Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dylan Horrocks - Cartoonist Survey #139

Comic book writer and artist, Dylan Horrocks was born in 1966, in Auckland, New Zealand. While attending the University of Auckland his weekly strip, “Tisco George” ran in the student magazine, Craccum. In the late 80’s he had work published in both Australia’s ‘Fox Comics’ and the United States’ ‘The Dead Muse’ (Fantagraphics). Dylan moved to the United Kingdom and self-published several mini-comics including, ‘The Last Fox Story’ and ‘Opposite Equinoxes’. While in the UK he also co-founded the comics annual, Le Roquet. Returning to New Zealand in the mid-90’s he had a half-page color strip called 'Milo's Week' which appeared in the New Zealand Listener magazine. During this time his comic book, ‘Pickle’ was being published and ran for 10 issues until 1997.

In 1998 his graphic novel Hicksville, a tale about a town in New Zealand that is completely devoted to comics, was released by Black Eye Books. Hicksville, reprinted by Drawn and Quarterly, went on to win an Eisner Award in 2002 and has been translated into French, Italian and Spanish. In addition to winning the Eisner his work has been nominated for a number of Ignatz Awards, Harvey Awards and Prix d'Alph'Art. Dylan has written comics for Vertigo and DC Comics, including 25 issues of Hunter: the Age of Magic, 19 issues of Batgirl and 3 issues of Legends of the Dark Knight. He has also written about comics for magazines in New Zealand and America and has taught cartooning and comics history courses. He currently lives near Auckland with his wife and two sons. You can read much more about Dylan
here at the Hicksville website and the Hicksville Comics website. Buy something from his store and make him happy. There is also a Dylan Horrocks page over at Drawn and Quarterly.

What is your favorite pen to use?
The Tombow GCD-111 (a felt tip pen from Japan). I'm also very fond of the Pentel GFPK Brush Pen (also from Japan).

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Mechanical pencil - usually with a 2H lead.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Until recently, I did all my colouring digitally. But I've just started hand-colouring again, and I love it. From here on, I'll probably hand-colour most things (although some things will still be digital).

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Watercolour and gouache. Sometimes a little touch of coloured pencil.

What type of paper do you use?
Fabriano A3 cartridge paper (the Accademia Schizzi pads).

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Cars and horses. Actually, any form of transportation gives me trouble. I wish my characters just stayed where they were...

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Usually a local one, but some things (like the Pentel brush pen) I get online from overseas.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
No, but I probably need to try using one. I'm very slow to get started. From seeing other people's warm-up drawings, I think I might start doing that.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Hell yeah. A wide variety of stuff (basically I put thousands of tracks on shuffle): mostly alternative, folk, some contemporary classical...

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I read far too many comics as a kid. Tintin was probably my number one.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Probably Peanuts. Of course, I love Krazy Kat and a lot of current alternative strips (Kaz, Lynda Barry, Tom Tomorrow, Lloyd Dangle [Cartoonist Survey #132], etc), but Peanuts is a masterpiece.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
A toss up between the Tintin books (couldn't choose one) and Tove Jansson's Moomin novels (ditto). And yes, I do.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Only at high school, and it wasn't very good. My marks weren't good enough to go to art school after that, so I studied English instead. Sometimes I wish I had received more formal art training. I really don't know what the hell I'm doing...

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Both. Mostly a blessing. But it can be quite the distraction.

Did either of your parents draw?
Yes, my father used to draw now and then. In fact, when he was a teenager, he considered taking up cartooning as a career. Once, when I was away with my mother for a few months, he drew me a whole comic book and tucked it into a letter. It was about a New Zealand farmer carrying out a commando raid on Hitler's bunker. I lost it years ago, but I can still remember what it looked like. I wish I could draw like that...

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My parents have always been totally supportive. My father would often bring me strange and wonderful comics he'd found (French BD, underground comics, etc). And my mother bought me my first Rapidographs and my first drawing board. Also my wife, who persuaded me to quit my day job years ago, and has supported what I do through thick and thin. She's pretty fabulous...

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes, but not always. Sometimes a single sketchbook will last me several years. Other times only a couple of months. I tend to fill notebooks much more quickly, with writing and notes and doodles. But at the moment I'm drawing (and painting) in my sketchbook most days.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes, I teach quite often - usually guest lectures at design schools or English departments, plus workshops in schools and at festivals. I just taught a week-long workshop in Australia for a dozen really interesting cartoonists. That was the most challenging but also the most rewarding teaching I've ever done. I get a lot of satisfaction from it, but it is exhausting.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion. Definitely. Talent can make things a lot easier, but it can also make you lazy and your drawings facile. I'm often attracted to drawings that have a lot of personality and even awkwardness; slick virtuoso stuff usually turns me off. But sometimes, of course, people with enormous talent knock me dead (people like Craig Thompson, Blutch, etc).

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Role-playing games (Dungeons & Dragons etc). Rather obsessively. I mean, I play them too, but many of them I buy just to read and have on the shelf.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Um... I'd like to say someone from a Miyazaki film, but actually I'm probably more like Donald Duck.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Lefty. And green. But I'm a big believer in tolerance and compassion.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I'd love to be a librarian. Very cool job.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Cramped! I have a tiny workroom with a drawing board and a computer desk and another small desk with scanner etc. It tends to get very messy and cluttered, but I recently got rid of a lot of junk and took everything off the walls so it would be bare and peaceful. Visually peaceful, I mean; there's also a great big 20-year old stereo in one corner that I've plugged into the computer.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Guitar. Badly...

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Just draw all the time. And don't be afraid of making bad drawings - just draw and draw and draw and stay true to your own drawing voice. Also: enjoy it. If it's horribly painful and makes you unhappy, why are you doing it? For the money? What money?

Who is your favorite artist?

That's almost impossible to answer. Right now I'm obsessing over Sharyn Boyle's work in Kramer's Ergot. But there are so many... Throughout my life, maybe Tove Jansson.

Thank you again for answering my questions Dylan!

Up next is writer, cartoonist and designer, Austin Kleon.

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