Last week was the last week where users could post on my beloved forum, Ten Ton Studios. Ten Ton Studios was an artistic comic book collaborative started about over 12 years ago by a handful of aspiring writers, pencillers, inkers, colorists, and maybe even some letterers. They banded together to give themselves a name and share costs of going to conventions, and give themselves a name to help break into the comic’s industry. They opened up a online forum on February 23, 2005 (kids, ask your parents what a “forum” is) and other artistic folks gravitated to the site because the forums started up a Weekly Sketch Challenge. That Sketch Challenge lasted for 12+ years and has had hundreds of participants over the years.
Ten Ton was one of the major reasons that I started drawing again. I have met a handful a people from the forum and had the chance to hang out with some of the big names/original members of the site. I have done 20 Questions with a boatload of them, and I am sad but understanding that the site is going dark this month. I reached out to my Ten Tonners and asked them to send me questions for this week’s 20 Questions Tuesday.
There are too many artists that deserve images in this blog that came from Ten Ton, so I apologize for not posting all the amazing art that came from that site.
So without further ado… 20 Questions about Ten Ton Studios.
1. So who were the original members of Ten Ton?
Doug Hills, John Polecek, Scott St Pierre, Khoi Pham, Reilly Brown, Chris Chua, Mike Malbrough, Jason Masters, Jason Baroody, Phil Hilliker, Kurt Christenson, Chris Burnham, Jong Kim, and Lelan Estes… That might be more than who started the collective, but it is the people I think started it out. If these aren't the originals, these are the first 2 sets of peeps.
2. Why was it called Ten Ton Studios?
Because that group was going to drop like a Ten Ton bomb! Yo!
3. So… did it work?
I would say that it did. A number of the top talent from the site are now recognizable names in the comics book industry. A number of the “officers” of the site have not only worked in the industry for a long time, but also are associated with top flite books and super well-known titles.
4. Who would you say is the biggest breakout star of the people who “made it?”
Hmmm… that is hard to say. I would say one of the hottest names right now is Aaron Kuder. He is currently drawing the All-New Guardians of the Galaxy, but has been on all sorts of marquee books like Action Comics drawing the Superman. That being said there are lots of other success stories from the studio.
5. Did the original members all continue to pursue careers in comic books?
No, not all of them. Some became disenchanted with the comics industry and moved on to other non-creative careers, and some pivoted to other creative endeavors.
6. So, how many officers did the site finally have? And how many of them are still actively doing work in comic book publishing?
21 and at least 14 are still active within the comic book industry.
7. What's the number one thing that you learned from taking part in so many sketch challenges over the years?
To not be so precious about my work. One cannot spend forever on a single piece.
8. After years of prolonged exposure to Ten Ton, have you noticed any chronic symptoms on your mental health?
Not that I know of, but I do find myself making inappropriate jokes about people in my head (sometimes not in my head) that would have been typical comments I would have made on Ten Ton.
9. Which challenges were the easiest and/or most difficult for you to draw?
Easiest: the super well known dude characters that one does not need to get character reference for.
Most difficult: women and obscure characters I had never heard of
10. What did Ten Ton bring you that you couldn't find anywhere else?
Acerbic wit coupled with hard hitting comments and crits by insanely talented people.
11. Who was the first Ten Tonner you met in person?
Officer: Chris Burnham
Member at large: Brett Wood
12. How and why were you disappointed in those meetings?
Chris Burnham was not nearly as attractive as other people said he was. I was expecting beefcake, and all I got was kind of beefy.
Brett Wood and I do not have tons in common even though we live in the same city.
13. How did you first hear about Ten Ton?
I was lurking about at The Drawing Board, a more generic drawing board that existed in the early 00’s and I followed, I think it was Jason Baroody from one of his posts there.
14. If you could nominate one more sketch challenge, what would it be?
I would love to see a Fantastic Four redesign by the peeps at TT.
15. Who is the Ten Tonner you always thought would (and still might) "break in"?
There are two that I have not seen “make it big” yet that surprise me that they haven’t. Jason Baroody… it is beyond my understanding why he is not either doing books or at least doing cover art for multiple books and multiple publishers. The second is Steve Willhite. That man needs to be drawing a Conan book yesterday.
16. Least favorite sketch challenge?
I would have to go with El Cazador challenge that Roho suggested. I just could not understand the character. I didn’t get a good feel as to whether he was a Punisher like hard-ass, no bullshit ass-kicker or an over-the-top caricature of excessive violence like Lobo. My Argentinian is no bueno, so I could not really do the research to find out.
17. If you had to break down Ten Ton into its constituent tonnage… where would most the weight lie?
I would say that 4 tons of the site would be amazing art, 1 ton would be smack talk about people’s inability to draw well, 3 tons would be conversations about comic book/pop culture media, .5 tons would be people announcing their convention schedule, and 1.5 tons would be about Baroody’s mom.
18. How many Ten Tonners have you met in the real worlds? What was your favorite name in the forum before people started using their real names?
I think it is just less than 10, like eight or so. My favorite handle was “Dancing Door Guy.” Whatever happened to that guy? (see question 4)
19. Where are you going to post drawings and shit now? Are there any online comic book themed sketch challenges out there?
I still have my Deviant Art account that I post to, but probably just Facebook… maybe the Gram, but most likely just DA and FB. As to the second part of that question, I have only been able to find time based challenges like the 30 sketches in 30 days thing, Inktober, or more general sketch challenges. Nothing that seems to approach the regularity of the Ten Ton Sketch Challenge.
20. What is the best thing to come out of Ten Ton?
The art. At its core, Ten Ton was a comic book art forum. The members there congregated online primarily because of their collective love of comic books. I am sad to see it go, but its time has passed.
I think I won four challenges
I entered challenges for about 8 years, almost every one of them
I only took four
My art has grown leaps and bounds because of that site
There are at least 5 points of similarities between those drawings
Doboy1… I could go on for days about that fucker
On another note people keep saying that guns don’t kill people
Empirical evidence points elsewhere
Ten Ton introduced me to some fine people
One of my favorite things was watching one of the biggies at TT smacking down people who needed smacking
There are a few of those that stick out
The one I remember most is when Burnham destroyed this colorist who was being just plain mean to someone asking for help
It was glorious
Man, I need to be drawing more
I have about 10 or so unfinished drawings that need some finishing
RIP Ten Ton
Have a great week everyone