Born and Raised in Victoria, BC, Simon Roy has a talent beyond his years. in 2009 he started work on his first major comics project, a creator owned story called Jan's Atomic Heart. He is currently illustrating the Brandon Graham penned book Prophet, For Image Comics. Dr Peter caught up with him to discuss prophet's success, working with Graham and taking over a Rob Liefeld book.
CBNAH: First off, Simon, congratulations on the success of Prophet #21. How does it feel to be apart of a comic that’s universally loved by fans and critics?
SR: Completely surprised. It's very conflicting - though I feel as if we can't possibly live up to the response that #21 got, I think people will be pleased with the direction these first issues take. They're establishing a whole universe for other artists to play in, and I feel honored to be a part of building that.
CBNAH: How did you get into art? What age and did you attend art school, if so?
SR: I've been into drawing since I was a little kid. I ended up going to art school when I was nineteen, after a couple of fruitless but extremely enriching years studying Russian at the university of Victoria. I'll be done my last semester in April.
CBNAH: Who were your greatest inspirations growing up?
SR: Most likely the biggest inspirations, art-wise, would have been Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), Herge, and the pair behind Asterix - Goscinny and Uderzo. The father of one of my closest childhood friends had an excellent collection of Asterix and Tintin, and many hours were spent as a small child lost in those books. Since coming to art school, my biggest inspiration has probably been Hayao Miyazaki, of Spirited Away and Nausicaa fame. I've completely fallen in love with the way he builds worlds and tells stories - and especially how intimately the two are intertwined in his work.
CBNAH: Can you tell us the genesis behind Jan’s Atomic Heart?
SR: I actually have a whole diagram explaining the process that can do the job better then I can:
CBNAH: How did you land the Prophet gig?
SR: Very indirectly. I've been friends with Brandon Graham since 2009, where we met at the launch party for Jan's Atomic Heart in Vancouver. Since then we've stayed in touch fairly regularly, and when he was graced with the Prophet title he immediately started chatting with me. From various talks we've had, it was clear we shared some similar feelings on the subject matter (epic, hard sci-fi), and we started to work on a look for Prophet we could pitch to Image. The rest - well, is happening now.
CBNAH: What’s it like to work with Brandon Graham?
CBNAH: Brandon is an artist himself, are his scripts more descriptive or is there a lot of room for interpretations?
SR: It's more like the marvel method - we collaborate on the initial storyline (ie determining the main events and figuring out roughly how many pages each plot point will need) and the layouts right off the bat, then I hammer out the pages and Brandon writes a script that complements the art after the fact. It's nice having someone who's a skilled visual storyteller as writer, too. For example, when we're working on layouts and we come across a point where he doesn't like the way a page flows, he can just sketch out exactly how he wants the page composed. In the end, it's less about trying to get wiggle room from a tough writer and more like spit-balling together something more natural and improvised.
Actually, Brandon did an excellent write-up on the matter here: http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=13601
CBNAH: What’s it like working for Rob Liefeld, and taking over the art from a Liefeld book?
SR: It's been pretty cool - I was too young to be caught up in the major wave of Liefeld's popularity, but I've been aware of him for a long time. Taking over the art for what began as a Liefeld book is kind of surreal, since both his style of drawing and storytelling is so different from my own. But it's been really nice - he has been very supportive and open to the directions we're taking the title in, which has made the whole process a lot of fun. Add that to the fact we've got a lot of editorial freedom, and it's been a pretty sweet project.
CBNAH: Did you read any of the previous Prophet material?
- What can people expect to see happen in future issues of Prophet?
SR: Hmm. Well, without spoiling too much, I'll just say that each artist to take on Prophet will be bringing their own style and storytelling to the table. Expect Farel Dalrymple's work to be detailed, beautiful, and trippy, and Giannis Milonogiannis' to be more kinetic and exciting. Plot-wise, just prepare for some more wild sci-fi adventure.
CBNAH: What would be your artistic dream project or collaboration to work on?
SR: Aside from the various stories I'm trying to coax into existence right now, a dream project for me right now would be one not unlike Prophet, where I get to be creating something awesome with a crew of super-talented fellow artists.
CBNAH: What advice do you have for upcoming artists and writers wishing to make it in the comic industry?
SR: Ask me that in five years. Until I've had more than one singular instance of success, I don't feel quite qualified to speak to that.
CBNAH: What comics you’re currently reading?
SR: I just recently finished reading Hard-Boiled, by Geoff Darrow and Frank Miller. Between the hyper-detailed art and old-school Frank Miller at his best, it's a stellar read. It was a War of the Trenches, too, by Jacques Tardi - a brutal french World War One comic, full of disturbing but beautiful and expressive art.
CBNAH: What does the future hold for Simon Roy?
SR: Hopefully a whole lot!
Thank you, so much for your time!