Last week, we interviewed writer Roddy McCance about the upcoming folklore horror series The Soul Of The Sea that is currently making its rounds on Kickstarter. We left off discussing the unique art style Donna Black has created for this world. Well today, we’re here to talk with the artist herself as she takes us through her process, inspiration, and more!
A Place To Hang Your Cape: Can you walk us through the overall process of how you mix various forms of media to create the beautiful artwork we see on the Kickstarter page?
Donna Black: Yes, I start everything by hand, usually using ink. I also use different types of ink for different effects, including traditional Sumi Chinese ink sticks. For the most part, I prefer to work with paintbrushes but I do use pen occasionally too. If I am adding colour by hand it is usually a mix of ink and watercolour. Then when I get to this stage, I scan them and add more lighting and colouring effects digitally. I often use photos that I have taken to add texture and lighting too or things I have around my studio: tape, broken canvases you name it, I’ll scan it! I have thought about going completely digital, but I like getting my hands messy, and I like how a mistake can turn into something that adds even more to the work, rather than just being able to hit delete.
AP2HYC: I understand you primarily come from a background where you create comic book covers. Was there any additional or new challenges you faced being in charge of each panel throughout the comic?
Black: I think when I started working in sequential work I thought I wouldn’t be able to be as bold or as experimental as I am with covers, or spend as much time on them, but I soon realised that wasn’t the case. I came to the conclusion my work wasn’t going to look like 9 out of 10 comics and I was okay with that, actually I came to like that. I like that I have a unique style and that its mine. It may have took a while to get me there and to not constantly compare myself to other artists, but I think every artist does that, and I am happy with how The Soul Of The Sea looks.
AP2HYC: When coming up with a style for this comic, did you draw any inspiration from a particular artist or series?
Black: When Roddy sent me the script he sent me a bunch of references, like the film The Fog, etc. I saved them all to my computer for inspiration, but I actually started looking up a lot of photographs of old fishing ships and portraits of people around that time period (1920) and then used them for a lot of the inspiration with the look of the characters, etc.
AP2HY: There are a lot of browns, yellows, and oranges throughout the preview pages. The overall palette has a very almost muddy feel to it. What made you decide to go with this particular colour scheme?
Black: I always choose the colour scheme I want to use before I start working and I actually painted a canvas painting for The Soul Of The Sea. It’s of Thomas standing on the shore watching a ship in peril. The colours in that are more greens and blues and I ended up choosing those colours to be for dream scenes or in any “in peril” scenes. The rest of the comic I drew from old polaroid’s of Ireland in the early 1900s, specifically shipyard pictures. My grandfather worked on a shipyard so it was in my family to be around Irish ships and stories about them. So it was a mix of faded photographs and rust on the ships that gave me the colours I primarily used so far.
AP2HYC: Was there anything in particular that naturally drew you to this project? What was the process like working with Roddy?
Black: Me and Roddy had worked together on Tales of Fractured Worlds and then on The Burning Memory. One time, we were having a discussion about how we both liked old fashioned spooky horrors, and I suggested “Hey we should do that.” And, well, here we are now. Roddy and I have a lot in common with styles we like and we both work together very well. He is a great writer, and I really think the writing for The Soul Of The Sea is a real eerie page turner. Plus, he’s great to work with and we get on really well. I think that is important when working on a comic together.