Artist Ben Templesmith spoke with CBR News regarding his upcoming work on three different titles for three different publishers this week.
Originally featured as part of CBR’s “Artists On The Verge” Templesmith has largely built a following with his online comics work at sites like OPI8.com, Komikwerks.com, and Unboundcomics.com. However, recently his workload has exploded into the world of print comics with publishers such as Todd McFarlane Publishing (TMP), Idea+Design Works and DC/Vertigo.
Templesmith’s current project, filling the gap left by long-time “Hellspawn” artist Ashley Wood, is his first real “break” into the print comic world. His earlier work having been mostly limited to the realm of the online comic. Templesmith’s first full-length work will appear in issue number eleven. As one might expect, working in Ashley’s shadow has challenged him artistically. “It’s an evolving thing I guess,” said Templesmith. “Especially considering, with the pages of ‘Hellspawn’ #10 and #11 I did, wrapping up the Cy-Gor/Damascus story, we all wanted to keep it fairly consistent with the look and feel Ash had. I’m still in awe of his work, which he’s taking to a whole other level now, but I’m looking at other things now, and want to go to other places (with my style) too. It’ll happen over time. I hope.” said Templesmith. “If you don’t evolve, you die. Like I said, Ash is taking off artistically, doing some amazing stuff, and I don’t think I can, nor want to necessarily, follow him. A lot of it probably comes from the computer aspect of the work, and yeah, I ‘think’ I use some of the same techniques, though I can’t be sure, as all I’ve ever done is look at his and Dave McKean’s stuff and tried to put two and two together. I’m gaining new interests and influences all the time, so hopefully some of them will come through. I’m nowhere near where I want to be artistically yet. It’s all a work in progress.
“‘Hellspawn #11’ is the conclusion to the Cy-gor storyline. It’s pretty brutal. It’s the sort of story that makes you think the writer must eat small children is his spare time, what can I say? Todd has a clear direction for the book too of course, thus far it’s been a case of me learning through experience what hits the mark more than what doesn’t so to speak. I pretty much agreed with all his suggestions and comments thus far, and it’s been damn helpful, since I’ve never had much in the way of feedback here in Australia. He gives tremendous free reign though, which is rather scary,” he said.
Templesmith owes his first big print comics break to a large amount of chance. “‘Hellspawn’ came about late last year, pretty much through sheer luck,” said Templesmith. “I was online with a buddy of mine, Darren Close, and he mentioned some guy he knew, Brent Ashe, TMP’s Art director, was interested in getting a commission off me and would I like to talk to him. So of course I said yes. One thing led to another and Brent showed Todd my site, which he must’ve liked a bit since they asked me to do some test ‘Sam and Twitch’ pages. After that I was asked if I wanted to do a bit of ‘Hellspawn'”, said Templesmith. “So both Darren and Brent, I owe big time.”
Both books present Templesmith with various hurdles to clear. “‘Hellspawn’ and ‘The Darwin Theory’ I’d say are equally challenging. On the one hand, ‘Hellspawn’ is where I get to deconstruct the way I was doing things and think about how I could do them…differently, while ‘Darwin Theory’ has such a scope to it. Joe has some pretty cool visuals written in. While it’s not exactly light and fluffy material, it’s not exactly horror either, so there’s a bit more adjusting for me,” he said.
|The cover to “30 Days” by Ashley Wood.|
Templesmith also explained how his opportunity to work on an Idea + Design Works book came about. “’30 Days of Night’ just came out of nowhere while I was sitting around bored, waiting for scripts and such. Steve Niles (writer for ‘Hellspawn’) threw a few things at me. I did some samples, which he then shopped around to some contacts of his and bingo, Idea+Design Works said they wanted to do it. It all happened rather quickly,” he said. “’30 Days Of Night’ takes place in Barrow, the northernmost town in Alaska…just as they’re settling in for the long night ( 30 days of complete darkness ) some rather interesting people decide to show up to have some fun, and not everybody is happy about this. You could say some are quite cranky. It’s most definitely horror, Steve and I both had ‘John Carpenters The Thing’ going on in the back of our heads when we were doing it, so it has a bit of that feel. The first issue is all done too, and ’30 Days’ was fun. I zoomed through that and loved it.”
“I’m just excited something might actually see print. That whole deal is rather new to me, and already I get to work with some amazing people I never thought I would,” he said.