10 Questions for Al Bigley

Al BigleyAl Bigley is the absolute champion of art contributors to the old paper-based Comics Career Newsletter. He drew more covers and provided more spot illustrations than any other artist — by far.

Since his days submitting illustrations to CCN, he’s gone on to a diverse career, drawing comics for DC, Marvel, Archie, Image, Golden Books, Hershey, Kenner, CTW, Disney, and more. He’s also written a new book, Draw Comics Like a Pro: Techniques for Creating Dynamic Characters, Scenes, and Stories, published by Watson/Guptill.

You can find out more about this North Carolia artist at his website, www. albigley.com.

Question 1: When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics for a living?

Around age 7 or so, when I fell in love with comics and drawing.

Question 2: Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

My mom, who had no problem with a kid who loved comics — then seen as sorta “bubblegum for the mind” — and encouraged that hobby and love of drawing.

Question 3: Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

No single person or creator. I love the work of Kirby, Neal Adams, the Buscemas, Nick Cardy, etc. I also tried to absorb any industry info from them I could via interviews or live appearances.

I always keep Jack Kirby’s example in mind, though. If he could be treated poorly, exploited, and taken for granted…

Al Bigley artQuestion 4: What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

I do other creative things: make a model kit, play with music software, or watch a film. I also work out and jog a few times a week.

Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.

Nothing typical, as freelancers work when they can, but I often just try to work in the morning, returning later to the work if I need to.

Question 6: What writing, drawing, or other tools do you use?

The usual. Bristol board, pencils, various ink pens and brush pens, erasers, drafting table, t-square, ellipse templates, etc. I also have an iMac for scanning and Photoshop for some fixes or whatnot there.

Question 7: What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

I just like the creation of it. When all is going right, it can be very satisfying. It can also be nice when you see the finished, published product. Not always, though.

Question 8: What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?

Teaching cartooning and art to kids. Like the cliche says “when a student gets it….”

Very nice feeling to know you’ve gotten through to a young artist.

Question 9: We’ve all met very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?

Just don’t be shy about showing your work and getting honest critiques on it. Even if no work comes from that, you’ve gained some valuable insight and advice on the work.

Also, many newcomers need to look at artwork other than their favorite stuff by their favorite artists. Even if the industry seems to be buying only that stuff right now, you’ll gain from studying other styles and genres.

Question 10: Time to get philosophical: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?

Just do good work, on time, and be honest with others. Know your limits and be honest about them. Try to “do unto others….”

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