Comic Creator interview
with Tyler Sowles
Name: Tyler Sowles
City: Grand Rapids, MI
Comics: The Numbered (Arcana Studio), Durontus: The Lost Serpent (Self Published), Hank Steiner: Monster Detective (Self Published), Fallstreak, Renegade
Websites: Killustrationstudios.com, thekillustrator.com, durontus.com,
QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?
Tyler – I was into reading whatever was on magazine stands as a kid -- mostly a lot of Spider-Man & Spawn. I lost interest in comics in middle school thanks to video games, but then got back into them in college. By that time comics were no longer just DC or Marvel & new & interesting titles from Dark Horse, Image, & IDW made me want to read comics again.
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Tyler – As a kid, I’m not sure, probably Spider-Man. Anything with Lizard or Venom in it. As an adult, it was Hellboy & Invincible.
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Tyler – I put out a mini comic in my early 20s, I think 22 or 23. I did my first full length comic when I was 27.
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
Tyler – This one.
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Tyler – Comics come naturally to me -- the idea of movement based scenes, sequential work, is something that’s easy & fun for me to wrap my head around. There IS a way to make a living in comics, too. It’s just not easy. Making a living drawing or writing seems... even more difficult.
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?
Tyler – Both. It depends on what the creators’ goals are. I’ve personally seen friends go either direction as they take off.
QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?
Tyler – 100? I think.
QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?
Tyler – This is tough. Overseas large print runs basically run the media. It’s hard for a small publisher/indie creator to match those prices. I find that $5 or $6 is pretty standard for smaller print runs. Even then, creators make very little back.
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
Tyler – Right now, I produce between 5-10 books a year. I wish I could do a book a month.
QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?
Tyler – Again, I think it’s up to the creator. I really don’t think there’s a right or a wrong in this regard.
QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?
Tyler – It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about this. It seems to me that comic strips are simpler in presentation -- usually only a few panels to convey a message, which seems even more difficult. I feel that strips have to be sharp & to the point. The art is often highly stylized. I guess I prefer comics, simply because it’s more of what I grew up with.
QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?
Tyler – This depends on who’s printing the book. Your “team” plays a big factor when it comes down to printing & distribution. For self-publishing, it could be next day (once the files are prepped) or a month later. It sorta depends on who’s printing the material, too. It usually takes me a month or two to complete the art for a standard 22-24 page comic.
QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?
Tyler – Hopefully everything. I feel like every time I draw a page, I learn something. I’ve learned a lot about finalizing things, inking & making the art look dynamic. At least, I’d like to think so, anyhow.
QRD – Do you do thumbnails?
Tyler – Sometimes, especially if the writer wants it, or I’m having a hard time figuring out a page. Typically though, I prefer to rough stuff straight to the page.
QRD – At what size do you draw?
Tyler – 11x17 comic board.
QRD – What kind of pens do you use?
Tyler – I don’t. I typically ink in Photoshop with a med sized Intuos Pro. If I ink traditionally, I use a brush & liquid ink.
QRD – What does your workstation look like?
Tyler – A disaster.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Tyler – Depends on the book. I still like to do pencils traditionally, but I LOVE inking digitally.
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
Tyler – I dig them, too.
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
Tyler – I typically do pencils & inks. My wife (& art partner) Sara Sowles, usually handles the color.
QRD – How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?
Tyler – Typically, it’s a small team of 3 to 6. You have a writer, penciller, inker, colorist, letterer, & sometimes an editor. A lot of the time, the penciller also inks, unless there’s a tight deadline & a big budget. Sometimes folks are just able to handle more than one job.
QRD – How do you find collaborators?
Tyler – Conventions! Online helps sometimes, too. Pencil Jack & Digital Webbing are good resources, but the forums can be... annoying. I prefer meeting people in person at conventions.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?
Tyler – This depends on the team & your goals. Lazy writing is a bad thing, but leaving some things open to interpretation for the artist can be rewarding. Writers & artists should come to some sort of agreement ahead of time of what they need from each other. I prefer reasonable direction, as long as I can make changes to make things more interesting or dynamic as they come up.
QRD – Do you think it’s important to have a full story arc completely written before starting to draw?
Tyler – Maybe? I think it’s a good idea to have a general objective in mind in the very least. Perhaps you might not have every issue written, but you DO have a skeleton of the next 4 issues. That works.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Tyler – I’ve been compared to both Mike Mignola & Tony Moore. I’m not nearly as talented as those guys. It’s immensely flattering.
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Tyler – A plethora of feelings. I think most of them are supportive -- friends think it’s cool. I have a LOT of friends who DO comics now. My family thinks it’s weird, I think, & they don’t get it, but they’re still supportive.
QRD – What do you think of superheroes?
Tyler – They’re the comic standard. There are good superhero stories out there. They used to monopolize the industry, but there’s a growing interest in different kinds of stories & small publishing. Thankfully.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
Tyler – Dark Horse.
QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?
Tyler – I’d love to do a Hellboy pinup. Or Godzilla. For sure.
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Tyler – I take what comes. I have a couple great comics that I’m passionate about, but if a large offer comes through, I would pursue that, too.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Tyler – Midwest area. Try not to fly -- it’s too expensive unless you’re a guest.
QRD – How do you feel about doing work for anthologies?
Tyler – I like helping out.
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
Tyler – Twitter, conventions, signings.
QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?
Tyler – Comic shops for sure. Indie & small press!
QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?
Tyler – Any. Maybe? I don’t know. A Hank Steiner toy or movie would be dope.
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Tyler – I’m definitely a reader & creator. I don’t collect. Most of my comics are destroyed due to misuse & tons of reading. Coffee stains, bent all to hell from travel, rips.
QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?
Tyler – The internet. Print is slowly dying. Comics are one of the few mediums left.
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
Tyler – Reading & supporting indie & small press. We all love Batman, but seriously, give something different a try. There’s a lot of passionate, talented folks making comics in YOUR neighborhood. You just have to look for them.
QRD – Anything else?
Tyler – Nope. Thanks for the interview!