Ferguson’s 7 Questions With… Cormac Finan

Hadn’t realised it has been so long since 7 questions was being posted on a regular basis but there you go. I put the word out for victims to volunteer and so we have an artist to extract answers from. It’s 7 questions with… Cormac Finan.

What was the first comic work you did that was published?

My first published work was a short one-page comic called Creative Destruction done in a poetry zine called Chapbook in 2015. It was written as a response to one of the poems in that book and was this sort of weird futuristic dystopian mess!

What is the biggest thing you have learned since that book?

I actually just looked at it for the first time since it came out and to summarise: a LOT. I rushed a lot of my work back then, not slowing down to think about what I was putting on paper. I think I was just trying to do what I thought a comic book artist might do but not trusting my own creative instinct. Those are two things that really stand out to me looking at it again but, hey — I know better now!

What is your process for drawing a comic book?

So the process I’m using now was refined a lot in my final year studying animation in Limerick art college. My lecturers were good enough to let me experiment with comics and sequential art, and that gave me a lot of freedom to try out new techniques and ideas. My method is a combination of digital rendering and traditional drawing, and it takes a lot of back-and-forth to create a page that I’m confident in.

After creating all the characters, I move onto thumbnailing the pages and I usually try to do at least three variations of each page — just to make sure I’ve tried all my best options.
My next step is to design my backgrounds, which I create using SketchUp. I find this software great, because not only can I visualise my characters in a three-dimensional space, but I also never have to worry about inconsistencies between shots and scenes!

Once the backgrounds are ready, I use Photoshop to lay out my panels and add in my backgrounds from Sketchup. I print the panels out to continue by hand, and lightbox the characters onto the backgrounds. I usually do about three versions here too — a really rough gesture drawing, then another pass with clothes and hair detail but still very messy scribbles, and finally tightening that up on a third sheet. When I’m happy, I stick the foreground characters on top of my printed backgrounds and lightbox them onto a sheet of Bristol board. I don’t use rulers on my backgrounds to try and keep the stylised aesthetic of my characters consistent with their surroundings. After that I scan them, and bring them over to Procreate for inking!

Whew! That feels like a long explanation but when it comes to doing it, its actually a pretty efficient process and knowing each of my own steps piece-by-piece means my page output has finally reached a page a day. It might all sound really bizarre, but it’s what works for me!

What is the biggest influence on your work?

I got into a habit of keeping comics open on a bookstand beside my desk. It’s a pretty constant rotation depending on what I’m working on, but I would say it’s probably Alex Toth! Not just his comic work but his work with Hanna-Barbera on Space Ghost and Super Friends. There’s this beautiful disconnect I see between all these fully rendered background paintings being overlayed with the blocky, flat-coloured characters. Those cartoons get a lot of flack for that style but personally I love it! Karl Kerschl, Geyser and Dave McCaig’s work on Gotham Academy is a really nice throwback to that too, I think, and Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner and Jordie Bellaire on Future Quest is always close at hand.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a few different things at the moment! All in different stages of development. One of them is a 50’s horror noir comic with Emmet O’Brien. We’ve designed a few of the characters already and that project’s a lot of fun. Another one is an Irish mythology comic. It’s kind of a scary thing to tackle after Will Sliney and Paul Bolger absolutely killed it with these amazing retellings of Irish legends but I’m hoping this version is going to give readers another angle of seeing these characters in a place (and time!) they’ve never been seen them before!

What do you have out now or coming out next?

Coming out soon is a short story in the Cork Monster Comic from Cork Comic Creators that I worked on with Paul Cahill. Words can’t describe how excited I am for this! I had so much fun making it and I really hope people enjoy reading it as much as I did working on it. I’ve also started a short sci-fi series on my Instagram called One-Click and have a plan to release a few different stories over the next few months.

What is your favourite Irish comic?

That’s getting to be such a hard question because there’s so many at this stage and so many really great ones! I think my favourite has to be Jason Browne’s work in Buttonpress, though. I was actually so late to the game, only finding them at Dublin Comic Con a couple of years back. If I had to choose only one of their comics, it would be The Wren. After ten years, those comics have built up such an amazing superhero universe and it’s one of the easiest comics I’ve ever gifted someone who doesn’t tend to read comics. It’s heroic, it’s funny, it’s dramatic, it’s scary it’s Irish and best of all, it’s for everyone!

Cormac Finan on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CormacFinanIllustration/
Cormac Finan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CormacFinan