BREAKING INTO COMICS: AN INTERVIEW
I first "met" Derek Fridolfs on-line in September of 1996. We were both members of the FAO - Fin Addicts On-Line - a mailing list for fans of Erik Larsen's SAVAGE DRAGON comic. He's been the most serious of all the comic artist wannabe's I've ever known in my time in comics fandom. As of this week, he's a "wannabe" no longer. His inking can be found gracing 11 of the pages of the current issue of WOLVERINE (#147). That's just the beginning, though, of a promising career.
Like many, he first started reading comics as a result of G.I. Joe and Transformers, almost 15 years ago. His artistic leanings have been evident since way before then, though. He grew up as that kid in school who could draw stuff. It didn't get serious until his last year in high school when he realized that drawing stuff wasn't just something he liked to do on the side, but something that he actually loved to do. And although he went to college as an English major on a full music scholarship, art became an even bigger interest for him, thanks in large part to another animated series, BATMAN. Soon, he joined up with a group of fellow artistic souls and began to push his creativity. It was there he first started learning how to be an inker, and for a pretty pragmatic reason.
"I was one of the last ones that joined the group," Derek says. "Most already were pencillers, but they needed someone to ink them. It was only by that chance that I was introduced to starting out as an inker. And I've loved it ever since. I think my own pencils and inks favor my own tastes and were more for my own enjoyment. But I feel that I can bring more as an inker to those I get the chance to work over. Plus, it's a joy getting the chance to work over so many different talents and trying to make a total package."
After receiving his Bachelors in English, Derek went to animation school near Los Angeles. In today's comic market, this isn't a bad backup plan. More and more comics artists are finding work outside of comics, particularly in animation.
So how does an English degree and an animation school background get one the job inking on Wolverine? It's a curious mix of skill, good timing, and networking. Like so many young hopefuls, it begins at the annual International Comic-Con: San Diego, a/k/a San Diego Comic Con.
"After the San Diego Comic Con this past August, I had high hopes that I would finally, after a few years of trying, land something," Derek explained to me in an e-mail conversation. "I showed my samples around to various editors and companies, and had a few places interested in what I could do. And keeping my options open, I hit up both comics and animation.