KILLBOX #1 hit shelves yesterday, and our social media has since been blowing up with satisfied readers raving about the fresh take on familiar themes. Fans have also been responding positively to the dark and tense aesthetic that artist Nathan Gooden created for the book. We caught up with Nathan to discuss his process working on KILLBOX, as well as a few of his other projects outside of American Gothic Press. Check it out!
American Gothic Press: Before KILLBOX, you were illustrating the graphic novel DEADEYE and the series THE GIFTED with your studio Creative Mind Energy. What’s it like to change gears and go right into illustrating a comic like KILLBOX?
Nathan Gooden: This entire project pushed me beyond my comfort zone. My other projects up to this point have been very empty, dystopian-style worlds. The focus is on the elements that were missing. KILLBOX is the opposite. The world of KILLBOX is alive and very angry. The visual elements have to be equally as busy and angry. It is a huge challenge, but I’m a better artist for it, and I love a challenge.
AGP: Your illustration style is very intense, yet fluid. Who/what inspired your style?
NG: I try to keep the emphasis on characters and action. My degree is in animation and film, so a lot of my influences come from traditional animators, when it was all about the character and how it moves. Mike Manly was one of my early professors, and he had a saying: “If a man jumps from a building, you have to be able to draw him before he hits the ground.” So my style really starts with a lot of energy and speedy figure drawings. Then I really loved the work of Jack Kirby, Frank Frazetta, and Will Eisner, and how they could create so much depth and motion with just a few black lines.
AGP: What’s the collaboration process like with writer Tom Riordan?
NG: Good work in comics and graphic novels requires close collaboration between artist and writer. It’s like a marriage. It takes compromise and commitment. Tom is such a great writer, but he is an even better person. So I trust his vision for KILLBOX, and he trusts me to compose the story visually. We have had small disagreements, but like a good marriage, we talk and compromise, often resulting in the best pages of KILLBOX.
AGP: Have there been any scenes or pages so far that have pushed you past your comfort zone as an artist?
NG: I’ll try and answer this without giving any spoilers. The opening to Issue 3 is a huge challenge. It’s an amazing fight scene resulting in a great chase scene, followed by another even better fight scene! So I just have to constantly rework each panel to make sure I get the best possible scene. Its my favorite scene, so I put pressure on myself to make Tom and the readers proud.
AGP: Do you think you’d be able to survive in the KILLBOX if you were a contestant? What would be your weapon of choice? What would you do with your winnings?
NG: I would be a horrible contestant. The female contestants would just kill me while I tried to flirt with them. The only way I could win is if I cut my ties with humanity and just flipped the switch. Just decided to kill anything in my path and keep moving, with no questions. With that style, I would use a shotgun as my weapon, and if I somehow won, I would use the money to produce my first feature length film. Probably a noir style thriller.
AGP: What comics, AGP or otherwise, are you currently reading?
NG: Oh man, I read a lot of comics. Im reading and loving MONSTER WORLD by American Gothic Press. Also LOW, DEADLY CLASS, THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, TOKYO GHOST, DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE, pretty much anything Batman related, and anything written by Rick Remender, or Scott Snyder . I would love the chance to collaborate with those two writers on a project.
AGP: What other projects are on the horizon for you after KILLBOX?
NG: The next installments of DEADEYE and THE GIFTED are at the printers right now and should be ready for San Diego Comic-Con. I’m currently working on a comic project titled POWERLESS with an amazing new writer , David Booher. Then I have a Sci-Fi comic series, ALIEN BOUNTY HUNTER, teaming up with Stephen Levinson, whose management and production firm, Leverage, is behind shows such as ENTOURAGE and BALLERS. It will be an exciting year.
Follow Nathan on Twitter at @nathan_gooden to stay up-to-date on all of his projects!