PRO TIPS: Mike Foxall

PRO TIPS is a rotating guest column that features in-depth insight into the creative process of making comics. Learning from one’s mistakes, discovering new techniques and developing a more efficient process – all essential elements to becoming a better artist.
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Greasy extras from imagined 60s biker films. Troubled skeletons with no job prospects. Sexy knife wielding chicks embedded in cults. It’s all grist to the mill for serial escapist Mike “Fox” Foxall, whose work has adorned the Australian rock and roll underground in the form of posters, album covers and music videos for over 20 years. 

I’m an artist / animator working out of my studio in Bathurst, NSW.

I have always been pretty obsessed with drawing and was heavily into comics as a kid. My main jam was DC’s Sgt Rock and Joe Kubert was probably the first artist whose work I really appreciated and style I could instantly recognise. I also dug Jonah Hex, horror anthology stuff like Tales From The Crypt and bought Mad Magazine religiously. I used to make my own comic called Sgt Kole which would have attracted the attention of DC lawyers had there been more than one copy of each issue.

Like a lot of things I do it’s a labour of love. It takes a lot of time and commitment for not a lot of financial reward and as with any long project your confidence / motivation can wane. That said, completing my first graphic novel was one of the most satisfying art experiences I’ve ever had.

I’m a pretty big film fan and in some ways a frustrated movie writer/director. Maybe making comics is just me storyboarding films I’ll never make. My dream scenario would actually be for someone like Edgar Wright to turn one into a film!

I try and do as much as I can using real world methods – usually ink and watercolour. I’m proficient with a drawing tablet and using photoshop but I can’t replicate all the imperfections, splats and bleeding you get from working with wet mediums. Ben Templesmith’s work was a game changer for me in this regard, and I’m also a massive fan of Jonathan Wayshak.

I’ll usually first block in a page in pencil on a thick watercolour stock that can take a bit if a hammering. I then ink that relatively traditionally using black ink and a fine brush, then build up layers of watercolour washes over the top, keep this process nice and loose and messy. I’ll finish up adding some more inks and an opaque white ink or gouache for highlights. I then scan the finished piece, crush the curves a bit in Photoshop and add text in there.

This applies to drawing overall but pertains to comic drawing of course as well.

Take your time getting that rough initial drawing right!

Take a step back and look at the proportions, perspective, foreshortening etc and don’t plough ahead while it’s still a bit wonky. I’m as guilty of this as anyone but taking extra time with the basic drawing will make everything look better when you get to the fun stuff. Practising your drawing in general as well of course.

Some pretty earth-shattering insights I’m providing here!

theartoffox.bigcartel.com

facebook.com/theartooffox
instagram.com/theartoffox
youtube.com/xraystudios

About Darren Close

Darren Close
Darren is the creator and publisher of the KILLEROO series, and also the creator of the OzComics website and subsequent drawing challenge on Facebook. He's been around the local comic scene for far too long for many people's liking. Gary Chaloner was foolish enough to make him the new Managing Editor of AustralianComicsJournal.com

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