Monday, August 16, 2010

Brandon Graham

Brandon Graham's King City often gives me little Krazy Kat like thrills, which is probably the highest compliment I can give a comic. Both strips have these details drawn in at the last second (or maybe they were the first thing set down on the page...we'll never know) for thrilling effect. Your eye gets to read these details as it moves along the page, but only if it puts in the time to really read that page. You can't skim this stuff.

Graham's cartooning has been a slow burn for me...I remember staring at 'Escalator' for years on the comic shelves,intrigued by it but never forcing myself to enter into it. Now I wish I had. I think, as I get older, the kind of work I'm drawn to is the kind that doesn't win you over with a moments glance...and that's not to say that King City isn't visually seductive. But it's strength is in how things move and how landscapes reveal themselves to the readers as Graham moves you along the page...little landmarks that you'll only hit if you're working with Graham in concert.

In December, when I picked King City as one of my favorite comics of 2009 for The Daily Crosshatch, it seemed liked the 'art-comics' corner of comicopia wasn't gung-ho about King-City...or if they were, they weren't talking about it. But, working at a comic store at the time, King-City felt like the freshest thing on the racks, regardless of what corner you were coming from. It's gratifying, as a fan of the book, to see it being embraced by people who have very different feelings and agendas about comics...King-City is the kind of thing that takes more work to deny yourself than it does to let in your world and enjoy.

1. can you describe your drawing routine---how often you draw, how many hour per day---how you break up the day with drawing?

It changes a fair amount for me. I draw at least a couple hours every day and sometimes most of the day is drawing.
My ideal schedule is when I can wake up with a penciled page from the night before and ink that and pencil the next page.
I don't do a page a day every day though the writing and thinking takes longer some times.

A lot of days I'll pencil a page and then go over to a friends house or a coffee shop and slowly ink it while watching a movie or talking to people.
4 pages a week is a good speed for me.

2. how much revision/editing do you do in you work?

I do lots of layouts and repencil pages a fair amount before I ink them.
I rarely go with my first idea without tweaking it a lot.

I did a one page comic about how ideas are like raw iron ore that have to be beaten into something before they're any good.

3. talk about your process---do you write a script or make up the drawing as you go?

I start with a rough idea of scenes I want to draw and make notes for how any pages I think it will take up,
what I want in the scene. ideas for panels and text but leave it pretty open and then when I get to the scene I do lots of layouts to
tighten up the idea before I draw it.

4. do you compose the page as a whole or do you focus more on individual panel composition?

A little of both I guess. I like that in comics you can have different focus depending on the mood you're
in, some days it can be all about lettering and others weird panel ideas, or facial expressions.
the possibilities really make for a difficult and rewarding art form.

5. what tools do you use (please list all)?

I pencil with mechanical pencil and any eraser. I like the ones that look like white cubes.
Micron Pigma pens #3 and #5 for inking
(5 for lettering also)
I have a refillable brush pen with a cap that I dip in a bottle of ink to fill in big chunks of black.

These days I color my stuff in photoshop since its easy to control how it'll look in print.

6. what kind(s) of paper do you use?

For comics I use 11 by 17 80 pound vellum bristol. I get it in 250 sheet packages from office supply stores.
sometimes 11 by 17 typing paper.

7. do you read a lot of comics? are you someone who reads comics and then gets excited to make more comics---or is your passion for making comics not linked to any particular love for other comics?

I am really really into reading comics. A lot of the work I do is a reaction to books I've read.
And when I put out books I try to remember and put into them what really has gotten me excited in the past in other books.

8. do you make comics for a living? if not, how do you support yourself, and how does this relate to your comics making process?

I spend most of my time doing comics but a chunk of my income is from side jobs that I don't show anyone.
the money i do need from comics is a nice nudge to get the stuff done in a timely fashion.

9. do other artforms often seem more attractive to you?

I feel like most other art forms I have any interest in can be worked into comics.
Even something like sculpture or photography--you can use as a cover of a book.

10. what artwork (or artists) do you feel kinship with?

there's a ton of contemporaries that I feel connected to. I feel like I can identify with anyone trying hard to make fun and personal work.

11. is a community of artists important or not important to you?

Yeah, It's a big deal to me. I don't really know many people that don't do art.
My lady, Marian Churchland and most of my closest friends make comics.

It's really nice to have people to bounce ideas off of and who are doing work that gets you excited to try harder.

12. Is there a particular line quality you like---thick/thin/clean/etc?

I like my own work to be on the clean side but I think any line quality can work in the right hands.

13, what is more important to you---style or idea?

I'm a fan of ideas and then style is like throwing some stank on the idea to make it look good.

14. is drawing a pleasure to you or a pain?

At it's best it's possibly my favorite thing I've ever done but I do find it hard and frustrating some days.
That's part of what makes it worth it.

15. when you meet someone new, do you talk about being an artist right away? do you identify yourself as an artist or something else?

I grew up with such an identity of being a comic artist it took me years to not just obnoxiously talk about comics with everyone I met.
For awhile when I was living in NYC I tried to see what it was like to not mention comics when I met people new I'd tell them that I
lived off a trust fund as an inside joke to my pals who knew how deeply broke I was.

16. do you feel at all connected to older comic artists like steve ditko or jack kirby---or does this seem like a foreign world to you?

More Kirby than Ditko, some artists whose work I read I can really see why they do what they do.

There's a lot of older artists who I look up to and try to learn from,
Guys like Moebius and Krs-one whose work is choked full of good tips on living as an artist.

17. do you ever feel the impulse to not draw comics?

No, I've wanted to make comics as long as I can remember. It's a huge thrill and my art therapy and entertainment.

18. do you draw from life?

Yeah, I like to go outside and draw, I draw people around me a lot. But I've never gone to any sitting around a naked person, life drawing.
it's not my scene.

19. do you pencil out comics and then ink? or do you sometimes not pencil?

If I'm going to print it I usually pencil stuff first but or myself I draw with whatever.

20. what does your drawing space look like?