InnerViews: A Creative Interview with Andrew Pollock
This InnerView features Virginia Beach-based cartoonist, Andrew Pollock. Andrew's comics include "The Grace Brothers", a daily style humor comic, and "WitchHound", a horror comic that combines his love of monster movies and H.P. Lovecraft style mythology.
JJLJ: Hello Andrew - Welcome to this session of InnerViews and thank you for agreeing to participate!
AP: My pleasure. Thank you for inviting me. Please, call me Andy. Andrew is what my wife calls me when she's angry.
JJLJ: How did you come to work in comics?
AP: Well, I don't know if you can really call it working in comics yet. Most of what I've done is my own stuff for my own web site and a few gigs for some people I met on a site called Comicspace, which is like MySpace for people who are in to comics. These folks are all independents and the work I've done for them has been pro bono. It's good exposure and keeps me producing which has helped me grow as an illustrator. In addition, some of their stuff has taken off. I did a story for an anthology that sold out its first self-published run and was picked up by a small publisher called AlternaComics and has since been accepted by Diamond Distributors (for those of you trying to break into the field, you know that's a pretty big deal). I also did a stand-alone story of my own character, WitchHound, for a book called Only in Whispers, that just came out, so we'll see where that goes. As I said, none of this has led to any income, but that's not really my goal anyway. I really just wanted to get out there and do something with the stories in my head and the work I've compiled over the years.
JJLJ: What continues to be a source of inspiration for your work?
AP: I don't know. My sources of inspiration sort of jump around as I find new things that appeal to me. I'm a huge fan of H.P Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard (Weird Tales anyone?) and I frequently go back and re-read their work to re-orient myself with the kind of atmosphere their stories evoke, so that's pretty constant. I love monster movies and recently saw The Host, which I think is a South Korean monster movie. I was really struck by the cultural differences in the way they presented the public reaction to the monster and the characters as opposed to the reactions you almost always see in American monster movies. Seeing that sort of thing makes me want to widen my scope as a story teller and try to imagine how different, frequently very un-heroic, characters might react in unusual circumstances. In reference to comic art, I'm a big fan of Mike Mignola (which is obvious to anyone who's read my WitchHound comic.) When I first read Hellboy and saw the really strong use of shadow he employed, I couldn't help but be struck by how moody it was and how perfect it was for the horror genre. It was like the mood created in old black and white monster movies. So he's a big inspiration.
JJLJ: Is there anyone who has played a significant role in your work and/or career?
AP: The usual suspects. My parents were always very supportive as far as they could be. Neither of them had any art or publishing background so they couldn't help much with direction, but they were always super positive about my abilities and ambitions, and have always helped out whenever and in whatever way they could. My wife has also played a significant role. She's the one that set me up on ComicSpace and has worked hard to get me exposure on the internet. She's sort of addicted to message boards and surfing the web so she incorporated my work as one of her web hobbies. Most of the comic stuff I'm currently working on is the result of connections she was able to make for me.
JJLJ: What are you currently working on?
AP: I have my own site called WickedSmash.com where I post my WitchHound story and a daily style comic called The Grace Brothers. I've been pretty bad about updating them lately because of other work I agreed to do that is taking up most of my time. The story I mentioned earlier for Only in Whispers is another thing. Originally it was going to be just a short 8-page story but once I started, it sort of grew and I couldn't do it in 8 pages. The publisher suggested I make it a two-parter with a cliff hanger, so now, even though the story's done, I still have to do the art for the second half. Also, another guy I met on ComicSpace asked me to draw some character sheets and the first 5 pages of a book called Case of Strange that he was going to try and sell to a publisher at one of the Comicons. I was able to produce most of the character sheets and the first three pages of the story before the Con, and I didn't really think about what would happen if he sold it. It just didn't occur to me. I'd agreed to do the sheets and few pages and didn't really think beyond that. Well, the story got picked up and the original request for character sheets and 5 pages turned into 18 pages for the first book and three more full books after that. The story is really fun and quirky, so I'm enjoying the work but it's a lot to do and it means I have almost no time to work on my own stuff. Oh well.
JJLJ: How do you see your work influencing others?
AP: Not at all, really. Except maybe in so far as they might look at it and say, "If he can do it, I sure as hell can do it."
JJLJ: What is the strangest or funniest comment or question you've ever gotten about your work?
AP: That's a hard one. Most of the comments have been pretty short and positive, folks saying they like the work and inviting me to check out their own stuff. My wife entered my WitchHound comic in an on-line contest last fall and I made it into the top ten out of, like, a 120 entrants (I was quickly booted in the second round). When I went in and checked out the other 9 in the top ten I realized that the taste of the judges clearly ran to more of an underground comic style, not my genre at all, but I liked that they felt my comic had a weird enough vibe to be included.
JJLJ: What is your idea of personal success?
AP: I think it's similar to that of most people striving to break into a creative field. To be able to make a comfortable living doing what I love. Obviously, just getting out there is the first step.
JJLJ: Are there any favorite links you would like to share?
AP: Of course, you can check out my comics at my own site, www.wickedsmash.com. and you can see samples of everything I'm working on at my ComicSpace account, also under WickedSmash. I think anyone who's into comics should check out ComicSpace.com. There are some really spectacular talents scattered around over there. In all honesty, there's alot of junk too, as well as a lot of material that doesn't appeal at all to me but probably does to other people, but if you're willing to surf around you can find some really impressive work. A lot of it is just sample stuff posted by people trying to sell their own work, but there are a few members like me that run a full comic that you can read for free. And, come on, what's better then getting entertained for free, right?
JJLJ: Thank you, Andy for contributing to InnerViews. We wish you continued success and look forward to following your career!
AP: Thanks for the opportunity. If anyone has any comments or wants to send me a message they can do it through my site or through ComicSpace if they have an account there. I say this because, like most independents, I toil away in a cramped little office in my house with no real evidence that anyone is looking at my work except fot the occasional e-mail from a reader. I find that when I start to feel like no one's out there, even a brief little, "How ya doin'?," makes all the difference in the world.
For more information on Andy's work, please visit his website.