GU Comics Day: Shining a spotlight on: Dylan Meconis

Twisted Journeys #19 TBA (Fall 2011)by Erin Finnegan, NY editorial intern

This week we have a glimpse into the future . . . so to speak. Graphic novels often take so long to write, illustrate, color, lay out, letter, and (finally) print, artists might be drawing a year or two in advance of publication. We’re excited to be working on one of those future books with Dylan Meconis, who is drawing Twisted Journeys #19 right now for Fall 2011. We can’t tell you much about it yet, but we love Dylan’s art!

Q. What computer programs and/or what kind of pens, pencils and brushes do you use?
When I need to draw something on the computer, I use Adobe Photoshop CS4, and I draw using a digital tablet called a Cintiq, which lets me draw right on the screen. This is really useful if I have to draw something complicated that has a lot of details and straight lines, like a machine or a building.

Mostly, though, I like to draw on paper! I use a special kind of light blue pencil to do a first sketch, which is generally pretty messy-looking. Then I make the final image by drawing over the blue pencil with Faber-Castell PITT artist pens, which use black India ink. They’re cheap pens, but really fun for drawing with.

Using the blue pencil means that when I scan the image into the computer, I can just magically select and erase out all the blue lines and you only see the final black lines. No actual erasing necessary.

Q. What music (if any) do our you listen to while drawing? It can be a genre or specific bands or songs or podcasts.
I mostly like to listen to radio news (on or podcasts—I really like RadioLab, which is a really fun show all about science. Sometimes I’ll put on a silly TV show that I don’t need to look up at much to follow.

Often with music I don’t have enough to keep my mind busy. If my mind isn’t busy, I can get more easily distracted and start doing things other than drawing.

Luckily I work in a studio full of other artists. There’s always a funny conversation or argument going on that I can listen to, and I get to hear the music that other people are interested in, instead of just my same stuff over and over again.

Q. What are your favorite comics right now, either online or in print?
I have lots! My favorite online comic strip is Sheldon, by Dave Kellett. It has a talking duck, and it’s sweet and silly and nerdy. In print, I just read Smile by Raina Telgemeier and it made me feel better about all the trips to the dentist and orthodontist I had as a kid! It’s a great book all about what happened when the artist knocked out her two front teeth in middle school.

My favorite comics for an adult audience are the Finder books by Carla Speed McNeil. I think she’s an amazing artist and a really cool person. One of the best things about being a comics artist is that I get to be friends with all of my favorite creators.

Dylan Meconis at SPXQ. What comics did you read growing up?
I read some pretty serious comic books growing up. In 5th grade I read MAUS, by Art Spiegelman, which is about how his parents survived the Holocaust, and it made a big impression on me. A lot of people assume that kids aren’t smart or mature enough to handle true stories about things as horrible as the Holocaust, but I think that’s incorrect. I learned a lot from that book—about history, human nature, and storytelling.

I also read a lot of X-Men, Fox Trot, and Archie comics, though. Silly stuff is important, too.

I’m really jealous of young people today. There are so many cool comics that just didn’t exist when I was growing up.

Q. Did you go to college for art and/or comics, or something else? Which college?
I actually went to college for history, literature, and philosophy! That explains part of why I really love doing comics that are set in the past. I went to Wesleyan University, where a lot of people decide to become teachers, doctors, scientists, actors, and filmmakers – not a lot of cartoonists!

I only took one art class, but it was a really important one – life drawing, where you learn how to draw what you see, not what you EXPECT to see. We all have ideas about what things are supposed to look like, and a lot of the times that’s what we think we should draw. We all know that horses have four legs, right? But from some angles, you can only see three legs, or maybe only two! People, places, and objects are the same way.

The more you observe things and practice drawing them the way they really are, the better your imagination gets. Even a really crazy cartoon-y drawing looks better if you’ve practiced this way, because you’ve become skilled at taking a picture inside your head and translating it into a drawing.

Q. What is the next convention you plan to go to?
The next convention I’ll be at is the Stumptown Comics Fest here in Portland, Oregon! It’s April 24-25 this year. I help run this convention, so it’s my favorite. It doesn’t hurt that I can just take the bus to get there, either.

I love getting to talk to all the special guests and come up with interesting panels and activities.