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Star Prichard

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Name: Star Prichard

Website: www.castoff-comic.com

Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr

Latest Work: “Castoff” (ongoing)

TrunkSpace: You teach English in Japan by day and freelance as an artist by night. You sound a bit like a superhero yourself! What drives you to pursue your career as an artist?
Prichard: Honestly, the biggest driving force for me is my love of creating things and sharing them. I love making art and writing stories, but the ability to share these things with the world is what really gets me excited. I’d keep drawing even if I was the only one who could see it, but the ability to spark an emotional response in the people who see my work is what drives me to keep creating on a regular basis.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your work?
Prichard: Bright. Colorful. Lively. I try to give my art the sort of energy that makes people excited, because making it makes me excited!

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Prichard: One of my biggest inspirations for making comics when I was young was actually “Calvin and Hobbes!” I had several of the giant omnibus volumes that I would read through in my spare time, and fell in love with the way a comic could tell a story in just four panels. I was eventually drawn to 4-koma manga like “Azumanga Daioh” for the same reason. Comics are great!

TrunkSpace: Where do you find your inspiration for your work now?
Prichard: I think “Where DON’T I find inspiration?” would be an easier question to answer! Movies, video games, anime, other webcomics – I think it’s possible to get inspiration from anywhere! Art-wise, games like “The World Ends with You” and “Ghost Trick” are some of my favorites. I love the bright colors and thick, bold line art. I also love the type of action sequences you can see in shows by “Studio Trigger” and many video games. And series like “The Adventure Zone” and “Fullmetal Alchemist” inspire me to constantly improve my storytelling.

TrunkSpace: You have an award-winning online comic, “Castoff.” Can you tell us how you got started and a bit about the story?
Prichard: “Castoff” is a fantasy-adventure story about a boy who gets kidnapped and has to find his way home, and all the trouble that comes along on the journey. It has magic, adventure, big flashy fight scenes, EMOTIONS – pretty much everything I love in a story, really.

“Castoff” was inspired by a dream I had in college – but I was working on a different comic at the time, so I didn’t have the energy to pursue “Castoff” until much later. That first comic was eventually shelved, but it helped me learn things about writing and comics that I eventually applied to “Castoff!”

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Prichard: As much as I would love to work on published comics, what would make me happiest is continuing to work on my own series! I don’t know what I’ll be doing after “Castoff” is finished, but I don’t plan to stop making comics anytime soon!

TrunkSpace: What would you say is your greatest strength as an artist?
Prichard: Of all parts of comic craft, I’d say my strongest point is probably inking! I love strong, bold inks in comics, and have been constantly trying to make my linework better!

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Prichard: Technology has absolutely been a huge influence on my process! I’d say the best thing about working digitally is the time you save. I script entirely on the computer – typing is just so much faster than pen-and-pencil writing, you know? And when you have that spark of inspiration you have to write it down before it disappears completely. Also, digital in general is much cleaner – it’s easier to rewrite/redraw something when erasing doesn’t add gross smudges all over your paper. I like to keep my work neat.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in illustration?
Prichard: I think that anyone trying to make it as an artist needs to have a good mix of skill and determination. You can be an amazing artist but without the drive to keep creating new work and putting yourself out there, you won’t get anywhere. Likewise, if you have the determination but not the skills to back it up, all you’ll be doing is spinning your wheels. You need to make sure you’re improving your skills as an artist, too. Find a good balance between self-promotion and self-improvement!

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2018?
Prichard: More “Castoff!” Always more “Castoff.” The story has got some interesting scenes coming up in the next few chapters, and I’m excited to finally share them! Aside from that, though, I also have an 11-page comic in the upcoming “Spiderforest” comic anthology for this year, and I’m planning on doing another holiday special when winter rolls around! I hope everyone is as excited for those as I am!

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Sonny Liew

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Name: Sonny Liew

Website: www.sonnyliew.com and www.artofcharliechan.com

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Linus (From “Peanuts”), Chopper (From 2000AD’s “Judge Dredd”)

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Calvin & Hobbes

Latest Work:
As Writer/Artist: “The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye” (Pantheon, 2016)
As Artist: “Eternity Girl” (DC Young Animal, DC Comics, March 14 2018)

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Liew: I’ve been told that it’s a little left of center. What I try to do though is adjust to the needs of a narrative, to find a style that best fits the story being told. Or maybe you could see it as an interest in exploring different art styles within the same narrative in order to raise questions about how the characters and worlds are being represented. Reality is so multi-faceted, in many ways you have to depict it through different prisms to start to emulate all that complexity out there.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Liew: My grandfather had a library full of books in Malaysia, and my sister and I would dig up comics to read from there – “Donald Duck,” “Peanuts,” “Children’s Paradise” (“Er Tong Le Yuan” from Hong Kong). My mom would also buy us “Beano and Dandy,” along with “Richie Rich” comics… so there were always comics around. We would copy drawings of our favorite characters, as kids tend to do… but I’d guess that anything visual would serve as inspiration for us – comics, TV cartoons, role playing games, movies. The earliest comic that made me think about wanting to draw comics though would probably have been 2000AD in my later teens – maybe seeing five or six stories drawn in a wild variety of styles in a single weekly issue made me realize at some level the sheer possibilities of the medium.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Liew: Not a comics per se, but I remember Roger Hargreaves’ “Mr. Men” series as being one of the books I could copy from, built plasticine models of… looking back at them today, there is still some hard to define quality about his drawings and designs, that evoke a simultaneous sense of nostalgia and timelessness.

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?
Liew: The first attempt at it was done more on a whim than any sort of plan. I was in Singapore on summer break from college and decided to draw my own comic strip. Sent the pages to a couple of local newspapers and one of them actually picked it up, so for a year or so I did a daily strip for them called “Frankie & Poo.” It was only during that process that I thought about somehow making a career out of it. Eventually I ended up in art school at the Rhode Island School of Design, where I had the good fortune to have David Mazzucchelli teaching a course in graphic narrative – he was the first person I’d met who knew the industry inside out and could give advice on what you needed in a portfolio, and how to get that portfolio seen. So I sent in samples to places like DC Vertigo, and took a trip to the San Diego Comic Con as well. Of course those were just baby steps on the long road ahead.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Liew: Right now, it would probably be “The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye,” in the sense that it was the first long form narrative I both wrote and drew, that gave a sense of the kind of book I wanted to do. Before that I think most publishers saw me more as an artist for hire, so it was in many ways a moon shot for me that has worked out as well as could be hoped.

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?
Liew: I’m not sure I agree entirely with that notion – it partly depends on the kind of comics you’re thinking of. Publishing your own webcomics, or an indie zine, or even for smaller independent publishers… there don’t seem to many barriers to entry for those. And even in terms of the Big Two, there are also degrees of breaking in. So I’d say that making comics is a process like any other – it’s about improving your skill set so you can tell the kind of stories you want to, through the kind of publishers that you want to work with, a gradual building up of a career and body of work rather than one single breakthrough.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Liew: Probably loose sketches of robots – you can dream up all kinds of shapes and anatomies, always hoping to find new forms, but also having old ones to fall back on.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Liew: For the mainstream, it would probably be Judge Dredd or Batman, partly because I grew up loving the comics (and sometimes movies), and both of them are rooted at some level in reality, with a dark edge. They seem ripe for exploring real world issues through a fictional lens. Outside of that… I think it’d be more about hoping to create new characters and titles that somehow stand the test of time.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Liew: For the commercial and personal work to come together. What I mean is there is always a need to balance the more commercial work to pay the bills and the more personal work that really engages with things you find really engaging. If you can start to get those two sides to come together, that would really be the ideal scenario. In my mind there are creators like David Simon and Neil Gaiman who have found that niche, and rare as that is, it’s still something you can aspire to.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Liew: I’d say that there are many better draftspersons and writers, but I am sometimes able to combine words and images in an interesting way… which fortunately turns out to be what comics as a medium requires.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Liew: Digital tools have definitely made everything easier – just imagine the pre-desktop publishing days in terms of coloring or lettering, for example. I still sketch down ideas on paper, but the process of thumbnailing is mostly done on the computer, as is the penciling of pages. Inking is done with traditional tools, partly because I think digital inking still lacks some of the organic quality of real pen and ink… but overall the process involves both the digital and analog. Machines will probably take over everything in due course, but for now, we’re in a sweet spot where creators get to choose between the two to find the best fit for their work.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Liew: Just read and make more comics – learn the history and theory of the medium, but also learn by doing. We all have our strength and flaws, so in some ways it’s about recognizing them and working on what you can improve. With the internet these days it’s also much easier to access a global source of knowledge about all the various skills involved in making comics, so make full use of that for sure.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Liew: (Laughter) I don’t get to go to too many, being based in Singapore, where we really only have one major con…. so it’s always fun when I do make the trips. It’s great to meet up with friends and folks in the industry, with readers… and to see new art, toys and more.

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Liew: There’s nothing really crazy or odd about it, but you do sometimes get asked to draw popular characters that you haven’t drawn before – Deadpool, Wolverine, etc. – and just end up copying drawings off a mobile phone Google image search.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2018?
Liew: “Eternity Girl” aside, I’m working on some things for Boom! Studios, as well as continued research on my own graphic novel. A good place for updates would be on Instagram @sonny_liew.

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Ben Matsuya

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Name: Ben Matsuya

Website: www.matsuyacreative.com
Check out his Instagram here.

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Spider-Man and Superman

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Superman

Latest Work: (Title/Publisher/Release Date) “Jupiter Jet”/Action Lab/Jan 2018

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Matsuya: My style is expressive and full of energy. I like to use that as my guiding light rather than strict realism. I used to try and draw everything as realistically as possible, but now I would rather something feel full of life than look identical.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Matsuya: Comics were huge for me growing up. I drew my first comic when I was around six or seven. Just a simple nine panel grid (like Tic-tac-toe) but I was hooked. I just wanted to preserve stories that my friends and I would make up.

Yes, I would say so. Drawing was just something I seemed to have a knack for, I never really thought of it too much. I suppose it was a way to channel my energy and creativity, which I am very thankful for looking back. I think it kept me out of a lot of trouble. (But I also caused some trouble to be fair!)

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Matsuya: So many! Jim Lee was a big one. Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns.” Mark Bagley on “Ultimate Spider-Man.”

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?
Matsuya: I had no plan! There were a lot of lulls, breaks, and ups and downs. Truthfully, it is only now starting to feel like I belong and comfortably calling myself a professional comic book artist. I guess fake it ‘til you make it! And make your own comics in between gigs. As long as you’re making comics, you’re a comic book artist.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Matsuya: Being the artist for “Jupiter Jet” was probably my biggest break. Working with Ashley Victoria Robinson and Jason Inman was a wonderful experience. They are amazingly talented and dream collaborators. I had a blast working on that book! Everyone should check it out.

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?
Matsuya: Straight out of college, I worked on a superhero-styled stage play called “No Good Deed.” I did the art for the sets, and an accompanying comic, which made me think, “Yeah, maybe I can do this for real.” It was a very validating experience.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Matsuya: I find myself often drawing characters from movies I’d recently seen or musicians from bands I like. I don’t know if that counts as a universe, but the music world is something I have always been very passionate about. I’m very jealous of anyone who has any musical ability!

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Matsuya: I would love to tell a Superman story one day. I’m putting it out there in the universe! I have a stand alone story that is embarrassingly fleshed out that I would love to tell. It’s an entire arc and it contains all my favorite characters and asks all the big Superman questions: who am I, why am I here, what am I supposed to do with my life? I think a Superman story, when done well, is just about the best superhero stories the medium can offer. He’s such a human character, ironically.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Matsuya: I think if you were to ask me a couple years ago, that Superman story from the previous question would have been the pinnacle of my aspirations. But now that I’m a little older, I think my ultimate dream path would be just being able to tell my own stories and having an audience that would allow me to make a humble living. I want to tell as many stories as possible.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Matsuya: The greatest strength of a comic book artist is the ability to observe and empathize. Observation is at the root of almost everything we do as comic book artists. Even something as simple as the clutter on an office desk, the landscaping in front of an apartment complex, or the layout of the local convenience store, the artist is internalizing and processing everything. You never know when you may need to draw it! And the same goes with people. The ability to empathize with others and trying to understand them is key to drawing compelling characters. If you can do that, then it doesn’t matter if your character is even from this planet, you will.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Matsuya: Technology has changed my work process and flow immeasurably. I draw almost exclusively digitally now with a Wacom tablet and Clip Studio Paint. I only really us pen and paper when I am thumbnailing a new issue, but then I redraw everything digitally anyway. All the final art is done digitally. I’ve found that drawing digitally has tightened up my line quality and gives my art a more “finished” look. I naturally draw pretty sketchy and loose, so in a strange way drawing with a Wacom tablet has made me more confident and bold with my mark making.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Matsuya: Tell your own story. If you connect with a story, it will show up in the work. But don’t expect people to care about what you’re doing, they rarely will. Do it for yourself. Imagine a scenario where no one ever sees your story; would you still do it? Would you do it just for you? If the answer is yes, then you know your on the right path. So long story short, if you don’t mind not being rich and famous, you may have a career in comics!

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Matsuya: I rarely make convention appearances. I try to go to at least two a year. It’s very hectic and stressful!

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Matsuya: Great question! Probably Ben Franklin firing machine guns while riding a B-2 bomber. I guess that’s pretty weird depending on who you ask.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2018?
Matsuya: My brother and I are currently shopping a completed graphic novel called “Midnight Massacre.” It is a horror/comedy story set during a theme park’s Halloween extravaganza. If you’ve ever thought your boss might be the Devil (literally), then I think you will like the book.

I’m also currently working on a project with writer Sam Roads that should be announced on Kickstarter very soon. It’s a futuristic, gender-bending retelling of the story of Beowulf. I’m very excited for it!

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Thomas Pitilli

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Name: Thomas Pitilli

Website: www.thomaspitilli.com

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Batman

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Daredevil

Latest Work: “Riverdale” (Monthly series from Archie Comics)

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Pitilli: That’s always a tough one. For the longest time, I used to say it was “comic book inspired,” but now that I’m working in comics, I feel like that’s a bit redundant. (Laughter) I would say it’s sort of inky, with a combination of both loose expressive lines and more controlled ones. I try and keep it kind of sexy as well.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Pitilli: Yeah, definitely. Comics as well as animated cartoons were the two things that inspired me to draw from a very early age. I can still remember burning through sheets of paper with drawings of Peter Pan and Batman and Robin. Comics gave me this overwhelming desire to create and tell stories.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Pitilli: Oh yeah, there were a few very pivotal ones for me. I was a huge fan of Archie Comics and my favorite artist on those titles was Dan DeCarlo. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized just how influential he was on so many artists and just how prolific he was inside and outside of Archie. When I got a bit older, I was definitely inspired by the whole Image Comics style, particularly that of Jim Lee and J. Scott Campbell. Bruce Timm and his whole art deco inspired version of Batman was also super influential on me growing up. In a way, my style is almost a combination of all of those early influences.

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?
Pitilli: I came into comics in a sort of indirect kind of way. I had been working as an illustrator for editorial and advertising clients for close to 10 years before breaking into comics. Although I studied cartooning at SVA in NYC, I focused on other illustration work opportunities after graduating. At the time, comics seemed like a very overwhelming task (which they can be) and I didn’t think my skills were up to par in terms of telling a story visually. A few years ago though, I connected with an old classmate from SVA who was an editor at Archie Comics at the time and he gave me my first assignment in comics, creating cover art for one of their titles.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Pitilli: In terms of comics, everything I’ve done for Archie within the last few years has lead to lots of exposure as well as some cool opportunities opening up because of it.

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?
Pitilli: Like I said, I had already been a working illustrator before breaking into comics, and during that time I wasn’t all that concerned with working as a comic artist. Throughout my career, a lot of the projects and opportunities that have presented themselves have come out of the building of relationships with various people in the design/illustration/comics worlds. And breaking into comics has been no different. Luckily opportunities in comics have presented themselves at the right time and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of an industry which I believe is going through a new golden age.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Pitilli: Not really. My warm up drawings and sketches almost always consists of a random female figure. During Inktober however, I am more likely to do a warm up sketch of a famous comic character. Some of my favorite Inktober drawings of mine have been Madman and Death.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Pitilli: Growing up, I was a big fan of the “Generation X” series by Chris Bachalo. I have fantasized about working with those characters, especially Jubilee. I think that would be a lot of fun!

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Pitilli: I’m sort of just seeing where this whole journey takes me. I don’t really have an end goal in mind. I want to continue to evolve as an artist, work on my craft and hopefully be able to contribute artwork and stories that a wide audience can enjoy. I think as far as the genre itself goes, the sky is the limit these days and that’s really exciting to know.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Pitilli: I was inspired by so many amazing artists growing up. So much so that it has informed my entire career path and vision as an adult. I think there is great strength in the kind of an impact that art and artists can have on others. Thinking that my work can one day have an impact on a young kid the way others had on me, that’s kind of an amazing thing to think about.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Pitilli: Technology has been huge for my process as a comic book artist. I do all my comic work digitally. These days, the deadlines are so tight and often times my workload can be pretty heavy that working digitally is really essential. It saves so much time on scanning and sending artwork, as well as being much more convenient for making revisions when necessary. I would LOVE to be able to draw my comics traditionally, using real ink and paper, but time just doesn’t permit that these days. I use the Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 as my drawing tablet of choice. I highly recommend it. In terms of quality, nothing is lost compared to the ‘old fashioned’ way.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Pitilli: Keep at it. Comics, like all other artistic professions, require a lot of dedication and consistency to not only the craft itself, but the self promotion aspect as well. Also, learn how to best manage your time. Comics is a deadline-based job, so if meeting a deadline seems challenging for you, practice how to best utilize your time while creating art. I’m constantly trying to find ways of being more efficient. The guy or gal who always meets their deadlines and is pleasant to work with will always get more work than the ultra ‘talented’ artist who can’t seem to get the work done on time.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Pitilli: I did my first convention signing at New York Comic Con this past October and I loved it! I’ve never had a table at a big convention before, but maybe in the future.

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Pitilli: Generally, I’m a bit picky when it comes to commission requests. I like to have a lot of fun when creating a commission, so that it shows through in the art and the patron is happy with it. If the request is something super weird that doesn’t interest me, I have to decline.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2018?
Pitilli: Definitely more “Riverdale” and Archie work. Also, I’m looking forward to finally being able to announce a super fun project that I’ve been working on. It’s an exciting one, so stay tuned!

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Thomas Nachlik

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Name: Thomas Nachlik

Website: For my portfolio, here. For (almost) daily art snippets, here.

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: All DC characters, but mostly Batman.

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: None. I rarely read comic books because of the main character, now almost exclusively because of the artist.

Latest Work: (Title/Publisher/Release Date) “The Beauty”/Image Comics/Ongoing.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Nachlik: Highly ADHD influenced digital, constantly flowing post realism.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Nachlik: Extremely important. From the moment I got my hands on my first comic book I started drawing like a maniac. Luckily in Poland, where I spent the first 13 years of my life, comic books were extremely popular, and stylistically the local comic book scene wasn’t too far away from American mainstream. So after a friend gave me my first Batman book to read, I already felt at home.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Nachlik: In the beginning, Polish titles and artists were my main inspiration, “Thorgal”/Rosińki to name one title/artist combo. Later, Jim Aparo and “Batman and the Outsiders.”

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?
Nachlik: Building up a strong portfolio and putting all my money and hopes into connecting with American comic book publishers and illustrators (I live in Germany now, btw) was my only one, and I think IS the most effective plan.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Nachlik: Definitely visiting my first American con, Wizard World Chicago 2007. I met Filip Sablik, at this time the Top Cow marketing guy who is now publisher at BOOM! Studios. He liked my portfolio, and we both found out that we were born only a few miles away in the south of Poland. A few months later I got my first gig at Top Cow.

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?
Nachlik: Purely mathematically speaking, I started working on my first comic portfolio back in 1991 and got published for the first time in 2006/07, so roughly 15 years from the moment I started to actively pursue a career in comics, to a toe (definitely not foot) in the door. On the other hand, I don’t think I’m nearly at the point where all my comic book dreams have become reality, but drawing a series at Image is a gigantic step in the right direction.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Nachlik: It’s not a character or universe, it’s always “ink heavy” artists like John Paul Leon, Jae Lee or Tomm Cocker, to name a few, who I draw inspiration from when sketching. I’m rarely a fan of stories and characters – always a fan of art, style and storytelling.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Nachlik: I’d do whatever the opportunity throws at me. I consider myself a classic comic book illustrator, there’s nothing I wouldn’t like to draw or any particular genre/character I’d like to work on.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Nachlik: Spending my days drawing comic books is my ultimate dream, so I’m living my dream already.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Nachlik: Handling criticism is number one, followed by improving constantly.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Nachlik: 99.9 percent of my work is digital – the only pages I draw on paper are covers, maybe splash pages and nudity, because sex sells. (Laughter) For my backgrounds, I use high quality 3D models I mostly buy, but also build or rearrange from my extensive 3D model library. Producing fast while maintaining quality is the most important aspect of comic book illustration. Technology made my work faster and more accurate, allowing me to work 8 to 10 hours a day, instead of 12 to 14 hours. This being said, I still love sketching on paper, trying out new techniques, pens, brushes and markers.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Nachlik: Draw from reality and develop your own style. Don’t become an artist, become an illustrator. Remember that speed is an important part of comic book illustration, which also is a business. In order to sell you have to please a crowd. Educate yourself constantly. Never give up.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Nachlik: 70 percent leave it, 30 percent a little bit of both. I don’t do well in crowds and I’m not a fan of live drawing. I’m practicing at my local Starbucks to draw in front of people without freaking out, but I’m not there yet. Connecting with fans and signing books, mostly at my home, is not a problem. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Nachlik: No commission is crazy or odd.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2018?
Nachlik: More work on “The Beauty.” I’m finishing the fourth arc as we speak.

 

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Ian McGinty

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Name: Ian McGinty

Website/Socials:
www.ianmcginty.com
Twitter: @ianmcginty
Instagram: @ianmcginty

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: For superheroes? Swamp Thing, hands down. Especially the Alan Moore run. However, I can’t rule out Calvin from “Calvin and Hobbes,” a character I wished I could become and still do.

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: It’s still Calvin, but I did recently go back and re-read “We3,” and my new favorite could be that grenade rabbit.

Latest Work: (Title/Publisher/Release Date) “Rocko’s Modern Life” Issues 1-4/kaBoom!/2018. I’ve been working at Nickelodeon on the upcoming “Invader Zim” movie as well, plus “GLINT” with Lion Forge out next year, and tons of “Adventure Time” books.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
McGinty: Hm, that’s tough. I guess I’d have to say my art style combines cutesy cartoony with dark and goth layers when needed. I tend to go between soft circles and big eyes, to a ton of lines and shadows. So like, H.R. Giger meets Sonic the Hedgehog.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
McGinty: Comic books weren’t huge early in my life simply because we didn’t have one close in town, and the ones I did run into weren’t the well-lit, well-stocked and diverse places they are now. They could be pretty scary and almost none of them stocked “all-ages” comics or manga or whatever, so I turned to newspaper comics and later on got into zines and stuff like that. I’ve been collecting “Swamp Thing” issues for a long time now and I always snag cool graphic novels and collections.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
McGinty: He won’t see this I think, but my current boss, Jhonen Vasquez was a big one later on, but for me, it will always be Bill Watterson. Watterson’s art and humor was extremely influential to me as a kid and still is.

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?
McGinty: I didn’t really know that comics were a viable career for a long time, to be honest. I’ve been drawing them since I was a kid, but didn’t really get you could actually do it for a living until after high school when I was designing merchandise for my terrible, terrible band. I started researching colleges once I realized I wasn’t going to be a rock star, and I found a school in Savannah, Georgia that specialized in sequential art (comics, animation, etc), and I pretty much started getting gigs from there. It was all very natural and I was very lucky.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
McGinty: Oh, definitely from Whitney Leopard, Associate Editor over at Boom! Studios. She got me some cover work that eventually led to my first lead artist job on “Adventure Time.” She is cool as heck, and still regularly hires me (which makes her even cooler).

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?
McGinty: I actually started getting work pretty early on in my career, I think partly because of luck and my own comics, but also because I got known for being able to match style guides for licensed properties, like “Bravest Warriors,” “Hello Kitty” and “Rocko’s Modern Life.” I also work very, very hard, probably too hard, but it’s all really worth it.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
McGinty: Totally. My character Kit from “Welcome to Showside,” I’m just very used to drawing him, and I enjoy practicing with Catbug from “Bravest Warriors” just cause he’s so darn cute!

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
McGinty: I’ve been trying to get a “Clone High” (from the MTV show) comic off the ground for a while, so that’s one for sure. And we’re working hard to develop “Welcome to Showside” into an animated series. But I’d really love to do a run on “Swamp Thing,” hell, any kind of cartoony take on Spider-Man would be rad. Love that guy.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
McGinty: For me it’s simply having my own series that people enjoy, and my path is leading me into more animation stuff. A big goal for me is to create my own television show that intertwines with a comic series, sort of how you’ve got these great animated programs now that get awesome comic spinoffs, like “Rick and Morty,” “Bob’s Burgers,” Sonic, “Adventure Time.” You get the idea.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
McGinty: Versatility and speed. I like being able to jump back and forth between styles, and being fast has helped in a lot of ways. I’ve found that it makes your relationship with editors and producers much more pleasant, to say the least.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
McGinty: I work completely digitally now, but it’s pretty recent. It makes things a lot easier when sending pages to print, and it’s fast. Not to mention, you can get digital brushes that are indistinguishable from natural ones (at least to me), and just basic clean-up is so simple. I mean, I can’t knock over a bottle of ink when I’m using a Cintiq and Photoshop.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
McGinty: Don’t focus so much on you individual “style,” don’t obsess about drawing the “perfect page.” It isn’t going to happen. Just create content and people will find you. I’ve seen it time and time again, an artist has a million excuses why they haven’t started their dream book yet. (“I’m not quite there with my artistic abilities.” “I haven’t figured out what this character looks like yet.”) Just get on it, man! Also, drink water.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
McGinty: Love it. I really enjoy interacting with people at conventions because I’m free to nerd out over things and I’m obsessed with artists who do amazing cosplay (I can’t), and I get to meet new people and see old friends.

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
McGinty: I’m not going to get into the bizarre sexual shit I’ve been asked to draw, because I always say no, but I did have a guy at a con in Calgary, Canada ask me to draw Finn from “Adventure Time”… coming out of a TARDIS from “Doctor Who”… on top of the mountain Smaug lives in from “The Hobbit”…wielding a lightsaber from “Star Wars”… and next to that tree that punches things from “Harry Potter.” Like… my dude. The kicker here is I spent hours drawing it and he hated it and demanded his money back. Oh, well.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2018?
McGinty: Well, the “Invader Zim” movie will be coming out so that’s awesome. We’ve got more “Adventure Time” books on the way, my own book, “GLINT,” will be out very soon, and I’m working on some secret projects I can’t talk about (yet). I’m looking forward to 2018.

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Ismael Canales

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Name: Ismael Canales

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: That’s hard… I’ll go for Batman, Spider-Man and Superlópez, a Spanish Superman parody.

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Athena Voltaire!

Latest Work: “Athena Voltaire and The Sorcerer Pope,” first four-issue arc of the ongoing series published by Action Lab Entertainment. (Series kicked off February 14!)

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Canales: Not sure about that, it changes constantly. I’m very insecure about that, and I just try to adapt it to every new story I’m telling. In comics, art is supposed to be at the service of the story, and that’s what I’m always struggling with, just trying to make the story as readable and fun as possible for the reader.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Canales: My mom started buying me comics even before I could read, and she also taught me and encouraged me to draw, so comics were there from the beginning and I learned to love them and be inspired by them since, forever. I wasn’t a sports kid, so comic books and films were my main source of entertainment when I was young, and I definitely wanted to keep drawing because of them.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Canales: As a reader, I usually look for artists more than characters/series. The first two artists that I remember I started to identify with when I was a child were John Byrne and Alan Davis. (I’m a kid from the ‘80s!) I was really impressed with their work. Their comics were, you know, really well drawn! I keep looking at their work, loving it and trying to learn from them.

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?
Canales: I had no idea about how to break into comics. There’s no formula or trick to get there – I’m still trying to figure it out, indeed! I started going to comic cons here in Spain, meeting editors and pros. You know, I started to build a contacts list, because it’s always a good idea to hear the advice and critiques from the people of the industry – it really helps you to improve your skills. Finally, I started working with Butxido Agency and Luis (my agent) helped me to get into Athena’s world. As I say, there’s no “right” way of breaking into comics… you can work with an agent, you can create your web comic and get hired from some company, get hired after an interview at a con, or even self-publish your own creations. I suppose it’s just a matter of being there, working and showing what you do to anybody who may pay attention.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Canales: My biggest break in comics has been “Athena Voltaire and The Sorcerer Pope,” the first four-issue arc of her new ongoing series published by Action Lab Entertainment. Not sure yet about doors that can be opened from now, but I’m really honored to be a small part of Athena’s legacy!

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?
Canales: I started to take it as serious as possible about eight years ago. I’ve been publishing some short stories in comic book anthologies here in Spain (“Cthulhu,” “Killertoons,” “Dark Hearts,” “Ensueños”), teaming up with dear writers/friends like Fátima Fernández or Alfonso Bueno, a couple of comic books for ECV Press (“The Continuum,” “The Hunters”) with Ben Schwartz, a 22-page comic book for an imminent sci-fi short film, “Is This Heaven” (written and directed by the amazing Bastiaan Koch, Marauder Film’s mastermind) and learning everything I could until Athena came to me last year. So, everything you do counts as a learning process. I also self-published a few issues of “Zinco,” a fanzine that my friend Domingo Pérez and myself created when we were younger. But each artist has his/her own timing. I know about artists that got in after their first interview, and others that had hundreds of rejections before breaking in, so it’s important to keep focused on what you want and don’t get discouraged… just like with any purpose you may have in your life.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Canales: Batman! Don’t know what happens with the character, but I discover myself sketching little Batmans very often. I love the shapes and how you usually play with the shadows when drawing Batman. It’s so much fun!

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Canales: I’ll be more than happy working with any of the Marvel and DC classic characters – no surprises here, but I also love discovering new characters, like Athena Voltaire! My favorites can change from day to day, but if I have to say one right now, I’ll go for The Rocketeer. I really love this character, but I have to admit it would be so scary to be drawing Dave Stevens’ creation. He was a true genius and his work keeps inspiring me constantly. Man, he was SO good.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Canales: Just to have a long career in comics seems a big dream already! It doesn’t matter for me right now if it’s by working with some publisher’s properties or with some creator-owned stuff… hello, Mark Millar! Jokes aside, just to keep working sounds great for me.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an artist can have?
Canales: Style, influences, tools… it doesn’t matter in the end, I think. Everyone has his/her own way of doing things. If you are serious with the work, and finish it (on time!), well, this is the best business card for a commercial artist. This is teamwork, and you can’t be the one who stops the production pipeline. After saying that, we all are human beings, and things can happen; Athena’s team has been incredibly supportive and nice when I’ve had some trouble (well, tons of them), and I’m so honored to share the title with all of them. (Steve, Emily, Chris… you guys are the best!) Being like them, nice and kind people, is a strong tool too when you work in something collaborative like comics.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Canales: I started working digitally about three years ago, and it really helped me with working faster. It takes time to get used to these new tools, but it really helps you. And, hey, if everyone out there is using it, why are you gonna play to a disadvantage? Anyway, for me, nothing compares to using traditional pencil and paper, and I love when artists that I admire share pics of their original physical pages. It’s magic!

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Canales: Just don’t! Just kidding! I’ll say, just try to keep your passion and vocation… this can be a hard job. It’s time consuming, and if you don’t have fun it can be a pretty frustrating thing to do every day. And don’t be afraid of working hard. And be opened-minded with critics, from editors to other artists. Be smart and learn as much as you can from them. Family and friends are usually nice and kind, but you need objective feedback to keep improving, and it can be hard in the beginning.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Canales: I’ve done just a few appearances at cons as an artist, and I have had so much fun. In a (usually) lonely job like being a comic book artist, it’s really great having an excuse to go out there and meet people and other fellow artists. And having the chance to say “hi” to artists and people you admire is a really amazing feeling. It is also time consuming, but I’ll try to attend as many cons as I can as an artist, no doubt about it.

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Canales: I haven’t drawn many commissions yet, but I have to say that what has amazed me is that I usually don’t get asked to draw the typical iconic characters from comics (Superman, Spider-Man, etc.)… most of the time I get asked to draw comic or video game characters that I know nothing about, so I have to Google for references all the time. But it’s always fun to draw things that are completely new to me.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2018?
Canales: While answering your questions, I’m working on the last two pages of my Athena Voltaire run. I have to take some time before getting involved in any other projects, but I hope I’ll be talking with you about new comics very soon. I’ll keep you informed.

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Kelly and Nichole Matthews

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Name: Kelly and Nichole Matthews

Website: kickingshoes.wixsite.com/kickingshoes

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Gambit!

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Captain Cold

Latest Work: (Title/Publisher/Release Date) “The Power of the Dark Crystal”/Boom! Studios/Feb 2017

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Kelly and Nichole: Cinematic and fantasy-centered.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Kelly and Nichole: We used to joke we learned to read from “Elf Quest.” Comics have always been a huge part of our lives, from reading our older brother’s collections to being able to create our own stories now. Drawing itself was always something we were interested in. It was what we wanted to do for a living and no matter what, we were determined to find a way to fulfill that childhood goal.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Kelly and Nichole: Wendy and Richard Pini, and Arthur Rackham are the first that come to mind. There was a lot of manga that we read as well, far too many to list but CLAMP and Yuichi Kumakura were big influences during our childhood that inspired us to draw 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?
Kelly and Nichole: It was something we always knew we were going to do, even back in elementary school! We’d have teachers ask the class what we wanted to be when we grew up, and the answer was always “comic book artist.” There wasn’t really a back-up plan in place, which looking back now is pretty foolish; we just recognized what skills you would need to have that as a career and cultivated those as we grew older. There was this persistent thought in our minds that this was it. This was what we were going to be doing with our lives no matter what. We had the skill, the drive and the resources to do it but it wasn’t until a Boom! Studios editor gave us a chance on “Toil and Trouble” that everything fell into place. That was almost three years ago now and we’ve been lucky that opportunities have been consistent since.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Kelly and Nichole: I would say it was “Toil and Trouble” by Mairghread Scott. It was our first professional experience outside of one variant cover for Boom! the year before and the first time we had ever finished an entire comic story from start to finish. It was incredibly tough work, jumping right in like that with no idea of how deadlines worked, or how to upload art to an FTP. I like to think that as we were working on those six issues we were grinding EXP, and by the end of the project had leveled up a lot. That project cemented the work ethic and diligence we have now. Through “Toil and Trouble” we were introduced to future working partners like Mariah McCourt for our STELA mobile comic “BREAKER,” and later the Jim Henson Company for “The Power of the Dark Crystal.”

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?
Kelly and Nichole: I think our situation might be a little different than the average experience. Except for one comic cover and some bi-monthly contract work for a webcomic publisher, our very first comic job was “Toil and Trouble” – a six issue miniseries. There wasn’t really a slow push into the industry, rather we dove right in. Since that project wrapped up in 2016 we’ve been moving from consistently larger projects, culminating in the Jim Henson Company’s sequel to “The Dark Crystal” that finishes this year.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Kelly and Nichole: We are partial to Flashes Rouges gallery, particularly Captain Cold and Heatwave. Drawing the various iterations of their characters is never boring! We also draw a lot of centaur-like creatures, especially canine and feline variations.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Kelly and Nichole: We are big fans of “Voltron: Legendary Defender,” “Dr. Strange,” and “The Flash.” Working on properties like those would be a lot of fun, both for the opportunity to expand outside our comfort zone into sci-fi and superhero comics, and because we’re big fans of them, and would love to put our own touch on them.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Kelly and Nichole: The interesting part about being a freelance artist is that our goal posts are always being pushed forward as we achieve them. When we were hired to draw our first cover for Boom!, we made a list of things we wanted to achieve during our comic career; by the end of 2018 we’ll have checked off almost all of them! In the future, we can only hope that we can stay consistent with work, and get to work on new ideas with new people.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Kelly and Nichole: I would say, that because we work as a team, we’re able to stagger our workload to get more done overall more efficiently.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Kelly and Nichole: We haven’t used pencil and paper in years. When we got “Toil and Trouble” we knew the schedule was too tight to even consider drawing traditionally. It would have been impossible. Since then it has been our preferred way of working. Drawing digitally allows us to get our work done faster and easier than if we had been working in the traditional medium and especially now with programs like Photoshop and Clip Studio having so many traditional media brushes I can’t even tell the difference.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Kelly and Nichole: Don’t give up! If this is your goal, stick to it. Make sure you have the knowledge behind your craft to draft different types of comics and different types of characters. Expand your idea of what is it to be in the ‘industry’; we’ve had as much success working for digital publishers as we have had physical ones. It’s totally okay to draw comics as a side job! Many, many people have day jobs to support their craft.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Kelly and Nichole: A combination of both! We are not the most outgoing people and can find conventions pretty stressful. However, being asked to attend panels or do signings is just part of the job when it comes to comics, and we just power through any nervousness we get from being there. In the end we always have fun, because conventions also let us catch up with people we haven’t seen in a while, or never met in person before.

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Kelly and Nichole: We’ve drawn a LOT of odd requests! A lot of them are pretty specific, so I think the vaguest we can be is, drawing an animated movie character as a pin-up model.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2018?
Kelly and Nichole: We have a young adult graphic novel with our good friend Kara Leopard from Kaboom! coming out late this year, as well as launching a few webcomics on webcomic publisher Mary’s Monster later this year.

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Marcus Williams

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Name: Marcus Williams

Website: www.marcusthevisual.com

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
Search Marcusthevisual on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

 

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Trunk Bubbles

Chrissie Zullo

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Name: Chrissie Zullo

Website: www.chrissiezullo.tumblr.com

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?

 

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