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Twisted Journeys #19 TBA (Fall 2011)

Twisted Journeys #19 TBA (Fall 2011)

This week we have a glimpse into the future . . . so to speak. Graphic novels often take so long to write, illustrate, color, lay out, letter, and (finally) print, artists might be drawing a year or two in advance of publication. We’re excited to be working on one of those future books with Dylan Meconis, who is drawing Twisted Journeys #19 right now for Fall 2011. We can’t tell you much about it yet, but we love Dylan’s art!

Q. What computer programs and/or what kind of pens, pencils and brushes do you use?
When I need to draw something on the computer, I use Adobe Photoshop CS4, and I draw using a digital tablet called a Cintiq, which lets me draw right on the screen. This is really useful if I have to draw something complicated that has a lot of details and straight lines, like a machine or a building.

Mostly, though, I like to draw on paper! I use a special kind of light blue pencil to do a first sketch, which is generally pretty messy-looking. Then I make the final image by drawing over the blue pencil with Faber-Castell PITT artist pens, which use black India ink. They’re cheap pens, but really fun for drawing with.

Using the blue pencil means that when I scan the image into the computer, I can just magically select and erase out all the blue lines and you only see the final black lines. No actual erasing necessary.

Q. What music (if any) do our you listen to while drawing? It can be a genre or specific bands or songs or podcasts.
I mostly like to listen to radio news (on NPR.org) or podcasts—I really like RadioLab, which is a really fun show all about science. Sometimes I’ll put on a silly TV show that I don’t need to look up at much to follow.

Often with music I don’t have enough to keep my mind busy. If my mind isn’t busy, I can get more easily distracted and start doing things other than drawing.

Luckily I work in a studio full of other artists. There’s always a funny conversation or argument going on that I can listen to, and I get to hear the music that other people are interested in, instead of just my same stuff over and over again.

Q. What are your favorite comics right now, either online or in print?
I have lots! My favorite online comic strip is Sheldon, by Dave Kellett. It has a talking duck, and it’s sweet and silly and nerdy. In print, I just read Smile by Raina Telgemeier and it made me feel better about all the trips to the dentist and orthodontist I had as a kid! It’s a great book all about what happened when the artist knocked out her two front teeth in middle school.

My favorite comics for an adult audience are the Finder books by Carla Speed McNeil. I think she’s an amazing artist and a really cool person. One of the best things about being a comics artist is that I get to be friends with all of my favorite creators.

Dylan Meconis at SPXQ. What comics did you read growing up?
I read some pretty serious comic books growing up. In 5th grade I read MAUS, by Art Spiegelman, which is about how his parents survived the Holocaust, and it made a big impression on me. A lot of people assume that kids aren’t smart or mature enough to handle true stories about things as horrible as the Holocaust, but I think that’s incorrect. I learned a lot from that book—about history, human nature, and storytelling.

I also read a lot of X-Men, Fox Trot, and Archie comics, though. Silly stuff is important, too.

I’m really jealous of young people today. There are so many cool comics that just didn’t exist when I was growing up.

Q. Did you go to college for art and/or comics, or something else? Which college?
I actually went to college for history, literature, and philosophy! That explains part of why I really love doing comics that are set in the past. I went to Wesleyan University, where a lot of people decide to become teachers, doctors, scientists, actors, and filmmakers – not a lot of cartoonists!

I only took one art class, but it was a really important one – life drawing, where you learn how to draw what you see, not what you EXPECT to see. We all have ideas about what things are supposed to look like, and a lot of the times that’s what we think we should draw. We all know that horses have four legs, right? But from some angles, you can only see three legs, or maybe only two! People, places, and objects are the same way.

The more you observe things and practice drawing them the way they really are, the better your imagination gets. Even a really crazy cartoon-y drawing looks better if you’ve practiced this way, because you’ve become skilled at taking a picture inside your head and translating it into a drawing.

Q. What is the next convention you plan to go to?
The next convention I’ll be at is the Stumptown Comics Fest here in Portland, Oregon! It’s April 24-25 this year. I help run this convention, so it’s my favorite. It doesn’t hurt that I can just take the bus to get there, either.

I love getting to talk to all the special guests and come up with interesting panels and activities.

Continuing bravely on with Artist Spotlights, this week I interviewed Courtney Huddleston, the illustrator of Twisted Journeys #11, Shipwrecked on Mad Island, as well as the upcoming Twisted Journeys #18 (title TBA).

What computer programs and/or what kind of pens, pencils and brushes do you use?

I mainly use Photoshop with anything that do by computer. As for my art supplies, I use a nonreproductive blue line pencil to lay out the pages. I use the Staedtler 980 2h to pencil the pages. And as for inks, I use Pigma pens and Hunt 102 quills to ink.

What music (if any) do you listen to while drawing?

I actually prefer to have movies on while I draw. But when I do listen to music while I draw, it tends to be either Classical or 80’s music.

What are your favorite comics right now, either online or in print?

I tend to only pick up graphic novels these days. I’m really into “The Walking Dead” and “Chew” by Image comics.

What comics did you read growing up?

I read all of the classics such as Spiderman, Incredible Hulk, Ironman and the likes. I was much more a fan of Marvel than DC as a child.

Did you go to college for art and/or comics, or something else?

I wanted to go to Savannah School of Art but was lucky enough to land several jobs before it ever got to that point. I’ve been illustrating nonstop since then.

What is the next convention you plan to go to?

I will definitely be at San Diego Comic-Con this year.

What is your favorite comics convention?

San Diego Comic-Con is my favorite by far.

Our last writer spotlight with Colleen AF Venable is a hard act to follow. This week, I interrogated Evonne Tsang, author of Twisted Journeys #12 Kung Fu Masters and some of our upcoming books.

Q. What was the first thing you were paid to write?

$50 to write someone’s paper. Ha ha, just kidding. Helping someone cheat in school would be wrong. You know they say cheaters never prosper. Neither do English majors.

Q. Did you start off writing prose and switch to comics or vice versa? What’s it like working with an artist? Have you ever been surprised how your artist(s) see your characters or world?

I started off writing prose, so writing a Twisted Journeys book was really great since it let me figure out how to write comics in baby steps while still writing prose. I was incredibly lucky to have Alitha Martinez draw Kung Fu Masters. Her art is just spectacular and she often improved the story effect I was trying to create on the page. We actually didn’t communicate during book production, although we got to be good friends about a year later and hope to work together again later this year.

Twisted Journeys #12: Kung Fu Masters

Q. If you write for Twisted Journeys or another series with a relatively strict structure, what is it like working within that structure?

Kung Fu Masters was my first book, so I found that the structure made it easier to write. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what happens next when everything is completely open ended. A completely blank page can be intimidating! Having some restrictions opened it up for me to get creative within the Twisted Journeys structure.

Q. Have you ever written someone you know into a story? Perhaps at their insistence?

I’m currently working on a horror graphic novel for Graphic Universe and I’ve been threatening to turn my friends into victims. And they can’t do anything to stop me! Bwah ha ha! Nah, I’m kidding. I like my friends. Obviously, this is the time to take revenge on the lying jerk in third grade who told the teachers I was trying to set the cafeteria on fire. Nurture your grudges—you never know when the opportunity for revenge may arise!

Q. Do you listen to anything while you write? Lyric-less music? Talk radio? Podcasts? Can you leave the TV on?

I like movie scores or quiet. Since movie scores are created to support a story, they can be really great for creating a mood if I’m writing an action scene or a sad scene or a scary scene.

Q. Graphic Universe books are generally for kids; how do you get into the mindset of your audience?

That’s really funny because it’s well known among my friends that I like most of the same stuff as 13-year-old boys. I like space, adventures, robots, dinosaurs, and video games, so my own interests actually aren’t that far off from my audience. Can you blame me? Grown ups have mindsets full of jobs, bills, and achy bones. They’re boring!

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