Welcome back kiddies. This time I have lured Nathan Fox into the depths to pick his brain about everything he is working on. I personally have to suggest everyone reading Pigeons From Hell and Fluorescent Black. So sit back and relax as we learn all about the man, the myth and the soon to be legendary artist, Nathan Fox.
Decapitated Dan: Hey Nathan thanks for taking the time to talk to me about your amazing work.
Nathan Fox: My pleasure.
DD: Alright so lets start out simple. Who are you?
NF: Im a freelance illustrator / comic book artist guy
DD: Comic wise what have you already done?
NF: Some fill-in's on DMZ for Vertigo, Pigeons from Hell for Dark Horse, Dark Reign: Zodiac at Marvel and Currently wrapping up FLUORESCENT BLACK thru heavy metal which has come out at SDCC the last two years as the con issue and ends this year with the third and last installment along with the collected Graphic Novel with a bunch of extra's & so forth. Oh, and a few covers and a Creepy short just came out recently and I did a few small things back in the day at DC.
DD: I was a BIG fan of Pigeons from Hell and your art on it was superior. How did you come on board to draw this series?
NF: Matt Dryer was the original editor on that project and it kind of just came out of the blue. Originally it was pitched and then killed. Then there was some other pitch materials I tried out for and missed. And then six months later PFH was back as a more focused revamp/adaptation and we just got rolling. I had little knowledge of Howard's work and no clue who Lansdale was at the time. I started reading the script and was sold. Started catching up on Howard and Lansdale's works and collecting reference and we were off and running.
DD: What was it like working on PFH?
NF: It was a dream come true for the most part. I was totally into the writing and finally got a chance to sink or swim with my first sole creator gig - creating characters and designing the entire books content from floor to ceiling. I was lucky enough to get to add to the TPB as well. Philip Simon came onboard as editor around the ending if not just after issue 1 was inked and we hit it off well and hopefully put out a book that will stand the test of time. Not sure that I sank and sot so sure I swam so well through out the whole book but hopefully as a whole it does the writing and the reader justice. I got this just after the DMZ stuff and right when FLUORESCENT BLACK was getting started so cutting my teeth and breaking in most definitely apply. But Dark Horse was and still is one of my dream publishers so I was more than excited for the opportunity.
DD: Was there any inspiration to the character designs?
NF: The book takes place in east Texas/Louisiana area. Growing up in Houston and traveling as a kid I remember what it was like there and tried to put some of that and the people I had grown up with into the characters I designed. Joe was influenced by Howard's work and characters along with the Thriller episode of PFH as a leaping point for inspiration so I tried to add as much of that in there as I could as well. Especially the Thriller episode house. It wasn't so much a character in the TV version but in Howard's original piece and most definitely in Joe's adaptation it felt like a character unto itself and I really wanted to depict it as one. Almost like it was a living, shifting thing. So the plans and layouts for the house as a leading character meant as much to the characters and the characters themselves.
DD: Let's jump books to the spectacular Fluorescent Black. How did you come on board this project?
NF: Total cold call. Matt had googled some kind of search for comic book artists and landed on my site. I had posted a few pitch projects and previous works. As an editorial illustrator you put your name and number on everything and my cell number is at the top of my site. Advertising at its cheapest! Anyway, he said he just picked up the phone and I answered. I thought it was my first artist ego moment of flattery and independent comic book pitch from a fan who was also a writer but once I got ahold of the script it was almost the same thing as in PIGEONS, about page 4 I was already drawing it in my head. After talking before I even finished the whole thing I called him back and asked if such and such was where it was going and so and so was really guiding such and such and it turned out we were both on the same page. Felt like a good fit and much like working with Casey, it all just clicked. I got to finally do a piece of beauty and violence that actually meant something. And to be in Heavy Metal was a child hood secret fantasy come to life. I would have the chance to be one of the guys in the naughty issues that other kids would sneak under their mattresses. It was great.
DD: How much fun are you having creating this universe?
NF: Man. If I had the time I wouldn't stop. There are so many creatures and bugs and side narratives, character arcs and back stories to fill countless bookshelves with. These 3 installments are merely the middle ground for the entire world Matt has written and hopefully just the tip of the iceberg for the series and characters. I've really gotten into the characters I've created and it'll be a real pisser to see them go. Over 3 years its been going. I really hope FB will be around if not continue in one medium or another at some point.
DD: When the series is finished can we expect it to be collected into a trade?
NF: Trade floppy and Special limited edition Hard Cover as the plans stand to date. There should be a great conclusion in this years SDCC edition of Heavy Metal for all who might be following it or want to pick it up. And for the TPB in either version, floppy or Hard Cover, there will be a lot more content and additional pages, sketchbook and pinup type stuff added to the collection. We all knew when we finally had to put it to bed we wanted to do it right. So there will be a lot of what we had to nix from the original screen play Matt wrote before this version came of it came along. If we had had our way the book would have easily exceeded 144 pages and got to as far as 240 if not beyond. Originally it was a single chunk of 96 pages. But to do it as close to right and solid as we could make it we were lucky enough to extend it and give the characters the room they needed to breath and tell the story as efficiently as possible in that extension. Hopefully the additional pages did it justice. Looking forward to wrapping up the extra content on my end for the Trade though. Should be some fun additions for all who have been following it.
DD: Can we expect more of you work to grace the pages of Heavy Metal?
NF: Now that would be killer. Big fan of the magazine and Kevin. He is an amazing guy and patron. Owe him a huge nod for everything he's done for us and this opportunity. If I ever get the chance again I will be more than happy to step up the plate.
DD: Do you have a preference working on something that is set in the present compared to creating your own future?
NF: To be honest I haven't really given it much thought. It's all been a huge learning curve and roller coaster of a ride so far. If anything I am at least getting an idea of what I would be interested in working on in the future and some things I'm not so keen on pursuing as well. So far, if the story is truly solid and the characters are compelling I can usually find a way to get into the work with ambition and honesty. Ha. I am working on a historical piece of sorts for Scholastic books after FB and really excited to get into something that isn't just sex and violence for a change. So stay tuned!
DD: What is it like when you get the script from Matt Wilson? Can you walk us through your process?
NF: Aside from character designs it's usually a good time to collab on the phone about pace and panels. Talk through it all with where he's coming from and where I want to take it and then its on to layouts and thumbnails. Pencils and feedback from Matt. Then on to inks and so forth. I am a huge fan of Jeromy's work since DMZ so it was killer to have him onboard for the series. So when we get to color the collab just keeps going till its done.
DD: Horror wise, I see your still working with Dark Horse, what was it like contributing to Creepy #2?
NF: It was a blast, man. I finally got to draw Uncle Creepy and play around with black and white. I would kill to keep working in B&W in some kind of capacity. Just really into the possibilities of it all and trying to develop my work further. Never knew it existed but I seem to be more into HORROR than I ever thought I was. We'll see how it goes.
DD: Can we expect to see more of you work in future issues?
NF: Hopefully Joe and I are teaming up again to do something and hoping it all continues. The suspense and design of the genre and series on paper is really challenging and creatively I have had a blast so as long as Shawna will have me, I'll be honored to contribute.
DD: As an artist do you find it difficult at times to depict what the story might call for?
NF: Ha. Yeah. I think or at least hope my peers run into the same issues. My version of the inky specters in PFH were much different than what Joe had in mind or the editors and we revised them a lot till we got it right. But then those designs lead to the wolf character in that series and its design out of all of them like a lego specter set so you never know what will happen once you get started. It's all a learning curve. Structural and Panel layouts along with page count have been the most difficult and challenging aspects so far. Still trying to figure out how I tell stories and ever trying to improve where I'm leading the viewer and so forth.
DD: Do you have any other projects in the works?
NF: Currently wrapping up FLUORESCENT BLACK and as mentioned before for Scholastic I'll be starting a Graphic Novel called DOGS OF WAR that traverses WW1, WW2 and VIETNAM and the camaraderie between the military dogs and their handlers in each respective war. The test pages and preliminary design are really getting me excited about the narrative shirt so should be a blast. Other than that I'm still juggling editorial and ad work as an illustrator when I can and there are a few pitches still floating around so we'll just have to see where it all goes from here.
NF: Ha. Well, fans seem to dig it and critics, otherwise. But I welcome both and enjoy hearing from anyone. I practice and teach the benefits of both so I'm happy just to get some response. Still getting a feel for where I stand on my own in all of this so I have questions of my own as the work continues along. As long as I keep developing and improving I'm cool with it all. Biggest wish is to finally sit down and crack out my own narrative at some point. As soon as I've got something to say, that is.
DD: Any moment from a convention or show in particular since you started that just stands out to you?
NF: Meeting peers in person or people I've been influenced by, that's always amazing. Just being at the con as a professional, doing signings and all that - it's just rad. Hope I get a table this year again in artists alley but almost as excited if I don't so I finally have a chance to take my time and go around and see it all for a change. Especially last year, those hours away from holding down your fort on the floor were the most fun. Ah. And finally having a drink with Joe Casey was a blast. HA! never really knew of his work wither till Zodiac but it would be a creative dream come true to keep working with him in the future.
DD: Can we expect you to be at any upcoming shows?
NF: Still figuring out where things might go this summer but so far I'll be at Harley Con, ECCC, Planet Comic Con, SDCC, C2E2 and NYCC. Hopefully this is the year I'll get to finally go to Heroes Con and a few others but we can all dream of that bottomless travel budget... will have to wait and see.
DD: So what are you reading these days?
NF: Doing a lot of research and art history for lack of a better phrase or vocabulary, so collecting imports and artist's works. Around the desk at the moment is Samura, Urasawa, Font, Bernet, Joong-Ki, my playboy mini collection of Blonds, Brunettes & Red Heads, a fresh copy of TIME BANDITS and a collection of John Ford films. - Forever the student...and hopefully the teacher..... some day.
DD: So lets sum it all up, why should people go out and get books that include your unique look?
NF: Ha. Not too sure how to respond to that one. I'd feed you a line of ego and fluff my feathers but I'm handsomely balding and married with children. So those days are a bit behind me. So, I guess I'll just say if you like a good story and comics, then I'm ALL your kind of "Sex, Drugs & Rock n' Roll" with a splash of beauty, a dash of violence and a shit-load of sarcasm on the side.
DD: Thanks so much for your time Nathan.
NF: My pleasure Dan. Thanks for having me.
If you would like to learn more about or see what Nathan is up to please go to http://www.foxnathan.com/