An Interview with a Comic Book Artist (Part 1)
I met Jake Myler years ago at a small comic book convention in Long Beach, CA. I was trying to make connections and see how I could break into the industry as a writer. I noticed his great art, introduced myself and then we chatted a little. He drew some quick Naruto sketches for me that I still have. Some years later, we met up again when we both found work under Tokyopop. He’s still active in the industry today!
His professional credits include comic book art for adaptations of iconic properties such as Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers, Finding Nemo and Fraggle Rock, as well as comic book cover art for Darkwing Duck, Monsters Inc. and Walt Disney’s Comics. Jake also collaborated with writer Jim Pascoe to create the Original English Language manga series Undertown, published by Tokyopop.
Read on and get to know someone who, through hard work and perseverance, is living the fanboy dream!
Who Are You, Where Are You From and What Do You Do?
"My name is Jake Myler, I'm living in Seattle, Washington, and I draw comics!"
How Long Have You Been a Fan of Comics and Manga?
"I've been a comic book fan for as long as I can remember. I would read whatever I could find, and would love to look through my dad’s old Surfer magazines for little mini-comics about surfing created by Rick Griffin, but there was never enough. I think I seriously took a look at comics around the year 2000 when manga started to become easily available in bookstores. Back then I was on a mission to read everything that was published. My bookshelves quickly became too full of manga so they were just stacked in towers on the floor and piled up everywhere I could find room."
What Inspired You to Make Comics?
"There were a few different comics, such as Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa and T.H.B. by Paul Pope, that had an original looking style and showed me that you could have your own way of drawing and doing things in comics and still be really successful. Seeing the freedom that these creators showed in their artwork made me want to give comic-making a try."
How Did You Get Your Start?
"Tokyopop was doing a contest called Rising Stars of Manga where people could submit a short comic and 10 or so of the best would be published in a book. I tried several times and each time I was denied. Instead of giving up though, I kept at it, and after entering a few of these contests I was actually contacted by one of the editors and asked if, instead of writing the story, I'd be interested in drawing for someone else's story. Of course I said 'yes' and that's how I ended up drawing 300+ pages and 2 volumes of my comic Undertown! So perseverance really paid off!"
Who Are Your Main Influences?
"I really feel inspired by Ai Yazawa, Paul Pope, Court Betten (Prince Standard), Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira), Kazue Kato (Blue Exorcist), Kiyohiko Azuma (Yotsuba&!) and Takeshi Obata (Hikaru no Go, Deathnote). I guess there are a lot of Japanese creators in there, but it's what I really enjoy reading."
How Important Is It for You to Consume Outside of Your
Creative Medium and Established Genres?
"It's extremely important to be inspired [by] and read and watch and play as much media as you can! To know what's out there but also so you won't just get caught stuck completely in your own head when it comes to creating art and stories. I really try to pay attention to the things that inspire me and try to figure out what about that movie, videogame or comic made me feel that way!"
Comics Have Long Fought for Recognition as Literature and Art. What Do You Think Makes Comics So Unique and Valuable?
"Comics are a whole different type of communication and it gives the creator of the story the opportunity to not only explain in words, but also in pictures. Although it is similar to a movie in that they are both using pictures to tell a story, it's not like a movie that costs millions and takes hundreds of people to create. A succinct story can be created by just one person, so it can be as direct as a novel, but still with the visual language of a movie."
Tune In Next Time
That’s all for part 1. Keep a look out for part 2!
You can follow Jake Myler on Twitter under the handle @lazesummerstone.
Photo credit: PopCultureGeek.com
Intern Anthony Andora really wishes he could draw.