Name: Chrissie Zullo
Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Batman
Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Wonder Woman
Latest Work: (Title/Publisher/Release Date) “Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella” Issue 5, by Dynamite Comics, Feb. 7, 2018
TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Zullo: I think my style is a mix of all the things I love – comics, American animation and Japanese animation. It’s definitely evolved over the years, and right now I want my art to be fun and expressive.
TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Zullo: To be honest, I didn’t get into comic books until college. I had grown up on cartoons (Disney movies and TV shows like “Batman: The Animated Series”) and read manga in high school, but it wasn’t until college that I read graphic novels. I think the first one I read was “The Long Halloween,” by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, and then got into “Fables” shortly after.
TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Zullo: Growing up, I always loved Glen Keane and Mary Blair, mostly because I was such a Disney kid. When I got older, I got really into comic book artists and low-brow artists; some of my favorites include James Jean, Travis Charest, Adam Hughes, Chris Bacchalo and Francisco Herrera.
TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career in comics? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Zullo: I think, for me, I was in the right place at the right time situation. I had just graduated college and put a portfolio together to bring to San Diego Comic Con, where DC used to do a talent search for new art. I met with an editor, who happened to need an artist for a project at that time. Then things just sort of went from there! I definitely learned along the way, and I learned the importance of just being persistent and getting work in on time.
TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Zullo: I feel like my first job for Cinderella of Fables really opened up the doors to everything. It was my first time working in comics, and helped me land other jobs. Since then I’ve worked for “Vampirella,” “Hack/Slash,” Archie Comics, “Josie and the Pussycats,” as well as design work for Mattel and posters for “Star Wars” through Fandango.
TrunkSpace: A lot of people say that breaking into comics is the hardest part of working in comics. How long did it take you before you started to see your comic book dreams become a reality?
Zullo: I still feel like I haven’t really quite “broken in.” (Laughter) I feel like the hardest part of working in comics is consistently, well, working in comics. I can go months without hearing from a publisher, and you really have to learn to be your own salesman and own job maker when you are a freelance artist. With so many outlets now, like social media sites such as Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook, you can also find a lot of commission work online. Going to conventions is also a good way to stay relevant, because a lot of editors scope out artists in the artist alleys at shows.
TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Zullo: It’s sort of the opposite, I think. Because I have so many commissions to draw comic book characters quite often, my sketchbook is filled with people in everyday clothes doing everyday things. I love drawing regular, everyday people in different fashions from different eras.
TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Zullo: For some reason I’ve always loved Zatanna from the Batman universe. I secretly want to draw a story for her, maybe about her high school days.
TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Zullo: I would be happy to make a career off of artwork for as long as I can. I’ve always told myself if I can survive off of art, I will be happy. So far, it has worked great for me. As long as I can keep working and keep drawing the things I love, I’m beyond happy. If one day I can write and create my own comic, that would be ideal too!
TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Zullo: I think the greatest strength as an artist is work ethic. If you can work consistently and draw every day, you are already on the right track. Talent and style are things that I believe come with drawing a lot, and I really do think anyone can do it if they keep at it.
TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Zullo: I am a sucker for digital programs such as Photoshop and Procreate, but I start everything with pencil on paper. For me, I prefer traditional over digital, and I always start with a pencil sketch and usually inks, and then scan those in to color digital. Digital does make things easier and faster, but I try not to be too dependent on it. I’ve seen a lot of artists who can do amazing artwork in Photoshop, but can’t really draw with a pencil and paper. I guess it all depends on what kind of artwork you are going for, but there is something about having an original, tangible piece of artwork that really appeals to me.
TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Zullo: Put your artwork out there as much and as frequently as possible. Use social media sites to show people what you’re working on, even if it’s not finished. Get a table, if you can, at a local comic book convention and showcase your portfolio. My thought process is that you never know who might be looking, so try to showcase to as many as you can.
TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Zullo: I love it, I love meeting new people, seeing new places, and getting to draw for customers. It is a lot of hard work though, and a lot of travel, and sometimes I do wish I stayed home more. I think I travel about 15 to 18 weekends every year.
TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Zullo: (Laughter) I hate to be boring but I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten anything too crazy. I had to help with a proposal once by drawing the happy couple surrounded by their favorite video game characters. They stopped by my table, picked up the drawing, and he proposed right there and then at the comic con. That was crazy.
TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2018?
Zullo: I have two big things that I can’t wait to share publicly, but unfortunately right now I’m not allowed to talk about it! I think they will be announced this summer. So… stay tuned?