Comics author Terry Moore is best known for the indie comics touchstone “Strangers in Paradise,” which he wrote and drew from 1993 to 2007. More recently Moore has been working towards the debuts of his runs on Marvel Comics titles “Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane” and “Runaways,” as well as his new creator-owned series “Echo.”
With so much going on, CBR is very grateful that Terry Moore could find the time to invite us into his studio for an exclusive tour. Lead on, Terry….
By Terry Moore
Sometimes people call my company Abstract “Studios.” If I have other locations and don’t know it, somebody has some explaining to do. It’s just the one studio, folks, Abstract “Studio.” We’ve moved since we got into comics back in the ’90s, but my basic setup is always the same: drawing board, computer and scanner, guitars and a few bookshelves. I took some photos today to show you around so, let’s take the nickel tour.
This is an overview looking at my end of the studio. This is where all the fun stuff happens. On the other end is Robyn’s office and never-ending business transactions, so I prefer to stay on my side and play. I have two drawing tables, this white one from Germany and a large wooden one. I prefer this German table because I can adjust it easily to any angle. That chair is my worst enemy. When I’m binging to meet a deadline and sitting in that chair for 25 hours a day, oooh, I hate that thing.
To my right you see my side tables where I keep my ink and drawing tools. Next to them are the amps and guitars, always close at hand for breaks and writer’s block sessions. The back corners are for statues and books. The cabinets contain all of my art supplies like paper, notebooks, large curiosities that seemed like a good idea when I saw them in the art store, and plastic boxes filled with organized leads, erasers, pencils, etc.
Coming around to my left is the computer area and then back to the drawing table. I can sit in my chair and spin from one thing to the next all day long. When I get dizzy it’s time for bed.
My right-hand table. This has been my basic setup for a long time. There’s the egg-dish I use for an ink well (6 wells, no waiting). The "SiP" mug for my ink water, given to me by a fan for this purpose. Shannon Wheeler’s "Too Much Coffee Man" mug for white-out water — given to me or stolen from, I can’t remember which. Either is likely. The Faber-Castell PITT pens for lettering and the Micro pens for line work. The ever-present Dr. Pepper (I prefer styrofoam cups, much colder). And the drawing tools (from left to right): an Ames lettering guide, a .07 pencil for blue lead, kneaded eraser, a Faber-Castell .05 pencil I bought at Sennelier in Paris (my favorite — I’ll stop working to look for it rather then use another pencil at hand), a metal pen holder for my Hunt 109 point (used for smaller figures and details), a Raphael #1 brush (my #1 inking tool) and one of dozens of old Winsor Newton Series 7 brushes I now use for white-out because Winsor Newton is incapable of making brushes that keep a point. The drawers hold all the miscellaneous stuff you need to survive, like snacks, digital camera, memory cards, snacks, stamps, snacks, pocket knife, snacks and some snacks.
The black drawers I use for paper, templates, rulers, white adhesive labels for corrections and guitar strings. On top you can see a compact pencil sharpener, my bottle of Pelikan ink (I go through one of these big boys every three months), my phone, a Pelikan fountain pen and a Graf Von Faber-Castell pencil made from the same wood they use to make violin bows — in the hands of Jason Bourne, this thing would make an excellent weapon. Oh, and an iPod for blasting my brain when I’m inking on autopilot.
Okay, behind the side tables are the amps and guitars. I assume every artist in comics plays guitar, right? Otherwise, what’s the point? In order to survive, I have a Fender bass amp you can’t see behind the black drawers, a blonde Fender Blues Jr. amp, a red Gretsch G6119, a Fender 1951 Precision bass (reissue), a Gibson J45 acoustic given to me by a friend at the "SiP" Wrap Party last May, and on the bench a Martin D15R. I play these for fun but it also helps me with the ever-threatening bout of carpal-tunnel that comes from squeezing a pencil every day for 14 years.
Behind the guitars are a few of my favorite hardcovers. Most of my books are in the warehouse next to the Lost Ark, waiting for a bigger studio someday. But you can see the faves of the day… except for that "Dark Knight" book. How did Batman get in there? Grrrr. Above the books are several figures, a mini-Coke from Japan, an original 45 Beatle record ("Yesterday") given to me by a fan, and… what!? Batman? Again?! Grrrrrr! (Have you ever heard my 30-minute rant on why I hate Batman? Later.) Oh, next to Frazetta’s princess is a Telly Award for the documentary by Hero Video Productions about me in the studio. Never heard of it? Crap. They did a great job but I thought it needed more violence and Jessica Alba’s scenes got us a rare RA rating ("Restricted" and you should be "Ashamed").
In the other corner are my small notebooks (larger ones are kept in a cabinet), These are like creative diaries filled with everything from sketches to business notes to weird words I make up. And what bookshelf is complete without a complete collection of "SiP" pocket books? Also, there’s my Sandman statue (Neil was just using it as a hood ornament for his car so I brought it home and cleaned off the bugs), a small wooden bowl (full of guitar picks), a shelf unit filled with doo-dads like small tools, electronics and their cords, cards, batteries, a couple of pocket watercolor kits. The figures on top are, left to right: Katchoo, Supergirl, Powergirl and Jimmy Page complete with Marshall half-stack amp. I’d rather have a Jeff Beck of Eric Johnson statue, but they don’t exist yet. Behind this odd group is Kabuki. Taller than you thought, isn’t she? The guitar case is for the Martin but I use it as a dirty clothes hamper. Out of sight, out of mind.
To complete the circle we come to the computer station. First off, the black moleskin notebook I carry everywhere. There’s nothing in it, but I carry it because creative types are supposed to. I use a first generation Mac PowerBook G4 ( I know, old) paired with a first generation 17″ flat screen (also old). But they still do what I need them to. This laptop has been all over the country many, many, maaaaanny times and still works. It’s a pretty tough little rig. Behind the laptop is a zillion gigabyte hard drive with all my "SiP" files for the entire series (Please don’t set the Mr. Coffee on it). To the right you see my scanner, an Epson 1640XL. This is my favorite tech thing because I can put a full 17″ sheet of art on it. Great scanner. Below that is a file cabinet with all my “Top Secret” files, because as you know, comic book writers have a lot of “Top Secret” files. It goes with the job, we’re a dangerous bunch living on the edge… *cough! cough!*
Moving on, the wall above, from left to right: my cheat sheet for "Runaways" (I need it!), a painting I did a year ago with waterbased oil colors that still isn’t dry, the cover rough to my new series, "Echo" (coming out in March 2008), a cover idea for "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane" (those are dangling web hearts), a cover idea for the first incarnation of "Echo," and an original watercolor of Francine and Katchoo by Charles Vess, given to me by the master himself at the end of the series.
And that’s it. Of course, this is all just a front. What I’m not showing you is the 10,000 sq. ft. factory under the house where my legion of slave monkeys do all the real work. I like the monkeys. I bought them from Frank Cho’s factory. They have boundless energy, laugh at all my jokes, and what they don’t eat I publish. Back to work!
Thanks very much, Terry!
Now discuss this story in CBR’s Indie Comics forum.