‘Drawing the invisible’ My interview with James D. Foster
I am a proud comic book fan. (Okay, I’m a total nerd)
I am a member of The Mystic Order of Arachnid Vigilance (AKA: The Tick fan club) True story. Here I am with the Cypher Matic Decoder Wheel!
I am also a fan of artists, of finding out what inspires them. And I am in complete awe of natural talent.
So, it’s only fitting that I asked my long-lost/recently found talented friend if I could interview him. Because he has natural talent in the art department.
I’ll start with sharing what he labeled as his ‘nerdy’ stuff. *Cough* bullshit *Cough*
Now a little gratuitous moment – we played around with a short story I wrote, and these were some characters that were going to appear in the comic version.
The main character – and I cannot for the life of me remember his name?? Arnold?? Anyway, the bananas had disappeared, but he’s holding one.
And I have to assume this guy was the antagonist – that, or Jim got fixated on bananas – notice the one on his lapel.
Yeah, Jim. Such ‘nerdy’ stuff. Early works – and amazing. Just amazing. Then he really found his stride.
Let’s chat with Jim shall we?
Me: So, you’ve handed your mom your first drawing as a child – it goes on the fridge?
Jim: Yep. That’s remembering pretty far back. But, I drew like any other kid in those days. Family members with pig feet; houses with smoking twirls from crayola chimneys; cavemen riding around saber tooth brontosaurus. I drew like any average kid back then.
Me: That was my next question (talented AND psychic) when do you first recall drawing something, looking at it – and realizing. Oh … that’s GOOD
Jim: 1981. I was bedridden with pneumonia for two weeks when I was 13. My Father had bought me this amazing book on the art of the ‘Dark Crystal.’ Somehow it all just came together, and I realized I was way better at drawing than I had thought. Plus, I was 13, I’m sure what ever hormones I was dealing with didn’t hurt either.
Me: So would you say that being exposed to a certain genre of art made something ‘click’ in your head? Like ‘Ah, there’s this other amazing way to have smoke curling out of a chimney’ The hormones I’m sure didn’t hurt, did drawing become an outlet for frustrations and expressing yourself at that time?
Jim: Like any kid dealing with all of that craziness . . . you gotta have an outlet, an escape. I had whole worlds living in my head, but never could quite express them in any meaningful way. So, that’s when I got my first sketchbook, pen and quill, and started to draw whatever influenced that escape.
Me: I love that you had whole worlds living in your head – only a few are able to translate them into something they can effectively share with others … what was the response of ‘others’ once you found your groove?
Jim: It helped that my first art teacher saw something in what I was doing, and at that age, someone seeing potential in what you’re doing is a tremendous push. All the other kids saw it too. But, it no way put an end to getting pushed around. I always had some kid bug the heck out of me, to draw some girl they had a crush on naked. Pretty much, I was just a kid who drew better than most of the other kids. But, it never won me any popularity contests.
Actually, I have to correct myself. I won ‘Most Artistic’ my Senior year. It did actually win me a popularity contest.
Me: You must realize now as an adult, that ‘pushing around’ stemmed from envy right?
Jim: The girls always liked it. So that always helped. And they always had me drawing something for them. I played two years of high school football, and two years a pole vaulting and track. So sports was not really my problem. I suppose any kid at that age is envious of everybody else. I think it just helped me more or less break out my shyness. It was kinda my ice breaker.
Me: Other than grades K-12, did you have any formal instruction with regards to art, or are you self-taught?
Jim: Mrs. Spann was my first art teacher in High School. She was an incredible influence my first year. Sadly she had a heart attack, and had to retire. The next three years were all subs. So Mrs. Spann was the only formal training I had. In Jr. College I took a painting course and hated it. So that pretty much sums up all my art schooling.
Me: Natural talent. That’s huge Jim. Seriously. Okay – fast forward. When were you drawn to comics? (No pun intended)
Jim: Actually I always wanted to be a writer, Lol. So it just kinda made sense one day. Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns,’ was a big eye-opener when I was 18. The art was great, but the story blew me out of the water. Up to that point, I had always figured that comics were just kid stuff.
Me: They’re definitely not kid stuff – and they’re a lot of work! And, you do it all, Concept, writing – then you’re the penciller, inker, colorist, letterer AND editor. What are your tools of choice?
Jim: A good pencil, a good pen, and blank piece of paper. That’s pretty much it. I love Photoshop, but it always feels like I’m cheating. But, it works, so I go with it.
Me: What kind of pen? Doesn’t look like any ink that’s come out of any of my pens lol
Jim: I used to use Rapidographs. But, i find that they’re too scratchy, and a pain to keep clean. Anything that has a smooth feel to it, and you can just throw away and not feel bad about it.
Me: Then I guess the key is to be wicked talented – not so much the tool. What medium do you use for the coloring process? You mentioned photo shop – I have no clue how that works, but I know you’ve colored by hand too
Jim: Photoshop, that’s it. I really need to get away from that too. Nobody wants to buy stuff you’ve Photoshopped. They want something real and original to hang on their walls. I’ve always wanted to check out silk-screening. Printing your own posters and all. But, for a long time it’s just been on the computer.
Me: Digital inking/coloring. I guess that’s a good thing – if you had spent a lot of time doing it by hand, then screwing up a section – starting over would have to be frustrating as hell. Ever do that? Finish a frame and not like the lettering or something and have to start over?
Jim: More times than not. That’s why I love the computer. It saved me a lot of good pieces. If I had actually gone to art college, maybe I would have a better grasp at doing it all by hand. Raw talent will only get you so far.
Me: Speaking of ‘starting over’ – you lost 6 years worth of art and sketch books in a fire. I can’t imagine how that must have felt.
Jim: Felt like hell. What the fire didn’t get, the fire hose did.
Me: I’m so sorry. So much work. Almost like losing years worth of diaries and photos …
Jim: That was right around the time the whole ‘Capzowski’ storyline really began to seed in my head. That was my first attempt at doing real comic pages. 11 x 14 bristol board. It was a real pain trying to figure out what I was doing. There’s more that goes into a page then one tends to think. Like 6-8 separate drawings that all have to flow and mesh like some weird dance on a page. I got about twenty something pages worth out of that year. Left them all on the drawing table. Got home the next day, it was all gone.
Jim: When I stop asking questions at to what they like and hate and what not. That’s something I love to capture when i draw each of these character. I don’t need thought bubbles to explain their ego’s and personalities. You can look at them and see their thought process. That’s my favorite thing about art. Not just drawing cool characters, but drawing what you can’t see. But, it’s there none the less. Like drawing gravity. It’s invisible, but in the manner that you illustrate an individual, you can feel their body weight. That’s what I get a kick out of art. Drawing the invisible.
Me: One character that has a misleading look would be Francis … he’s so menacing, yet Sissy is the heavy?
Me: I love the feel of Neo Pompeii – I might even be convinced to move my Tick comic books over to make room for the first Capzowski issue. Okay, so the big question – I know your life is in transition – but, let’s say the your Art Fairy Godmother floats down from wherever they float down from … what would be your art related wish?
Jim: Lol. To write a novel.
Me: A graphic novel?
Jim: A novel first. Then a graphic novel. A combo piece let’s say. One would feed into the other.
Posted on August 12, 2013, in Creative Writing, Interviews, Uncategorized and tagged art, Capzowski, coloring, Comic Book Art, comic book fan, comic pages, dark crystal, drawing, drawing table, frank miller, from concept to comic, graphic novel, inking, interview with James D. Foster, natural talent, New Pompeii, pat sajak, photoshop, story, the dark knight returns, vanna white and pat sajak, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.