March 05, 2008

Interview - Chris Tinkler

Chris Tinkler is a 28 year old webcomic creator, artist and award winning writer based in Peoria, AZ. He's been quite helpful to the project and lately has worked tirelessly on promotion.

Chris, thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.

Do you run the webcomics I saw in the Yahoo group or are you just a contributor?

Well, for awhile a friend of mine and I ran a Yahoo! group for a small-press community we attempted to put together called "Synergy Comics", which had a tiny bit of success. I haven't really revisited it in quite some time though.

Do you have any other projects?

My main project, since I was a little kid is "Ace of Spades Comics". Which to date has only seen about 6 pages published, hehe. I work on it every so often, but it's always "there".

Other than that, I've been contributing reviews and columns on several comic oriented sites and magazines. I guess the old saying of "Those who can... do, those who can't... review" holds a little bit of water with me, hehe

You're primarily an artists, but you've done reviews as well. Do you write the comic you work on?

Oh, yes... I enjoy writing a whole lot.

More than drawing?

Hehe, depends on the day.

Sometimes the words are there, sometimes they just ain't.

Tell me about Ace of Spades.

Ace of Spades Comics is a coming of age story for a group of friends, who somehow find themselves almost within reach of everything they could ever want. However, they may have to do some rather unsavory things first. It's a mishmash of stories I've been telling myself and friends for the past twenty years... and I actually feel there may be a decent story somewhere in there, if only I could get off my butt and draw the thing.

What's keeping you from working on it more?

Laziness and self-doubt, mostly. A lot of very un-artisty things.

So what made you decided to do a webcomic instead of trying for a job penciling another property or pitching your stuff to independent publishers?

Well, the web-comic was kind of an accident, actually. I was working for an independent publisher, who was publishing some anthologies and the like... and they began to fret about costs of printing... so, I formatted the pages so they could be posted online if necessary.

The book was finally printed (Ace of Spades was the back-up feature of Suddenly LandMark v.2 #1). I also drew the feature story "The Dancing Hand of Death" that the publisher - LandMark Comics - had written for the same issue.

Do you do any more work with them or the folks from the Synergy Comics group or is everything pretty solo for you now?

I'm thinking I'll try to go the solo route for a bit, as I'm afraid I'd become quite creatively codependent in the time I was part of the Groups. I'd definitely help out any groups that are trying to start up, as I think I might have a little experience to offer...

Speaking of, what kind of background as a writer or artist do you have? Any college or private training?

Unfortunately, I was a complete flake in my late teens and early twenties, so I didn't do the school thing (which I kick myself for hourly... stay in school kids!). Otherwise, just a few published articles to my name, and a spot on the literary journal in High School. I also wrote a novel for last year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which was one of the Winners.

Congratulations. Is that a cash prize or publishing credits?

Just a certificate. But, it's hanging proudly on my wall. Writing 50,000 words in a month was quite an experience.

Wow, that is quite impressive. How does working in novel form help you with comics?

Ha! I actually had almost "forgotten" how to write in prose from writing in script form for much of the last decade (much to my editor’s frustration. I'm told a lot of my prose is "choppy prose", leading to many rewrites, and expansions.

If you could change something about your writing or art (choppy prose for example) and could do so without any effort, what would you change?

Oh, I'd tighten up my art for sure. It's a whole lot easier to "sell" art than it is words... for starters, everybody's got words... and it's hard to stand out from the crowd. When you see an awesome panel or cover... it's just there... in all it's, err... awesomeness.

Also, I feel if I drew better, I'd draw more often... which is probably a catch-22... if I drew more often, I'd probably GET better.

That's what I hear too, practice practice practice.

I know you've been working full time. What kind of time do you have to devote to your creative endeavors?

I've got a fiancée who's incredibly supportive (and patient) of all my endeavors, so pretty much any time outside of work is okay. Most of my evening is spent online talking to potential collaborators or writing articles. Admittedly, a lot more of that time should be spent at the drawing board.

When you ARE at the drawing board, what's your favorite media to use? Is it the same as the media you're most comfortable using?

I generally do layouts and pencils with a .05 pencil and inks generally with various sized Sharpies, with lettering done thru PhotoShop CS2.

You say you've written reviews for magazines. Anyone you work for regularly?

There's a magazine called Paper Dragon Ink that a couple of reviews on mine will be printed in their March issue. Also a new magazine called Splattered Ink Press will be running an article of mine... also in their March issue.

Do you mainly focus on comics or have you done movies or books too?

Comics are the primary focus... I've done a couple of movie reviews at my blog... but nothing too serious.

Are you an avid reader?

I try to be... read political books mostly (when not reading comics related stuff.)

Who's your favorite non-comic book author?

Probably David Foster Wallace... Infinite Jest, from what I recall, was a very good book. Franz Kafta is also a fun read... I've used some of his themes in my writing.

Back to the art, I know you mentioned earlier you're recently out of work. Are you going to take this time to push yourself artistically or do you see yourself doing something different?

This is kind of where I'm at a crossroads... I want to produce work... but at the same time, I want to produce quality work. I think my writing is pretty sound... but, without the artwork to support it... I don't see much success coming my way. I'm more than likely going to take advantage of some of the local schools and enroll in some art classes. I've probably spent several hundred dollars on "how to draw" books... which were a total waste, in my opinion... school's probably the way to go.

Speed and quality are hard to learn in comics. Have you thought of doing other types of art?

Nah. Comics have been my passion since I was a child. To me, it's almost the only type of art. There are a few exceptions, of course... but, comics are pretty much IT for me.
It seems artists today have more opportunities to get noticed, but do you think it's actually easier to BE an artist than, say, 20-30 years ago?

Oh, no. hehe, there's far too much competition now. I recall being one of "the best" artists in my High School, and with that came a lot of attention. Now, the field is just blown wide open... a lot harder to get noticed unless you've got "it."

Do you have anyone you'd like to work with artistically or otherwise?

I think I have several stories that would fit Terry Moore's art style.

That would be a big pitch to make. Have you sent him any correspondence?

Oh, no. hehe Just food for thought for me... for when I "make it."

Understood. Well that's all I have. Do you have any last words for your fans or fellow artists?

Just practice practice practice... As a borderline perfectionist, it's hard to see a panel or a page come out as anything but perfect... instead of practicing... I usually just give up. It's definitely the wrong way to be. You sometimes need to run laps before you can win a race... and maybe I'll start following my own advice.

Thanks for participating and for all the help you've given.

Thanks for the interview, Ben. It's been a lot of fun!

You can see more of Chris's art and writing at his blog,

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