Please introduce yourself to our readers – how long have you been drawing comics, and how did you manage to get into the comic book industry?
I’ve been working at Marvel for not even a year, but I’ve been drawing comic books since 2010. Started with my own webcomic Dino-Zombies (that’s right folks, zombie dinosaurs) and then got picked up to do a book for Toyota. After that, I started doing the odd job small press work for a living – I would work on 3-4 books at a time to make rent, living cheque to cheque. It was miserable! But luckily I have a super supportive family and girlfriend and it all worked out in the end. I broke in to Marvel by showing C. B. Cebulski my portfolio at London Super Comic Con in February 2016. Luckily he liked my samples and that eventually led to me getting work with the company.
Your style has a very cartoon-esque feel, and it really stands out from other comics. Have you always drawn like this, or do you change your style to suit the characters you’re drawing?
Thanks! Yea it’s funny, I hear people say I’m like a Saturday morning cartoon but I don’t try to be! I think it’s just my art influences. I love Greg Capullo (Spawn era), Todd McFarlane, J. Scott Campbell, John Romita Jr., Todd Nauck, and Art Adams. My style is really just a mush of all of those together, plus a bunch of outside influences like Dragon Ball and Norman Rockwell. I used to over-render my work because I’m a 90’s art fanatic but I quit all that. The moment I stopped adding so much shading detail was the moment I started getting noticed and I guess you could say when my art style started. I’ve been called the PG Ryan Ottley, and that’s OK by me! Pretty accurate I’d say.
If I was drawing a more serious book like Daredevil or The Punisher, sure my art would not be as exaggerated. But Great Lakes Avengers is so ridiculous it calls for the over the top. Plus if I draw a super zaney face then you won’t notice how bad I am at anatomy or hands!
The characters you draw are always expressive, almost to the point where dialogue isn’t necessary to understand how they feel. How do you achieve this?
Ah, thank you so much! This is a big thing for me. My goal on EVERY panel is to try and draw a character expression such a specific emotion that you really can tell what that character is thinking. It’s certainly easier to do being so cartoony, and that’s what makes it fun. I guess I achieve it by making the faces myself? I don’t look in a mirror I kind of just move my face around and copy what I think it looks like in my head.
How did you manage to get on board with Marvel to draw Star-Lord?
Well after London Super Comic Con, C. B. Cebulski sent me a sample script of Spider-Gwen. It was a 5 pager I think. I busted it out in a week with no sleep and slaved over every little detail, knowing it was my one shot to impress the world’s greatest comic book company. I think those samples are on my DeviantArt, anyway I submitted them and got the old “thanks! Looks great! We will put you on file,” which I’ve heard from just about every other well established comic company. It wasn’t until late April that I randomly got an email from the Star-Lord editorial needing a filler in artist ASAP. It really changed my life, this has been a life long dream and the fact that it’s happening is so bizarre, yet completely blissful. Like, I just got in the post a package from Marvel. It’s the trade for Star-Lord Volume 4 with my art in it, my name on the cover and the binding. How crazy is that?! I’m still in awe about everything. I’m a fan boy! And to be apart of it and to peak behind the curtain is just so fulfilling. If my mum was still with us, she’d be crying tears of joy right now!
We’re big fans of the recent revival of Great Lakes Avengers. How did you get involved with the series?
Well after Star-Lord wrapped up; I was on holiday in Turkey with my girlfriend pissing away all the money I made off that issue. Whilst there, I emailed EVERY Marvel editor with a plea for more work. At least this time around I could start my email header with “MARVEL artist looking for work” instead of “poor desperate indie artist looking for a sandwich”. Luckily it was right place right time for me, because Tom Brevoort came back to me liking the Star-Lord pages and gave me a few Great Lakes Avengers samples to work on. Admittedly, I didn’t know the team at first and stupidly responded with “oh I used to live by the Great Lakes! I’m perfect for this!” After some self education, I read EVERY appearance by the Great Lakes Avengers (which you’ll find isn’t hard to do in a day as it’s so limited). Man, Dan Slott’s mini-series absolutely blew me away and completely pumped me up to draw the book. So I submitted my samples and got the green light, and me and Zac were away and designing.
Again I’m a mega fan of this stuff, and now Marvel was giving me a chance to not only draw my very own series, but create and recreate characters? Insane, completely nuts! Just goes to show, anyone can do it if they spend enough time. C. B. Cebulski wasn’t the first person I’ve ever met with at a big comic company, and those Spider-Gwen samples definitely were not the first tests I’ve ever drawn. Over that long 5 years trying to break in, I could fill a Watchman’s worth of samples. But I took the advice and slowly got better over the years until I finally struck gold. Keep at it kids!
What are the challenges of bringing these awesome characters back to life?
Well everyone was saying before the book launched we had big shoes to fill, as everyone loves Dan Slott’s mini. And I agree about that, but Zac is such a funny writer that I knew going in we were going to be doing something special. Well, special to me at least.
Can you hint as to what we’ll see the team get up to in later issues?
You’ll see more villains Zac and I have created, and definitely more Good Boy! She’s my favourite!
Do you have any other projects coming in the near future?
Just Great Lakes Avengers for now. I do the odd variant for other companies, look out for Rom Spaceknight #7 as I did the cover for that! You’ll see more of a serious tone in my work!