Thursday, July 1, 2010

Howard Tayler - Cartoonist Survey #138

Howard Tayler was born in Florida in 1968 and is the creator of the very successful webcomic Schlock Mercenary. He graduated from high school in 1985 and moved to Utah to attend Brigham Young University. After studying there for two years Howard volunteered to be a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He spent two years as a missionary before finishing up his Bachelor’s degree in Music Composition. Putting his music degree to good use, he co-founded the independent record label Sanctus Records which was primarily aimed at the Latter-day Saints market. Howard also worked for Novell, a multinational software and services corporation as a project manager. In 2000 he started publishing his webcomic, Schlock Mercenary and four years later he was able to quit his job at Novell to work full-time as a cartoonist and writer. Schlock Mercenary, which has been nominated twice for a Hugo Award and has won multiple Web Cartoonists’ Choice Awards, follows the adventures of a mercenary company aboard a starship in a 31st-century space opera setting. Since February 10, 2008, Howard has been producing a weekly writing tips podcast with best-selling fantasy author Brandon Sanderson and horror author Dan Wells. You can listen to these 15-minute fun and informative podcasts here on the Writing Excuses website. I have been listening to some of the podcasts while preparing this post and they are very good. Howard lives in Provo, Utah with his wife Sandra and their 4 children. Visit the official Schlock Mercenary website, store and blog. You can also read Howard’s Ramblings of a Happy Cartoonist livejournal.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Staedtler Pigment liners, 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, and 0.7. Gotta have all four or I can't get any work done.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Mechanical pencils first. Soft lead.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Computer coloring for strips, hired out to Travis Walton who does brilliant work. Hand-coloring for some pieces of margin art, sketch cards, etc.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Copic Sketch markers. I've got a full set.

What type of paper do you use?
8.5"x 14" 20lb bright white legal paper.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Everything, if I'm in a hurry. When I'm not in a hurry I love to draw everything. Usually I'm in a hurry right about the time the backgrounds need to be added.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
A bit of both.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Make sure I'm not going to need to get out of the chair for at least an hour or two.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Yes. Electronica, atmospheric, movie soundtracks (Zimmer, Elfman, others), video game remixes, and occasionally pop/rock.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
You mean comic books? I didn't read any of those.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Bloom County, with Calvin & Hobbes and The Far Side tied for second.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I'm not really sure. I've been reading since age 4. There were too many books for me to play favorites.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
One basic penciling class in college, Brigham Young University. No other formal training in visual arts. I majored in Music Composition with an emphasis in Sound Recording Technology.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
This question should be reworded." For instance: What do you see as the top three benefits of the Internet? Top three problems? Or: Some say the Internet is a blessing. Others say it is a curse. How do you respond to these statements?

Did either of your parents draw?
Not to my knowledge. My Grandmother painted extensively, though.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My wife.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes, and yes.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion. Talent is irrelevant.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
28mm miniatures from Privateer Press. I paint them.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I don't identify with animated cartoon characters, or at least not with one in particular. If I see elements of my own personality in a particular character, that reflects the genius of the writers and the animators as they've made their characters accessible.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Ambidextrous, but I've trained my right hand for drawing. I throw and kick left-handed, but throw darts equally well right or left.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Write. Or maybe write music.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Inclined table with all tools close at hand, as well as a source of music and someplace to set my drink.

Do you play any musical instruments?
At one point in time I played over a dozen. These days I can sing well, but I'm out of practice on pretty much everything else.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Draw something every day, and let that guide you. If you love it, you'll be great at it.

Who is your favorite artist?

Too many to choose from. I love James Christensen's work, as well as Frank Frazetta, Michael Whelan, Alex Ross, and Boris Vallejo.

Thank you very much for your time Howard!

Next on David Wasting Paper is Eisner Award winning, New Zealand cartoonist, Dylan Horrocks.

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