Marveling at a Comic Book Mentorship

It’s incredible what busy professionals will do to help out college students pursue their passions.

Comic book artist Dennis Calero did just that at Frostburg State University. He shepherded select FSU illustration majors through projects in an independent study course to sharpen their drawing and business skills.

Calero’s accomplishments are lengthy, and they included developing “Xmen Noir” for Marvel Comics, worked on projects for DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics and also worked on a project for author Stephen King.

I shot this on a Saturday and was asked on Monday to have this ready for a Tuesday marketing email. When I’m given a deadline like that, something just clicks.

What I do in these cases is start writing my script. The interviews and theme is still fresh in my mind, then I start blocking out my video in PremierePro looking to get my soundbites in place.

After that, I start piecing together the script a little more while at the same time finding b-roll to use for my voiceover.

Once that’s finished, I have time to make color corrections, sound adjustments and titles before I headed over to the WFWM studios on camps to record my voiceover.

I look down and make a couple minor tweaks to my script before we’re ready to roll. Once I’m back in my office, I make a few more trims and stretches to squeeze in my voiceover.

I started at 9 a.m. working on this and by 4 p.m., the video was completed, uploaded on YouTube and scheduled on Facebook. The closed captions are typed up and heck, the radio station also has a public service announcement they can use because I supplied the station director with my audio I exported from my video project.

That’s my approach to working efficiently to make a three-minute video feature with a 500-word story.

Here’s the script below:

Frostburg State illustration students are marveling at their experience with a professional comic book artist.

Dennis Calero, who developed “X-Men Noir” for Marvel Comics, helped to guide a new generation of illustrators in an independent study course on how to make it in the business.

CALERO: “I advised some students on their work and would look at their work but I also wanted to see what their influences were. So I could help   them connect in what they saw in other people’s works that were interesting and bring it out in their own work. So I think that was very helpful.”

The prolific comic book artist visited FSU on February 6 to display his work and share career advice with the audience.

Student Ian Groff says Calero was thorough in giving him tips and reviewing work for his fantasy comic.

GROFF: “We focused on certain areas of comic art. We did several pages of penciled work and then we learned how to ink the pencils we drawn. And Dennis guided us through the whole process and how to successfully draw and what not to do.”

Illustration and graphic design major Ray Huang says students emailed Calero their work and Skyped with the artist for feedback.

HUANG: “It was really valuable because he would give me a lot of ideas about how the industry works. I knew what I would be facing in the professional world.” … “During my childhood I didn’t really have that much of art literature stuff. So, he basically told me to work on my own style because I’m all over the place. After that I can see the difference between my style, and it’s getting better.”

CALERO: “I was absolutely really taken by their willingness to take direction. And also their eagerness and their wanting to know how things worked. And not wanting to maintain an illusion of how things worked in this industry. They really wanted to find out how to take those steps and make those sacrifices, which not a lot of people really wanted to do.”

FSU illustration professor Jamison Odone organized the mentorship and is amazed at the impact Calero has. 

ODONE: “It’s more impressive than seeing someone every day, who is your professor. They’re here just for a blip. Their work is amazing and it’s almost like this celebrity effect when they see this person who’s done this amazing work. They’re usually a little jittery to talk to them, but they can see how it’s done, they can hear the person talk. It usually affects them quite a great deal. …

“Whatever switch he was able to flip in their minds to be able to work in this field, it worked. There’s no turning back now.”

The community can get an up-close look at Calero’s work during February. His exhibit includes a special illustration he created for his FSU show.  

The comic book art will be on display through Sunday, February 28th. The Roper Gallery is open Sunday through Friday from noon to 4 p.m.

The students’ work will be exhibited at an upcoming senior show.

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