Interviewed by Shane Steponas
What do you consider the unique power of comics compared to other art forms?
I think it’s more closely related to film. And all of the grandeur of film can be done much more cheaply. Also it bends time and space. For instance, Spider-Man is simultaneously dodging bullets and telling jokes (which is hard to do in case you haven’t tried it.) You can’t speak ten words and dodge bullets at the same time!
The words are really important. That’s why Spider-Man, or the Thing or the Hulk were so endearing. The Hulk thinking about or saying how frustrated and confused he was while lifting up a tank. Or sound effects. Or the difference between round word balloons and spiky word balloons. Or thought balloons.
It’s quite bizarre when you think about it.
Your visual style is sketchy, but also well-formed and robust. The figures also look like they are about to puke and defecate all over the page.
Funny you should mention puking and shitting. Both of those things are going to be be important features in the next few pages I’m working on. I’ve always enjoyed scatological humour. My story is very much about the sordid and empty nature of everyday reality.
The look I’m going for is loose, but monumental. I think a lot of that came from my two years in the Classical Animation program at Sheridan College. That was the old hand-drawn frames type of animation. And your figures had to be loose and convey a sense of 3-D. Drawing over and over, all day while trying to capture that effect really had a lasting impact on my style.
I’ve also looked at Michelangelo’s drawings. If you ever see a book of his drawings you should get it. There’s also a documentary somewhere on YouTube that’s excellent. I’m trying to get at this “perfect” combination of outlines and details that I have in my head from a childhood of reading superhero comics, MAD Magazine, the Freak Brothers, and other illustrators. Like the political cartoonists like Duncan McPherson and Aislin. Also, when I was in the animation program, we were trained to avoid lines that looked like bent wires, uniform. Thickness and thinness were to convey concepts of volume and perspective.
What inspires you on a daily basis to pick up a pen?
To build my pathetic legacy. To leave something behind. To leave a monument to each day I believe I have some talent. I think the journey that I will take my characters on in the 1, 10 , 20, 100 years that I have left, will be worthwhile for some people. Especially the legions of demigods that time forgot… the cartoonists. I’m excited about the story that is in my head.
Before you sit down to draw, do you go through any ritual? What sets the mood for you when you do your serious work?
I put on some white noise in the background. Songs, movies or documentaries I’ve seen before.
Sometimes, for inking, I get stoned. But the majority of pages were conceived and penciled without chemical amusement aids whatsoever. There are some long-term ideas in there. Some were inspired by pot and booze. Others weren’t.
How do you approach a panel when you draw?
I have only a vague idea of what I want the panel to look like. Sometimes I have the story and the visual expression of the idea clearly in my head and I draw all the panel boxes accordingly. For instance three boxes of dialogue and then a large climatic image at the bottom. But I’m trying to just draw. Just put stuff on the page without agonizing over it. So there’s hardly any planning stages. I rough it in. Flesh it out. And then ink it. And I don’t care about making mistakes. The important thing is to get it out there. I must admit to being very happy with the composition of some of the
panels. But if something looks clunky so be it.
Here’s the most important thing. You ever see a comic with tons of loving detail and you just wish it would go on and on. Well, that’s what I’m shooting for. I’ll spend a lot of time detailing something, putting stuff in the background, shading features on faces… just because I like doing that stuff. This work isn’t supposed to have a commercial pay off, it’s completely unrealistic to imagine that it will. So I’ll put whatever amount of time I want into it. And I’m going to work on the meaningless story forever. So that those few people who end up reading it can have their detailed comic book that goes on for page upon page.
Originally published in The Toronto Comic Jam Book Vol. 20 No. 1
Interviewed by Shane Steponas