The following is an interview with Eryk Donovan, a contributing artist to IDW Publishing’s new In the Dark Horror Anthology. In this interview, Fanboy Comics Guest Contributor Morgan Perry chats with Donovan about how he became involved in the anthology, the creative process of working with so many talented creators, and the influences of his own artistic style.
This interview was conducted on May 7, 2014.
Morgan Perry, Fanboy Comics Guest Contributor: What initially interested you in the In the Dark Horror Anthology?
Eryk Donovan: I’ve long been a fan of horror and horror comics, so getting a chance to work on a project like this was awesome! There were already a number of friends and acquaintances signed on, and once I talked with Rachel and James, I knew I was in. I could tell it was going to be something really special, and you know what? I was totally right. In the Dark is amazing. If you haven’t already, go out and pick it up!
MP: What was it like being part of an anthology that seemed to have such a wide spectrum of creative talent?
ED: Honestly, it was a little scary at first! So many great artists and writers working together on a project like this, you know you have to bring the best you can possibly be to the project. That said, it also gave me a drive to push myself and my drawing ability, which I think is absolutely essential for anyone creative! Keep pushing the limits; it’s how we improve! It’s also really fun to look through the book when it’s done and see such variety in the art and story, and you know each one is going to be really good. So, there was definitely that intimidation factor initially, but really it was just pure exciting!
MP: I’ve always really enjoyed your style, and two of the things that make it so appealing are your inking technique and your character designs. What influences these aspects of your work?
ED: Thank you! I love inking! Growing up, I read a lot of Calvin and Hobbes, old Superman and Batman comics, and a lot of books with illustrations from turn-of-the-century artists like Howard Pyle, so I think there has always been this love of the brushy, expressive stroke. When I started studying comics, I came across contemporary creators who had that same love of the brush and expressive lines, and it really tugged at my core. It also challenged me to see who were their influences, which led me to masters like Toppi or Caniff who inspired me once more. I think with inking the key is to let the line tell a story just as much as the image. It conveys a story about the character, but it can also tell a story about the artist who created the image. It’s fascinating to me in that way, and not something you get in the same way with penciller/inker teams. Honestly, one of my biggest challenges was reining myself in and learning to control my lines. In the beginning, it was all over the place!
As far as the character design is concerned, I think a lot of that comes from video games and animation that I spent so much time with in my grade school years. One of my first artist heroes was Tetsuya Nomura, right when Final Fantasy VII was released in the US. I loved the way he drew his characters, each with their own unique sensibility and personality that was apparent just by glancing at them. I can tell you I spent probably just as much time looking through the instruction manual at the character pages as I did playing the game! It’s sad you don’t really get that with the modern games. Mostly, its just a some diagrams of the controllers and a few screenshots, and many of the concept artists are creating with Zbrush or sculpting tools, so there isn’t the same amount illustrative quality to it. And, a lot of people just download the game now! So, Final Fantasy got me into Japanese animation, it was also right around the time of Toonami on Cartoon Network, so within a short span, I became inundated with all these new characters and the art from Gundam Wing or Cowboy Bebop. I think even now, as I’ve been developing my own work, there is a definite anime influence to it.
MP: Being that we focus on all things “geek” at Fanboy Comics, would you care to geek out with us about the comic books or graphic novels that you are currently reading?
ED: Absolutely! I tend to prefer limited or mini-series, just because I can buy them for a few months or a year and then find a new series, and that saves me both time and money, but there are so many great comics out there right now. It’s tough, I tell you! I’ve really been enjoying The Wake, Black Science, Wild Blue Yonder, Sex Criminals, FBP, and Brother Lono just finished its run. BOOM! has some really great, new series that are just coming out – Dead Letters and The Woods – and I’ve, of course, been loving the trades of Saga and American Vampire! Graphic novel-wise, Battling Boy was great fun, and I’m really looking forward to the next installment whenever that comes around. The Squidder should be coming out sometime in the near future. As a creator, though, I always try and read outside of my realm, as well, so I’ve been reading Game of Thrones fiction-wise, and a number of science and politics books, as well.
MP: What’s next for you? Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re able to share with out readers?
ED: Making more comics! Seriously, though, I think I’ll always be making comics in a capacity. Drawing and creating stories have always gone hand in hand for me, and comics are the perfect combination of the two!
I have a new series called The House in the Wall coming up on Thrillbent.com with the awesome James Tynion IV (who I worked with on In the Dark) and Noah J. Yuenkel. It’s a really cool ghost story that I hope people are going to enjoy! That will be out sometime in the very near future! I also have the Super Mario Bros. 2 web comic that you can check out which is currently updating weekly!
Of course, keep an eye out. I just might have some other cool stuff coming out later on this year!