QUICK QUESTIONS WITH Gary Reynolds
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO COMICS?
My name is Gary Reynolds and I’m a concept artist and Art Director. I do character design, storyboards and comic covers and have always been interested in comics.
WHAT COMIC ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
I’m currently working on a short story for Tommie Kelly Presents as well as a couple of my own graphic novels and some cover assignments too.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
The best part is bringing a story or idea to life. Turning a blank page in to a work of art. The chance to emulate your comic book heroes. Creating art is the biggest buzz, especially if you feel you’ve done a good job. That feeling of accomplishment when you entertain people or hit the mark of the writer or client’s vision and expectation is great.
WHAT’S THE WORST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
Time restrictions whether it be the time you have to actually devote yourself to drawing and painting or also deadlines that ultimately make you have to settle for a finish that is not what you hoped it would be. Doing half-assed jobs because of factors beyond your control. I guess it’s the same for all artistic endeavors, not just comics.
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER COMICS?
Like most people I would have read comics from an early age. Warlord, Victor, Battle, etc… would have been the first influences, but I also remember getting a kiddie meal box on a plane when I was a kid and a comic came with it. X-Men#132, John Byrne, the Hellfire Club… I was too young to fully understand the story, but I remember being impressed with the standard and consistency of Byrne’s art even if I didn’t fully know why. I just knew it looked better and more exciting than anything I had seen before. An epiphany! My second epiphany was when I saw Brian Bolland’s work on Judge Dredd a few years later. The art and the stories were mind blowing back then.
WHO IS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WORK?
Such a difficult question! I am bound to forget some, but I have influences that are not apparent in what I actually draw like and some that do. But a list would run from Norman Rockwell, John Byrne, Brian Bolland, Neal Adams, Frank Miller, Bill Sienkiewicz, Alex Ross, Marko Djurdjevic, Craig Mullins, Serge Birault… I have to say though that my top 2 are Adam Hughes and Travis Charest. They are gods as far as I’m concerned.
WHAT TOOLS OF THE TRADE DO YOU USE?
Pencil and paper still, especially red Col-erase animation pencils, black polychromo pencils over lead pencils unless the are fine tip clutch pencils… Promarkers and sharpies too. Also digitally I use Photoshop, Painter, Manga Studio, Maya and ZBrush on a 21UX Cintiq.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE WORK OF WHICH YOU ARE MOST PROUD?
Like most people I’d like to think that is still yet to come, but I suppose I’m quite fond of the comic book style cutscenes I did for Driver 76 or the promo and cover work for Broken Sword-The Angel of Death computer games.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
When I was in college I was lucky enough to have met the legendary Chuck Jones and I remember that he told us the advice his art teacher gave him. He said to his students that they all had about a 100,000 bad drawings in them and the sooner they got them out the better. Basically practice makes perfect and I agree with that. Also don’t be overly reliant on reference. A good artist should be able to draw from memory because then you are not limited by the reference you have.
WHAT IS THE WORST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
Haven’t really received any bad advice… I have heard some people say that you shouldn’t share your tips and techniques as a sort of act of self-preservation, but I disagree. One thing I have noticed in my career which is not really about bad advice, but is pertinent I think, is that almost every great artist I’ve ever met or worked with tended to be helpful, generous and chilled out about giving advice and praise and positive criticism. Whereas those that are defensive, arrogant, egotistical and overly critical are usually that way for a reason.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CURRENT IRISH COMIC SCENE?
Extremely excited by it! I think there’s always been great potential, but with self publishing being easier and affordable now, whether print or digital, it’s really opening more doors. I think there are probably a lot of gems yet to be discovered.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN IRISH COMIC IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
I suppose I’d like to see the continuing collaboration between creators. More workshops or drawing jams would be great. A real impact on the international scene from an Irish comic industry.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN COMICS IN GENERAL IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
I’d like to see comics recognised in the west the same way they are in Japan, a legitimate art form for all types of people no matter what age or gender. Less niche.
WHAT WAS THE LAST COMIC THAT MADE AN IMPACT ON YOU?
The Meta Baron stuff by Travis Charest. Pure artistic crack, the man is incredible. Also love the cover work for Northlanders by Massimo Carnevale. Love The Walking Dead too.
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO START MAKING THEIR OWN COMICS? (And don’t say DON’T 🙂 )
My advice, for artists at least, is to draw, draw, draw. Nothing beats practice. Also look at what inspired your heroes and not just copy what they do otherwise you get that diminishing quality that is like taking a photocopy of a photocopy. Go to the source. Life drawing is the single best thing to improve your eye and observation skills as well as improving line quality. Look beyond comics for inspiration.
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
Like most things in life realise early on that a life in comic creation is not a meritocracy. There are hacks who are making a professional living from the industry and there are brilliant, talented people who aren’t. Be impressed by the standard of the art not the reputation. Be your own strongest critic, be confident and improve.
Gary Retnolds is a computer games concept artist veteran with over 15 years experience. He is currently working on the new comic book style influenced Carmen Sandiego game.