So after seeing Giannis Milogiannis’s influence map, I decided to spend some time making one of my own. I like to do these kind of things from time to time—because I move so rapidly through a lot of what I’m into, that they’re more time markers than anything. I don’t know where my old one is—but I know I think only Sienkiewicz, Frazetta and Druillet are hold overs from it. A lot of these are pretty obvious just looking at my art. Some of these are very inter-related as well. In the spirit of wasting time I thought I’d mention the who what’s and whys—because I have no shame, and no great mystery. You look without much effort and you can find the very first things I ever drew on the internet. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those artists who appears finished from some crazy ether. Every progression for me comes from some that fearlessness overly self-aware trip into shaming myself with shitty this or shitty that. I would class my attitude in approaching my art as both senselessly arrogant, and at the same time very paranoid and insecure. Fire going in and fire going out.
And none of that is really that accurate. I like how it sounds though right now.
I relate a ton to the psychosis in his line, and the body twisting horror of his work. I think the first time I saw it, I was uncomfortable, but in a very attracting way. A lot of things in my life I get into because they make me uncomfortable, and I think almost as a therapy—I explore why. I didn’t start watching horror movies until I was in my 20s—because I simply couldn’t watch horror movies before then. Unsolved Mysteries episodes used to wreck me as a kid. I was bad enough growing up really religious, with nightmares of the devil, and that paranoid notion of god always watching you and judging you—and knowing that who I was inside my head, to be that person—would be a transgression against said god—so all of that made horror too intense to add into that mix when I was that young. So I grew up on westerns and comedies mostly I think. Westerns for the way that they deal so directly with notions of good and evil. Sin and the sinner. And then comedies—because humor is the only way to cope with all of that. All good comedy I think comes from an origin story of existentialism at an early age.
Basquiat—His stuff keeps me loose compositionally—and I related with the way that he’d put something in his paintings, and then visibly hide it—that art could be a public secret to yourself—it’s like exhibitionist pain. But I like to look at his stuff a lot because it keeps me from always just thinking about a comic page as a comic page—sometimes it is sometimes it isn’t. So whenever I get in a rut about how I’m going to lay a page out—I’ll start doing thumbnails of his paintings. The crown I put in my sigil/signatures isn’t actually a crown. It’s the bottom row of teeth. But I like to think it happened the first time that way, as some sort of magical connection with Basquiat and a need to pronounce that linkage for the unseen ways his art helps me see comics.
Frazetta: When I first started to draw I started out just doing studies of Frazetta’s work—and that was how I learned the body in comics. I still use his work now—but it’s more to think about whether or not I’ve done as much as I can in a given moment—is this as dynamic as I can make it—as I want it?
Joao Ruas: A year from now it will probably make more sense to talk about his work and me. But he has a lot of elements of things I’m trying to learn right now. It made sense to included him here.
Enki Bilal: Animal’z is a huge work to me—but I still haven’t figure out how. Bilal is one of the first dudes to shake my core in terms of color—I use color differently—but I wouldn’t have gotten to the spot I’m out without constantly thinking about Bilal. The way he stages colors and strokes on a page or panel—is sort of always in the back of my mind. There’s no more dramatic moment in comics than when Bilal busts out white or red or a light blue on a page.
Druillet: The chronology of when I first found Druillet’s work is all jumbled at this point. I don’t know if it was before I started drawing or right when I started or what. He was the first guy to really sort of open the doors of perception in terms of how crazy a page could look—and all of those colors….swoon!
Jose Gonzalez—The way he navigates space—and draws faces. Generally speaking a lot of those Breccia influenced artists for how they use texture—and break away from cross hatching or blobby Pratt/Pope brush strokes.
Cries and Whispers: Ingmar Bergman basically. It’s more of a writing influence. But I’m very interested in the way he handles intense hatred or intense love between emotionally stunted characters. As well—the type of horror films he makes, are the type of horror comics I make—usually when people make horror comics it just means there’s a zombie in the space where the Joker would usually go—what is interesting to me about Bergman’s horror filims is how he frames the supernatural. It is still there. But it is almost more visceral and primordial. And it is an organic part of a real vicious human drama. Death is most certainly there in the Seventh Seal and drives the film—but it’s beyond simply that Death is chasing. There are questions that scenerio raises and inflects—and it’s more interesting to me to see that. In the Sarah Connor Chronicles—it’s still human killing cyborgs—but there are questions attendant to that—and it’s interesting to explore those. All of our fears come from important places worth visiting I guess. And I like how Bergman’s films will live in hell. I didn’t explain that well.
Ashley Wood: His chunky marker line mainly—and the dynamic way his characters post up in frame.
Tarkovsky: You should always have goals to try and surpass.
Taiyo Matusmoto: I saw his stuff—No. 5 was the first book of his I saw—and was like blown away. He is the first guy I saw who captured what Schiele does, and made comics out of it. Seeing his stuff gave me more confidence about the direction I was going with my own art. And allowed me to keep growing.
Brandon Graham: There’s a page at the back of one of the King City issues where it’s like Brandon talking about being an artist and being able to draw anywhere anytime with anything—and the gist of it was just this no excuses make the damn comics thing—which I saw this page right when I was first starting to draw my own work instead of just make collages—and that page was like a mantra in the back of my head through so many late night shifts when I was working at the hotel—and would just sit behind the desk drawing all night, and then I’d go home and draw even more. There’s an ethos and love of comics that comes through Brandon’s work that I read and was very much like “that’s what I’m sayin’”—his comics I think make you feel less alone in making your own comics if that makes sense. And then the stuff he’s been trying in Prophet and Multiple Warheads, and how he’s constantly upping the ante—as a writer when I read his stuff or Ales Kot’s stuff—it keeps me hungry to get better on that front. I didn’t always see myself as an artist of comics—but I have always seen myself as a writer—so seeing Brandon pulling off shit I really like, in a medium where there’s a lot of suck writing wise—it’s like you can’t help but be like “I need to come harder on this front”. Plus he’s one of the few guys who has a voice in comics that isn’t using that voice to power shitty Teen Titans comics or something. I grew up on superhero comics for sure. And I love them in their own place, when done well. But creatively I have no real interest in working with them—and I’m too late into the game to waste a lot of years tolling away on ideas that are not my own and that I have no ownership in. When you are writing and drawing and coloring—you only have so many books you can get off before your eyes stop working, your brain turns to frank miller, and your back gives out. I have a long view of what I want to do if I am alive for the next 20 years, and I also have the urgency within the moment. And Brandon’s comics kind of often operate well within that for me.
Crepax—My influence map is a crepax page I pasted images over. I have absolutely absorbed Crepax. I’ve read and reread so many of his comics—studied his pages like a maniac. And I think that comes across without me explaining it much.
Bill Sienkiewicz—How his art would spin and contort depending on the moment in the comic and the emotion he was conveying. That all parts of a comic are malleable and at your disposal. Elektra Assassin is an important book for me.
HR Giger—His ability to get across sex and death and gods and magick and myth in his work is something I aspire to and study. He’s been pretty influential on my thoughts I think and how I approach making horror images.
Tsutomu Nihei: Blame! was a big deal for me. All of his comics were. But that unrelenting dirge that Blame! is was a game changer. I think the aparrantness of his influence changes radically from moment to moment—but how he handles scale and architecture, is something I’ve been thinking about for a really long time. I mean just where you are positioning a character on a page, and at what scale has a dramatic effect on mood—and the way Nihei controls the mood of his readers in how he balances figure vs. perspective and geometric planes is hugely important to me and the kind of comics I want to be able to make. I also really dig how he makes new things look old. Which is a Giger thing. The future past. That you can make the future feel like it is so far into the future it is like the past in it’s dust and archetype. It’s like the original ideas in the dark forest reintroduce themselves at the very end of time. He handles that largely through design—but also in the little scratches and scuffs and dents he puts in places.