You’re no stranger to dark themes, having illustrated Alien, Ghostbusters and TMNT. Your use of urban decay and the city at night make you a natural choice to draw Silent Hill. How did you come to be involved in Silent Hill Downpour: Anne’s Story?
It’s interesting. I was asked to pitch for this YEARS ago and got the job, but there was a lot of red tape in the way. Suddenly it cleared up and we were on again! I was kind of dissatisfied with the way my contributions to the Ghostbusters comics were going, as I’d just done my first full story of interior art and writing, and there were plans to reboot the series that would kind of pull back what I was doing to simple kind of back-up material, and having drawn and written something a little fuller and received such a great response from it, I was keen to do more. Unfortunately, that couldn’t happen without destabilizing the creative team of that book (all of whom I love), so I took leave. Tom offered me a shot at Silent Hill after that and the rest was history!
Had you played or watched much Silent Hill prior to this project?
Yes! I’m a huge Silent Hill fan. I seem to find I’m in the minority in that I really, really, really love Shattered Memories and Downpour. I love the originals, too, but I think as things have gone on those’ve been the standouts. I liked the world building Homecoming did, too. The idea that the evil isn’t just located in Silent Hill. That’d be something I’d love to explore in the comics, but for for now, Downpour’s the focus.
What do you think is the most important element to capture when illustrating the world of Silent Hill?
I think it depends on which reality you’re visiting. Downpour is a very different visual to the others, which are different in themselves. There’s a visual thread running through 0-5, but there are also narrative links connecting those that aren’t as present in Downpour as they would be for those ones. I think at the end of the day, the isolation is something that’s important, or at least conveying those things. Right now, I’m drawing issue 2, so I’m hoping those things come out later, but given this is focused on Anne and her back story, I can’t say for sure how much of what I’m drawing will actually focus on the towns. I think there’s a certain visual thread to the creatures of Silent Hill, and wherever I can I’m sort of nodding to what’s come before, to kind of make Downpour feel a bit more like it’s a part of the original run’s world.
Your use of light and shadow are amazing. Do you use reference photos are you just that awesome, haha?
Bahaha! Thanks, I wish that was the case but really that’s kind of me cheating a bit more than anything else. I’ll use rough mock-ups but generally it’s me guessing where the light source is or whatever might work best for the image. The deadlines for this book have been a little tighter than I think anyone’d like, so chances are the use of black is probably me creating a sense of shape and not get too bogged down in details. There was a page in there that took me three or four days to draw because of the detail required.
It appears that you use a variety of mediums in your artwork; what are your favorites?
Fine pens and inks. Easily. It’s where I can make it mostly “mine”, though I do LOVE pushing things a bit further digitally — creating a grander sense of scale and depth using digital apps. Blurs and the like.
What was the comic book that made you want to draw comics for a living?
That’s actually kind of a weird thing for me. I’m actually a writer. It’s what I trained to do and probably what I’ve spent more time learning to do than anything else, but since Mirage shut up shop, most of my work has come from working as an artist for IDW. Particularly the Ghostbusters comics. I think once Silent Hill is finished, the only book I really want to draw after this is a Ghostbusters story I wanted to pitch a couple of years ago, and maybe one or two things of my own. Once those are done, I’m kind of leaning back towards writing again. I think doing a few drawing stints in comics is invaluable to any writer in this field, but obviously not every writer is capable of that either…
As a comic book WRITER, you are responsible for creating TMNT characters, Razorback, King Cobra, and Lt. Gordon Mille. Did you get to create any new characters for Silent Hill Downpour: Anne’s story?
No, not as such. At least not yet. I still don’t know what the final couple of issues have in store! I’d love to write something original set in the Silent Hill universe. I think it’s got a VERY rich mythology and, as a fan, there are so many other artists out there that I think would produce an amazing Silent Hill book.
If Silent Hill took place in Melbourne, Australia, what would it look like?
Melbourne IS Silent Hill every morning around this time of year! We get some pretty amazing fog blankets rolling in in the mornings…!
In Silent Hill Downpour, Ryall State Prison was named after IDW’s Chris Ryall. If you had a location in Silent Hill named after you, what would it be?
Named after me?! Jesus… it’d probably be a 24 hour gas station with the kind of hours I pull sometimes. You juggle a few projects at once and it’s no sleep ’til Brooklyn in comics!
You mentioned on Twitter that you listen to Mica Levi’s Under the Skin soundtrack while drawing Silent Hill panels. Do you have any other music that inspires you right now?
I really love Explosions in the Sky, but that’s more for a book I’m writing for myself. I used to have the Silent Hill soundtracks on constant loops, but these days I tend to throw a lot of Jerry Goldsmith into the mix (particularly the amazing ALIEN score). I’m a big, big vinyl soundtrack collector so I’m just taking a look… Danny Zeitlin’s score to the 76 remake of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers is another, so’s Gustavo Santaolalla’s “Last of Us” (though that’s not on vinyl… unfortunately). Jim Latham’s score to Extreme Ghostbusters is another one I have going constantly. Really great, moody stuff.
Porcupine Tree gets a LOT of play while I work, too…!
We can’t wait to see what you’ve drawn! For artists who are inspired by your art style want to learn, do you have any tips for them?
God, I hope there aren’t people out there inspired by my style… I’d say go look at the folks I’m inspired by! Jorge and Gerardo Zaffino, Christian DiBari, Killian Plunkett, Geoff Darrow… You can learn a lot just by looking at and absorbing someone’s art.