Batman: The Ankh issue #1 cover by John Van Fleet
Dwight, Swain and Adrian run one of best podcasts in the comics, art and illustration game. I find myself going back to SiDEBAR NATION over and over. It’s like they’ve tapped into my who’s of who list of interview subjects for creators.
The interview that they did with Tomm Coker was one of the best that I’ve ever heard. Their relaxed casual manner somehow gets each artist to open up and tell stories that you never get to hear in most interviews.
On Halloween they posted an hour-plus podcast in conversation with artist Jon Van Fleet. I’ve been a fan of his since Shadows Fall and will buy any original graphic novel that he illustrates site unseen.
In this discussion he talks about his college days, getting into the comics business and then delves quite deeply into his digital / practical hybrid art style. It’s very cool to hear an artist riff on his techniques, inspirations and the business in general. Highly recommended.
John’s process can be quite arduous whether he is painting, doing xerography or digital painting.
Shadows Fall Issue #5 cover by John Van Fleet
Around nine years ago I wrote him an email asking him about his process for creating the unique look of the Shadows Fall interior pages. He responded:
Thank you for showing your interest in my art, I hope you have been to my web site at johnvanfleet.com all of my newer works can be found under the new work section. As to the how to part, I guess I should start by saying things are always changing for me and the way I work, the computer is the newest tool and I have yet to put it to it’s fullest potential. I work in acrylics mostly with some dyes and color pencils.
The first step is a pencil drawing that I add color to, then I add the black line work over the color. The black is FW acrylic ink with some acrylic add to it for body. At times I do Xerox transfers to the background and paint over them this is harder to explain but here goes. First design the image you want to use. I collage elements together to get what I am looking for (this can be done best in a computer) The image must then be flipped left to right because when you transfer an image it will mirror the picture you use.
The image has to be a xerox copy and placed face down on your drawing bristol. You then add xylene to the back ( this is a solvent like acitone and is nasty stuff ) it goes by other names but they ecape me at present. It is a solvent and I get it at a home center or paint store. You add a small amount by brush at a time and rub the back with a blunt object like a spoon back or the back end of a design marker. As you rub the image is melted by the solvent and your rubbing transfers it to the board. Do about a 3 inch square patch at a time and don’t over wet the back start slow and small then you can grow as you go. It helps to tape the copy down (face down) so it wont move on you. I paint on top when it’s done. I use workable fix to protect thing at the end.
I have found this works best for me but you may hate the results you get. I have been working on things this way for 10 years or so slowly changing and adding things to the approach. I hope this helps. Remember it’s the trip that counts not the destination, so keep searching for what works best for you.
John Van Fleet