After two years of working in a North Carolina picture frame factory just out of high school, Shane Davis packed his bag and headed north to Jersey and The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover.
Today, at 27, he has not only attained his dream, but that of countless artists of all ages. Shane is an exclusive artist for DC Comics, world-famous storytellers of the Dynamic Duo and other fiery heroes. Growing up, Shane devoured Spiderman and all the comic books he could buy. He fell in love with line art and comic book drawing but he was not allowed to draw at home. "My father was against it," he says. "If he saw that I had that extra time he thought I needed to be doing math problems. When my parents got divorced and I went to live with my mom I started to study art."
At 13 he began to follow his dream. Later, he drew cartoons and illustrations for his high school newspaper. But the south, he says, is not a commercial market and art training is hard to come by. "I had to go to school somewhere else if I wanted to pursue an artistic job doing animation and figure drawing." He investigated many art schools, but chose The Kubert School he always saw advertised in the Marvel Comics he read as a kid. They offer two programs: cinematic animation from traditional through computer animation techniques and cartoon graphics for the comic book field and any print industry. "I always wanted to work on Spiderman as a kid. When I made the decision to draw comics after my first year at Kubert, pretty much everything in school was geared around comics."
While a student, Shane did his first commercial piece--a freebie "pin up"--a single page illustration for a comic book, just to get published. The school hired him to illustrate an Army pamphlet. "I learned to tackle what was given in a creative and time-efficient way and to handle deadlines. And repetition--producing quality drawings time and time again," Shane says of his three-year Kubert education that earned him a certificate.
He began interviewing and submitting work until DC Comics hired him. "I got hired to do a Robin issue as a fill-in," he says. He drew Spiderman and Hulk for Marvel Age. "It's just been one job after another as a freelancer. I did Nightwing and Wonder Woman. A job might last a month. It would be done and then I'd go find another job. I've tackled a bunch of American icons."
He worked for DC Licensing, drawing Batman and bad guys that companies bought to put on merchandise. He drew superheroes from Green Lantern to the obscure for trading cards. "I juggled a bunch of work, then I got offered a gig at DC Comics and I started doing an actual Batman comic book." Recently Shane signed an exclusive two-year contract to illustrate an eight-book series of Mystery in Space, due out in September. "I can't work for anybody else. It's job security in the freelance world."
Being a good storyteller, says Shane, means drawing superheroes fighting and an old lady walking down the street--and making it look interesting."
Shane's goals? "To work with Batman is everybody's goal. I've accomplished that. Now it's doing the best possible on my new books and having it under my belt."
What Makes a Career School Special?
"It's the difference between a light bulb and a laser beam. A bulb creates diffused light that's not strong in any direction. A laser beam is very specific, precise, and powerful," says Mike Chen, artist, special projects coordinator at The Kubert School in Dover. "College produces a more well-rounded individual and makes things easier for students who have no special direction in mind. If a student already has a direction, vocational school is faster, cheaper, more efficient, and she is not distracted by irrelevant information."