Mark Schultz responds to questions about his new book, Various Drawings Volume Two, Xenozoic Tales, and his artistic style. Originally conducted in 2006 by John Fleskes. Moving to my blog for archival purposes.
Flesk Publications: For this second collection of your drawings, how is it different than the first volume?
Mark Schultz: I think there’s more of an emphasis on my recent work in this volume, but the formula remains pretty much the same as in Vol. 1: a variety of preliminary as well as finished works, variously rendered in ink, graphite and carbon pencil. Still, there is some older material, chosen because it has either not been previously published, or was published in a very limited venue. The biggest difference is probably in tone—when I’m choosing work for a given collection, part of the decision-making process involves developing a kind of rhythm and connection between the drawings. Certain drawings and subjects just seem to hang together better than others do. I think the tone of Vol. 2 is noticeably different than that of Vol. 1—it’s somewhat more varied, looser…
FP: Various Drawings Volume Two features a gatefold of your first sequential artwork in years; a thirties Sunday strip featuring a Xenozoic Tales topper, and Flash Gordon main feature. How does it feel to briefly get back to storytelling? Was it challenging?
MS: Storytelling, for me, is the biggest challenge. Producing sequential art has a much higher degree of difficulty than simple illustration. I love telling stories in the comics format, and only wish that I was fast enough to do it more regularly. It’s incredibly time-consuming, drawing all the panels necessary to tell a story with the kind of visual techniques I enjoy using. I am on an eternal quest to simplify my style appropriately for sequential use. Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m trying.
FP: You drew a sultry pin-up style illustration of Hannah, which is included in the book. Is this pin-up style a first for you?
MS: I’m very conscious of the large audience out there that enjoys pin-up type cheesecake. I’m not sure this particular piece is so much something entirely new for me, as it is an evolution. I’ve drawn Hannah and other female characters in sexy poses before, but I’m probably pushing my own envelope here a little. Generally speaking, I like my females to look like they can take care of themselves. I don’t do that “baby doll, let’s-play-dress-up” thing. I’m hoping that while this particular drawing of Hannah maybe pushes the pure sex appeal further than I have done in the past, that she still looks like the real deal.
FP: Who are some of your favorite pin-up artists?
MS: Gil Elvgren is, in my opinion, the best of the best. In addition to him, I’ve always enjoyed Petty. And, more contemporarily, studying Dave Steven’s work has taught me a lot.
FP: Is there a personal favorite piece in VD2, which you are especially proud of?
MS: I’m pretty happy with all of them, or they wouldn’t be in there. (I’ve got a lot of drawings that will never make the cut.) I’m pleased in general with the more recent work, because I can see that my drawing abilities are continuing to develop and grow. The frontispiece—the scuttled SubHuman cover, is particularly interesting to me because I penciled and did some inking on it back in 1998. When I picked it up again to finish it this year, I felt I needed to redo much of the inking because it didn’t work for me anymore. I feel like I now have a much more “solid”—a stronger, more dynamic—inking style.
FP: What are you working on now?
MS: I’m working on a number of private commissions as well as starting in on a storybook tentatively titled Storms At Sea—a combination of text and illustration that will be published by Flesk in 2007. It’s a hardboiled global conspiracy cautionary tale, with lots of opportunities for wildly varying illustrations. I’m writing it, and roughing out the graphics, now.
Beyond that, I continue to write the Prince Valiant strip in the Sunday funnies—gorgeously rendered by Gary Gianni—and draw the occasional comic book cover.
Mark Schultz Interview © 2006 Flesk Publications. All rights reserved.