Not too long ago I got to have a conversation with Chris Grine. Chris is the man behind the new graphic novel Time Shifters. You can check out our review of it here. He also has a webcomic that I personally LOVE called Wicked Crispy. The worst part of the interview was that we both coincidentally wore our Barf costumes and were too far from home for either of us to change. At least as far as you know.
Quit wasting your time! Get to it.
DB: Getting these things rolling can be tricky (so sayeth the Spider), so let’s kick this off with an easy one. If you could be any one of the Goonies, which one? (Sloth and Andy are Goonies by the end so they’re fair game)
CG: Mouth. I would be Mouth.
DB: See, easy yeah?! On to the meat & potatoes. How did you develop your style? Was it one you’ve always had or did it change over time?
CG: Style. I’ve always just done my own thing, but certain artists have influenced me over time which always causes deviations and growth. I feel like I’m settling into my current style these days.
DB: Did you doodle in class growing up or were you Art Class Nerd? On a scale where 1 is doodles and 10 is Art Class Nerd where did you fall?
CG: 8. I drew a lot. A LOT! But I tried to stay engaged in class as much as I could. I had plenty of detentions however from teachers who couldn’t understand how I could be paying attention while I drew.
DB: So you were an art class nerd? Did you visit a lot of art museums? Do you use reference material at all while you draw?
CG: I did spend a lot of time in the art room, but I had a really awesome teacher so it was worth it. I guess I had some talent, but it was her guidance that put me on the right track.
I’ve visited a bunch of museums, yes. The trouble for me is that when you’re in art class, or art college, they expect you to go to museums all the time. So much so that I really can’t enjoy them anymore and I find them tedious.
I do use reference when I draw, it’s almost mandatory. I also build some elements in 3D programs such as buildings or vehicles so I can view them from any angle I need. Most of the time I just wing it, but there are times when there is no other way to get it right.
DB: I got into 3D design a while back as well! It does make an excellent visualization tool. Could you walk us through your page creation process, say from sketching to final layout?
CG: My pages begin with a stack of 5×7 index cards. I do my pencils on these with a mechanical blue pencil and then scan them into my computer. I use these cards because I can take them anywhere and I tend to work small anyway, so it’s a good fit for me.
Next is the inking. I am 100% digital from this point onward in my work process. I use Manga Studio for the bulk of the inking, but I do sometimes make changes in Photoshop prior to doing the colors.
Speaking of color! That’s all in Photoshop as are the word balloons and dialogue. That’s pretty much it. Just lots of all that, over and over and over and over…
DB: Sounds like it can be grind sometimes. How do you keep ideas rolling? Does it work better for you to have a few different things going so you can hop between them or do you prefer a serialized work load? I know you have a book you are working on and there is also Wicked Crispy simmering there too. How do you handle those two things as they seem quite different?
CG: I usually have time to think about new story ideas while I’m plugging away on inks or color work since those are more autopilot mode for me. I like to have different types of stories going all the time, it keeps my interest up. Wicked Crispy, for example, is a nice escape from more family friendly ideas as it’s most certainly not for kids. I think if I did the same type of story too much I would absolutely burn out.
DB: I really enjoy your coloring style, it has this great cel shading feel to it. Like the world is made out of this really smooth latex. But the edges have felt… Well, that about wraps it up folks. Thanks to Chris Grine for taking the time to talk me and I’ll catch you all on the flip side!
You can see Chris’ work here: