Throughout April Octane is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kentucky’s elite group of comic art creators, the SIX BOMB BOARDS. Get to know them and celebrate with them on Avengers Day at the Six Bomb Boards LiveArt Con at Movie Tavern April 27, 2019 from noon to 8pm.
Your published credits:
Bingo Love: Jackpot Edition, Cash & Carrie Book 2, Robin & Cat: Falling In Like With You (self-published)
Where do you live:
Junction City, KY
Your current project(s):
Robin & Cat, my ongoing LGBT romance webcomic.
When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics as a career?
Like just about every artist ever, I’ve been drawing all my life. But it wasn’t until, like…2013? 2014? Around that time that I wanted to create comics for a living. It was around the time I found out who Harvey Pekar was and watched “American Splendor”. I was also big into Daniel Clowes at the time, and I picked up the “Daniel Clowes Reader”. Both of these things, the movie about Pekar’s life and the book discussing Clowes’ work, showed me that a life in comics was possible. That I could tell my own stories and it didn’t have to be about superheroes. And that even if the life isn’t glamorous, it’s fulfilling.
Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?
Easy answer is my parents. They never scoffed at me for taking art classes in school, and going into an arts field in college. They even encouraged it. I think they knew I wouldn’t be happy with anything else. The “I really had to think about this” answer is Satoshi Kon, the animation director. He was pushing his field further than anyone else at the time. And when he died, it brought me to tears. There was like this connection, and it made me realize how little time we might have. So draw, write, and create with the days we’ve got.
Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?
There are two…no, three people who have helped me tremendously. The first is Johnathon O. Rose-Lyon, who has been a fountain of encouragement and knowledge. He wrote some comics like Neon Noir and Superhuman…they’re really great! The second is Justin Stewart, the master of Six Bomb Boards! Thanks to him, I’ve found my community, and he’s always pushed me to go out there with my ideas. And number three is Shawn Pryor. He has taught me so much about having confidence in what you do, and to go after what you want. He’s my friend, and he believe in my work, so I have to believe, too! I wouldn’t have had the chances I’ve had in the comics industry without him.
What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?
When nothing is going right creatively, then I zone out with a video game. Usually a classic JRPG like a Final Fantasy, or a fun, relaxing game like Kirby or Animal Crossing. But sometimes I have to throw myself into something new to get the creative juices flowing. Like watch a horror movie that would have scared the Baby Alex from 5 years ago. Or read a new manga series because the art looks cool.
Describe your typical work routine.
I have a full-time day job, so the comic work is all done in the evenings and weekends. I post new pages of Robin & Cat on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so each week’s pages have to be done on Monday and Wednesday respectively. Thursday and Friday are veg days after the comic posts. I’ll do either nothing or draw something just for me. Then Saturday and Sunday is writing and drawing time wherever I can fit it in. Usually with plenty of samurai and anime movie breaks.
What tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the “right tools” for you?
I mostly work traditional. Pencil, paper, ink. For my comic, I color digitally, but for everything else I color with copic markers, paint…I’ve been really into white gel pens lately. They add a nice after effect to traditional work. But at the moment, I’ve been experimenting with adding more of the impressionist-esque painting style I do at Live Arts with what I usually do at home with copic markers. I’m having a lot of fun blending it together!
What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?
Trying something new, and it actually working, is the biggest joy I get from my work. Experimenting with style and tools is a lot of fun. But when it comes to my comic, Robin & Cat, it comes from seeing someone totally get what you’re saying. If they felt the emotion I was going for, then I’m doing something right.
What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?
It has definitely been Robin & Cat, my webcomic. It just reached it’s 5th birthday of being published online. I’ve never seen anything through this long. And I’ve met so many incredible people from this project! It’s really changed my life.
We’ve seen very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?
In the immortal words of Jake the Dog: “sucking at something is the first step towards being sorta good at something.” Just start that thing you’ve wanted to work on! It will probably be bad! But the more practice you put in, the better you get. And find your community. Find people who can help you find what you’re great at, critiques what needs improvement, and lifts you up to doing better.
Let’s get deep: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?
Failure isn’t the end. You’re going to fail. A lot. But that’s how you learn and grow. So don’t be afraid to mess up a lot. Because a bad drawing is just a first draft of a good drawing.