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John Martz, creator of drawn.ca, talks books. – Page 2

John Martz talks about the Toronto comics scene...

READERSVOICE.COM: Since your first post on Drawn.ca, on March 4, 2005, how many links would you estimate you’ve put on your blog to other artists and art-related websites?

JOHN MARTZ: I can do better than an estimate — I just checked the stats, and the most recent post is is #4,322. Now of course, some of those posts are repeat artists, and some posts link to more than one artist, but it’s an impressive number of posts for just a few years of activity.

RV: Are you surprised by the amount of quality artists and art websites out there? Could you spend too much time looking at sites and never creating anything?

JM: I’m not surprised at the amount of quality artists out there, but certainly the Internet has allowed for more artists than ever to share their work — and for more would-be artists to get themselves exposed to new influences and sources of inspiration. It can be overwhelming, I’ll admit. More than a few artists have told me that they waste too much time on the site to the point of affecting their productivity.

RV: The Toronto comics scene seems very vibrant. Why are comics so big in Toronto, and the quality so high?

JM: I think having stores like the Beguiling and the Silver Snail, and now the Labyrinth certainly help.

Being a big city, it’s also a logical local destination for events like conventions, readings, and signings, so the community as a whole may be exposed to comics in a way that smaller communities aren’t. But I think that’s probably true of all art forms in large cities.

RV: What were your impressions of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival and what did you do there?

JM: It was the first TCAF I had attended, being out of town for the previous years’ events, and I was blown away by the turnout of both artists and visitors. I had a table selling my books, and it was great to connect with so many fans of the medium.

RV: What other comics events have you participated in, in Toronto, which you’ve really enjoyed?

JM: None as enjoyable as TCAF. I’ve only exhibited at TCAF and Hotel Canzine, but I’ve attended both the Paradise comic convention, and the bigger nerdy fandom-based Hobbystar show as a guest. Maybe it was the venue, but neither of those events match the intimacy and celebration of comics as an art that TCAF brought.

RV: Which mediums or programs do you use for color and for lines in your comics? Did you draw Excelsior and Machine Gum in pencil first?

JM: All of Excelsior and Machine Gum were drawn entirely by hand from the sketching to the inking.

The inking is done with dip pens and India ink. For my illustration and coloured comics work I do play with things digitally a bit more in Photoshop, and I just purchased a Cintiq monitor/tablet that I’ve been playing with for a few days. I don’t think it will ever replace real ink, but I think it will speed up the initial sketching stage dramatically and cut down on scanning time.

RV: You said you’d spent a lot of money buying graphic novels. What are some titles you’ve bought over the past year or so and which ones really stood out?

JM: Some recent favourites from the past two years: Hunter and Painter by Tom Gauld, Garage Band by Gipi, Bardin the Superrealist by Max, American Chinese by Gene Yang, The Mourning Star by Kazimir Strzepek, the Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Tales of Woodsman Pete by Lilli Carre, Curses by Kevin Huizenga…

RV: What are some of your other plans for 2008 and beyond?

JM: I try not to look too far ahead. I’ve got some personal projects in the works, but mostly I just hope to continue to hone my skills and become a better illustrator and designer.