Thursday, October 23, 2008

Spotlight: Chris Schweizer

Our latest spotlight is our recent graduate, and now professor, Chris Schweizer. We posted not long ago about the release of his first major book Crogan's Vengeance from Oni Press. When he's not waxing about coffee, comics, cartooning, history, storytelling, past adventures, liquor, books, movies... well, he's never not! He makes everything fun and lively and brings to our department the same wonderful energy that he instills in all he touches. Chris is an extraordinary person and a prolific artist/writer and deserves no less than to be our spotlight this quarter.

Q. Where are you from and what originally got you interested in sequential art?

A. Though I spent a number of my early years in Florida and Louisiana, I guess I’d say I’m from KY, as I spent the most time there. I’ve always had the inclination towards drawing – it runs in my family, as does storytelling, and so does an admiration of the comic strip medium. My grandfather was an avid Pogo, Peanuts, and Asterix fan, and my dad got most every quality strip trade that came out, so comic strips were as much a part of my childhood as prose.

Q. What books (comic or otherwise) do you regularly read and why?

A. I reread George MacDonald Fraser’s Hollywood History of the World about twice a year, because it’s amazingly well-written and my historical interests are always shifting, so it’s good to refresh. It’s a combination of apologism and criticism on period pieces made up until the early eighties or so. I also really like Belladone, but as I don’t speak French I can’t read a word of it, and I love Aaron Renier’s Spiral-Bound and Matt Kindt’s Super-Spy. The only serialized comics I read are Scott Pilgrim and Walking Dead. I’m sure I’d like Hellboy, but I’ve never read it.

Q. Who are your major influences?

A. Comic-wise, I’m very influenced by Jeff Smith, Stan Sakai, and Bill Watterson, but thematically I’m very influenced by Disney animated features and the studio system pictures of the thirties and forties, especially ones dealing with westerners in non-Western environments – the exoticism stuff, Northwest Frontier battles and Kasbah intrigue and Incan temples and the like. I also feel pretty heavily influenced by the adventure literature of the mid nineteenth through early twentieth centuries – Pyle, Doyle, Kipling, Haggard, Hope, Dumas, etc.

Click here to expand/collapse the rest of Chris Schweizer's Q&A.

Q. Do you have a specific process in your work and, if so, what is it?

A. The writing and thumbnailing would take WAY too long to hash out, so I’ll focus on the art itself. I do my underdrawing (pencils, you’d probably call them, even though I use a dead-line technical pen and a brush pen) really small and loose – 4x6” – and then blow that up to 10x15” and print it out in blue line, and do my inks on top of that, making up the details as I go.

Q. What tools do you prefer to use in your work and why?

A. I use the Pentel pocket brush pen (the hard plastic one with the silver Japanese writing on the side, NOT the softer plastic Pentel color brush pen) with its cartridges. I ink on Hammermill 11x17 100# Color Copy Card Stock. I sometimes tighten up my underdrawing using a blue Col-Erase pencil. I letter using a Faber-Castell Pitt Brush Pen, and fill in my blacks with a Permapaque marker.

Q. Do you have any professional work that has been published? And are you working on anything currently?

A. I do freelance illustration and cartoon work when my schedule permits, but most of my efforts are put towards my series The Crogan Adventures, published by Oni Press. The first book has had its advance release already and will hit shelves nationally on November 12th; I’m currently working on the second book.

Q. Are you working on any personal projects and, if so, what are they?

A. Aside from Crogan’s, which is very close to my heart, I’m always fiddling around with anthology ideas that I’d like to edit. Whether or not any of those will ever make it to the execution phase is something that only time will tell.

Q. How do you juggle your work load between college and your freelance life?

A. I don’t teach in the summers. With six weeks off over Winter break and the summer break, I have enough time to really delve into the Crogan books full-time; at least, I hope I do. Next quarter all of my classes are on Mondays and Wednesdays, so that makes actively working during the week a lot likelier. It’s hard to make comics and teach on the same day.

Q. Who would you love to work with one day and why?

A. Oh, man. I don’t even know. Like I said earlier, I’d love to edit an anthology with a number of people in mind, but in terms of collaboration I’d lean heavily towards working with friends whose work and habits I know mesh with mine, folks like Shawn Crystal or Chad Thomas. From a fan standpoint, I’d like to do something with Garrison Keilor or Michael Chabon, because I really admire their writing.

Q. Where do you hope to see yourself professionally in five to ten years?

A. Doing the same stuff, but rich and beloved.

And here's a smattering of Chris' work and a preview of Crogan's Vengeance!

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