Tue 31 Oct
It’s no trick. I have a Halloween treat for all you Illustrate Me fans out there: for once, I’m publishing a new entry in this ongoing series early. That’s right, no weeks-long delay this time. Before the last day of October even closes out, the month’s archives have been beautifully illustrated by Ray Frenden, an illustrator from rural Illinois. You can see it right now in all its gruesome glory on the October archive page.
Ray actually approached me late in the summer about doing an illustration, but I had promised the August and September spots to other folks, so I had to slate him a few months out. As it turns out, it was kind of the ideal situation, given the nature of the illustration he turned in: a completely and wonderfully over-the-top mini-opus of mid-twentieth century horror. It’s got a ghoulish zombie, graffiti and firearms; perfect for Halloween. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to get my act in gear and post it on time.
As has become customary, I’ve also conducted a brief interview with Ray, included herewith. It gives you a sense of the kind of illustrator he is, but to get the best idea, head on over to his sketch blog at Penguinx.org, where you can see his talented craziness in action. Happy Halloween, everybody.
What was your inspiration for October’s Illustrate Me?
Halloween and old horror comics. The former is the only holiday I still celebrate and the latter are the only comics I still read. The camp value of both is the draw, I think.
What schools of comic art in particular influenced the work you do today? And do you still turn to comics to for inspiration?
Golden Age and Silver Age comics definitely influence my brush and ink style illustration. Aside from picking up E.C. Comics reprints or meeting with fellow illustrators who are in the comics scene, I can’t say that I’ve kept up with it. If you were to ask me a question on contemporary comics, I’d probably not be able to intelligibly answer you. I still love the form and apply its sensibilities to my editorial illustrations. That hasn’t stopped me from writing a few graphic novels that I’ve yet to put to pixels, however.
It’s interesting how your work is rooted in mid-20th century styles and yet you seem to be very digitally oriented. Your pen and brush work, I think, is even done completely online, right? How do you square your traditional aesthetic with your obvious comfort in digital media?
You’re right; all my work is digital. I think aesthetics trump tools. If I had to, I could draw in the same style using only mechanical pens and brushes, but it’d take longer. Any initial apprehension about trying something like brushwork on a tablet was thrown out the window as soon as I realized the freedom of being able to undo a line. Knowing that nothing I put down is permanent released me from being afraid to make a mistake. It allowed me to get better as an artist and take on projects like this!