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  • hilarybarta

The Dreaded Deadline Doom

The bane of every commercial artist is the deadline. Blow a deadline, and you might not get another job from that editor or art director. Worse, you might be saddled with a widespread reputation for being unreliable.

During my days as an inker at Marvel I became someone that helped other inkers meet their deadlines. When an editor would figure out that the regular inker on a particular book was running so late that they couldn't ink all of the remaining pencilled pages, I was one of several inkers who might get a call. The editor would ask how many pages I could do by a certain date, and those pages were shipped to me (this was years before computers, and scanning pages to send electronically). And, if the call came in on a Friday, and the editor needed the pages inked over the weekend, Marvel would offer what they called "combat pay", paying rate-and-a-half to complete the work. Those were the days! In the years before I got my start in comics I did some illustration work. One of my most memorable early commercial art jobs was to illustrate an article about Star Wars, specifically the speculation about the parentage of Luke Skywalker. It was a full-color, double-page spread for a locally published magazine. I accepted the gig--young, hungry freelancers never turn down work--in spite of the fact that I didn't paint, and hadn't done any color work of any sort. No problem--I'd figure that out later! Young artists always have more chutzpah than experience. The catch was that I got the job on Friday and it was due the following Monday, so there wasn't much "later".

Sometime Saturday evening I decided that in order to finish by Monday I'd have to pull an all-nighter. So I drank a pot of coffee. I became so jittery I couldn't work, but neither could I sleep. Deciding that progress on the spread was hopless, I spent several fitful hours in bed that night, letting the caffeine run its course. I got up on Sunday morning and went to work. I did the piece in mixed-media. More like "mixed-up media", because I used whatever I had on hand: color pencil, water color, acrylic paint, possibly magic markers...but I got it done and turned it in Monday morning, deadline met. About the top image: Below the Deadline is a 1946 "B" crime film. I tweaked the lobby card to use in this post.

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