There is a quote I love and though I'm not sure of its true origins, I was told it by Joshua Dysart and he attributed it to Frank Miller. The quote goes something like: A creator should have talent, a pleasant attitude and the ability to make deadlines… to get work in this industry you only need two of those. I'm sure we can all think of multiple examples that make that quote true.
The thing is, I believe there is a fourth thing creators should have and that is strong name recognition. Once you have proven yourself to an editor they will call you for more work, but how you jump over to the next company is based on editors there hearing about you from fans, websites, etc. If folks are talking about you then you will bring readers to their book… hence you become a more attractive hire.
I believe there are a lot of talented creators out there that aren't getting their time in the spotlight because of one reason or another. I'd like to change that where I can.
This is artist Ray Anthony Height. He's worked for Marvel Comics on Fear Itself: Fearsome Foursome, Spider-Girl and Powerman: Shadowlands. He's also worked for Viz Media on Redaki and the upcoming Monsuno. Ray even had a successful Kickstarter campaign for his creator-owned series Midnight Tiger which he's working on now. And like most creators he's set up on Tumblr, Deviant Art, Twitter, and Facebook. He is does not list a Myspace page so he gets points for being up-to-date as well.
Let's get to know Ray and his work better:
BLEEDING COOL: How did you get started drawing?
HEIGHT: Well, I'm pretty sure I've been drawing since I was a little kid. Maybe about 5 or 6 years old. I would draw the stuff I saw in coloring books and from cartoons, but I didn't really draw from comics until I was about 11 or 12 years old. Comics were around, but they weren't mine. They were either a friends or my older cousin's. Though, once I was properly introduced to the world of comics, I would draw from them all the time.
I also started to draw everything I saw and used all sorts of tools before I really knew what I was doing. From watercolors to chalk, I was experimenting with anything I could get my hands on. There was a fearlessness back then that I wish I still had today.
As I got older, I entered drawing contests at parks and my local comic shops. It was great exposure and some of the people I met on the art contest and comic circuits I'm actually still friends with to this day. As a teenager I definitely spent a lot of time making up my own stories and characters and drawing comics about them with my friends. That was a lot of fun. However, it wasn't until after I graduated from high school that drawing comics professionally became a serious consideration.
BC: Who were your biggest inspirations?
HEIGHT: During my comics version of "coming of age" circa 1989-95, I would have to say I had quite a list going that I drew inspiration from. John Byrne, Jim Lee, Arthur Adams, Neal Adams, Alan Davis, George Perez, Barry-Windsor Smith, Joe Maduriera, and Marc Silvestri were really at the top of that list. Of course, that's excluding my manga and anime influences.
Now, I've been less so inspired by comic book artists and instead fallen in love with animators. French artist and animator Joel Jurion, Studio Trigger's Yoh Yoshinari, and amazing character designer and key animator Shigeto Koyama.
BC: What is your process for doing a page? How long does it take you?
HEIGHT: For me, drawing pages can take anywhere between 6 to 14 hours. That's totally depending on the detail of the page and my motivation. Typically, after I have read the entire script and made notes on how to attack each page, I draw a thumbnail that's about 3.5" X 2" in size. Once I'm satisfied with that, I scan it into Manga Studio and start to build a detailed layout where I work out the perspective, anatomy, and composition of the page. That's the process that usually takes the longest for me. About 4 hours…give or take. When I feel it's decent enough to move forward I save the Manga Studio File as a TIF and move it to Photoshop. This is where I adjust the layout to fit my custom 11X17 art board, make the linework a very light blue, and print it out on my Brother printer that can print out 11X17. Once printed, I go straight into my final pencils or inks.
This process seems like it's time consuming, but it really isn't. Or maybe I'm just use to it by now. Who knows.
BC: Where might folks have seen your work previously?
HEIGHT: I've done some work for Marvel Comics on Spider-Girl, Spider-Man Family, and the relatively recent Fear Itself: Fearsome Four mini-series which was my favorite. I've also done an issue of Grimm Fairy Tales for Zenescope. Through my production company Write Height Media, I've also contributed to both the Redakai and Monsuno graphic novels for Viz Media.
BC: What are you working on now?
HEIGHT: At present, I am devoting most of my time to my creator-owned series Midnight Tiger. The first issue was successfully funded through Kickstarter and I'm trying to find a publisher to continue the series. You can find the issue on Comixology. Since its debut it has gotten some great reviews and I couldn't be happier. I feel pretty damn lucky. It's the creator-owned project I have always wanted to do and something I would like to be known for.
BC: What is your dream project?
HEIGHT: It used to be drawing a New Warriors series for Marvel, but since there isn't a New Warriors Series to draw and Marvel has greatly increased their teenage hero community, I would love to get on an Avengers Academy type book. Same with DC. I would love to take a crack at any book with a teenage cast. Working on a series with teenage leads is bursting with potential. There is an energy to them that can be irresistible if done right. I think my art style would be a great fit for that.