The following is an interview with Calvin Garcia, illustrator of the web comic, William Feist: Paranormal Detective. In this interview, Fanboy Comics Contributor Madeleine Holly-Rosing chats with Garcia about how William Feist found its start, his approach to color work versus using black and white, and his thoughts on diversity in comic books!
Calvin is one of those ultra-talented guys who is too busy having a life to bother with promoting themselves, so I decided to do it for him. He’s the illustrator of the web comic, William Feist: Paranormal Detective, and has been very generous with his time and skills by creating fan art for many other comics, including my own. (They are my favorites, but don’t tell anyone.) He’s also been immensely supportive and a genuine, all-around good guy.
Fanboy Comics Contributor Madeleine Holly-Rosing: Calvin, you work with Vaughn Reynolds on William Feist. How did you two guys meet, and how did you finally settle on doing this comic together? Do you have any other comics on the back burner?
Calvin Garcia: Vaughn and I have known each other since childhood. I used to be friends with his brother and I hated Vaughn, but we had one thing in common: comics. I decided to call him one day (back when people still did that) and ask him to work on a comic. After years of failure and things dying on the launch pad, we finally decided to do this. Vaughn and I are always kicking around ideas, but outside of William Feist have nothing planned together. Currently, as you saw on social media, I’m working on a little something new by myself. It’s called Freelancers. It’s Tarantino meets Final Fantasy. Just imagine it. Pulp Fiction in Midgar.
MHR: I see you are no longer posting William Feist, but you are creating pages. (I saw them on Facebook.) What’s the deal?
CG: Funny you mention that. I finish about a page a week, but I don’t think it’s fair to the people reading to not have a guaranteed finished story. So, when the issue is done, I’ll cue it up and it’ll release on a reliable schedule as opposed to the spastic, at best, schedule I keep now.
MHR: I see you moved from color to black and white. What was the reason behind that? (By the way, it works pretty well.)
CG: Thank you for the compliment! I always feel so insecure about it. I’m a bit of a flip flopper on the subject of black and white and color. When I first made the decision, it was because I loved the way James Riot’s The Path looked. It was inspiring. I believe he has some of the best black-and-white stuff I’ve ever seen. As time went on, though, it was more of a scheduling thing. I couldn’t meet the demands of a full-color page every week, but I still wanted to release stuff in a timely manner. So, I got rid of the color.
MHR: I loved the Christmas 2014 special. I noticed you had what looked like scanned photo images in the background. Being a non-artist, how is that done?
CG: Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Honestly, the backgrounds are just cellphone pictures. I have a 16-megapixel camera on my phone, and I knew exactly what I was looking for, so I just went out and shot it. I emailed it to myself, dragged it into Photoshop, grayscaled it, and voila! It’s usually easy to find inspiration for backgrounds being from New York City and having a large chunk of the book take place there.
MHR: Have you been going to any conventions to sell/promote your work? Which ones? If not, why?
CG: Not once. I’m terrible at promotion. Even when I was burning the midnight oil to get pages out on time, the promotion part of it ate away at my soul. It wasn’t something I ever wanted to do. I envy your promotional skill!
MHR: Like most artists/writers, you have a day job that eats up most of your time. What’s your day job, and how do you work in time to create?
CG: I work in a warehouse driving a forklift. It’s funny what even made me consider getting a warehouse job was reading an interview with Ryan Ottely of Invincible fame where he said he was working in a warehouse just before Kirkman found him. Call me crazy, but I think it’s something about that awful, gray environment that makes you want to work harder to get away from it. I honestly take every second I’m not at work to draw. It’s simply a matter of putting in the effort.
MHR: What do you think about the lack of diversity in comics, and what do you think is the best solution?
CG: Diversity is a hot-button issue in mainstream entertainment these days. Being half African American and half Puerto Rican, I found it awesome that Miles Morales represented me ethnically, but I haven’t read more than 1 issue of that book. I always preferred Peter Parker, because he was neurotic and funny. The lack of diversity as portrayed by the internet is misleading. There are tons of ethnic characters in comics, but, like any other hashtag activism, it’s done by people who aren’t really paying attention to the actual material. I have an Asian friend and he mentioned an online petition to get an Iron Fist movie with an Asian Danny Rand. I was baffled. Why would you want an Asian Danny Rand when you have a much more badass character in Shang Chi. It’s about more than skin color. And, at the end of the day, if what you want is to be represented ethnically, nothing speaks louder than money. Buy the books of ethnic characters, and you’ll get more ethnic movies TV shows and games.
MHR: Last question . . . if you were stranded on a deserted island, which comics/graphic novels would you want to have with you?
CG: Honestly, anything Grant Morrison writes. Literally any books in any run ever. I honestly HOPE I’m in a plane crash and stranded on a desert island after his Multiversity Omnibus comes out. I seriously love what he’s doing on that thing.
Thank you for this interview, Madeleine.
You can find Calvin at the following links:
@calvinwalvin on Twitter/instagram
@kingvmr on Twitter
@Chineseablelincoln on instagram