Name: Ed Luce
Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Wow…this is a hard one! Difficult to narrow it down. I think I’ll go with Wolverine, as drawn by John Byrne in Uncanny X-Men. He was very… textural… in his rendering. Lots of hair, which was very influential on my own drawing.
Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Agh! How do I pick one?! At the moment, I’ll say Jim Rugg’s Street Angel. It’s a series of mini comics about a 12 year old girl who is “a dangerous martial artist… and the world’s greatest homeless skateboarder.” Image Comics has been releasing deluxe hardcover editions of her recent adventures and they are beautiful.
Latest Work: Wuvable Oaf: Blood & Metal from Fantagraphics, released just this past winter. And I just self-published Wuvable Oaf #5, which continues the story from the first Oaf Fantagraphics collection.
TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Luce: I’ve been very influenced by 19th century illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, the Hernandez Brothers and Erik Larsen…so I’d say a combination of all those guys!
TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Luce: My folks were largely responsible for my love of drawing. They put a pencil in my hand as soon as I could hold it and kept it there throughout my formative years. Comics entered the picture in a more serious way around puberty. At that age it wasn’t cool to buy toys anymore, so I switched to comics rather than becoming interested in girls. They were there to entertain me as I was figuring out my sexuality.
TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Luce: Certainly the Chris Claremont/John Byrne Uncanny X-men years. There was so much character diversity in that title and the art was some of Byrne’s best. Those stories got me to love and appreciate continuity, long form storytelling and character arcs.
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?
Luce: I really fell ass backwards into comics. I’d moved to San Francisco and suddenly didn’t have a lot of space to make art (I was a fine arts painter at the time). After a few months of living there, I’d met several cartoonists and decided to pursue that medium because I could work small, on a desk top. My paintings had become increasingly cartoony anyway, so making a comic based on one of my art pieces made sense to me.
Beyond that, I always had a multimedia approach to crafting an expanded comics world. Early on, I released shirts, records, scratch & sniff cards… even figures (with the help of Phoenix-based sculptor Erik Erspamer), all spinning out of the main Wuvable Oaf book. This helped demonstrate I had a vision and brand, which definitely attracted the attention of publishers. To this day I think that approach led me to working with Fantagraphics.
TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Luce: Releasing the first Oaf collection with Fantagraphics opened the most doors. That book got me illustrating for VICE, Slate, Grant Morrison’s Heavy Metal, a slew of variant covers for Image and Oni Press. Currently I’m in talks to sell the TV rights for Wuvable Oaf. I can directly trace all that back to the Fantagraphics debut.
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?
Luce: I’d been releasing comics for about six years before signing the first book contract with Fantagraphics. Touring hard and publishing several books a year, along with producing the aforementioned merch, was a big part of my business plan during that period. I feel like I paid my dues, even though I was a latecomer to the genre.
TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Luce: I rarely sketch or warm up. It takes me a long time to draw, so I usually jump right into work!
TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Luce: I’m very committed to working exclusively on Wuvable Oaf for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to do some variant covers or short stories. I tend to have very weird tastes in mainstream comics. Puck (from Marvel’s Alpha Flight) and Flex Mentallo (from DC’s Doom Patrol) are my two favorite superheroes, but I doubt either will be getting their own series any time soon. Maybe that would be the main reason to work on them?!
Image’s new series Shirtless Bear-Fighter would certainly be fun to take on, too.
TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Luce: Nothing has been finalized on the development side, but if it does and Wuvable Oaf is brought to animated series, that would be the ultimate path. If it’s successful, I could keep releasing comics well into old age, which would be a charmed existence, for sure.
TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Luce: I feel like I have a good character design sensibility. It’s always my goal to make memorable, diverse-looking characters. It’s my favorite phase of creation, even if it can be the most challenging.
TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Luce: I shifted to a Cintq screen a few years back, to get faster with color. But in the last year, I’ve gone back to paper, coloring it in Photoshop after scanning. I can’t say I have a preference for either process, usually it has more to do with my deadlines than anything.
TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Luce: Remember that the world owes you absolutely nothing. You have to work hard, even if you think you’re the most amazing artist around. Don’t fall into a trap of entitlement or narcissism. Be nice to everyone around you, because it’s a very small comics world out there. Getting a publisher won’t solve all your problems… it’ll just create new ones (but definitely still get a publisher, with a good PR person). Don’t read the comments section.
TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Luce: I do enjoy conventions quite a bit! I spend so much time alone in a room drawing, it’s often the only interaction I get with the audience and other creators. Internet interaction isn’t particularly satisfying for me, I prefer to see and actually talk with people. Some shows are definitely easier than others (San Diego Comic-Con is the highest level of difficulty) but ultimately all the stress and exhaustion gets washed away after you hit the floor and chatting. Conventions recharge my creative batteries and remind me why I do what I do.
TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Luce: I’m not a big commissions guy, mostly because mainstream characters and portraits are outside my wheelhouse. I did draw Yoda once, in bikini underwear, for Mike Baehr. That might be the oddest…
TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to for the rest of 2017 and into the new year?
Luce: My next show is the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD, September16-17. All the stuff I’ve been working on for that last few months will be available there, including my variant covers for GI Joe, Redneck and Deadly Class, a story I did for the Judas Priest tribute comic Metal Gods, as well as an uncensored, self-published version of the comic I did for Heavy Metal. Most of that will be available on my site too, wuvableoaf.com.
My new Fantagraphics book, which will focus on the pro wrestling aspects of the Wuvable Oaf comic, will be coming out in summer of 2018. So I’ll be laying pretty low for the rest of the year, trying to get that done!
Feature Image By: Christopher Ferreria