From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.141
Hello all and welcome back to another edition of our weekly all-ages column From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! It’s no secret that we have been enjoying Action Lab’s Princeless since it hit stands last year, and today we have a treat for you – an interview with the artist behind the current issues, Emily Martin!
Emily Martin: That’s an awesome question. Something I wonder about myself! When I was very young and learning to read, I began by reading comic books. I always loved drawing and telling stories, so it was a sort of logical progression for me. I never lost my passion for comics, illustration and animation, and while for some time I thought I would become an animator or an illustrator, it was around middle school time when I really started drawing panels and word bubbles in a serious way, and I have done so since.
CA: I like your art on the new volume of Princeless, some great stuff in those pages. How did it come about that you jumped on board as its artist?
EM: I was asked by Dave Dwonch to submit some art for the project at the beginning of last year. I really have Dave to thank for the initial opportunity. We had met at WonderCon 2010 I believe, and had kept in touch. He had also asked me if I was interested in drawing Double Jumpers, which I wasn’t sure about, but Princeless seemed a lot more up my alley so I jumped on it.
CA: Some of the “ground work” for a few character designs was already laid out by Whitley on the previous series, but did you feel like you had enough room to make things your own and run with it?
EM: Certainly. There were some things I had to adjust but Jeremy has been really open about it. He is great to work with, and I really enjoy putting together characters that he has envisioned. There is so much to the story and the world yet to be told, and it was actually easier to jump in after a context had been made with Goodwin’s art. Our styles are very different, it’s true, and I have tried to make that jump as easy as possible for readers. With all that is yet to come, I feel like I have plenty of room to co-create the world and characters of Princeless.
EM: Since we are on opposite coasts, communication has a bit of lag, but generally we send frequent emails, calls and skype messages. I can sometimes get caught up in workflow, and since I am a predominantly traditional artist I have to spend a lot of time with the scanner to really show Jeremy what I have been working on. We tend to check in with each other once or twice a week, if not more.
CA: Some of your art has this Elf Quest-vibe, and in other pieces is like detailed fantasy paperback cover illustrations. What are your inspirations/influences as an artist?
EM: You called me on that one–Elf Quest is a HUGE inspiration, not just in the beautiful artwork and vast story, but in the story of Wendy and Richard Pini themselves. However Elf Quest is a surprisingly recent influence–Yukito Kishiro, Moebius, Bill Watterson, Rumiko Takahashi and Tony DiTerlizzi have been long-standing influences for me. I have also been very much influenced by the old game art of TSR and classic illustrations of Arthur Rackham and a multitude of Art Nouveau artists, as well as the contemporary caricatures of Paul Kidby for the Discworld series. Oh, and I can’t forget classic animated films… too many to name.
CA: In my review of the first issue of the new Princeless story arc, I described one sequence as very Tezuka-like, only now to find out later you’re a Tezuka fan; is this true?
EM: Oh yes, of course! I would have named him before, but I saved it for this question. A lot of people say a lot of great things about Osamu Tezuka, and they are right. However for me personally, Tezuka has been a guide. His comics are not only so strongly cinematic, but they utilize composition and the visual vocabulary in comics in incredibly creative ways, and yet do not interrupt the progress of his story. Whenever I feel a bit of a creative block, I pick up a Tezuka book, and the ideas flow easily once again. I think it is the combination of straightforward storytelling, simplicity of style and creativity of presentation that begins to describe what makes Tezuka so awesome. I could go on… but hey, one can always head over to Vertical Publishing and see what the fuss is about.
CA: Aside from Princeless, you also draw and write your own comic, Otherkinds, on your website, www.megamoth.net. Can you tell us about that?
EM: Sure! Otherkinds is a bit of a pulp fantasy adventure comic about the magical citizens of San Francisco. The “pilot,” which is currently up on the website, follows the heroes on an outing to the recently re-opened Steinhart Aquarium. I have a lot of plans for Otherkinds in the future, once Volume 2 of Princeless is done. I have recently teamed up with a writer, Brandon Lake, and the future is indeed bright! The website is in a state of reconstruction now, but I will be bringing some more of Otherkinds to San Diego Comic Con. That’s all I can really say right now, but stay tuned!
CA: Any final thoughts for our own readers, perhaps inspiring artists out there?
EM: I hope that Princeless continues to impress, and I also hope that we can see a lot more comics, like Princeless, that step outside of the box! For aspiring artists, I say this: if you want to tell a story, be a comic artist or illustrator, do it and don’t give up! It might take time, but the more you work on it, the more likely your work will be shared and enjoyed. Tell the story you want to tell, even if no one has told it before. Make art, share art, and enjoy art!
CA: Thanks for joining us again!
That’s it for this week, see you next!