For this week’s Friday Spotlight I’ll be interviewing an artist I’ve appreciated for some time. I actually have some of his prints on my wall! Rogan Josh of modHERO was willing to answer a few of my questions and shared a sampling of his work. You’ll notice that he has a tendency to recreate a moment, or re-envision a character with a new, uniquely stylized outlook.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions! How long have you been doing modHERO?
I started making these superhero prints back in 2009 just as a fun personal project. I wanted to give them as holiday gifts and maybe get a little more familiar with using Adobe Illustrator.
I have to admit, I’ve been following your work for a few years, and have a handful of prints already on my walls. My personal favorite is your version of the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King scene where the four Hobbits are standing and everyone else is bowing. Extremely powerful moment, immortalized in your style. Why’d you choose this moment, as opposed to other scenes from the series?
I actually did that as part of a “DRAWVEMBER” daily art challenge in November 2013. One of the prompts was to draw a scene from a movie. I’d just finished watching the LotR trilogy (which I tend to do once a year or so) and that scene always destroys me, so it seemed like an obvious choice.
More on that point, what is it about a franchise or comic or show that inspires you to do what you do?
Oh, man. I don’t know how to answer that. lol. Some characters just have a facet to their stories and personalities that rings out for me and makes me want to capture it. I guess there’s a point you reach as a fan where the characters become very real to you, and you can imagine them in moments between issues, between frames, and I like to muse on those moments.
Sometimes it’s more of a graphic challenge, and I have a composition in mind that I try to express using a superhero’s iconic shape. I often get funny ideas from friends and fans that eventually make their way to the series. And, I guess I just have a head full of esoteric comics stories and facts that are desperately vying to validate their use of my brain cells by becoming fodder for art.
What’s the process like for you, between an idea’s conception and its eventual conclusion?
I usually get a vague idea in mind. A situation or setting or relationship that I think will be resonant, and I just get to drawing. Sometimes I sketch on paper to get rough ideas down, but usually I can hold an idea in mind until I get to a computer and just jump in. Vector art is endlessly adjustable, so I just play with shapes, one after another, and build up a scene. Then, I layer in textures to make the image come to life a little more. That often shifts the color scheme and gives me a refreshed perspective of the piece. After that, I’ll overlay shapes that create lighting effects and shading to give volume and depth to the figures. Then, I just keep tweaking and detailing it until I feel it’s done. It can take a day or two. It can take weeks of off-and-on drawing. There are some that I’ve set aside for months and years before re-visiting and wrapping up. Each one is sort of its own experiment, so I don’t have a very systematic approach and try to let each piece find its own finishing line.
You have an impressive gallery of just about everything geeky. Are there any new pieces you want to highlight or talk about that you’re particularly proud of?
Some recent additions include Princess Bubblegum & Marceline, and War Machine, both of which took me a long time to finish; PB & Marcy, because I had a bad computer crash, and was so disheartened after losing a lot of work that I had to set it aside for a couple months; War Machine, because I found trying to create something beautiful out of an explicitly militaristic subject just really didn’t sit well with me – I still feel uncomfortable about it, even if I think the piece turned out well.
Ah, I’m sorry to hear they gave you so much trouble. They turned out really well, if that’s any consolation. The word on the street is that you’ve got a new web comic on the way. Tell us about it!
Yes, indeed! I am starting up a web comic: INTO THE MOUNTAIN is a sci-fi adventure starring a handful of explorers charting the labyrinthine core of a gigantic mountain where evolution has run amok. It’s full of weird-ass monsters. And love, and beauty.
I’m really looking forward to it! When does that drop, and where can we find it?
I’ve been reluctant to post much because I want to have a real good head-start on the pages before I put it online, but I hope to have it starting up in the next couple weeks. For now, you can get a glimpse at a mysterious map and a couple characters at http://tapastic.com/series/Into-The-Mountain and at https://www.tumblr.com/blog/mountaincomic
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’ve actually got a 10-page story which I wrote and drew in the new SENTINELS anthology, which just came out! You can get all the info about it and see some preview art here.
I also drew a little 2-pager written by Rex Ogle in the Geeks OUT: POWER anthology available here.
Thanks again, man. I love your work, and it’s such a pleasure chatting it up with you!
Thanks for reaching out to me!
You can reach Rogan Josh at his website, www.modHERO.com. Find more of his work at www.bigvisual.net! You can also find him on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook!