Name: Marcus Williams
Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Wolverine
Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Wolverine (Laughter)
Latest Work: (Title/Publisher/Release Date) “Tuskegee Heirs”/Self-Published/ December 2016
TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Williams: An amalgamation of all of my influences from animation, comics and video game art.
TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Williams: Comics served as a mind-blowing artistic experience for me as a young artist. It pushed what I believed was possible with illustration and action. Video games and cartoons were my first artistic inspiration.
TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Williams: Jim Lee was the first comic I received as a young boy. His art featured Wolverine vs. Omega Red and it was unlike anything I’d seen before. So X-Men was my introduction to comics.
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?
Williams: I was lucky to find a comic book retailer that wanted to start his own comic series, and had the resources to actually publish the book himself. Oddly enough, I wasn’t hired to draw traditional superheroes, but rather heroic felines. I was hired to draw cats on “Hero Cats of Stellar City” (Action Lab). I was the penciler for the project and it taught me a lot about the entire comic making process as a whole, from production to publishing.
TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Williams: I can say working on “Hero Cats” opened a lot of opportunity for educating myself on the actual comic industry. Self-marketing myself as an artist was actually something I did over the years that actually benefited my career most.
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?
Williams: I would honestly say the hardest part is gathering the appropriate and correct information about the business of comics. I found the comic industry in a time when independent comic artists have virtually the same chance to create themselves and market their work as major publishers do (if done right). Social networks have made it possible for aspiring comic artists to share their work with potentially thousands of people every day, which is huge! Unfortunately, it is something that many aspiring artists still don’t know how to leverage correctly. For me personally, the moment I found all the business info to create my own intellectual property (“Tuskegee Heirs”), it wasn’t necessarily hard because the only thing holding me back was myself (well, that and life stuff).
TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Williams: Not necessarily a character, but if the term “universe” can encompass artistic apps and reference, then I use Pinterest and Instagram quite often to look at other artists for inspiration.
TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Williams: Yeah, there’s plenty of black superheroes that live in both Marvel and DC that need some full top to bottom facelifts. The list is pretty long though, so to start, perhaps Storm, Blade, and Bishop. DC heroes would come after – Val-zod, Nubia and Batwing.
TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Williams: Being a comic publisher of great stories that changes the industry’s take on characters of color by crafting new approaches yet to be seen in comics. Make stories for young children of color that show powerful and confident images of heroes that look like they do. I’m not a passionate comic artist, so I’m not planning to be in the seat for another 10 years, but I’ll still be drawing comic covers and poster art for sure. I think animation and video games are calling me.
TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Williams: Constantly pushing one’s self to improve beyond one’s comfort zones.
TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Williams: I definitely still use pencil and paper when planning out the comic scripts. My writing partner and co-creator of “Tuskegee Heirs,” Greg Burnham, and myself usually have a conversation about what’s going to happen as I’m drawing small thumbnails. Google Docs however does make it easy for us both to update the script and the images on the go.
TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Williams: Definitely spend your first steps gathering the business information you’ll need to actually stay afloat as a comic artist/creator. This is a career bred from passion, but nothing hits you in the gut harder than putting your heart and soul into a project only to let it die from lack of understanding of how to make money. It’s the equivalent of opening a restaurant and not knowing how to get customers in the place to enjoy your food. It’s not always the funnest part, but learn the tools you’ll need to make positive cash flow before diving into the industry.
TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Williams: Love it! It’s honestly the most effective way to directly market yourself as a creative to your target audience. If you can succeed in selling yourself first (your art second), you can make a fan for life of all your work moving forward. That, and it allows for pure feedback for all the work you’ve put in. We stay in front of our workstations for weeks and months at a time, and rarely get the opportunity to actually “hear” feedback from the intended audience. Going to cons gives you the chance to be filled with positive (also not so positive) feedback which can help focus you.
TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Williams: Easy answer. Steve Harvey laughing maniacally overlooking some original superhero characters from the client.
TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2018?
Williams: More comics from “Tuskegee Heirs,” animation, other comic self-published titles from myself (“The Super Natural Woman”) and Burnham (“The Search for Sadiqah”).
You can order “Tuskegee Heirs” directly from www.tuskegeeheirs.com
You can find me and my art on www.marcusthevisual.com
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