KHARY RANDOLPH INTERVIEW
'Adventures of Spawn' Artist Answers Some Questions
Friday, August 25, 2006
For those of you who don't know, Khary Randolph is the tremendously talented artist who has graced us with his skill in making our Adventures of Spawn online comic so successful.
As we ramp up our potentially large online comic project, we thought it would be a good time to get a little Q&A started to let you all get to know him better.
Khary, how long would you say you have been a professional artist?
I've been working professionally for about seven years now, which is pretty mind blowing to me. After all this time it feels like I've just begun. I still have so much to learn.
Did you want to be an artist from an early age?
Always, from the time I could hold a pencil. Well no, that's not 100 percent true. There was a period where I wanted to be a marine biologist... but I don't swim very well. Art was a close second. But I've always been drawing, for as long as I can remember. So if I can't swim with the sharks, I can at least draw them.
Who are the major influences on your art style (don't have to be comic book-related)?
Geez, influences ... there are so many of them. Currently, I'm really big on guys like Brian Stelfreeze, Jason Pearson, Stuart Immonen and Dave Johnson. I love artists who understand design and movement. I'm also in love with animation, both American, anime or otherwise. And then there are just the friends of mine in the industry that motivate me, like Skottie Young, Greg Titus, Lesean Thomas, Cory Walker, etc.
How did you break into the comic book field?
I got a lucky break. I had been trying to break in for years with limited success. I had done some small-time independent stuff here and there, but my big break was in 2003 when I got to do a fill-in issue on Spider-Clan, Marvel's manga Spider-Man book. Skottie Young had to bow out to work on another book, and he suggested my name to CB Cebulski, the editor. CB put me on and the rest is history.
What were your favorite comics as a kid?
Well, when I was really young, the only comic book that REALLY mattered to me was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was obsessed with that stuff. I didn't really get into the Marvel and DC stuff until much later. When I hit my teenage years, that was around the time Image exploded and so I was all about anything by Liefeld, Lee, Silvestri, McFarlane, all those guys. My art back then was heavily influenced by them. I was a straight-up Image clone.
Any recent favorite comics out there?
Nextwave is probably my favorite comic right now; I can't get enough of that stuff. And The Ultimates. Oh, and both Invincible and The Walking Dead are books I buy faithfully. That's about it, though. I don't make it to the comic book shop nearly as much as I used to.
Some of our readers may not be aware, but you have worked on a lot of titles for different companies, with Spider-Man: Legend of the Spider-Clan No. 5 being one of my personal favorites. That being said, do you have any particular book that you enjoyed working on for whatever reason?
My absolute favorite book that I've worked on up to this point would probably be Mutant 2099 for Marvel. It was only one issue, but it was something I got to create completely from the ground up, so I have a soft spot for it. It was the book that I felt was the most "me," I guess, where I didn't have to follow any one else's lead. I put a lot into that book. That and Teen Titans Go No. 22, because it was the first book where I've done all the artwork from start to finish. So it was the closest I've ever come to actually achieving putting down on paper what I had in my head.
Which work do you personally prefer, advertising work or comic work?
Comics is definitely my first love so I have to go with that, but I love both industries for different reasons. I love comics because you have the ability to tell actual stories, and convey ideas and messages. It's an amazing medium. The downside is that it's REALLY HARD, ha ha. The deadlines are demanding and you really have to be able to draw anything at a moment's notice. Advertising, on the other hand, is fun because you get to work on a lot of different things, and even if your name isn't necessarily on everything you do, you reach a much wider audience than comics currently do. The downside to advertising is that the editorial influence (i.e., art directors) is much stronger than comics, so your voice does tend to get very watered down in the art you produce. There are a lot more hands in the pot and a lot more bosses on top of you, so the final product is very rarely what you originally had in mind. Comics is much more instantly gratifying.
Your online portfolio speaks volumes; you have really touched a lot of characters. Any character or universe you are still dying to do?
That's easy -- Batman, LOL. I need to do at least one Batman story in my lifetime. Oh, and I do have some creator owned projects I would like to work on, hopefully soon. That's my ultimate goal.
Let's jump into the Adventures of Spawn.
With The Adventures of Spawn, you are taking a character that is known for being dark and a bit more adult in nature, and instead illustrating a story that has more of a Saturday morning cartoon vibe to it. Does the character's past come into play in a situation like this -- do you take into account the look and feel that has come before and try to put your own spin on it, or do you simply "do what you do" based on the script?
A little of both. My approach to the art has been, "lighthearted, but black-heavy." As in, I've been spotting blacks much more in this artwork so that it still fits in the darker Spawn universe, but knowing that it's meant for a younger audience, I have tried to keep it still bouncy and fun. It's an odd mix, but hopefully I'm succeeding.
Would you say something similar about the work you did for the Hellboy animation?
Sort of, yeah. My involvement with Hellboy was minor, but it did have a similar kind of tone to it. Although Hellboy was slighty darker.
Before we contacted you, did the thought ever cross your mind that you might one day be drawing Spawn?
Never in a million years. Not because I didn't want to per se, but because of the nature of a lot of the stuff I do, I do have a reputation to be more of a lighthearted, cartoony kind of artist. Thus, most of the projects I'm put on tend to be in the same category. Spawn certainly isn't known for being lighthearted OR cartoony.
What are your thoughts on this project?
I think it's an interesting experiment and I just hope that people dig the work. I'm having a blast drawing the stuff -- all I can hope is that the readers have as much fun reading it. Oh, and the toys are OFF THE HOOK.
Working with other writers in the field, have you developed a personal preference on what you need from a writer to start on a story?
To be honest, not really. I try to be as versatile as I can when it comes to projects, so no matter what I get I try I roll with whatever comes and do my best with it. I've gotten to a point where I can at least be a bit choosy with the jobs I get, so I don't take them unless I think it will be fun and I know I can put 110 percent into it.
Of the characters in Adventures of Spawn, which one is your favorite to draw, and why?
Easily Cy-Gor. I mean c'mon, he's a giant cybernetic gorilla. I could draw that all day long.
Do you have any interest in other characters from the TMP universe?
Possibly Sam & Twitch, just because a gritty crime drama is such a stretch from what I'm used to doing. It'd be a real challenge for me
Thanks for your time with this Khary, we really appreciate it, as well as the work you are doing on this project. Hopefully we can get together again on another project soon.
Most definitely man. Holla atcha boy!
>> ADVENTURES OF SPAWN ONLINE COMIC