Artist Spotlight – Anthony Spay

Anthony Spay may be one of the best kept secrets in all of comics. He is not only a talented artist,  but he is the art director and main designer for Zenescope Entertainment. I've worked with him on a number of occassions, been lucky enough to have his art cover more than a few of my books… so I thought with the upcoming Grimm Fairy Tales #100 which he is drawing, I'd turn the spotlight on to Anthony.

AOD_Neverland_2ABLEEDING COOL: How did you get started drawing?

ANTHONY SPAY: As far back as I can remember, I've always loved drawing and reading comics. I still have sketchbooks from when I was 6, 7, 8 years old, full of drawings and stories of all of the superheroes I knew, as well as heroes I would create. I got a late start as a professional though, comics were always more of a personal hobby for me. After going to college for business, and working in finance for a couple of years, I went back and got my MFA in sequential art from SCAD to try and give comics a real try. I met a lot of great pros while I was there, and interned at DC comics, and really learned what it was going to take to for me to become a professional. From a draftsmanship standpoint, I knew I had a lot of catching up to do to as an adult. I knew my competition were mostly people who were a lot more serious about developing their skills at a younger age. So I pretty much dedicated the last 10 years of my life to absorbing everything I could and making myself better. And in the last 3-4 years, I have finally been able to turn it into a career.

OZ_2_Spay DreamEater0_P2_3BC: Who were your biggest influences?

AS: There are a lot. I'd say George Perez is my all time favorite artist, and I would consider him a major influece (as you can probably tell by my GFT #100 cover). John Buscema is another, pretty much in all areas. I love the way David Finch shades muscles, and defines the different planes of the body. After experimenting with a lot of different rendering techniques, that way just made sense to me, I just like to use a bit less heavy shadowing. I love the way Carlos pacheco does hands and drapery, and have tried to adopt some of that. It may not be instantly recognizable but Kevin Maguire's faces are a big influence. They are ultra expressive, but still fall on the more realistic end of the spectrum. When I started working for Zenescope I had to really focus on drawing women, since so many of our characters are females, and seeing a lot of EBAS' work influenced me as well as Adam Hughes.

Unleashed-spread-Final_Spay1 RealmKnights_1C_Spay_color-ABCDBC: What is your process for doing a page? How long does it take you?

AS: I usually do thumbnails/ layouts on my CIntiq, print them out, and then lightbox the final pencils. I do very detailed layouts, and work everything out, perspective, musculature etc. at that stage, and then add in all of the shading and details when I do the final version. It's just cleaner that way. I've tried to do it all digitallly, but I don't feel like I can get the same detail that way, especially when it comes to backgrounds and architecture. Also, It is a lot harder to judge how the line weights will look in print, when you are zooming in and out in a program. As for how long it takes me, probably around the 10-12 hour range.

GFT100_14-INcolors GFT100_17-INcolorsBC: Where might folks have seen your work previously?

AS: Well, Zenescope was the first company to hire me a freelancer, and it wasn't too long before I was hired as art director, so almost all of my professional work thus far has been for Zenescope. I have daily editorial duties, design most of the characters, and have even written a couple of issues. So just due to time constraints, I've been mainly focusing on cover art. I've done a quite a few though- up until I started on Grimm #100, I was doing between 2-4 covers per month. Some of my favorites are the tri-fold cover for Alice in Wonderland #5, the connecting covers for the Realm Knights miniseries and Unleashed event, and the cover for the Vikings Book that we did with History channel, for San Diego Comic con last year. Actually my favorite right now is the one coming up for Grimm Fairy Tales #100.

VikingsFinal GFT100pencilsBC: What are you working on now?

SA: Right Now I am just finishing up drawing the interiors for Grimm Fairy tales #100. We are trying to make the 100th issue as special as possible. It is a 36 page book, the first interiors I have done in a while, and I think people will really enjoy it. Joe brusha really came up with an action packed story with some great imagery, and It has been a lot of fun to draw. Ivan Nunes is doing an incredible job with the colors, we have a lot of experience working on covers together, and I think we are really coming up with some cool stuff for this issue.

GFT100_22 GFT100_35_36BC: What is your dream project?

AS: Oh wow, there are many. I guess my 3 dream characters that I would love to work on are the Flash, Shazam, and Plastic Man. I don't know why my 3 favorite characters all wear red and yellow. I'd love to both write and draw some stories for those characters, I think I could have some fun with them.

For more on Grimm Fairy Tales #100, click here

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.