Lee Townsend Talks Crazy Requests and All Things Comic

Everybody likes a bit of Spiderman, whether they admit it or not, and I’m the same. So when I saw Spidey artist Lee Townsend at MCM Expo, I had to stop for a chinwag and ask him just how one might break into the business.

What inspired you to become a comic artist?

LEE: I always knew from a very young age that I wanted to draw for a living, and I stuck to this throughout my school years. I could draw quite well for my age and had a flair for it – the rest is just perseverance and hard work, and the desire to do it. Once I saw my first comics, which were actually Batman and Superman annuals, I was hooked!

Is there one issue or run that you are most proud of?

LEE: Spider-Man.

Is there a character that you’d love to draw, but have not yet had the chance?

LEE: Would have to be Batman over anything else!

How do you find the experience of comic conventions and what was the biggest challenge anyone has ever set you (sketch wise) ?

LEE: I love attending conventions; they’re great for meeting people and have a great atmosphere. This is a solitude business and most of the time you are working long hours, so it really shows when I am attending conventions that people are aware of what I do. As for the biggest challenge sketch-wise, it was at the MCM Expo a few years back when someone asked me to do a full-figure colour sketch of Spider-Man fighting the Green Goblin at A3 size! I don’t normally do this but it was a real challenge. Also someone asked me to do a full-figure Cap America in pencil at A3 with the Red Skull in the background, which was also a tough one as he wanted some planes and a war scene in there as well!

Who are your comic book heroes (writers and artists)?

LEE: Stan Lee, Chris Claremont, Roy Thomas, Dennis O’Neil, Marv Wolfman, Neal Adams, Alan Davis, Steve Ditko, John Buscema, John Romita, Jim Lee, Adam Hughes, Frank Frazetta, Alex Raymond, Berni Wrightson, Barry Smith, Brian Bolland, Gil Kane, Gene Colan.

Do you have any advice for people looking to get into comic artistry?

LEE: I would say attending conventions is the best option to show your work, and to meet editors. This was how I broke into the industry and I think it’s still the best way. Not to say there aren’t other ways of course; I would also highly recommend social networking as much as possible to get noticed, as well as your own website – that way you can send a link to editors. It is so easy these days to make your own comic and this is good experience. Meet as many artists as you can at cons and get as much advice from them about what to put in your portfolio and what’s for the best, and to focus on the market you are trying to approach. As far as drawing goes I would say do as much life drawing as possible as this will feed back into your work; draw everything around you and all of the things that you find difficult as this will hold you in good light when you get that first job.

I also think it is important to enjoy it if you can. It all comes down to practice and to keep on doing it day in and day out, and a desire that you want it more than anything else!

So, what next for Lee Townsend?

LEE: I have a graphic novel project with an independent publisher which is based on an American TV drama (can’t say any more on this at the moment – sorry!) which is starting soon. Also I am talking to Marvel about future inking projects.


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