Intro By Bryan Liquornik
Interview By Max.C
For an aspiring artist, joining the ranks of Marvel is like the holy grail of sorts: Reaching your highest comic art calling. After years of plying his trade putting pencil to paper, Dave Wilkins did just that.
His work spans through comics, film and gaming alike. With projects, including the cover of ‘Marvel vs. Capcom 3’ and multiple cover work for Marvel already under his belt, his most recent project was art director of the remake of the classic game Splatterhouse. The careful attention to color contrasts and detail of every dismembered limb are impressive, giving it that chilling, otherworldly look that stays true to bloody Splatterhouse form.
He had a chance to share his experiences with Slixart and humbly reflect on a wild roller coaster life that reminds us to enjoy the ride and stay true to your passion.
| Hello Dave, and welcome to Slixart.com
| First things first, could you please introduce yourself in a few lines.
Hey guys, I’m Dave Wilkins, and I scribble to eat! I’ve had the fortune to work for Darkhorse and Marvel comics; as well as the Gaming and Film industry-most recently on Marvel vs Capcom 3 and the new Splatterhouse.
| At what age did you realize you wanted to be a full time artist and what pushed you in that direction?
Like most kids, I liked to draw superheroes and Star Wars stuff, Frazetta’s Deathdealer cover had a huge sway over me but it wasn’t until I was a teenager and saw Frank Miller’s Dark Knight, it was the yeah this is definitely what I want to do…
| Did you ever have second doubts?
Honestly no, failure or success never came into the equation, I liked to draw and paint-it was fun. We all have to work jobs for money, and so drawing was a social thing and when I was watching TV thing. I hung out with other artists; some guys drink beer and watch the game on the weekend. We drank beer and watched Godzilla flicks and drew pictures. Working for the majors wasn’t even on my radar so neither was “making it” –I was just having fun
| What is your artistic background?
Not much, I went to a tech school to learn Desktop Publishing print layout stuff as there weren’t any art schools in my home town. Occasionally I drop into a life drawing class when my schedule permits. Kinko’s was my school. Years ago I worked there; I couldn’t afford a computer so after hours I’d scan in my drawings and color them on a computer there. It’s how I learned Photoshop.
| What was the first challenge you had to overcome when deciding to become a full time artist?
Checking my ego, it’s a young person’s biggest issue starting out. Listening and learning and most importantly being patient. It’s a simple path to be an artist, it’s just not and easy one.
| Do you remember you first job as an artist and how did it go?
Midway Games, I was applying for a job in Creative Services which is the box cover art department and advert department. But a Development team saw my stuff and where of the mind that if I knew Photoshop to level I did, they could teach me 3D. It was amazing!! Some many talented and friendly people, that’s where I got schooled the most-at work!
| Working for Marvel Comics is a dream for hundreds of artists around the world. Was it hard to get in the business and how did it happen?
One of my weekend drawing buddies John Barber got a job at Marvel as an intern, he was one of my biggest fans and was constantly showing my work to editors there. He himself became an editor and took a chance on me.
| How would you describe a day at Marvel Comics?
Well it depends, if I’m doing a cover it’s typically I’ll get a call Monday or Tuesday, reference by Wednesday sketches to my editor by Thursday, turn the image in by the following Monday or Tuesday. I work a full time job in games so, I only do covers or a long term book (2-3 month deadline) or even an Evergreen book-especially whenever you’re done-we print it!
| What work are you the most proud of and why?
My most favourite personal works are El Zombo Fantastma a comic I co-created with Kevin Munroe for Darkhouse. It was a creator-owned book with the company I most wanted to work with; It was like hitting the jackpot in Vegas on your first trip!
The Fangoria Splatterhouse cover. I used to collect Fango and Starlog when I was a kid and to be able to do the cover, the first illustrated and first game on the cover was HUGE for me, finally the Marvel vs Capcom image. Capcom was the reason I want to get into games and to be asked by them to contribute art for the campaign was amazing!!
| You recently worked on the 2010 remake of Splatterhouse as an art director. What aspects of working as an art director appealed to you the most and why?
The camaraderie. Working and collaborating with a team was awesome. I love learning new things and getting in there and working. Splat, allowed me to work cross disciplines from character concept to modelling and texturing; that and my team was awesome!!
| What are your tools of trade and what are your steps in the creation
of an illustration?
Pencil, paper, Photoshop and Painter. I use a Wacom although I have a new Cintiq…which is still in the box. I know it sounds crazy but like most people I have a process. Learning new tools disrupts the process, so I’m waiting for my schedule to ease up a bit so I can go into learning mode ;). It’s hard to grind through a tight deadline as it is, but figuring out some new tech at the same time doesn’t make sense to me or at the very least seems like making a tough job harder.
| Who inspired you the most to become an artist and why?
My Mom honestly, it sounds corny but she said “I don’t care if you want to be a garbage man, be the best at it you can be…” I was 8. When I would draw, she would bring me more paper and buy me new pencils and pens etc. I think it was something where a parent saw an interest and just nurtured it. I was quite and out of trouble so she was all for more of that!
| Where do you get your daily inspiration?
My wife and Adam Hughes. I work super long hours and like most people I like to curl up with a beer and a monster movie at the end of the day. My wife is there to say “Shouldn’t you be drawing? To which I reply “Hell no I’ve been drawing all day!!” to which she simply says “I bet Adam Hughes is drawing right now…it’s probably why he’s so awesome…” somewhere deep down I know she’s right, so I get off my ass and start scribbling
| What ‘s next for the amazing Dave Wilkins
I’m doing a new El Zombo Hardcover this year. It’s an anthology with a lot of friends pitching in stories and art. Like a book version of the hanging out crew, really fun stuff. Also I’m doing a new creator-owned title with the brilliant Marc Guggenheim. It’s going to be a very busy year!
| Any last words for the artists out there?
HAVE FUN! Be patient, cut yourself some slack. What we do is fun, taking the craft or yourself too seriously kills the fun part. Surround yourself with people more talented than you and you’ll always learn something new; we are perpetual students -it’s the best part! Enjoy it!
| Thank you Dave for taking the time to do the interview.
Thanks for having me!!
| Make sure to check out Dave's profile page by clicking here!