Over the last few months we spoke with an incredible line-up of comic creators, poster artists and illustrators. Here’s one of the twelve interviews.
By Richard Serrao & Jason Thibault
12 Questions with Tony Moore
Tony Moore first came to my attention as a comic book artist during the first year of The Walking Dead. Richard sent me over a few copies in the mail to check out and I was immediately taken with Tony’s style. He drew the first 6 issues and stayed on as the cover artist through issue 24. He has made his mark as serious creator of genre works and has continued on with The Exterminators (with Simon Oliver) and Fear Agent (with Rick Remender).
First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.
I don’t know if you can call it “professional” but my first book was Battle Pope, which Robert Kirkman and I released in 2000, under our independent label Funk-O-tron. We’d been friends since we were 12, which at that point had been about 8 years. He had some ideas and wanted to try publishing and he gave me a call. I was finishing my freshman year of art school and was down to try anything. It was a learning experience, and led to the job which allowed to quit my day job at UPS, which was Masters of the Universe’s Icons of Evil:
Beastman, a one-shot featuring the He-man villain.
Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)
Much of what I know about comics was from obsessively reading and studying them. as far as comics illustration goes, I’d say I’m self-taught. But, I did go to art school, where I majored in Drawing and endeavored to learn as much about fine art as I could. I took a lot of Life Drawing classes, as well as Painting and Printmaking. I think I learned a lot, most of which translated into some insight into drawing comics in one way or another, if not directly.
Tools of the trade: Taking a quick glance over at your pens, brushes etc…what tools have you mainly been using over the last few years?
My standbys are Pilot v7 pens, Micron pigment liners (sizes 005, 01, 03), and round sable watercolor brushes. I used to buy small brushes, like size 0 or 2, but I recently fell in love with this ratty cheap size 8 brush. It’s giant and ugly, but it holds a load of ink, and has a miraculously fine point, which allows me to do a ton of work with it. Also, I like those Sharpie white poster paint pens for small corrections and negative drawing.
Favorite brand of ink:
Yasutomo & Co Sumi ink. Doesn’t appear to have shellac in it, so it’s easy to work with and washes out of my brushes if I carelessly forget to wash them.
Type of paper:
Strathmore 500 2 ply. All rag content, holds up to some abuse, and I can run it through my printer.
Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?
I keep a lot of EC comics around. Jack Davis, Wally Wood, John Severin, Will Elder.. those guys are my heroes. I also keep Joe Kubert, Moebius, Robert Crumb, and Guarnido nearby, as well. All these guys draw their asses off and have been a pretty definite influence on how I draw.
Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job. Could you give us a quick overview of your process?
I read the script and break down the pages at 2″ x 3″. Working this small allows me to focus on the storytelling and not get hung up in needless details. Then I scan those, and add gutter spacing and resize panels where needed, composing my final layout in Photoshop, where I print it out in 6% Cyan at 10″ x 15″. Then, I lay in some loose pencils to get started and start inking. I do a lot of the drawing work in ink, and rarely do a lot of tight penciling beforehand. Sometimes I’ll have someone else inking me, in which case I spend quite a bit of time penciling all the details in instead of inking it. This usually only saves me a couple of hours, but a couple hours on each page and 22 pages per book, sometimes it adds up to quite a bit of time saved. Then, finally, I scan the pages, and in the cases where I have an inker, I mail them off to have the book finished.
What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?
A lot. I listen to music all day every day. I really love honkytonk, outlaw country, and alt-country. A lot of today’s new stuff has gotten so pop, it’s just soft-rock garbage. Country’s a natural fit for me, because it’s storytelling. Johnny Cash, Shel Silverstein, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle, Neko Case, Gram Parsons, Southern Culture on the Skids, Buck Owens, Allison Krauss, Flatt and Scruggs, and all 3 Hank Williams, just to name a few. That’s not to say I don’t mix it up. I love the guys on the Rhymesayers label, and have a big collection of Norwegian black metal. Two of my all-time favorite bands are They Might Be Giants and Queen. My random playlists sound like crazy person programmed them.
What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?
Surprisingly little hanging on my studio walls, actually, but my favorite piece of artwork I own is the original painting of Fear Agent done by my hero, Jack Davis. The guy is 82 and still doesn’t miss a beat. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and to have an original EC comics master draw my character is a career high. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get any better than that.
Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?
Unfortunately, I can’t remember the last novel I read. typically if I’m awake enough to read and comprehend, I figure I should be using the energy to work. The last book I read on a whim was The Stranger by Camus, and it was years ago. I bought The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard, and never got more than a handful of pages into it. The last movie I watched was High Plains Drifter, which is a load of awesome. The last new movie I watched was probably No Country For Old Men, which I also enjoyed greatly.
Current and upcoming projects.
Right now, I’m working on Fear Agent: I Against I, which is a 6 issue arc of space western madness on the book I co-created with Rick Remender. Beyond that, nothing is set in stone, but I have talked to some editors about some potentially tasty projects.
What would you tell an aspiring artist who is working his ass off but still needs and wants to break through to the next level?
Keep at it and chase the dream. Always be studious and working to improve yourself. When you’re complacent, you’re dead. Working in comics is kinda like that fight scene in Cool Hand Luke, where Newman gets the hell beaten out of him but won’t stay down. If, like me, you’re too dumb to stay down, then don’t compromise, either. You only get one go-round on this ride, so make it a ride worth taking. Also, don’t mistake working on a ‘big’ book or that ‘next level’ for an
answer to happiness. A lot of guys find that these dream books that look like an oasis on the horizon are actually just mirages, slaving away on someone else’s book with no control or stake in it to show for it. If it ain’t what you want to do, then figure out what makes you happy and go do it, because you never know when your time is up, and if you put off your own happiness, you might never get the chance to pursue it.