Rebel Art, Indie Spirit, Outlaw Marketing - Since 2005

Darick Robertson Does a Drive By


By Richard Serrao

Darick Robertson makes comics fun to read again. I can’t wait to get home a tear open a new Boys collection just to see what kind insanity and depravity that writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick have cooked up. He got a lot of attention for his 5-year run illustrating Warren Ellis’  Transmetropolitan. He became an in-demand ink-slinger who’s loaned his talents to the likes of DC / Wildstorm, Marvel and as well as covering artistic duties on his and Ennis’ creator-owned series The Boys currently published by Dynamite Entertainment.

First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.

That depends on how you define “Professional”. First paying work? First published work? All of my Space Beaver stuff would qualify under the latter.

Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)

Self taught, with a lot of sought after good advice from pros I’d meet.

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?

These days I am using primarily pens and brush pens. Steve (Whiteout) Lieber turned me on to Faber-Castell pens and i primarily use those and Prismacolor premiere pens with the dual end tips.
When I no longer have to meet strict deadlines, I will go back to my Windsor Newton #2 and a bottle of ink, but the pens take out the drying time.

Favorite brand of ink:

Pelican

Type of paper:

Bristol Board, 2 ply.

Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?

These days it’s still my hero Brian Bolland, and now I’m studying Paul Neary’s work over Bryan Hitch.

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 usually sketch it out in light blue, scan it, turn it to dark grayscale and once I get the go, draw it in ink.

What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?

An 850 plus plus 80′s New Wave song list with a ton of the obscure stuff from the UK that I love, like the Bible!, Colourfield and The Beat. I also am digging Rilo Kiley, Keane and Snow Patrol right now.

What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?

A toss up between an original Gerald Scarfe Pink Floyd the Wall production cell or my original Bolland cover from Action Comics #571, or my original Flash by golden age creator Harry Lampert.

Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (Still reading, but its great) and The Day of the Locust from 1874. You’ll see images that probably influenced Alan Parker when he did Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

Current and upcoming projects?

The Boys, The Authority with Keith Giffen and Prototype.

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?

The business is tougher than ever to break into, so focus on creating work you believe in rather than work you think will sell. Marketing is all about being original and productive. Don’t ever start drawing because you want money from it or you’ll chase that dream like a man after his hat in the wind.
To see more of Darick Robertson go to his Myspace page, website or check out his original art for sale at his ebay store.

Hart Fisher Tells Us Crazy Stories: In The Beginning

As a publisher and co-owner of a burgeoning start-up, I wanted to pay homage to some of the veterans of indie publishing. Back in 2007 Hart D. Fisher was on my shortlist of people to talk to. He contacted me a few months later about another matter. I suggested an interview with him. I wanted to know the stories behind the stories at Boneyard Press.

He warned me that I was going to be in for a hell of a read. He wasn’t kidding.

His story is one of the most unique in American comics publishing history. He came under the gun of his peers, the media and a lot of the comics industry for the controversial books that he published along with pulling off some pretty ballsy stunts. It was guerilla marketing at its’ finest and most shocking.

A lot of what happened occurred between 1991-1995. 12 years later, Hart was ready to talk about what went on behind the scenes. We ended up with 10,000 words that have to be broken up into several installments. It’s a long harrowing, heartbreaking, sometimes funny and always incendiary read. Hart has lost none of his passion. This is NOT easy reading. Discretion is advised for the faint of heart. Here’s the first installment.

By Hart D Fisher

On starting the comic company, Boneyard Press.

You can blame one man, and one man only for inspiring me to go it on my own – Mark Beachum. I was home from college driving a mosquito spray truck for the summer. Mark Beachum was working for Northstar Studios (the original home of Faust, and yeah, I was there for the beginning of Faust) and living there. Dan Madsen, the publisher and high school friend of mine, told me it was the only way to get any work out of Mark. You practically had to chain him to a drawing table before he would produce. I crashed my truck (long story) and lost my job two weeks before the end of summer and I started hanging out with Mark. Mark was like “Why do you want to spend all of your artistic energy on something someone else owns?” and I just kind of shook my head. He said why work on Spiderman when I could create my own Spiderman.

No one ever said that to me before. Dan was doing it and making a living. Why couldn’t I? I’d been doing my own comic books since I was five. I used to have my mother Xerox them at work (she worked for the department of public aid. She was the welfare lady in some of the worst projects Chicago had to offer) and I would sell them at school. Bill the Bull started out as something I drew in Freshman Algebra. One of my buddies was sitting next to me in class, it was boring, I turned him into Bill the Bull and he was more of a super hero private eye thing then. Nowhere near as dark as the character is now. Dark Angel appeared in 5th and 6th issue of this run of Bill the Bull books when I was a junior in high school.

Inspirations

My comics were more lighthearted and funny growing up, but as my life become more and more violent, the comics went to a much darker place. My work wasn’t a product of the books I was reading, it was a product of my environment and my life experiences. My father was a nut for Mickey Spillane and Ian Flemming. Spillane created Mike Hammer and Flemming created James Bond. My father was enamored with the writer’s lives and those of their literary creations. This influenced me greatly. My father spoke often about Mickey Spillane, pounding out books when he needed some cash.

At the same time he was filling my head with these stories, my friends were getting into drugs, my uncle killed himself, my cousin drowned in Florida on a church trip, I lived on the south side of Chicago which meant when I got into a fight, it was normally with a group of people, not one on one and that was never pleasant, a friend’s father shot himself in the head, another friend od’d, several of my friends in high school had been molested (male and female) or were still in the situation of being molested actively. One of my friends had been molested by her step father repeatedly and got her pregnant. She had to leave for awhile to go have the baby in another state. Her father was a cop.

As I got older, I found myself in deeper and deeper. In college, things grew more and more dark. I was dating women that had been molested when they were young. One poor girl had a problem being photographed. My artwork in college was always under assault from instructors. They wanted to know where my violent art was coming from. They didn’t know I knew people that had had their heads beaten in between two phone books with a bat. My work comes from the world around me, but I have never been able to explain it much more explicitly than that.

When I created Dark Angel, it was coming from a dark pit. What most people, or non creative people, don’t understand, is that the artist creates to survive. I didn’t decide to create Dark Angel, he walked right out of my head and introduced himself and let me get to know him. At the time I was reading a lot of Eugene Izzi, (he was murdered several years back, he was found hanging by the neck outside his office out the window, doors locked from the inside. He was wearing a bulletproof vest, had mace, brass knuckles, but someone had beat the ever-loving shit out of him before they killed him. Chicago PD ruled it a suicide because the doors were locked from the inside.), Andrew Vachss, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Dashiel Hammet, Stephen King was starting to suck around this time, so I was backing off of his books and eating up any other good horror novel I could find. I read many textbooks on serial killers and criminal psychology.

I was also a movie freak. I watched movies. Tons of them. Horror movies, crime movies and action movies. I bought comics by the truckload in those days. I’d been reading comics since I was 5 and I had an appetite for it all. Legion of Super Heroes? If Keith Giffen was writing and drawing it, I was reading it. Frank Miller, loved his stuff then, not a big fan now that I’ve read all of Mickey Spillane’s novels. Grim Jack had been a favorite, Mike Grell’s work, the early Dark Horse stuff before they started playing it so safe, Lobo was fun with the Biz at the wheel.

When I started Boneyard Press, the first issue of the company was Dark Angel. I wrote and drew the book from my basement apartment in Champaign Illinois. It was so cold I had to duct tape newspapers on the walls in the winter time to stay warm. My landlord lived above me and was a religious midget. He collected little religious figurines and they covered every flat surface of his place. I had a big ass stereo that I would crank whenever I was working. I had visions of his figures rattling around on the tables like those old vibrating hockey games. Boneyard Press at that point wasn’t meant to be anything more than a one shot. But I felt the only way to truly test it out was to do a series. So I borrowed a chunk of change from my grandfather and went forward with it. The rest is just another old scar.
Head on over to American Horrors for Hart’s latest antics.


The Scary Talented Andy Brase. 10 pictures and 1800 words.

By Jason Thibault

Andy Brase doesn’t take any short cuts with his art. It’s painstakingly detailed and executed with the precision of a neurosurgeon. He’s got what’s referred to as scary talent. His covers for more mainstream companies like Marvel are otherworldly. And the rest is just plain awesome.
He must be making a lot of artists up their game. If it wasn’t for some of the cyber-erotic themes in his illustrations you’d swear his pen and ink drawings were rendered a century ago.

First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.

Well, I’m not sure how to define my first professional work…. The first art I had published was a full comic I created, wrote, penciled, inked, etc. for the small comic publisher Hall of Heroes… It was called “Hall of Heroes Presents #4: Turaxx” I drew this comic when I was a freshman in college and it was printed when I was 19. This project didn’t pay though… it was more just for fun. At the time I still had quite a bit to learn with my art.
The first paying work came with a D&D comic that I inked over my friend Tyler Walpole’s pencil work. After 4 issues of that I was dying to get back to penciling too. In my heart, I’m a creator and being solely an inker would kill me.

Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc,)

I would say self-taught mostly… I have a degree in art & design, but I didn’t learn how to draw like this from my classes really. I did quite a bit of my own drawing on the side always….

In fact, I had one class in college, where the teacher said we could draw whatever we wanted for the class…we just had to produce a handful of good pieces for the semester. I started working away on a new comic idea I had. After a week or so the teacher pulled me out of class and told me comics were “not REAL art” and she didn’t think I was ready for the class yet… She had a “drop class” form filled out even!…. I basically said, “ok, I won’t draw “comics”. So she allowed me to stay in the class… I drew the same thing I had planned on drawing , but I told her it wasn’t for “comics” so that was fine.

After college, I worked in a tattoo shop, then on the D&D comic, then in-house at a game company for a short period. After that I spent about 3 years in a very small studio apartment drawing night & day, and really focused in on improving my art. I remember I would sometimes work for 5 or 6 days without seeing anyone…. It became sort of surreal at times… My art really jump a few levels during that time… I wanted to put everything I could into the drawings and I didn’t care, at the time, if it was going to be published or not. I did a lot of work for RPGs and many drawings for my own “World of Chaos Destiny” in this time too.

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?

I mainly ink with Sakura Micron Pens for inking… I think my style of inking developed around using those pens actually… I use the 005 pens to do the fine line detail… also use 01 & 05 sizes a lot…. and a brush for some bigger lines and fills. “Winsor Newton series 7″ brush…. for pencil just a mechanical pencil.
The really run down 005 microns tend to work best on the small details.

Favorite brand of ink:

The kind that is black;) actually whatever works… I use different kinds of ink for the black fill areas… But I would never use a sharpie to fill blacks… I think those have acid that will eat up your paper in a few years…or turn it really yellow. I would only use those on a quick convention sketch or something not too important.

Type of paper:

“Strathmore Bristol 400 series: smooth finish” is my fav paper that I use quite a bit

Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?

Now days my art is really inspired by all kinds of visuals, experiences, and things I see. I try to just take in everything and let my art form from the ideas or visuals I have in my head. Shapes, textures & lighting from pics I take has been a real inspiration. If I have to pin it down to a few artists, some of the art that has inspired me most over the last few years include Beksinski, HR Giger, Frank Frazetta, Bernie Wrightson, Wayne Barlowe, Brom, also my awesome artist friends RK Post, Virginie Ropars, Quinton Hoover, Tyler Walpole, etc… I could go on…. and really so many more could be listed

Music is also a huge source of inspiration, sometimes more so than other visual art… I’ll talk more about that in the question below about the CD player.

The masters of ink?… well, actually I have not really looked too closely at what many would consider masters of ink… I would have to say Bernie Wrightson though. His work (Frankenstein included) had a big impact on me just after college when a friend borrowed me his “A Look Back” art book. This book includes many of his drawings from the 70′s.
I believe Wrightson’s Frankenstein was influenced a little by Franklin Booth, who is definitely one of the masters of pen & ink.
Many people compare my inking to old “masters” of ink from history… and many times I have never seen the artist’s work before… It is great to discover them though for myself … For me, my art is more about an idea, visual, or character I have in mind & I’m just drawing it… the style of inking just comes from trying to draw that image with lines alone and make it believable.

Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job? Can you give us a quick overview of your process?

It can vary a little on the type of work.
Basically I first come up with a rough or a few rough sketches for a composition or basic idea of the drawing… these can be really rough too. I sometimes do a little research into the character or ideas for background elements. An editor/ art director picks one, sometimes with a few suggestions. …Then I do a rough at the size I’m going to draw it (this sometimes is the same as the first step). I lightbox the rough composition to my good drawing paper/boards.
Then proceed to do tighter pencil work. I get a high res scan of the pencil version taken because many enjoy just my pencil work too. Then I ink right over top the pencil. Finally go over the drawing with a cleaner eraser… and scan.
Next I either send that off to the company or bring it into Photoshop and color it myself depending on the job.

What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?

I love music and it’s always been a source of inspiration. I usually use a CD Player and listen to CD albums (bought)
… I like them better than mp3s… and to me the album art can be a great thing to enhance the music… (obviously since I love visuals.) I’m not at all into the whole iTunes downloading music thing that is so popular now.
As for bands/artists, some I listen to regularly include Dismantled, Nine Inch Nails, Apoptygma Berzerk, Assemblage 23, Frontline Assembly, The Cure (only older), Skinny Puppy, Gary Numan & many dark electronic artists on Dependent Records…. Johnny Cash too, …also Nirvana, …& Rob Zombie’s visual world is great

Just today listening to: NIN, Dismantled, Informatik, & Destroid

What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?

nothing is on my walls…. at my old place I had up a Brom calendar and that was all. I just haven’t really taken time to decorate the walls that’s all…. I love other art though and have a book case full of art books, graphic novels, books on other cultures, animal books, cathedral books, anatomy books, etc.

as for other original art… I do not have much… I’d like to buy some original art at some point.

Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?

I don’t get a chance to read novels often…. though I would highly recommend both of Brom’s books “The Plucker: An Illustrated Novel” and “The Devil’s Rose“….as far as movies I really haven’t seen too many lately … I would say “The Dark Knight” I guess… obviously that one is cool though;)

Current and upcoming projects.

Currently I have a new project I’m working on for one of the 2 big comic companies … & the other marvelous company is looking for covers to hook me up with… I’m under NDA on the current project so I don’t think I can say much. Some cool private commission work and a piece for a gallery in Paris too in the works.

As for upcoming releases a few covers I did for Dark Horse’s Kull comic will be hitting shelves soon… with Kull # 1 on Nov. 5th, I believe.
I did an intense Wolf illustration for a company called Wicked Jester… It will be printed as a limited edition book cover and T-shirt design… the limited version will be only available to order through their site (www.wickedjester.com) and will go up there on Halloween! The art is also appearing as full page ads in the magazines: Revolver & Tattoo;)

Another November release is “Spectrum 15: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art (Spectrum (Underwood Books))” One of the drawings from my own creator owned project “Chaos Destiny” will be included in the new Spectrum book. I have prints of art from my own project available through www.mastersinprint.com.

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 working;)… Try to soak in all the visuals and things around you… and don’t get too fixated on your fav artist… because you will learn all their mistakes and just be a knock off of a better artist. Even if a company wants you to draw like “superstar artist ___” still try to do it your own way…(within reason, still listen to advice) and be inspired by all sorts of things, so you are not standing in the shadow of another artist. Try to learn anatomy from life not just what you see in comics. I think art is something anyone can improve at even if you don’t feel you are talented “enough”… it’s more a drive inside that makes you improve.

For further info on Andy Brase go to:
http://www.myspace.com/brazart
http://www.mastersinprint.com/home
http://www.myspace.com/chaosdestinyworld
http://www.wickedjester.com
To read the first 12 Masters of Ink interviews head on over to the Jacen Burrows piece.

Becky Cloonan answers 12 questions about pen and ink


By Jason Thibault

I originally intended to have Becky Cloonan included within the first set of Masters of Ink interviews but it was bad timing do to the onset of summer vacation and convention season. We chased her down again and landed 12 answers with Miss Cloonan. I’m a latecomer to her work. I’ve always admired it from afar but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I had my comic dealer hunt down a copy of Demo for me. It was worth the wait.

Whether she’s working on an album cover, illustration, mini-comic or graphic novel, her raw talent in pen and ink rendering shines through. On to the interview now.

First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.

The first book that I worked on which was professionally published was Jennie One, written by Brian Wood and published by AIT/Planet Lar. Following that was DEMO, also written by Brian and published by AIT, which was a 12 issue series of one shot stories about people with super powers, but told in a way totally unlike a superhero comic. It was really well received, and Vertigo just recently published a collection of the original 12 issues. Brian and I are currently working on six new issues with Vertigo, in the same format as the original.

Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)

I went to school for animation at SVA, and left after three years to draw comic books. I think that a formal education is important for a good foundation, and life drawing classes are critical, but most of my breakthroughs as an artist have been due to pushing myself harder. There’s a lot of artists that I look up to, and I’m happy to be friends with some amazingly talented people. We’re all constantly raising the bar for each other.

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?

I use mostly a brush, when I’m at home I use a Winsor & Newton series 7 (size 2) brush and Winsor & Newton India ink. While I’m traveling I use a Pentel brush pen, which is refillable so I don’t have to bring ink along. Sometimes I’ll use a G Pen, too. I really like using Borden and Riley paper for Pen and Ink, it’s very smooth, and thin enough so that I can transfer my sketches without any problems. I also love Mono erasers.

Favorite brand of ink:

I use Winsor & Newton India ink, or Yasutomo liquid sumi ink.

Type of paper:

For ink work I like really smooth paper, first because my pencils are really sloppy so rougher paper makes my pencils even more smudgy. When I paint though (sometimes I watercolor) I like paper with more tooth.

Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?

If I have to choose three (because if not I’ll go on forever!) my favorite artists are Joseph Clement Coll, Franklin Booth and Hokusai. My favorite cartoonists are Guy Davis, Kaoru Mori and Tim Sale. Actually, for inspiration I make a conscious effort to look beyond the art books I have, and I’ll go to a museum or watch a film or go to the opera or something. I find looking at art for inspiration usually leads me to frustration, so I try to look outside of my medium for that.

Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job. Could you provide us with a quick overview of your process?

If I’m working for a company I make sure to get a contract and establish my rate up front, and detail any extra expenses (rush job, corrections, etc). Then I’ll do a few thumbnails and show the client. They’ll pick one or make suggestions and I’ll jump into pencils. Same thing, I show them the pencils and they give me edits or an OK. Then I’ll go into inks and colors, showing the client every step. When they approve it, I’ll send them the high resolution file and an invoice, and they’ll get my check in the mail! :D

What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?

I usually just make enormous playlists and put them on shuffle, but for brevity’s sake today I’ve listened to Wolfsheim’s Casting Shadows, Clutch’s Robot Hive Exodus and Blind Guardian’s Nightfall in Middle-Earth. I’m also listening to the Twilight audio books which is like a total guilty pleasure that I love and hate at the same time. I’m very conflicted.

What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?

I don’t like hanging up my own art, I think I only have one silk screen of mine hanging that some of my friends signed. I dunno, I have so much cool art that it’s hard to pick! I have two German folio pages from the 1920′s by German artist Ferdinand Von Reznicek, a beautiful silk screen by Tim Sale and 4 Age of Reptiles lithographs by Ricardo Delgado. I’m a sucker for nice frames too, so I make sure to frame all the pieces I get. I also have a really cool stencil by Corey McAbee for his movie The American Astronaut. I also have a first edition printing of H.P. Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror in Literature, and a few other interesting artifacts lying around. I really like antiques, and I try to pick up nick knacks from places I travel to so I’ve got almost a mini museum in my living room.

Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?

The last book I read was “The Devil in the White City“, which was amazing. I love history and historic fiction, this was about the building of the World’s Fair in Chicago and the rise of H.H. Holmes. The last movie I saw was a screening of the The Shining, which was, as always, scary as fuck. I’ve actually been having a lot of fun doing horror comics lately, but knowing that I’ll never make a comic as scary as the Shining is like setting myself up for failure from the beginning. Still though, horror has been a fun genre for me to play around in, which is ironic because I’m a total cover-my-eyes wuss when it comes to scary movies.

Current and upcoming projects.

I just finished an 8 page short for Dark Horse Presents called “I see the Devil in my sleep”. I’m currently working on new Demo issues with Brian wood for Vertigo, and I’m doing a few other short projects on the side as well. My graphic novel East Coast Rising volume 2 won’t be printed through Tokyopop, so I’m working with them to find a way to finally print it, so I’m hoping that happens.

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 working your ass off! But also don’t forget to have fun- comics is a business that if you stop having fun you’ll end up killing yourself.
For more info on Becky head on over to:
http://www.estrigious.com (my website)
http://inkandthunder.blogspot.com (my blog)
To read the first 12 Masters of Ink interviews head on over to the Jacen Burrows piece.

Masters of Ink 13 – Ming Doyle Mistress of Ink


By Jason Thibault

After going through Ming Doyle’s Live Journal page it occurred to me that she probably manages to create more artwork in between her pro assignments than I’ve pulled off all combined. Her passion is infectious and she’s a rising star in the new generation of illustrators. Her work is the perfect mesh of polished sheen colliding with raw textured inky badassery. The pieces leave her hands looking like timeless classics. At first glance I couldn’t tell what era they were created in.

First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.

I was immensely lucky in that my first professional work in both comics and illustration basically fell into my lap. It was the winter of ’06, I’d just graduated from college a semester early and was pondering how to start a feasible career in art. After a lot of intense introspection I realized I hadn’t the faintest idea, so I decided to put off any kind of meaningful decision and sit at home drawing superhero fan art all day for Dean Trippe’s costume redesign site, Project: Rooftop (http://www.tencentticker.com/projectrooftop/).

A month or so later I got an e-mail from a very talented and generous guy named Tim Daniel who wondered if I’d be interested in doing the art for a short story of his called “Loner” in the second volume of Popgun, a variety anthology published by Image. Since I’d drawn about as many pictures of Batman and Wonder Woman as I wanted to for that year I said yes, and I’ve since done several other pieces for Image as well as BOOM! Studios and various indie trades.

I’ve also gotten a lot of editorial illustration work as a result of my exposure from Project: Rooftop, the first, best, and bulk of it from Benjamen Purvis, an amazing art director who at the time was working for the Las Vegas Weekly.

Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)

I earned my BFA with a dual concentration in painting and drawing from Cornell University and I definitely benefited from the life drawing courses there, but it’s my friends and colleagues who’ve inspired me to stick with art. My good pals pop culture artist Brandon Bird, comics hero Dean Trippe and master illustrator Daniel Krall along with many others have taught me a lot through their tenacity and drive. Having friends in the same field can be especially invaluable when you’re living the fairly isolated life of a freelancer.

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?

Speedball’s “Sketching” and “Mapping” pen and nib sets, Royal Taklon’s variety brush packs, mechanical pencils and countless Wite-Out pens. I’ll use the occasional Micron for tighter work on facial features, but I don’t like to rely too much on them. I think a lot of times they can kill the kineticism and energy of a piece.

Favorite brand of ink:

Any kind of India ink will do, but I’ve found that Higgins Calligraphy Ink Black Waterproof has a really nice smooth consistency.

Type of paper:

Strathmore’s smooth finish Bristol board for commissions and their sketch paper for everything else. I like the tooth on a lot of cheaper drawing pads.

Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?

I admire Jason Shawn Alexander, Dustin Nguyen and Sean Gordon Murphy for their fluent, expressive line work and Jae Lee, Leinil Francis Yu and Hyung Min-woo for their deft precision. And I’m crazy for Mike Mignola, but who isn’t? Whenever I’m feeling really stuck though I like to go back and look at Aubrey Beardsley, Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. You can’t lose with those guys.

Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job. Could you provide us with a quick overview of your process?

Because a lot of my illustration work has a really fast turnaround, sometimes of only a couple days, I can’t always run sketches by the editor or art director. I’ll do a rough pencil layout at full-size and put the final inks right onto that with no in between stage, then just scan the line art and color it in Photoshop.

Comics have a bit more of a grace period to them, silly as that may sound considering their often cramped deadlines. Still, I’ll at least turn in a rough version of the fully thumbnailed script drawn straight into Photoshop so I can cleanly and easily implement any edits, then I’ll print out the approved layouts and light box the final inks over those. It’s either a strength or a weakness depending on how you look at it, but I’m really not much for refined pencils.

What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?

Frank Black in all his incarnations is always front and center along with Andrew Bird, Robert Johnson, Led Zeppelin, Madrugada and Shiina Ringo. And my boyfriend has a band called Lemon Demon, so of course I’ve been listening to a lot of them lately!

What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?

Brandon Bird gave me a really arresting ink drawing a few years ago that I’m pretty fond of. It’s a portrait of Vin Diesel with a huge black wolf in a majestic forest setting. Aside from that I mainly have handwritten reminders to myself and failed sketches hanging everywhere. My memory can be truly awful, and I like constantly having some of my worst work looming over me as incentive to do better.


Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?

I like to read Seneca the Younger’s Trojan Women every couple of months, but that’s a play. The last novel I read was actually Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I’m almost done with Goblet of Fire now. I’ve been busy?

The last movie I saw, and I can’t say that I recommend it, was Atom Age Vampire. The last thing I saw in theatres and genuinely enjoyed was The Dark Knight, oh shock of shocks!

Current and upcoming projects.

I’ve recently wrapped up art for several upcoming sequential projects, among them actress Keiko Agena’s story in the “Asian American Superhero Anthology” Secret Identities, Eric Calderon’s piece in an issue of BOOM!’s Zombie Tales, and Chad Kinkle’s yarn in Image’s Outlaw Territory. I also illustrated Rantz Hoseley’s tale in the recently released Tori Amos-inspired Comic Book Tattoo. Next up, I’m going to try developing some original story ideas.

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?

A lot of people have told me to never do anything for free, and I agree that’s a great philosophy to hold if you already enjoy a certain stature in the art community. However it’s a discouraging fact in this industry that sometimes you have to do a lot of work for no to little dough before anyone will give you the time of day. Try to pick or create projects that you know you’ll at least enjoy and think will offer you the greatest range of visibility as well as the most opportunity to improve your craft. That way when some really plum paying gig finally comes along you’ll be in a good position to knock it out of the park and impress, thereby landing more high profile work.

It’s a slow climb and I’m certainly not that far from the bottom rung myself but dedication and an almost fanatical work ethic count for a lot, and they’re the very least you need. The rest is just luck and good manners, so keep your fingers crossed and your socks clean.
For more further reading on Ming head over to:

Her sitehttp://www.mingdoyle.com
Her sketchbloghttp://users.livejournal.com/_ming/
To read the first 12 Masters of Ink interviews head on over to the Jacen Burrows piece.