Seeing your words brought to life through illustration is one of the best parts of working in comics. To say that it’s thrilling is an understatement—but it is thrilling, and crazy, and wonderful—and I certainly wasn’t prepared for how invigorating it would be to work with someone like Kalman Andrasofszky, who totally got the story and the characters, drew them with love, and gave them spirit, and grit, and personality. He is so talented (a wild man, an artistic maverick), and it was my honor and privilege to work with him on NYX.
We’ve talked about this before, but is it fair to say that your great desire was always to be an artist? When did comic books enter the story, and are there other visual mediums you’d like to work in?
Yeah, pretty much. Drawing was just the thing I always did. Day night, school home, to the exclusion of everything else I should have been doing like homework and making friends. I really glommed on to comics around age 10, and then promptly decided that they weren’t for me since superhero as a genre was just “too limiting”. I came around though. And so did comics, for the most part (har har.) I do a lot of illustration work alongside my comics work, and I don’t feel fully satisfied unless I have a bit of each on the go, I’ve also done some concept and character design work in the past, I think I’d like to get back to some of that too.
What’s a normal day like for you? What’s your creative process like? And what did you go through when creating the illustrations for NYX: No Way Home?
I roll out of bed around 11 and putter around the house for an hour or two. A good day has me in the studio between 1 and 2 pm. So far this sounds pretty serene and comfy right? Then I pretty much draw until 2 or 3 am. I do roughs in ball point pen and then scan them into photoshop and tweak. I’ll print the final rough out in very light blue on the final comic page and draw over it in pencil or ink, depending. By the latter half of NYX I started doing more elaborate layouts. With each one, I would panic at how long I was spending on what was essentially a rough, but then drawing the actual page would be a breeze since all the nuts and bolts had been worked out beforehand. If I can keep up that system, (without the panic, mind) I might have this comic thing licked!
You have an incredible sense of story. Have you written any prose work? What’s on the horizon for you?
Why thank you Ms. Liu. I have some bits and pieces written, but nothing that’s out in the world. I think anything I’ve seriously worked on over the years is going to be a comic –the whole reason I’m in this racket is to eventually apply my skills, to telling some of my own stories, but for now I have this crippling addiction to paying my rent, which means comercial work takes precedence. I have a 2 page comic story published, about the band The Knife, which I wrote and drew for UKULA magazine. To date, that is my one and only writing credit.
Do you have any advice to aspiring comic book artists?
Am I the right guy for this? Draw everything you can, not just what you’re good at and not just what’s comfortable. Develop a working shorthand for the human body and learn how to move and rotate it in 3 dimensional space. Look at all genres and styles of comics—Manga, BD, and indie comics, and note the different ways they convey time and motion, etc. Read Scott McCloud’s first and third books, Understanding, and Making Comics. Most importantly, you have to want it. Bad. Be committed to the path even when there is no external validation. If it’s what you’re doing all the time anyway, you’ll hardly notice the journey, which will likely take you far longer than you ever imagined, but if all of that is okay, you’ll definitely make a splash once you get here.
Finally, because I think this should always be a required question, tell readers about your cats! Attach pictures!
I have two cats, Grack and Devil Cat. Grack is fury and black, a little reserved, but very affectionate. Devil Cat is… we’re not really sure if Devil Cat is really a cat. She’s kind of a dog/duck/bat hybrid thing, really. She’s got a tiny head with enormous ears. She can’t meow, she just kind of grunts and quacks. Her tail is always lashing violently whether she’s happy, tense, scared… all the time. She’ll literally eat anything in her path too, leaves, lint, needles, screws… no joke.
(Note: NYX #6 hits the shelves today. You can find it here, or at your local comic book shop)