Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Interview with Dave Ross

Marvel/DC artist, Dave Ross will be in town to do a book event at Kinokuniya (Ngee Ann City) this Saturday 9.1.16 at 2 pm. Ross visited Singapore before in the 1980s and am glad to be back in this part of the world. He is here to promote his new book, Freehand Figure Drawing for Illustrators. Be there and get the chance to talk to a pro who started out in the 1980s.

Tell us more about yourself, Dave. Where are you from, where did you learn to be a master of your trade and how did you get into the business?

I learned initially through books, so you might say I was primarily self-taught. Favourite source material - the Andrew Loomis books, George Bridgeman, and to a lesser degree Burne Hogarth. There was also a lot of intensive study of my favourite comic book artists as well. And a little 'osmosis' through meeting comics pros and semi-pros over time, and of course picking their brains! In terms of formal training, I went to Sheridan College and studied classical Animation.

You studied animation at Sheridan – how did that come about? Did you always want to be an animator? What were some of your favourite cartoons and animation movies when you were growing up?

Initially I went to Sheridan to take a cartooning program, but I was 'poached' by a couple of Animation students, and convinced to switch. The classical training I received in the Animation program was invaluable. There were excellent lessons on storytelling/ storyboarding and on drawing freehand figures. The latter stressed natural posing, with an eye towards body language, maintaining equilibrium, or deliberately shifting the centres of gravity under characters when they were in motion. all of this was indispensable later in the comics work. As far as favourite cartoons, I loved the old Disney classics, and in particular their overall colour finish. They were lush, compared to the colour finish in the comics that I grew up with.

Why did you turn to comics instead?

Comics and the amazing artwork associated with them, was always my first love. After spending a couple of years working in the animation industry, I started seriously illustrating short comic book stories, and preparing sample sequences for Marvel and DC Comics.
Who were some of the more established names among your cohort at Sheridan? Do you wish you had gone into animation instead?
Some of my fellow students from Sheridan College went on to become major 'players' in their field - senior animators, series creators, and layout artists. Personally I have no regrets over the choices I made. I followed my first love, and carved out a career for myself.

What was your first work at Marvel /DC?

I illustrated an early story for Marvel centred around Carol Danvers that was written by Chris Claremont. After that I did two major projects for DC Comics - a Batman and The Outsiders Annual featuring the marriage of Metamorpho and Saphirre Stagg and Star Trek Annual presenting a prequel to the first episode of the TV series - purportedly the first adventure of the Enterprise with Captain Kirk at the helm.

Many fans first came across your work when you took over Alpha Flight from John Byrne (also another Canadian) in the 1980s. Was that a daunting task?

Alpha Flight was the first full-fledged series that I worked on. Following in John Byrne's footsteps wasn't daunting, but the work schedule certainty was! The stories were packed with drawing challenges with pages averaging about 6 to 7 panels each, and of course so much of it had to be 'on model'.

What are some of your recent comic projects?

I have recently completed work on a project to be published by Renegade Press called Necromantic. It's an all Canadian production with both the writer Lovern Kindzierski, and the colorist Chris Chuckry hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba. The finished look that Chris is giving to this book is beautiful!

Are there any creator-owned titles of yours that you would like tell us about?

I developed a series a number of years ago that was published by EVENT COMICS called THRAX. One issue was published at that time.

You visited Singapore and Southeast Asia in the late 1980s / early 1990s – can you tell us more about those trips? From your observations, how have Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia changed?

In the early 1990's I travelled through some of the countries of S.E. Asia, first on my own, and then with my wife Judi. Between us we visited Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. Changes? To put it succinctly - DEVELOPMENT, DEVELOPMENT, DEVELOPMENT!!!

What prompted this recent trip to Singapore and Malaysia?

The first visit was all about sightseeing. I was intrigued by the range of different cultures in the region, and that there was a strong appreciation of drawing and more specifically the art of comic illustration throughout the S.E. Asian countries. In the intervening years I have taken up teaching the craft of Comics Illustration at a post-secondary level. This time around I wanted to share with students some of the methodology we comic artists use to do professional work in the 'industry'. I have a new instructional book, published by Random House that will help them to do just that.

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