Welcome back my faithful minions! Your Indie Huntress is here to save the day! You're all coming with me down The Hobbit Hole to meet the insanley awesome, Shawn Langley. I met Shawn like so many others, through Facebook. I can't remember exactly how it all got started, but I've been steathily observing him for months. And by steathily, I actually mean stalking loudly and yelling for more art. Again, I am surprised I haven't come home to a stack of restraining orders, and a SWAT team waiting to take me away.... I do tend to get excited easily by bright, shiny new comics and art! Shawn hails from Ohio, and has been blowing my mind since day one. Without further adieu, here are the bits you crave....
How long have you been illustrating in comics? Are there others besides the, "Rapid City" stories?
So, about 3-ish years ago I decided to take my artwork a little more seriously. I had been drawing in the comic book style since high school, but I had never really tried anything serious with it. I started working to improve, and sharing my artwork around Twitter. While shamelessly whoring for RT's, I managed to get the awesome Mark Waid to retweet a Goblin Queen piece of mine. (I actually got to thank him for this personally at the Gem City Con in Dayton a few months later. I'm at the 10 minute mark in this video.
After that RT, a writer out of Ireland named Darrin O'Toole saw that post and approached me about doing a "super" epic story with him. What began as a 1 issue thing turned into a Kickstarter-fueled graphic novel. Earthruler was my break into comics. O'Toole is an amazing writer, and that book was such a great experience. One of these days, schedules permitting, we plan on returning to it for a second GN.
After THAT, I was approached by Josh Dahl about a story arc for his series Rapid City. Since Earthruler was wrapped up for the time being, I jumped at the chance to stretch the artistic muscles. The story was different, and very compelling. When I asked Josh in the beginning what the overall theme was, he replied "Crime never pays, and bad guys don't get a good day. Ever." The book is more about revenge and survival than it is about capes and lasers.
When Josh Dahl first approached you to work on, "Rapid City", did he give you a general idea for the art or let you have free reign?
Josh is very keen to sit back and let me use my imagination on the setup for the "scenes". I've got weird brain and it works for RC:BZ. he has the general structure in mind to guide and progress the story in the direction he wants it to go. It's like he's the director and I'm the fight choreographer. The covers are a different animal, though. Those happen like this:
Josh: Draw this thing for the cover.
Me: I reject the thing, and substitute my own in it's place.
Josh: ...I don't get that thing you're describing.
Me: *draws the thing*
Josh:...alright, I love the thing.
I tend go "abstract" for the covers, so describing what's in my head is...difficult. I can't even begin to tell you why. I have an idea, and if makes my grinchy little heart sing when I draw it on paper, then it's usually an idea that works out. If Josh's first reaction is capitalized profanity, then I know I've done a good job.
While working on these various characters, what connection have you developed with them? Do you tend to channel the emotions from the story to better serve for your drawing?
I'm always a fan of the tanks (just ask anyone who's ever played D&D with me), so I connect with a character named "Claw Hammer" a bit. He's a huge bruiser who takes a beating and just doesn't know how to die. I always seem to connect with whatever character has the most blood on their knuckles or the most bruises on their face. Icicle is the main character, and the main focus of the story arc. I get to show a wide range of emotions through her. Lotta sad, lotta mad. Drawing Icicle has helped me perfect the look of "homicidal rage". I went through a lot in my personal life throughout the time frame that I've been working on Below Zero 1 through 3. It could definitely be said that my various emotions/feelings/mental states have been broadcast through the characters on the pages. It's hard not to. Sometimes the only way to vent is through creativity.
What are some of the commissions you've worked on that you are most proud of?
I recently finished this HUGE commission that mashes the Marvel Universe with the old Japanese "skeleton specter" painting by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. It took forever, because I don't know how to do one thing at a time, and working on RC:BZ , plus a day job. Galactus in that particular piece was fun/nightmarish, due to trying to get the right depth/perspective/shading. I'm also working on a Groot/TMNT commission which might have the most detail of anything I've done, 'cause Groot. Also, this wasn't a commission, but I did a Swamp Thing piece recently that I'm super pleased with. He's such a fun character to draw, and I have some brush pens that make all that vine/branch work really easy.
I've seen you broadcast on Periscope a few times. How has that been working out for you? Do you find it a distraction at times while you're working or as a better way to connect with your fans and expanding your audience?
Periscope is a blast, and I'm having a lot of fun with it. It might be one of those trendy things that fades in popularity by next week, but I like the format. I've thought for a long time about a good way to broadcast from my art desk, and that app is perfect. I bought one of those little arm-thingies and everything, so I can clip my phone right to my desk. I love the connection with the viewers. I've had kids ask me for tips while I'm working, and I'll take a second or two to sketch out something really quick on the side. I feel like freakin' Bob Ross while I'm on there. (giggles and mutters something about "happy little ice claws" to himself)
As an artist, taking on commission work and setting up a table at cons, what do you notice more of: people requesting original art or concepts of licensed characters? How does this affect you and what are your preferences?
That's all over the place. At River City Con in Marietta, Ohio last year, I sold almost nothing but prints. Very little original art or con commissions. Then at Cincy Expo later the same year, I sold almost nothing but original art and commissions. Very few prints.
What else do you have lined up for future projects? also, will you be at any shows in the coming months?
Rapid City 'til I die. :D Actually, once I finish up issue 3, I'll be putting the finishing touches on some long overdue commissions. I've got a project or two in the works that I can't quite talk about yet. Still ironing things out. And Josh has some big plans for the next chapters of Rapid City. I' know where the story leads for some of the characters, and I can't tell due to Josh's stringent contractual obligations. Plus, there's a sniper perched on a rooftop three houses down from me, and he waves whenever I look out the window.
Unless the zombie apocalypse happens, I'll be bugging Josh at Boston Comic Con late July/early August. Trying to get to River City Con in Marietta Ohio after that, but I'm not 100% certain.
Where can people find your work at and follow you on social media?
Social media...I'm on all the things. Facebook at Shawn Langley Art , and on Twitter, Instargam and Periscope @Shawn_Langley. On my main website, you'll find links to most of these things, including my Ebay store, and the Rapid City site.
As for me you can find me all over social media:
Twitter Podcast @MofMandC
Mayhem and Chaos Group on Facebook (Great for Indie Creators to Share their work!)