Recently I came across Monster Soup (https://monstersoupcomic.com), a comic by Devin Blake. I was excited to find Devin’s artwork. I not only liked her clean, elegant lines but also her story, which engages the reader right away! While there is some PG-13 content, this goes with the edgy story. I hope you take a moment to enjoy her artwork and this fun interview we did together. Thanks!:)
ARTIST –DEVIN BLAKE
KARA: It really impresses me that you are self taught. Can you tell me a little bit about how you did that, and so well? Any vital books? mentors?
DEVIN BLAKE: A vital book to me is my sketchbook. I’ve always had one with me when I was growing up. Those early sketchbooks were filled with horses, Disney characters, and some really bad landscapes. And whenever my mother would take me to the library, I grabbed all the art books and “How To” books I could find. I was constantly striving to get better. With every sketch I liked, five minutes later I wanted to redraw it.
I still feel like a sponge when it comes to art techniques. I’m always on the lookout for something new to try. To this day I’ll head straight for the art section in my local bookstore for any new “How To” books. I don’t have a single mentor I can name, though there have been plenty of people in my life who have given me that extra push (mostly other artists). Being self-taught to me, however, feels more like a stigma, rather than a badge of honor. I will always feel inferior to someone who has gone to school for art.
KARA: When did you know you wanted to draw comics? Right away? After your first comic?
DEVIN BLAKE: I’ve always liked comics but never felt like I could make my own. When I thought about starting one I would always talk myself out of it, “You don’t have the skill or patience!” I did, however, have a small comic that I worked on with a friend, but after years of going nowhere, I saw it as a defeat. This left a heavy cloud over me that lasted for a long time. I swore to myself that comics were something I would never create. I doomed myself to the life of a fan and never a creator. Then something strange happened; I got mad at the thought that making a comic had defeated me. I knew if I were to attempt another comic, I would have to tackle it the same way I tackle my novels; organization, plenty of pre-production work, and the most important of all, become a fan of my own story.
KARA: Excellent. Good for you! Do you work digitally or scan your drawings in? Which do you prefer?
DEVIN BLAKE: The comic starts off on paper with my thumbnail layouts. I then move to the computer where, with the help of Photoshop and Paint Tool SAI, the entire comic is created. I do prefer working digitally. Mistakes can easily be corrected and sections altered (with Transform tools). On the other hand, you’re tethered to a computer. When I’m not at my computer, I will always have my sketchbook close by. Though I have found myself wanting to hit Crtl+S when working traditionally. One of the strange side effects of working digitally.
KARA: Haha! I can imagine!
I know some of your characters are undead, but if you had to pick two characters for a death match, who would they be? And why?
DEVIN BLAKE: I would have to pick Luke and Pepper, an obvious choice, I know. There’s always something about the whole “vampire vs. werewolf” thing. It would be a vicious, bloody battle.
KARA: What was the biggest challenge with Monster Soup? What is your favorite part of the comic?
DEVIN BLAKE: The biggest challenge is trying to translate what I see in my head onto the canvas, and then what to show and what to omit. My favorite part is seeing everything coming together on the page, and finally being able to share that with others.
KARA: How long have you been featuring fan art on your front page? That’s such a great idea! Did you ever think you would have groupies?
DEVIN BLAKE: The whole guest art run is a part of the first year anniversary celebration. Chapter 3 was drawing to a close, and I knew this Halloween was special to me as it marked this one year milestone. I wanted to turn the tables and offer the spotlight those who have supported me throughout the first year. The idea of featuring guest art and fan art isn’t something I came up with, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. My plan is to have this event once a year during the anniversary. The amount of art I received this year was more than I expected, and I’m already looking forward to next year. So far, this has been an amazing journey with some equally amazing readers.
KARA: I love your link page that advertises other comic artists’ sites. Have you found that the comic artist community is a supportive group? A mixed bag?
DEVIN BLAKE: Through Twitter, Facebook, and a couple of forums, I have surrounded myself with some incredible and helpful artists. All of us are out there doing what we love for free. Though the biggest goal (which is my goal) is to one day do this for a living. It may seem like a lofty goal, or a complete delusion, but a girl can dream. And on the days when I want to walk away from it all, I can always count on their support to nudge me forward.
KARA: Tell me a little bit about Haunted Studio. How long has it been around? What are your future plans for your biz? Anything new coming up that you would like to share?
DEVIN BLAKE: The site began in September 2003 as a hub for all of my creative works; online novels, short stories, artwork, and poetry. I recently began an overhaul on the site as I rework the layout further. At some point I plan to post tutorials for the various art programs and techniques I’ve learned over the years, as well as links to other helpful tutorials. Even though most my time is spent working on Monster Soup, I would love to continue writing the book series I began in 2004. But with the way my mind works, I can only focus on one project at a time.
KARA: Anything else that you would like to share?
DEVIN BLAKE: There is one project I worked on that can only be found in print. Back when Monster Soup was in its early stages, and when I wasn’t certain I could create a comic, a friend of mine offered me the chance to “get my feet wet.” She was putting together the first volume of her webcomic for print and asked if I would draw a bonus chapter for the book. It was a prequel story she had scripted, and it was a small story for me to practice on. I’m glad I said yes. The experience was what I needed and I’ve been thankful ever since then for the opportunity. The prequel chapter (Chapter 0) can be found in “Adrastus: Book One” through the Store link on her site. http://adrastuscomic.com/
KARA: Thank you so much for taking time to speak with me, Devin. It was a real pleasure. Thanks for stopping by, dear Readers. If you enjoy Devin’s work, spread the word. Thanks so much!