Cover work for Irredeemable #35
Kalman Andrasofszky is a comic illustrator. He has freelanced for the likes of Marvel, DC, Image Comics among others and produced art and covers for Spider-man, Action Comics, The Punisher and Captain America.
He's also involved in the reboot of Captain Canuck. Strombo.com asked Kalman about his experiences.
How did you decide to get into this line of work?
I don't know that there was a single moment. It's just the thing I wanted to do for as long as I can remember, definitely as far back as grade school. Making things up and drawing made me feel okay, and I'd spend hours drawing in front of the TV.
In high school, we had to do a piece of art for a book report, (weird, I know.) Mine was for Macbeth, and I stayed up all night to get it done. By then, I'd read enough about comic artists to understand it was a life of stress and constant deadlines and manic all-nighters, even if I didn't fully understand what that meant as daily reality.
The sun came up, and my piece was done, and it was good. I looked around at the mess I'd made, the pens and brushes, the reference books, the cassettes I'd listened to, the empty coffee cups, and I thought yes. This is it right here, it's going to be like this, this is the worst of it, and I love it.
How well did school prepare you for the business?
Midway through high school, I transferred to new school, one with a great and comprehensive visual arts program. It had an illustration class, and that class was a blueprint for almost every job I've had since. I had that class in the first semester of my first year, at that new school, and in hindsight, it was far more useful than any class I took afterward, including college, of which I only did a little before dropping out.
What was it like when you saw your work available in a store?
That first time was actually a bit underwhelming. I was excited but the result seemed a bit... small. It was one 22 page comic book on a shelf with about 30 others released that week, and the next week they would all be shuttled into bins to make room for 30 more. On the shelf for one week. Bam. Next.
To contrast that though, I was traveling in Argentina a few years ago, and I walked into a comic shop in Buenos Aires, and was immediately confronted by a cover I'd done. Right there, up front by the door, prominently displayed. That was totally unexpected and surreal and awesome. That really made me realize the work that I do, alone in my studio, can go out into the world, anywhere in the world, and (hopefully, possibly) affect people.
What drew you to Captain Canuck?
He was part of the cultural wallpaper of my childhood. I like the design constraint of designing a costume based around flag elements. I like oddballs and underdogs.
Redesigning Captain Canuck for the new animated revamp has been one of my most rewarding gigs. Working for marvel and DC, you get to work with iconic heroes and you may even get to put a personal spin on something. But in all but a few cases, your role isn't to reinvent anything in any fundamental way. This is much more grassroots, with a small core team, working closely together and the sky's the limit. There's a lot more of me in this than a Marvel cover.
We're reinventing all the mythology of the Captain and his universe and we'll be releasing the first of 5 animated web shorts on Canada Day 2013. We have a indiegogo fundraising campaign, where people can participate in making these happen, and more beyond.
What's the most indispensable tool for an illustrator? What is your advice for someone getting into the field?
I'm going to be cheeky here. Temperament. I could also say: eyes and taste.
Eyes, because good drawing is based on good observation of the subtleties and nuances of the people and the world around you. Learning about and copying others work, and learning about different art and aesthetics builds your taste, and gives you a broad visual vocabulary to draw upon.
Then, temperament: sitting down and making something gorgeous has to be the most important thing to you. You've got to do it, and want to do it all the time, and most importantly, you've got to be able to keep doing it when you don't want to. Because while that feeling never lasts, it pops up a lot when this is your art form, and the only way out is straight through.
Have you noticed perceptions of so-called "nerd culture" change, with shows like Big Bang Theory, etc?
It seems like nerd culture is now just another valid stream of cultural influence, like sports, or hip hop, or horror films. No one is just a nerd anymore. Almost everyone has some nerdiness, it's just a question of how much and what particular flavour.
Radiohead singer Thom Yorke
How has the digital revolution affected what you do?
I think we're going to see a massive broadening in the audience that consumes comics in the next 10 years. The hardcore crowd will remain, but they'll become the centre of a much bigger cultural network of casual readers, just like other media have always had, and which comics have been missing since newsstands stopped carrying them in 1982.
Suddenly, everyone has a comic reading device in their pockets and someone who's curious won't have to hunt down an esoteric specialty store or know exactly what they want and special order it. They just have to touch their screen.
If you weren't doing this what would you be doing?
Who knows? I never had a plan B. Since it was my love of drawing and writing that steered me to comics, I think if drawing hadn't worked out for me I would have veered towards the writing. Maybe comics, maybe novels, maybe television, all of which still interest me greatly, but my drawing habit gets in the way.
What's the state of superhero movies right now?
It's an embarrassment of riches right now. When I was a kid, something would come along every few years, and it was always painfully low budget and there was this infuriating shyness about embracing any of the key iconic elements like costumes, super-villains, etc.
But now a generation of Hollywood creators have grown up loving comics, and they really get them, and CGI can visualize almost anything.
And the shared universe aspect, something that is key to the enjoyment of mainstream superhero comics which everyone thought would be untranslatable to movies, is proving massively successful, as evidenced by Avengers and the related films.