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Chatting With The Artists Of Grumpy Cat

Byron Brewer talks with artists Steve Uy, Michelle Nguyen and Ken Haeser discuss Dynamite's new Grumpy Cat comic

GrumpyCat01CovAUyBYRON BREWER: What was your approach to this assignment? Is Grumpy a difficult subject to draw? I mean, her expression is so specific.

MICHELLE NGUYEN: Grumpy is so much fun to draw! You'd be surprised at how many different ways you can draw a frown and I'm-done-with-you-now eyes.

STEVE UY: It really depends on the angle. From a front view, Grumpy is pretty simple, but I had a hard time figuring out what she should look like from any other angle while retaining the character design, which is really specific.

KEN HAESER: It took a lot of sketching to get the feel for the character. She's got a face and demeanor that everyone has seen countless times if they have an internet connection. But the art not only had to look like her but convey that same Grumpy attitude. Once I thought I had her and Pokey down, it came pretty naturally.

BB: Speaking of the famous Grumpy Cat scowl, with a character that almost has to maintain a single expression is it difficult to show surprise, emotion, etc. with Grumpy?

MN: My favorite part of drawing Grumpy is when she gets surprised and breaks out of her super-scowl. It's a fun challenge to remove something from her signature face and still have her look like the curmudgeon she is.

SU: There were a couple of times in the script where Grumpy had to smile or smirk. I tried to do that while keeping the scowl… but licensing asked for the scowl to return. So now I make sure Grumpy's expression is pretty limited. That's not easy to do when the script calls for her to show any other expression, but what are you gonna do?

KH: Definitely a challenge, but I found that making Grumpy's expressions very subtle worked the best for her. Pokey on the other hand has more than enough facial expressions for the both of them. Grumpy is definitely the straight man in this team.

GrumpyCat01CovBHaeser (1)BB: What story element of the character do you find most fun to illustrate thus far?

MN: Her mischievous nature is absolutely amazing, and I love channeling that when I draw her. She really is quite the troublemaker.

SU: I guess it's when Grumpy is being grumpy… cuz it's the easiest thing to draw!

KH: I had a ton of fun with my story of Grumpy and Pokey pretending to be superheroes. Got to draw some fun stuff like Pokey dreaming of being superheroes with Grumpy and then them making homemade costumes and going out into their neighborhood looking for crime.

BB: Michelle, have you ever done any cartooning as is necessary for a Grumpy Cat tail … er uh, tale? Tell us about some of the other projects you have illustrated.

MN: Oh man. When I was a little kid, I loved cats so much that I drew a 3-panel comic called "Wallace" that may have been influenced by a certain orange tabby from the Sunday funnies. Now that I'm all grown up, I still find myself incorporating cats into a lot of my illustrations and have even put together a handy one-page guide on how to pet your cat. Hyperspace for the win!

BB: Steve, tell us a little about your background as an artist, and why you enjoy doing this Grumpy Cat book.

SU: I started in comic books working for Marvel as the artist of Iceman and the cover artist of Uncanny X-Men, then moved to my own creator-owned book called Feather at Image. Since then, I've done work for DC, and released some games for iOS and android called "Oasis: Path to Redemption" and "Evil Brown Eggs." Grumpy Cat is a departure for me with its cartoon sensibilities (and I've never drawn cats before) so it's an interesting change of pace and keeps me on my toes.

GrumpyCat02CovAUyBB: Ken, compare doing this unusual book with some of the other work you have done in comics. Is it easier or a much bigger challenge?

KH: Definitely different than my normal zombie hero horror comic, The Living Corpse, but I've been doing tons of "cute" covers for Dynamite for the past few years and they were great practice for a cartoony book like Grumpy Cat. I think people will dig it.

RICH YOUNG (editor): When we figured out the format for the initial series (three issues, three short stories per issue, by three creative teams) I knew that I wanted three different styles of art, to give some flavor and variation but really wasn't sure who I was going to go with.

Steve I had worked with before on a couple of projects, the latest being Doodle Jump, and have always been impressed with not only his skill level and how well he communicates, but also how quick he works…all of which are things highly prized by editors…so he was one of first people I thought of, and he nailed the art tryouts.

Ken has been doing work with Dynamite and Dynamic Forces for years. He's practically the in-house artist for the company (he also draws a book called The Living Corpse you may have heard of). I had him try out and they loved his work as well, so immediately got him going on some covers and interiors.

Michelle is the newcomer and was actually referred to me by Cat Farris. When I reached out to Cat about possibly working on the book, she was too busy, but shared with me some of Michelle's art, which I loved—so expressive, clean lines, and just a fantastic coloring style. I got in touch with her and she fortunately was free and also a big Grumpy fan, so we signed her up.

We also have multiple artists that are just doing covers on the series …Tavis Maiden and Agnes Garbowksa in particular have delivered some fantastic/funny covers. Overall, I couldn't be more pleased with how this book has turned out visually!

For more on Grumpy Cat #1, click here.

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Dan WicklineAbout 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.
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