How Ottawa's Nick Bradshaw became a top Marvel and DC Comics artist

If you've ever flipped through an issue of Spider-man, Black Panther or The Avengers, chances are you've probably seen artwork by Nick Bradshaw.

Now based in Moncton, the Algonquin College-trained artist in town for Ottawa Comiccon

Nick Bradhaw draws a sketch at Ottawa Comiccon on Friday, May 11, 2018. The acclaimed artist, who studied in Ottawa, has had his work featured in Marvel and DC Comics. (Alan Neal/CBC)

If you've ever flipped through an issue of Spider-man, Black Panther or The Avengers, chances are you've probably seen artwork by Nick Bradshaw. 

For the better part of 14 years, the former Ottawa resident has been drawing superheroes and villains in comics like Marvel and DC Comics.

This weekend, he's a featured guest at Ottawa Comiccon. 

While Bradshaw's risen to comic book stardom with depictions of notable characters like Venom and Wolverine, he told CBC Radio's All in a Day he still gets the odd request from fans to draw a slightly less popular character from his early days: Franklin the Turtle.

"That's the great thing about fandom," Bradshaw said. "There's always somebody out there that wants that specific thing."

Nick Bradshaw is known for his drawings of characters like Venom (pictured) and Wolverine. (Marvel Studios)

Work featured in 800th Spider-man issue

Bradshaw hails from Moncton, N.B., but the acclaimed artist started his career in the nation's capital after taking an animation program at Algonquin College.

While in Ottawa, he got to work on productions like Franklin the Turtle and Ren and Stimpy.

His love of drawing started at around age five, Bradshaw said, when he picked up his first Archie comic. He said he knew right away he wanted to get into the drawing business. 

"This is before the internet opened up the world to creators where a kid from Moncton could jump into this industry and work for companies like Marvel and DC," he said. 

"I had doubts that I might not be able to do it. Then, at 25, the internet was becoming more of a tool you could use. It opened up that world more for me."

And the world certainly has opened up for Bradshaw: recently, examples of his work were unveiled as part of a Marvel Comics exhibit at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle.

Later this month, the Spider-man comic will release its 800th issue — and Bradshaw's characters will be inside it. 

Nick Bradshaw studied animation at Algonquin College before he became a professional comic book artist. (Alan Neal/CBC)

'I love my job'

Fans of his work can meet him — and critique him — at Ottawa Comiccon this weekend, which runs until Sunday at the EY Centre.

While diehard comic book fans will sometimes approach him with corrections or suggestions for improving his work, Bradshaw said that's actually one of the reasons he loves conventions.

"You don't always get that feedback. And if put yourself in a sound chamber at home, and you're not focused on the actual material, and you're not paying attention to that, sometimes you'll let stuff slide," he said.

"I don't want to be that type of artist."

At the end of the day, I'm a grunt producing material for a company, but I love my job.- Nick Bradshaw, comic book artist

Over the years, Bradshaw said, the way he creates his drawings has changed, with more characters being depicted by real actors on TV and in film.

He said he's gone from drawing freely with his imagination to, in some cases, drawing his characters in the way an actor's agent asks him to.

"We're making a product [that's] marketing a TV show at this point, not just the comics. You give them what it is that they want," said Bradshaw, who's now back in New Brunswick, freelancing his artwork. 

"At the end of the day, I'm a grunt producing material for a company — but I love my job." 

With files from CBC Radio's All in a Day