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…

(more…)

07 May 2020

Logo design: Michael Netzer

Ryusei Sawadi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(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.

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

 

14 Mar 2020

Our host show the Great Philadelphia Comic Con! was forced to shut down for April 3-5 by the Governor of PA as a precaution for the Covid-19/Coronavirus pandemic. The show and our awards ceremony has been rescheduled to September 4-6, 2020. Here is the statement from the promoter of the show: “We regret the disappointment and inconvenience this turn of events has caused. Like every business we are all at the mercy of the status of the virus and the preventative actions of the federal state of emergencies. We will be monitoring and reporting any relevant convention changes for us. Thanks for your understanding.”

12 Mar 2020

In response to the Coronavirus/Covid-19 virus pandemic the state of Massachusetts called a state of emergency and after much deliberation the Ace Comic Con: Northeast- Boston decided to cancel the show March 20-22 in the hopes of rescheduling it again, but with no guaranties. We are in communications with our Inkwell host-show the Great Philadelphia Comic Con! and while the show is presently expecting to be held along with our awards ceremony, we’ll keep you posted here should these plans change.

06 Mar 2020

Newsarama reported yesterday that DC, Marvel, Charlton Comics ink artist Frank McLaughlin had died March 4 of undisclosed causes. He was 84. The Inkwell Awards give our condolences to his family, friends and many fans.

Photo from Frank’s Facebook page, his final profile photo, taken by unknown.

Judomaster was created by Joe Gill & Frank McLaughlin. Cover of Special War Series #4 (Nov, 1965). Art by Frank McLaughlin.

22 Feb 2020

(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New Bedford, MA/USA—February 21 2020) The Inkwell Awards, the only non-profit organization devoted to public education and promotion of the art of comic book inking, is asking fans and professionals to choose their industry favorites. The official public ballot will be available on the Inkwells’ homepage from February 23 through 29.

Voting is open to all in five categories: “Favorite Inker,” “Most Adaptable,” “Props” (inkers deserving more attention), “The S.P.A.M.I.” (Small Press And Mainstream/Independent for non-Marvel/DC work) and “All-In-One” for artists who ink their own pencils. The ballot covers all printed American comic books cover-dated 2019.

“This is the second ballot with our revamped nomination procedure where inkers could submit their work in addition to those chosen by our internal nomination committee,” said Bob Almond, founder and director of The Inkwell Awards. “It made a huge difference and we’re thrilled to see many inkers submit their own work and several get nominated.”

He also added, “For years, too many inkers are passed over and go unnoticed by most awards events. Ours caters specifically to ink artists, allowing them to be recognized and appreciated for their best work. We encourage any and all who appreciate great artwork to participate and share on social media; the more voters, the better.”

The winners, along with the internally-chosen lifetime achievement accolades, the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame award and the Stacey Aragon Special Recognition Award (SASRA), will be announced at the live awards ceremony during The Great Philadelphia Comic Con! in Oaks, PA the weekend of April 3-5.

16 Jan 2020

Some of you might have noticed that for the past week this site had a different look. We’ve been working over the past year+ with new senior contributor Steven Freivogel to upgrade the venue and while it’s now uploaded it’s still a work in progress as we try to fine-tune it. This is the third site for our non-profit, the first being set up by committee member Jim Tournas in 2008 and the second version set up by committee member Sarah Covert (now Gerhardt) and Bob Almond in 2011. But now in 2020 as we are entering our second decade of existence the team wanted us to progress with the times. Much kind thanks to all the time & effort on the parts of not only Steven but Mike Pascale, Rhys Evans and Tim Aslat w/ Daniel Best (both who’ve been our webmasters since 2008 and were instrumental with the changeover). We continue to work at making our site the one-stop resource for all things inking!