the award’s namesake and first 2008 winner, made the following statement about this year’s inductees late last year:

“It is with great pleasure that we have elected 3 very worthy and deserving artists to the growing list of members inducted into the Inkwell Awards Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame:

Bernie Wrightson, Bob Layton and John Romita.

I have never had the pleasure to work with Bernie Wrightson, but have admired his tremendous work for years. His work on Swamp Thing was a pleasure to see, but I feel that his Frankenstein art is some of the best work ever published. Bernie lived for many years in my hometown of Saugerties, and it was always a pleasure to see him. We always had great talks when we would get together. We all miss him very much. 

When Bob Layton was an up an coming artist, he would come to visit me at my home from time to time. We certainly had some great visits then, and still enjoy getting together at conventions. Bob’s work on Iron Man has certainly made a major impact on comics in recent years, and on the big screen as well. I did ink a cover with Bob many years ago. (Power Man #63). I am so proud of Bob and what he’s accomplished. 

What can I say of John Romita that hasn’t already been said. John is a legend in his own right. I have worked with him on countless projects throughout the years such as the Fantastic Four, Captain America and even a Star Wars Droids story. You can add in numerous covers as well. We don’t see each other as much as we once did, but it is always a great pleasure to spend time with John at the few shows that we do attend.

It is an honor to have these three outstanding gentlemen enshrined in our Hall of Fame. They have all brought a tremendous talent and plenty of hard work, dedication and class to the comic industry. Their pencil work alone is an asset to the industry, but their inked work makes it all the better. Great job!

Your friend,


(Joe Sinnott, December 29, 2019)

This would be Joe’s final Hall of Fame winners statement since he recently passed away June 25 at the age of 93.

Hall of Fame tributes will be added to the website by August or September.

02 Jul 2020

Bob Almond: “The last time I was with Joe August 29, 2019 in his hometown of Saugerties, NY to celebrate Joe Sinnott Day (officially August 31) and his commemorative exhibit gallery showcasing his life and 69 year career.”

On June 25 at 10:50am, grandson and author Dorian Jack Sinnott posted the following statement at the Facebook Joe Sinnott Art Page that he admins:

“It with great sorrow that we must announce the passing of Joltin’ Joe Sinnott on June 25th at 8:40am at the age of 93. He went peacefully with the knowledge that his family, friends, and fans adored him. He enjoyed life and was drawing up until the end. He always loved hearing from all of you and having your comments read to him. Each and every one of you were special to him.
The Sinnott family requests their privacy and understanding during this difficult time. Please send condolences to:
The Sinnott Family
27 Spaulding Lane
Saugerties, NY 12477
Thank you again for being such loyal and dedicated fans and friends to Joe. He considered all fans friends, and seeing you at cons and reading your messages was what kept him young at heart.
RIP Joe Sinnott
October 16th, 1926 – June 25th, 2020″

Inkwell Awards founder & director made the following statement on his Facebook account that same day:

“Joe Sinnott: 1926-2020

It’s true. Many of you may have already read about it. We at the Inkwell Awards lost the heart and soul of the Inkwell Awards family. I was informed by the family that Joe was in hospice Wednesday. I knew this devastating news was coming but I am still not ready for it. I’m trying to get my thoughts together but I’m overwhelmed by it all. For that please forgive me. I also have a computer issue atm and can’t retrieve a photo to accompany this post. (Update: pal Mike White sent me this pic from the 2018 Terrific since I don’t have access to my other photos atm. Thanks, Mike!)

August 17-19, 2019 at the Terrificon at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville,CT (L-R back row) Mike White, Bill ODonnell, Tom Raney, Jim Tournas (front) Bob Almond and Joe Sinnott

A posthumous tribute from artist Francesco Francavilla, June 25, 2020

I am privileged that Joe was my friend. I believe the last time I spent with Joe was last year’s gallery of his life and career in Saugerties, NY. There was a tentative plan to visit him after the holidays but plans changed. I had been making calls to Joe monthly and as the pandemic hit us it tragically meant a quarantine for Joe from the outside world. I tried calling him weekly. We last spoke in mid-May and it was possibly the longest call we’d ever had together. He told me he was looking forward to my next call and I know the isolation was rough on him. I tried calling two more times but I couldn’t seem to connect with him. Mark Sinnott told me he was also having a hard time reaching him. I was soon informed that Joe was transferred to the hospital because he was weak and had lost a lot of weight. Anyone who knew Joe knows he was relatively thin so that info seriously concerned me. Calls were not possible and it was hoped that he’d be stronger and bounce back after a month’s stay. But he declined further and this week I was informed he was in hospice. And now he’s gone. I wish I’d had another visit or another call with him. Wish I’d made more time to try to catch him on the phone.

When the Inkwell Awards were formed over 12 years ago there was little to no hesitation that Joe would be our Hall of Game Award namesake. His reputation was sterling, his body of work legendary, his talent universally recognized. And he was a fine gentleman of a human being. Joe was ecstatic when we asked for his approval in 2008 and when he was announced as our first special ambassador. Joe gave our fledgling non-profit the credibility and respect that we needed in order to survive long term and he was thrilled when we attended shows together and got to meet the team volunteers and spokesmodels. It amazed me that the quality of his ink lines and drawing prowess at his age were still unmistakable and flawless as anything he’d done over the decades. He only began to slow down a year or so ago, reducing workload and public appearances. He cherished meeting his peers, friends and fans at every location. But the travel, the sketching, even signing items became too draining for him. Mark was staunch and resolute about looking after his dad and thank God for that. It was comforting to know Mark would always be his top advocate, deciding on what was best for his health. In the past couple of years I began hugging him more when we got together. I’m not sure how a Navy Seabee who had stormed Okinawa in WWII felt about that but he never showed disapproval. Everyone loved Joe and he always reciprocated, the nicest guy and most sincere man around anywhere. Even with his relatively small stature he was a giant among artists, setting the bar high and showing others how it was done. He inspired everyone and I was always fond of him and truly honored to be his friend. I loved this exceptional man. And I will always miss him.

A world without Joltin’ Joe is a sad, poorer place. But his art career achievements, his work, his humanity, his legacy will always bring love and joy to the world.

Sincere condolences on behalf of the Inkwell Awards to his beloved family and loved ones for their incredible loss.”

On June 30 Dorian posted this update:

“Joe was buried today privately with military honors and a beautiful Catholic mass at St. Joseph’s Church. He was surrounded by his family. Thank you to Father Chris and Deacon Smith for the beautiful service. Joe would have been honored.
A celebration of life for Joe will be held at a future date. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers ?”


July 2- Bob Almond: “I am sorry to have taken so long to post this at the Inkwell website. It has been a devastating, somber week of mourning.  I am heart-broken. Joe was a fundamental, crucial part of our organization FROM DAY ONE soon after we formed in January 2008. He was 81 then. Twelve and a half years he served. If our late, beloved Stacey Aragon was our heart, then Joe was our soul, and he always will be. Picking Joe for his role as special ambassador and Hall of Fame namesake was a no-brainer. He is debatably the best damn ink artist ever in the industry of comic book sequential art. And his reputation as a gentleman and kindhearted and altruistic person trumped even the artistic achievements. Just having his name associated with us gave us credibility and respect. I thank my lucky stars that when Jim Tournas and I first approached him and his son Mark at the 2008 NY Comic Con that they accepted. Mark was Joe’s handler & protector. He was the essential liaison between his dad and us and if it wasn’t for him the many accomplishments we made would never have happened, thousands of fundraising dollars would not have been raised. He was/is under-appreciated and awarding him an Above & Beyond Award hopefully showed him how important he truly was to us. I attended numerous shows beside Mark & Joe, had dinners with them, my senior spokesmodel Hailey and other close friends of the Sinnotts, and I had the joy of visiting the family at their home and Joe at his apartment. I became part of their family and Joe became my cherished friend. I didn’t see that coming in a million years. (And it’s so ironic that between the mid-1980 to early 1990 Wrightson Halloween parties in Woodstock and the Ramapo High School Cons that followed, both in the upper state New York region that I would not run into Joe in his Saugerties backyard for years. I guess I’ll always be tied to that community of fine folks and legendary artists.)

It’ll be hard going forward without his good-spirited laughter and smile. He is loved. He is missed. He left this world a much better place and we tragically shall never see his like again. But I count my lucky stars for every moment and conversation I ever had with him as it enriched my life. Forward and upward the Inkwell Family soars into the next decade as a successful advocacy organization. Thank you, Joe!”

Joe and Bob at the 2012 Albany Con











02 Jul 2020

(The following is but one article, part of a series about stages comic book production, this one on INKING, and other personal experiences that writer/colorist/former Marvel editor Gregory Wright has been posting on his Facebook account. It is amazing the amount of details he recalls going back decades. I would enthusiastically recommend reading all of his articles in this series if you are on Facebook and friends with him. This article was originally posted on 5/23/2020 and is being used with permission. It is TM & (c) 2020 Gregory Wright. Thanks, Greg!)

True tales of appreciation and condemnation of INKERS behind the lines of Marvel Comics…or any comic company really. Inkers. Inkers are frequently misunderstood. Fans don’t always know exactly what it is they really do. Pencillers blame them for not inking every detail exactly as they envisioned it. Editors will shift the blame for a book being late onto them. They will be labeled as TRACERS. They may be considered disposable, because they aren’t as “important” as the penciller. They will be labeled as HACKS because they frequently have to make up time on the schedule and spend days without sleep in order to get a book finished on time. Since they are able to deliver fast, they must be a hack, right? Some inkers employ assistants or background inkers. Some have a strong style, some are nearly invisible. The one thing they have in common is that they are under-appreciated.

There is a difference between an inker…and an artist who inks their own work. Let’s clarify that. Some pencillers do extremely tight pencils that they then also ink. Some pencillers do incredibly loose pencils and then proceed to do most of the drawing in ink. The end results can be quite different from having a separate inker. So as I am writing about inkers, I am referencing a separate person inking someone else pencils. Artists who ink their own work frequently produce their BEST work…it’s their work they way they really intend it to look. Some…are not their own best inker. They may think they are…but many fellow creators and fans will disagree and you can read all about those arguments elsewhere.

I love inkers. I love seeing talented inkers adding their own personal style to pencils and getting this brand new look, this collaboration that no single artist could get. The trick of course, is to not go too far. But occasionally…the penciller wants the inker to impose more of their style onto their pencils. One does not request Bill Sienkiewicz as an inker believing it will look like the very tight pencils that were handed to Bill. No. It will have distinct style added on top without redrawing the figures or the faces or anything that might be upsetting to the penciller. There are several inkers with styles that are so distinct that they might actually be preferred over the pencillers style. And sometimes…that is the point. Sometimes a penciller wants to shake up their work.

At times, an editor has a penciller that has a style that is too..old fashioned, or just seems dull…so the solution (instead of encouraging the penciller to do better or become more relevant) is to have the inker do all the work. Some inkers are happy to do it. Others are not interested in FIXING pencils that were not up to par. Some inkers think they know better than the penciller and take it upon themselves to “fix” various things they were not asked to do. This does not go well. Pencillers notice and complain. Editors will then sometimes fire the inker. Sometimes the inker gets blamed for doing this when they were TOLD to do it by the editor. And then they get fired anyway. Not fair. Nobody who wasn’t part of the process has any idea what really happened. But the inker will get blamed.

There are really two kinds of inkers. The first is what we simply call…the INKER. An inker puts an inked line on top of finished tight pencils. The definition of tight pencils will vary from penciller to penciller…some are so tight (John Byrne, Jack Kirby, Ron Frenz) that the pencils themselves could easily not be inked and used as they are. Sometimes the pencils are less tight…and the inker will have to make a lot more decisions regarding line weights and rendering style.

The second is called a FINISHER, or finishing inker. This inker is given pencils that are not…finished. There is usually no lighting, no indication of black, sketchy backgrounds and little detail. This inker is paid MORE to do this type of work. And not every inker is really great at doing finishing inks. Some inkers do their absolute BEST work as a finisher. The pencils for this inker are called breakdowns. All breakdowns are not considered equal. Some are very loose…but everything you need to do a great job structure wise is there. John Buscema is the one artist who provided loose breakdowns that most talented finishing inked loved to work over and would say…everything they needed was there. Others would try to do the minimal amount that Buscema would provide and fail. Some would provide breakdowns that were pretty tight and neat…just without lighting and indications of black. Sometimes I’ve seen breakdowns that were closer to full pencils. I’ve also seen full pencils that were closer to breakdowns. There were occasions where a penciller claimed to be doing full pencils and the inker felt they were more like breakdowns and we’d have to have John Romita Sr. decide. It wasn’t always pretty…


07 May 2020

Logo design: Michael Netzer

Ryusei Sawadi



(New Bedford, MA/USA—May 6, 2020) The Kubert School had their annual scholarship awards event earlier in May via a virtual scholarship ceremony through Google Meet, due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. The Inkwell Awards’ 11th Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Award of $1000 was presented to second-year student Ryusei Sawada. The school posted an announcement of all award recipients on its website.

Sawada is an aspiring artist originally from Tokyo, Japan, whose ultimate goal is to work for publishers like Marvel, DC, and Image as an inker/artist. He entered the Kubert School right out of high school.

Kubert School

Normally, according to The Inkwell Awards’ founder/director Bob Almond, the non-profit would send a representative to the Dover, NJ institution to attend the live ceremony and personally congratulate the winning student. But due to shelter-in-place orders, they were unable to, and school director Carol Thomas informed him that the school had already set up remote learning, which will remain in place until the end of the year.

“There were some timing issues but the virtual ceremony was a great idea,” said Almond. “This way the lucky winner was able to get even more public recognition. Kudos to school director Mike Chen and the Kubert School staff for getting it done despite many challenges. We hope to be there next year to shake the hand of the winner.”

The Inkwells created the scholarship award on behalf of their ink artist friend and committee member, Dave Simons, shortly after his passing in 2009, with the approval of his sister, Bette Simons. Bette shared the following statement:

“We are all navigating uncharted waters in this current environment. With unity, strength and faith we will manage to get through this and be stronger. Even considering all that is happening in the world right now, we must still manage to maintain some sense of normalcy which is why, for the 11th year, I am honored to recognize the recipient of The Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship for 2020.

For those of you that do not know Dave or perhaps even his accomplishments, I can tell you that he devoted his entire life to being the best artist he could be and only wanted to get better. He was always critical of his work, looking for the most seemingly insignificant detail that would have made it even just a little bit better.

He was a mentor to many and was mentored by many of the best in the business. He thrived on interacting with others, sharing ideas and inspiration. He had great successes and crushing failures but with the failures, he never lost sight of the fact that he was doing what he loved most.

It will be 11 years next month since Dave passed and I miss him every day. I have no words to express my gratitude to all of the people that continually support this scholarship program. It takes relentless effort and dedication to be able to make this presentation in Dave’s memory every year. For that, I am eternally thankful.

Congratulations to this year’s recipient Ryusei Sawadi. I wish you much success and happiness.”

Dave Simons (1954-2009) was an American artist known for his work on the characters Conan, Ghost Rider, Red Sonja, Howard the Duck and Spider-Man for Marvel Comics, and “Forgotten Realms” for DC Comics. He was also a storyboard artist for the award-winning animated TV show, “Courage the Cowardly Dog,” while simultaneously handling the art for DC’s comic book spin-off. To date, Inkwells has raised $11,000 in his name to students in need.

04 May 2020


Newsarama reported today that comic book veteran ink artist Juan Vlasco died on April 24 after a complication following surgery. Based in Mexico, full name- Juan Francisco Velasco Hernandez- had worked in mainstream American comics for over 20 years at such publishers as Wildstorm, DC and Marvel. He was nominated for the Inkwell Awards “Props Award” (ink artist deserving of more attention for their work over other pencilers ) in 2011 for Contest of Champions; Superior Iron Man; Legendary Star-Lord; Amazing Spider-man; Nova [Marvel] and in 2016 for X-Men and Deadpool. The Inkwells family sends its condolences to Juan’s many loved ones and fans.

17 Mar 2020

One of the last veteran creators from comicdom’s Golden-age, Allen Bellman, passed away March 9, 2020 at 95. His career and legacy from the start had it’s roots in Timely Comics (now Marvel) history where he penciled and inked throughout the 1940’s and early 1950’s at the Timely-renamed Atlas Comics and at Lev Gleason. Senior Inkwell Contributor Steven Freivogel, Allen’s agent, webmaster and fellow Floridian neighbor, wanted to honor his good friend by sharing some memories in the tribute below. We at the Inkwell express our sincere condolences to Allen’s wife Roz and all their loved ones. Bob

What can be said about a man who was kind and caring to not only myself and my family but many lives and people he came across and touched?

Allen’s life story began when he started working for his parents’ bakery shop in Manhattan. Being very much into art and cartoon strips, Allen studied at the High School of Industrial Arts. He saw an ad and almost missed his chance to work at Timely Comics but his father told him to go. He started out doing backgrounds (and “junk work” as he stated) as a teenager for Syd Shores but became a full time staff member working with Gene Colan, Syd Shores, Sol Brodsky and even Stan Lee as well as many titles including Captain America Comics, The Human Torch, The Sub -Mariner. He also self-created his back-up crime feature “Let’s Play Detective”.

His stories included not only Timely Comics , of which he recounted with superb memory, but seeing Jackie Robinson play, buying the firstAction Comicscomic book, having his artwork stolen out of his car (he stated “who knew?” as they just either threw it away or kept the art in odd places), his family life and New York.

He eventually left comics stating that he never could remember why, started and sold a business and, with his first marriage behind him, he did meet his “Wonder Woman” and true love Roselyn and they were married for 57 years as of April 15, 2019.

They moved to South Florida and Allen took up photography and joined the art department for the Sun Sentinel.

The first time I met him was through my wife who was an editor on a story about him. Joyce stated – “Do you want to meet a comic book artist I know in Tamarac?” I did not know much about him or his history but was intrigued. She called him and we came over to meet him and Roz. I still remember that first time coming to his place with my Captain America comic books and just sitting and listening to his stories. After meeting him that first time, we spoke a few more times. I then offered to help get him back out there and make his name more mainstream. It started with a few public appearances (the first was Florida Supercon with promoter Mike Broder) and it grew and grew and grew to twelve plus years to where I had Allen attending conventions, having a full-fledged website, signings and finally getting the recognition he deserved so very much.

We met many, many times and spoke many, many times. He and Roz were also there from the beginning even when my daughter was born. They were truly and always great, supportive friends.

Like Dr Seuss said, “The stories I could tell…” as there were too many great ones to count but a joy each and every time to ask and hear about them.

I continued to help Allen and Roz in what they may have needed for booking conventions (later on with Kathy Gummere’s help and much needed knowledge from Dr. Michael Vassallo, Terry Cronin, Stan Lee, Jackie Estrada, Nancy Shores, Joe Goulart and Michael Uslan), to Allen’s website to even changing the light bulbs in their place. Allen and Roz’s kindness and connections were also evident with other people the Bellmans came across including Claudia Wells, Bob Layton, the Delbos, George Moss, Reb Brown, Bruce Macintosh, Allen Stewart, Chip Cronkite, Mike Zeck, Tate Ottati, Andrew Satterfield, Danny Fingeroth, Roy Thomas, Joe Staton, Joe and Mark Sinnott, Mark Hodges and the Simons (if I forgot anyone, I apologize).  I also consider myself lucky to have had the first-hand experience and knowledge to visit weekly and speak to Allen almost everyday, not just about Timely but about life in general.

No few words can sum up what Allen Bellman has done for not only Timely, the Navy (did you know he painted the logos on the planes?) and my family. With his lovely wife Roz by his side, he was solid and true to the end.

For Captain America comics and the world, we have now lost the last piece to a great puzzle of history.

I will miss you, my dear friend.

(L-R, back row) Terry Cronin, Steven Freivogel (L-R, front row) Allen Bellman, Mike Broder to celebrate the Bellman’s wedding anniversary

(Back) Steven Freivogel (Front, L-R) Al Plastino, Allen Bellman and Nick Cardy at the 2013 Florida Supercon