Earlier this year, I was fortunate to have the chance to chat quite a bit with comic book artist Bill Galvan at FanX. I’m a big fan of his work so I was pretty excited when it was announced that he was going to be back in Salt Lake at Comic Con earlier this month. Of course, I took the opportunity to visit with him again, but this time I managed to get answers to some questions!
For those of you not familiar with Bill, here is a bit of info from ComicVine:
Bil Galvan currently draws for Archie Comics as a freelance penciler. He penciled the 5 issue mini-series Archie:Freshman Year, and has also penciled for Bongo Comics (Simpsons Super Spectacular #7, Bart Simpson #45) and Marvel Comics (The Age of the Sentry #5 “Saved by the Wail”).
What comics did you read as a kid?
Bill Galvan: I read DC and Marvel comics, and of course Archie as well. My favorite comics were Superman, Justice League, and Batman. I actually started reading Little Archie first, then the regular Archie titles.
What comics do you read now that you’re an adult?
BG: Pretty much the same, although I’m really enjoying the new Star Wars and Darth Vader comics that Marvel is publishing right now, it captures the spirit of the movies perfectly.
Who are some of your artistic influences and have they significantly changed over time?
BG: I’m a big fan of Curt Swan, the artist on the Superman titles from the 1960s to the 80s. Also, John Byrne and George Perez. They are all such great storytellers, I studied their work a lot when I was learning to draw comics. I wouldn’t say my influences have changed over time as much as they change depending on what medium I’m using. For example, when I’m oil painting, I look at Basil Gogos, the famous monster painter.
When did you first decide you wanted to work on comic books?
BG: I’ve been a comic book fan since I was about 7, so as soon as I started drawing I wanted to tell stories with my art.
What is your preferred artistic medium, i.e. watercolor, pencils, etc.?
BG: I’m primarily a penciler, so i guess that’s the medium I feel most comfortable with. Although this year I had a solo art show in Salt Lake City which featured my works in watercolor, oil painting, pencils, digital paintings and pen and ink.
What was your first big break into the industry? What got you into the business?
BG: I showed my portfolio to Archie Comics at San Diego Comic Con after a panel. A few weeks later, they asked for a few sample pages to see if I could draw their characters. After that, I began to get regular assignments. That was 10 years ago!
Describe the typical day of a comic book artist.
BG: I work a full time job as a graphic designer, so as soon as that’s done I draw comics. I get a script by email and at about 6 pm I start to sketch out roughs of the pages. As soon as those are done, I transfer my roughs to full size comic pages.
If you could work on any comic title, what would it be?
BG: I would love to work on a title for DC Comics, as I worked for Marvel several years ago. Scooby-Doo would be a fun title to work on, or an animated Superman or Batman.
If you could work on any comic character, who would it be?
BG: Superman is my favorite character, so that would be the ultimate!
You’ve worked on some iconic titles and characters that have been around for years, such as Archie and the Simpsons. What is it like for you as an artist to take over these characters? Is there a lot of added pressure?
BG: The first time I draw these characters, I do feel some pressure to make sure that the characters are “on model” and look and act the way they should. But after a few assignments, I get to feel more familiar with the characters and can loosen up in the way that I draw them.
Comic book characters have become very mainstream over the past decade. Do you see this trend continuing or do you think it will start to die off?
BG: I hope it continues, I love seeing comic characters in the movies and on TV. I think as long as the stories are done well, I think the audience will be there.
On a related note, where do you see the comic industry going in the next five years? More digital distribution? Resurgence of the comic book store?
BG: I think that both will find a place to exist. I have a mix of both print and digital in my collection. There will be some books I will want to buy a physical copy of, or when I’m looking through digital back issues online, I’ll buy one so I can read what I missed without having to track down a printed copy.
What advice would you share with those who are looking to get into the comic business?
BG: Be open to working in different styles. I never thought I would be working in a cartoony style, but it was working for Archie that opened the door to working on Radioactive Man for Bongo, then working for Marvel drawing a story for the Sentry. I also draw in a realistic style that helped me get my job with Archie.
Are there any projects that you’re currently working on that you want people to know about?
BG: I’m drawing for the new Pink Panther series for American Mythology. I’ve also penciled some stories for the new Three Stooges comic book series – also by American Mythology.
If people want to follow your work, where can they do so?
BG: I have a Facebook art page at: http://www.facebook.com/billgalvanart/
And I have an Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/billgalvanartwork/
Those are the best places to see what I’m working on currently, I’m always posting new artwork and work in progress. Check it out!