Thursday, May 6, 2010
Hellspawn and Vampires: An Interview with Ben Templesmith
Ben Templesmith is one of the most prolific artists working in the comic book industry today. His distinct, moody style is displayed in the pages and on the covers of a multitude of comics every month. I was lucky enough to get a moment of the amazingly talented (and busy!)Mr. Templesmith’s time and ask him some questions recently!!
I first became aware of your work through 2002's Hellspawn for Image comics. How did you get the gig, and what was the overall experience like?
Ben: The power of the internet. Brent Ashe, who was art director for TMP at the time saw my stuff from an online gallery on my site and showed Todd McFarlane at the right time. Went from there really.
How did fans react to your version of the Spawn universe?
Ben: Fine,I guess. I was directly following on from an artist named Ashley Wood and I tried very hard to keep the style similar for a long time.
Speaking of reactions, how do you feel the film adaption of 30 Days of Night (illustrated by Ben and written by Steve Niles) captured your visual style, and how hands on were you in the production of the film?
Ben: Yeah, visually it captured my style very well I think, and I owe the director, David Slade way too much for that, since I had no actual involvement in the film (which is a bit sad, since I saw a lot of work they tried to do capturing my style when they could simply have had me do some stuff!)But after meeting him on set, I felt tremendously included and it was an amazing experience. The process is/was hugely interesting.
You have also provided art for some rather impressive comic book adaptations of video games such as Dead Space and Silent Hill. Are you a gamer yourself, and if so, what do you play?
Ben: I'm more a strategy game nut from way back but definitely get into first person shooters, particularly if I get to shoot Nazis (they look so cool, design wise and I'm always doing the world a favour when I take a Nazi out no?) plus I have a thing for history... and yes, I have played both Dead Space and Silent Hill, because that genre also appeals.
One of my favorite pieces you have done is the Masters of the Universe villains’ card packaged with the 2002 seasons DVD release. Were you a fan of the show, and if so, who was your favorite character?
Ben: Yup, [I]was a fan. I'd probably have to say Trapjaw was my guy. He was the first figure I ever got.
If you could work on one dream project involving a character you loved as a child, what would it be?
Ben: That's a tough one...right now I'd have to say Conan, if I was to work on other people's characters.
An element of your work that I enjoy is the way you use traditional horror elements and filter them through your artistic sensibilities. Who are some of the influences on your style?
Ben: There's always going to be many but... Ralph Steadman, Victor Ambrus, Ashley Wood, Dave McKean...those would be some of the big ones for sure.
Can you briefly take us through the steps you use to create a finished piece?
Ben: Draw on tinted gray paper... inks with pens, some watercolur, all grayscale tones...then scan in and layer textures and colour up in Photoshop. That's it really! [It’s] all done by me, not an artistic team, which is the more traditional way of comics where 3-5 people work on a book.
What can you tell us about your current and upcoming projects?
Ben: I’m currently knee deep in CHOKER, a book I'm doing with writer Ben McCool, from Image comics. 6 issue miniseries. Out now and up to issue #3. After that I'll be delving into BLACK SKY, an illustrated movie and comic type thing, with a company called Halo-8 as well as a new Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse from IDW publishing...and a ton of stuff I don't want to yet talk about. I'm probably one of the busiest (or most foolish) people in comics, especially when I add in my travel/convention appearances.
Any parting words for our readers?
Ben: Live long and prosper? Remember, if you're on hard times, Grandma, if boiled correctly and for long enough can provide nourishing soupy broth for months!
Head to your local comic book shop now to catch up on all of Ben’s past and current work, I guarantee a creepy, good time! For more of Ben Templesmith’s art head here: http://www.templesmith.com/faze3