Using technology in the artistic process is not a new concept. Computers and tablets have been used in art and comics for years, but only recently, with the advent of the iPad Pro and the iMac Pro, has it become relatively easy to integrate technology into the process. To this end, CGMagazine took some time to talk to Michael Walsh, a Canadian illustrator who has been featured in IMAGE Comics in the Comeback Series, and who has worked closely with Marvel Comics.
Based in Hamilton Ontario, Walsh produces work that is world renowned, as can be seen in many of his works from Marvel, and features a style all his own. We caught up with Mr. Walsh as he was actively working on the latest Star Wars, as well as on the Hawkeye series of books from Marvel.
CGMagazine: What got you into comic book work? Have you always wanted to work in this field?
Michael Walsh: I was a big comic book fan when I was a kid in the 90’s. I used to go to a comic book store called Comic One in Hamilton, Ontario. My dad would take me there all the time and he always would let me pick one comic. Every time I got a comic I would take it home and draw panels from it. So I’ve basically wanted to work in comics for as long as I can remember. After high school I went to OCAD, which is an arts college in Canada, and after I graduated, comics were still what I wanted to do.
CGMagazine: Is comic art something that you need to work hard on, or is it something that you can do just based on your talent? How should people looking to get into comics view portfolios?
Michael Walsh: That’s actually a very interesting point because I think that a lot of talent can get you in the door, but you have to be willing to work hard, be ready to learn, be ready to draw all the time if you want to stay and rise up, and not everyone is committed to that. It’s all about putting the time and effort in, and once you’re there it’s all about making deadlines, and there are some business aspects about it too where you need to negotiate page rates. Most comic book people represent themselves: they don’t have agencies, so you need to have the business sense, the business vocabulary especially early on in your career.
And it is pretty grueling, I mean comics have a monthly print schedule and now a lot of books are doing bi-monthly releases. So if you want to be a mainstream artist, you have to be able to draw two 20 page issues a month which is a ton of unforgiving work. You really just need to find a routine that works for you and stick to it. I’ve seen a lot of artists come in with a great portfolio and great art but they end up falling apart under the stress of deadlines. It’s a bad idea to take on more than you can handle. Take your time on your portfolio and try drawing at a pace of a page per day to see if you can handle it, and then once you start working that will be close to your actual schedule.
CGMagazine: The IPad Pro is a relatively new product. Was it something that when you first saw it you knew you’d find use for it or did you just give it a go on a spur of the moment whimsy?
Michael Walsh: I didn’t really know and I did buy it on a whim, but it’s worked really well and it’s perfect for when I do a bunch of traveling. I can work primarily off of that.
CGMagazine: Could you tell us your experience with the new iMac Pro?
Michael Walsh: Apple is taking what they had in the past and putting it into overdrive. I’ve heard stories of people having problems with iMacs in the past, but this is just a beautiful piece of hardware. If you can afford it then why wouldn’t you? It seems like everyone in this industry is starting to go towards this and there’s a reason for that. It’s not just a hive mentality but just a really great product.
CGMagazine: Any last tips for any artists looking to break in to the industry?
Michael Walsh: Draw every day and try to remember that for comic book artists it’s all about telling stories. So go online, find some professional scripts and draw based off of that.
You can read the full interview with Michael Walsh in the May issue of CGMagazine.
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