Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Spotlight on Legends of the Guard creator: Terry Moore:
David Petersen: Terry, When I asked if you would be interested in doing a Legends story, you mentioned that you had kinda sworn off anthologies. Why is that? and what made you change your mind for this project?

Terry Moore: I found that I would spend a lot of time on an anthology contribution, then nothing would come from it, like nobody ever saw it. You know, like nobody ever said they saw it or anything. And I have to work overtime to do one, because every month I have a new comic issue due. So it just got to where I didn’t think it was worth it anymore. But, with Mouse Guard, that was a no-brainer because I love the book and, as a cartoonist, I knew I would love drawing the mice in their world. So, I guess I do anthologies, but now I’m very, very, very picky.
David: I sought out storytellers for this project, that is to say folks who were both artists and writers. With Strangers in Paradise and now Echo you are well known for being a storyteller of his own worlds, but every now and then you play in someone else’s toybox (Birds of Prey, Darkness/Vampirella, Spiderman Loves Mary Jane). Do you find it a relaxing vacation for having the weight of your own worlds on your shoulders? or does it have it’s own stresses of making other people happy and working within the confines of cannon?

Terry: It’s a fun break, to think about other worlds and other characters. It does add stress to my life though because, again, the relentless deadline of my own book. I usually don’t get to do one or the other. It’s usually add something to the existing workload, so it has to mean something to me or I can’t do it.

David: Your story, The Shrike & the Toad is about clever thinking, and making the best of a bad situation. Where did the story come from?

Terry: I just put myself in their shoes, the guardmice, and tried to think of something that might easily happen during the course of the day, to show the resourcefulness of these special little creatures. And I use to draw cartoon toads all the time, so I snuck my fave critter in there. FYI: this was the first time I’ve ever drawn a mouse, but it was great, following your wonderful design/style.
David: The story outline you turned in was fairly long considering you had a two page page limit. I was worried that while I liked your story, it could never fit on two pages. However, you turned in the final art on two pages and I don’t see that you left anything out! How did you tackle taking a typed story outline and planning it out to work within a small page count?

Terry: Ha! That’s the story of my work life! I write out long scenes for my books, letting characters talk things out, saying too much and all that. Then when I sit down to draw I edit and toss out the unnecessary stuff, and it’s always much shorter and tighter. I like for everything on the page to belong there for a reason. As Strunk & White said, “Kill your darlings.” Meaning: edit out the fluff, even if you like it.
David: What is your process for getting artwork to the final surface? Do you draw directly onto it? do you print out blue lined sketches? do you use a light box?

Terry: I almost always draw and ink straight to the page, so no blue-line sketches or anything. In the case of The Shrike And The Toad, I did a loose thumbnail of the panel layout on printer paper, but there weren’t characters or anything. I threw it out when the real pages were finished. As for a light box, I use one to mark off the measurements of my comic page template. I made a master that I use on the light box. That way I don’t have to measure off every page.
David: And for your linework, what do you use to ink with?

Terry: For Shrike and Toad, I used a 102 quill pen (for art and lettering) that was so broken in it gave out on the final panel. I was inking the tree on the right and a big blob of ink just fell out of the nib. I was horrified because I tried very hard not to have any mistakes on the art. Fortunately I was able to clean it off and cover it up. For my books I use the quill for all but the large figures. For those I use a Raphael #1 brush.

David: I noticed a Charles Schulz-ness to the artwork for The Shrike & the Toad and I see you have mentioned before that Peanuts was an influence on your work. Can you describe how Sparky’s work influenced you and this story?

Terry: Every time I draw grass and trees I think of Peanuts. Sparky most of his life staring at the details of his cartooning as he worked, refining his art to the best look. I’ve spent my life looking at his art too. So, it’s inevitable you would see the influences. That’s why you have to be careful what you put into your brain, as an artist. When you see great stuff, devour it. That’s what I learned from Schulz. That’s why I loved contributing to this book!

David: The square format is one that I really enjoy working in and I’m finding that the other creators for Legends have enjoyed it and found it challenging. How did you find working in it? Did it affect your layout process?

Terry: Square is so much better for me than the vertical format. More natural. Maybe I took to it so easily because it more closely resembled the notebook paper ratio I drew on during school. That’s where I learned to cartoon, in jr. high and high school, making thousands of cartoons on my notebook paper. Never thought I’d say this but, square is cool! 
David: Where can people find out more about Terry Moore, Strangers in Paradise, and Echo?

Terry: The FBI website usually has something. Or go to my website: abstractstudiocomics.com

Terry's Legends story: The Shrike & the Toad appears in
Legends of the Guard issue #2 in stores June 23rd

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