Comic book illustrator Wayne Nichols discusses his work with some of pop cultures biggest icons.
Wayne, tell us a bit about your background, and how you became a professional artist?
Well, my mother says that I drew as a kid constantly and Art was my favourite subject in school, so I guess I was on that path from the beginning. By nineteen I had drawn a few comic books for independent US publishers, and by twenty-three I was the lead artist for a small team producing artwork for the gaming industry. After learning everything I could, doing that for a five years, I went full time freelance.
How did you become involved in comic book art?
I started out as a kid, as a fan of stuff like Mad magazine and Garfield. Then, in my teens, I got into a lot of the more mature and gritty UK and American comics being published, which was more to my taste as I grew older. At the same time I was drawing all the time, figuring out how to draw realistically and developing my own comic Art style. My big break in comics came when I drew up five sample pages (spending absolutely ages on them) and showed them to the editors of Marvel, Dark Horse and DC comics at San Diego Comic-Con, and they subsequently offered me paid work.
I understand this art has a strong fan culture. Can you share any stories about this?
I went to my first fan convention in Sydney in 1997 and got to meet and show my work to one of my all time favourite Artists, Travis Charest. Just meeting him and having him tell me this one picture in my folio was 'pretty good' made the whole trip worth it. As you might imagine, comic fans are really obsessive about the art form and really idolize the people who create the comics, and I was no exception!
What is some of the best reception you've received from fans?
Years later, I got to experience the other side of that. It was after doing my first Supanova convention, and I was in a bookstore in Brisbane city. A girl, who was a fan of my work, came up to me rather excitedly and said, 'oh my god, you're Wayne Nichols' and asked me to sign her backpack. I was with some friends at the time and they used to laugh about it for ages afterwards.
What are some of your biggest or most enjoyable projects to date?
Drawing the Star Wars: Force Unleashed book for Dark Horse was probably the most enjoyable project to work on. Drawing something set in the Star Wars universe, with all the amazing designs and characters, was a real pleasure. And I got to draw Darth Vader killing a Jedi! Great fun.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I’m completing illustrations for the final chapter of College Hill, which will be released later this year. The story is kind of a modern twist on the psychological thriller genre written by Brisbane based writer Samuel David. Also I'm working on a Punisher comic book pitch with UK writer Andi Ewington, and helping design and illustrate a website for film director Anthony Lau.
Do you have a ritual as you prepare to work?
A hearty breakfast is a must. After that, I head to my studio, put on some kickin' music, and crank out a few rough sketches just to loosen up, have fun and prepare myself for a day of drawing.
What is something that people might not know about you?
I’ve always been really interested in writing music, and at the age of 18, I joined a friends Primus-Tool influenced rock band as the bass guitar player. Not too long afterward, I got myself a fancy computer and a bunch of synthesizers and started programming and producing the bands music. I ended up giving up music to focus on my art, but you can you can check out some of my old tunes online at: soundcloud.com/wayneanichols
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