Monday, September 27, 2010

Alex Robinson - Cartoonist Survey #169

Alex Robinson is a comic book artist and writer who was born in the Bronx in August of 1969. He grew up in Yorkton Heights, NY and graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in cartooning. After graduating from SVA he started making his own small print run of mini comics…including photocopying and stapling them himself. Alex soon started working on his Box Office Poison comic book series that ran for 21 issues before being collected into the 608 page graphic novel by Top Shelf Productions in 2001. Box Office Poison was nominated for a 2001 Eisner, Harvey, Ignatz and Firecracker award. Although his graphic novel didn’t win first place, Alex himself won the 2001 Eisner Award for Talent deserving of Wider Recognition. In August of 2005 his second graphic novel, Tricked, was released and went on to win both the 2006 Harvey Award for Best Original Graphic Novel and the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Graphic Novel. October of 2007 saw the publication of his 56-page comic, Lower Regions, that is about "a sexy barbarian fighting monsters." Alex’s next graphic novel, Too Cool to Be Forgotten went on to win the 2009 Harvey Award for Best Original Graphic Album. Just in time for last year’s Christmas season, Harper-Collins released his adaption of the Frank L. Baum story called A Kidnapped Santa Claus. Alex belongs to the comics collective, The Ink Panthers, with a few cartoonists including Mike Dawson and Tony Consiglio. The Ink Panthers produce the weekly comic book “lifestyle” podcast, “The Ink Panthers Show." You can listen to these interesting podcasts here or on iTunes. Alex lives in New York City with his wife and their pets, Krimpet and Wrigley. Stop by Alex’s Comic Book Cavalcade website and his blog.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I use a combination of Japanese brush pens, microns and a regular brush to fill in blacks.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I pencil first using a good ol' #2 pencil.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I don't color any of my comics.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
When I do color artwork I usually use colored pencils.

What type of paper do you use?
9" x 12" Borden & Riley Bristol Plate. I like my paper to be as smooth as possible.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Living in New York City I have access to a lot of art supply stores so I usually wind up buying stuff in person.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I insist on procrastinating as long as possible. I cannot draw if I think anyone has posted anything on my Facebook page.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I rarely listen to music while I draw. I'll either put in a DVD or, most commonly, listen to a podcast. I don't listen to any comic’s related podcasts.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
The first comics I remember reading were the Sunday comics and stuff like ARCHIE and MAD. I think they've all had an influence on my work.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
The usual suspects: CALVIN AND HOBBES, THE FAR SIDE, BLOOM COUNTY, PEANUTS. I loved DOONESBURY but haven't read it in years. Since I don't read any newspapers I'm at a loss as to what is currently running.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I loved Richard Scarry's books, and have bought some of them as an adult. WHAT DO PEOPLE DO ALL DAY and CARS AND TRUCKS AND THINGS THAT GO are fantastic.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I went to School of Visual Arts from 1989-1993.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
It's a little of both. It certainly makes a lot of things more convenient but it can also be a tremendous time suck. One thing I do like is that it has enabled people to find other people with similar interests. Artists, musicians, etc can reach an audience they couldn't have a decade ago.

Did either of your parents draw?
Not really.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
This one is kind of complicated. My parents were sort of supportive in that they paid for my art school but I don't think they've ever read my books or "get" what I'm doing. I think they're glad I've achieved a certain level of success but are kind of baffled by it.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
These days I pretty much only use my sketchbook to work on whatever story I'm working on.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I did a lecture once at the Center for Cartoon Studies. I couldn't tell you how it went. I was very nervous, since I don't think of myself as a good artist in the technical sense. I felt like Britney Spears teaching a singing class at Julliard or something.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Boy, I really don't know. I've started answering this question five times now and every time I waver, so I can't say. If you're limiting it to "drawing" instead of "cartooning" I might lean more on talent.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I used to be a toy collector and still have a ton of SIMPSONS and STAR WARS figures boxed up in my closet but I lost interest after awhile. I think these days if I collect anything it would be graphic novels and mp3s. I'm obsessive about my music collection.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Something in the movie business. Either special effects or maybe the person who picks out music.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Escapist dungeon.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No. I've tried learning the guitar a bunch of times but I get too frustrated with the learning curve.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
I can only talk about my area of expertise so: write and draw what you really love, because you won't make any money.

Who is your favorite artist?

Dave Sim was a big influence.

Thank you Alex.

Up next is Californian artist and cartoonist, Jed Alexander.

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