Poole is a British artist who enjoys playing with conventions when it comes to coloring comics. Drawing from a young age, music and sports played a big part in this talented artist life.
There are a lot of preconceptions, even rules of how a noir work should look.
How is it to work on such a setting?
Noir was always something I’d evaded in the past, it always seemed so boring to work in black and white or greys. I’m a Colourist, that means I work in colour, the fun stuff. What a naive attitude, I’m sure it stopped me from being involved in some of the most interesting projects I could ever work on.
The truth is, noir is ruled by the story and characters, not the visuals, and I should have realised that earlier on. People focus on film noir when they think of noir as a genre, and that’s just not how it is. Blade Runner is a noir, and that was a visual spectacle, not the black and white cinema people expect. Knowing that, I’ve come to be a lot more open and am able to enjoy noir work. I no longer constrain myself.
With a project like N0.1R, I’m able to take those preconceptions and turn them on their heads. It has that traditional atmosphere from pre 50’s cinema, the black and white visuals, but then when the story hits a climax, I’m going to be injecting colour and light that should change people’s perceptions the way my own were. It’s very exciting.
Did that put any different kind of pressure onto you?
I’m not feeling any other pressures outside of the usual, as I’m working with a supportive team who are offering guidance when they can. The line artist, Nicolás, has been especially helpful, the rendering style is somewhat styled after his own work too.
What attracts you most about being a colorist?
That’s not a question I can give one answer to. I love the creativity, the collaboration, the story telling and the challenge. I also love seeing black and white art brought to life with colour, under my very hands. It’s unbelievably satisfying.
Do you have a genre you look for in your projects? Why?
I’ve not been in the position to pick and choose what projects I work on, that’s an unfortunate reality for many independent artists. Given the choice however, I’d love to tackle some hard science fiction, particularly with a focus on space. I’m a sucker for spaceships with flashy lights and pulsing engines. If I could paint a nebula or render a planet for the characters to explore, I’d take on that book every time.
When did you begin to show your artistic capabilities?
In a broad sense, very early on. I loved to draw from as far back as I can remember, I took up music before I hit my teens and started writing not long after. I’d tackled the major artistic forms before there were hairs under my arms. I’d also lost interest in those things only years later. It wasn’t until college that I found my creative feet again. And later still, I hadn’t discovered comic book colouring until my early twenties.
What’s your favorite childhood moment related to comics or drawing?
Comics weren’t the cultural giant in England as they were in the US, my interaction with the medium was with comic strips in the papers and with children’s comedy books like The Beano or The Dandy. I didn’t seek out American comics until later in life when the internet introduced me to them where my friends and family could not, it just wasn’t a part of the culture.
Drawing on the other hand, that was always present. My favourite memory has to be from my school days. All of the classes in my year had gone on a trip abroad that my family couldn’t afford to send me on, so I was left to be handed around other classrooms with a blank pad and the task to create anything I wanted as long as I filled each page. I loved drawing, I loved nature and animals, so I wrote and drew my own nature book. It mainly contained birds of prey, sharks, crocodiles and the occasional poisonous insect, all of the cool animals of course. When my teachers and classmates returned, they really didn’t show much interest in what I’d accomplished, but I was proud enough to hold on to that book well into my adulthood.
Growing up, did you read a lot of comics or were there other activities that you preferred?
Like I said, comics weren’t big where I grew up. Football (soccer) was the biggest cultural pass time, and still is today I suppose. I hated it, still do. I was able to escape it all with computer games and drawing for the most part. Discovering Japanese animation through bootleg video tapes and terrible televised translations also helped me zone out and find enjoyment outside of a culture I didn’t feel much a part of.
Did you always want to work on this creative field?
As a kid, I secretly wanted to be a policeman, then a soldier. In high school I wanted to be a graphic designer or architect. When I was at college age, sixteen to eighteen, I started writing very seriously and wanted to become a novelist or a comic book author. But at the time I was already studying new media and web design, which then led on to digital art and then I kind of just grew into becoming a colourist. I love digital rendering, though I still want to be a novelist… Or an astronaut…
Is there one project that stands out from the rest? Why is that one different?
In my professional career, a short comic book fantasy called King and No King stands out most. It was my first time colouring on a project that would be published by a big publisher, this being Image Comics in their Popgun series of anthologies. I was working on Ryan “Wya” Ottley’s artwork, it was right up my street. It contains my favourite comic book panel that I’ve coloured to date and is a benchmark in my career, bridging the gap between amateur and professional.
Personally, I wrote a short experimental comic called The Last Man, with artwork being a collaboration between me and an artist called John West, who is now a good friend. I took up the major art duties, painting backgrounds and environments, and John produced the design and lines for the lone character of the piece, in his style that I enjoy immensely. It was proof to myself that I could make good looking artwork and collaborate with people without the pressure of finance over my head.
From deciding color palettes to applying the last smear of color what is your process? Is it a painfully strict plan or a more organic process?
My very first step is deciding on the rendering style. Am I painting everything on the page? Do I tackle it with cell style shades, or do I go with the anime style that inspires me, fully painted backgrounds with cell shaded characters and objects?
Either way, I flat everything and then render the backgrounds with either my own pre-set colour palettes or new palettes when needed. Character colours come next, and then any lighting and effects that seem to be my hallmark, or so I’m told.
I mostly stick to that process, but lately, working on projects with Outland Entertainment, I’ve had to tackle artwork with rendering and colour styles that I never have before. I’ve had to be much more adaptive and let the process develop organically with these projects.
So… can you tell us what project(s) are you most looking forward in the short run?
Outland’s N0.1R is something I always like to work on, it is both easy and fun, the perfect combination. The project titled Star of Mourning is very exciting for me, it is a challenge, heavy on digital paints that are quite time consuming and requires a lot of experimentation to get the look and feel the creators desire. However, it looks very good and I look forward to each new page that comes my way.
Thanks Andy for giving us a small peek into your creative world!
P.S.: If you enjoyed reading this interview take a look at the other ones we have from illustrators to writers, passing through game-designers and authors.