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December 11, 2010

Touring the Cosmos: Interview with Artist Khary Randolph!

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Written by: mike
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BOOM! Studios has partnered with Stan Lee to launch an all new line of superhero comics. With brand new characters and amazing talent behind them, they are definitely worth checking out. Today we will be talking one of those gifted individuals, Khary Randolph. Khary’s credits include some work on New Mutants, Peter Parker, Spider-man, Noble Causes, and Invincible.

Now, Khary has partnered with writer Chris Roberson to bring us Starborn!

ComicAttack: Have you always been a fan of comics, and if so, what did you read as a kid?

Khary Randolph: Yeah, I’ve been reading comics my entire life. As a kid I was always into whatever tied into what movies or cartoons I was into at the time, so it was a lot of Marvel’s Star Wars and Transformers comic books, and then Ninja Turtles when that property got big. I was also into Batman a bit. But comics didn’t turn into a real obsession until I was 13, around the time Image Comics came out. Those comics had a major, major effect on me and made we want to draw comics in turn. I can say with utmost seriousness that Rob Liefeld and his 501 jeans changed my life.

: Where did you learn how to draw, or were you just born with mad skills?

Ha, I don’t know if I ever had “mad skills” (hell, it’s still debatable now), but I was always that kid in class “who could draw.” I spent much of my youth drawing pretty girls on desks and stuff like that. My mom thought I could put my skills to better use so she would enroll me in little art classes at local colleges around Boston and stuff. Once I decided I wanted to make it a career I got serious about it and enrolled at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and got my BFA there in 2000.

CA: Was being an artist always your dream, or did you have something else you wanted to do, like, say La-z-boy tester or beer connoisseur?

Yeah, art really was not my first choice. There was a long time when I really thought I was gonna be a marine biologist, because I’m really into sharks and things like that. But at some point I realized I can’t swim and I wasn’t very good at science, so it was time to start looking at other options. Art was plan B.

CA: How did you break into the comic book scene? What was your first work?

KR: My very first published work was in a really obscure anthology book called Inkpunks back in 2001-2. It was put out by Robert Kirkman, back when he had a little comic book company called Funk-o-tron. This was before all the Image stuff he put out.

But my first mainstream exposure was in 2003, when I did a fill-in issue on Kaare Andrews and Skottie Young’s Manga Spider-man book. From there I did sporadic fill-ins for Marvel and DC. The work wasn’t steady enough for me to keep doing it so I went to animation and did character design and illustration work for a few years.
This is my first true ongoing project.

CA: Working with BOOM! Studios seems like a pretty cool gig, especially being part of a “Stan Lee” project launch! How did you hook up with them and what has the process been like?

KR: At the 2010 C2E2 I swung by the BOOM booth with my rep Paolo and I brought by a small portfolio. I had been laid off from my full-time animation gig a few months prior and I was looking to try my hands at comics again. I showed it to BOOM EIC Matt Gagnon and he seemed reasonable impressed, but I didn’t get my hopes up or anything. I thought at most maybe I could get a cover or something. But to my surprise about a week or so later they offered me the gig. Who knew?

Starborn Interiors

Starborn Interiors

CA: Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way: Have you had the chance to meet Stan Lee? What is his role in the whole “Starborn” process?

KR: No, unfortunately I have not, but I would love to. I hear he has said some very nice things about me though, which is awesome. Stan’s kind of the overseer of the project. We do the day to day stuff but it’s all on Stan’s say so and he’s the one with the final say on everything. We’re all trying to please him. If Chris Roberson is Obi Wan, Stan is Yoda. And I’m Anakin. Which is to say I’m whiny and I think about girls too much.

CA: What can you tell us about Starborn and its sci-fi elements?

KR: The big pitch is that Starborn is basically one big epic space opera. The scope that Chris has for this thing is insane. What we’re trying to do with this book is take classic sci-fi elements and putting a twist on them. The first issue is sorta like Star Wars meets the Matrix, but thrown on it’s head. And it gets even crazier after that.

CA: Will Starborn be inter-connected with, or have any effect on, the other two “Stan Lee” launches, The Traveler and Soldier Zero?

KR: Not as far as I know. I’m assuming they’re self contained universes…but don’t quote me on that.

CA: Starborn is a brand new series/character. How much input did you have in the character design and the creation of the title’s universe?

KR: Quite a bit. I’m designing everything from scratch, which is both fun and intimidating. Design work isn’t new to me since I’ve spent the last couple of years in animation doing exactly that. There was originally a preexisting design for the character but I honestly wasn’t very good at drawing it so we kinda just scrapped it and started from zero. Ben’s design came first, and then we created the rest of the world based around that design and Chris’ input. World building is not an easy task, but at the same time I’m learning a lot and getting better at it with each issue.

CA: Where did you draw some of the inspiration from for Starborn?

KR: That’s a really good question that I’m not sure I have a good answer for. The whole process happened so suddenly and quickly that I haven’t had a lot of time to really think, it’s just been draw draw draw. The only real sources I looked at for inspiration were Star Wars and the video game Mass Effect.

CA: Your art and characters are pretty dynamic and really pop out at the reader. Have you been told to kind of hold back when doing Starborn, or were you given pretty much free reign to do your thing?

KR: Thank you, I appreciate that. Mark Waid was very clear to me that they hired me to be me, so with each design he pushed me to go more dynamic, more iconic. And I did my best to comply.

CA: The lead character is half alien; I’m guessing we are going to see a lot of interaction with an alien race(s). Are we looking at humanoid aliens, or something a bit more…well, alien?

KR: Well, I don’t want to give away too much, but you will be seeing a number of alien races in this book. Some are more humanoid, and some are far from human. So I guess the answer is both.

CA: Based on some of your past work with more “spandexed” heroes, is it hard for you to make a shift as far as look and feel of environments and characters to a sci-fi book?

KR: It’s only hard in the sense that you don’t have a reference point to start from. When you draw a Marvel book like Spider-man, you have years of reference to draw from, and the setting for the most part is New York City, which I can see by literally looking out my window. With this book we’re creating everything, so in that regard it is harder. But the payoff is ultimately cooler too because I can say I’m making a mark on a universe that will ultimately be defined by my lineart. So that makes me a god.

A lesser one. With deadlines. But hey — I’ll take it.

CA: Anything else you want to leave us with about some of your own upcoming work or Starborn?

KR: I just hope people will give it a chance. It doesn’t look like a conventional comic book so I hope that doesn’t turn people off from it, because it really is a great read. If you’re into comic books that are FUN first and foremost, I think it will pleasantly surprise a lot of people. I think sometimes the fun element gets lost in comics these days, and I’m just trying to bring that back a little bit. Hopefully others are along for the ride.

Also, while I’m here I might as well plug the OTHER project I have going. It’s a cool miniseries called Charismagic coming out from Aspen sometime next year. If Starborn is the Sci-Fi book, Charismagic is the fantasy book. They’re very different in every way, but both are awesome and both have me very excited. But I’m sure you’ll hear more about that book soon enough.


Check out more of Khary’s work and blog here.
Take a look at Starborn and other BOOM!’ material here.

Mike Parente



  1. Billy

    Great interview MP. He seems like a cool guy. I really like the two middle interior pics, along with the girl and that wacky eagle. The cover and other pics are too cartoony for my tastes though. It’s definitely a style I see more and more of everyday though.

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