We all know that the publishing world is filled with indie authors trying to find new audiences for their work. Well, the world of comics is no different! But thanks to blogs, online portfolios, and funding vehicles like Kickstarter, indie comic writers and illustrators can promote their work and gain new fans. Meet Jason Lenox: artist and co-founder of Ugli Studios.
Jason recently launched his book UGLI Studios Presents #1, and I recently interviewed him about his work and where he gets his inspiration. Check out the book’s cover!
Like what you see? Read the interview and take a look at more samples of Jason’s art!
1. How did you get started as an illustrator?
I loved to draw since childhood as far back as I can remember, and would draw constantly throughout my school years… I drew comics, pinup illustrations, tee shirt art- whatever I could get my hands on. Unfortunately, I lost my will to work on my art a few years after I graduated from college, around 2001, and just packed it up and quit. I didn’t pick up a pen to do illustration until 2010, and I’ve been on fire ever since then trying to catch up for the lost time, I feel like I’m picking up where I left off then almost a decade later.
2. What led you to start Ugli Studios?
David Paul and I wanted to create our own artistic home base to rally our projects under one simple banner as we were working on “The Great Vermin” in Fall, 2011. It gave us a way to have our own brand to do our projects, or as needed- do work for other larger publishing entities in the future. It’s a great thing to have your own label to promote your work, and that of your collaborators- Gary T. Becks, Dani Kaulakis, Joseph Freistuhler and Damon Haigh have all done work under the “UGLI” imprint with David and I so far, and it’s been great. We would love to see the work in ”Ugli Studios Presents” get into a larger publisher’s hands, but we are more than happy to create, market and sell our own work, sort of like Joe Linsner and Joe Monks did with the classic independent horror anthology “Cry for Dawn” in the early 90′s. I met Mr. Monks at a show in 1992, and his energy in person about buying his book sticks with me, so I can’t wait to start getting out to cons and putting my book into the hands of comic book fans to get their feedback on it!
3. Your comic is inspired mainly by the EC Horror comics from the 1960s. What are some other sources of inspiration for your work?
Heavy Metal Magazine, Yukito Kishiro’s Battle Angel Series and the Outer Limits TV Show (60′s and 90′s versions)- all of these have transcended their respective medias.
4. What is more challenging for you, working on collaboration projects or working on your own projects?
It’s always more difficult and boring to work on my own, I like to work with writers to push me and create as a team, or at least get some direction. In a vacuum by myself, I find it hard to be as effective creatively.
5. There’s a lot of buzz about using Kickstarter for indie projects. What was your experience like using Kickstarter?
I loved it, and feel that it is a great tool to help small projects like this. But the caveat is “you reap what you sow” on Kickstarter- the funding you get is proportional to the amount of work you put into it. Ive seen some cool projects die on the vine on that site, and I think it’s just people expecting money to come to them, when in reality you have to self promote and work to get those dollars. Kickstarter provides a great stage, but you have to bring your “A” game as a creative person to let people know why they need to fund your work.
6. Any advice for people who want to become comic writers or illustrators?
For Illustration- enjoy doing your art, and make everything count, pour everything you have on that page- make it pop. Try to make images both ”Creative” and “Different”. The seminal 1970′s comic art style guide, How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, preaches this philosophy, and I believe in it, find new camera angles, exciting views of the same old action. And finally, with art- practice, practice, practice- master the fundamentals, then you can branch into the fantastic. As for writing, take notes! I save my idea scraps to review with David Paul, and he refines the raw material I babble on about into polished scripts. I have ideas at random times, normally just bit of ideas or images, so I dont want to lose them. David has a great ability to transform these disjointed concepts and partial ideas into finished work that I really think is great, so I always keep a pen handy!
7. What are you and Ugli Studios working on now?
The scripts for “Ugli Studios Presents: Volume 2″- We are going to do Grizelda’s next chapter, a new Western story set in 1800′s California, and blow up the mini story of “The Great Vermin” into a full scale sci fi universe. It’s great stuff, I cant wait to draw it.
8. What comics or “regular” books do you like to read?
Dynamite’s Flash Gordon :Zeitgeist, Dark Horse’s Conan, High School of the Dead from Yen Press, Dorohedoro from Viz, and IDW’s Transformer Books, Viz’s Battle Angel Alita: Last Order, and Heavy Metal Magazine - all of which are great reads.
Here are some more awesome art samples!