Ten Questions with Mercy Thompson artist Francis Tsai

by Jeff


1. Have you always been a comic book artist? How long have you been drawing comic books? Is it something you have always wanted to do?

I’ve always been a comics fan – I think my first ones were those digest collections of the old Steve Ditko Spider-man issues. As far as being a working comic book artist, I’ve only been doing that for the last year or two. It’s definitely something I have always wanted to at least try.

2. Were you familiar with Dabel Brothers Publishing and the type of comic books they release?

Yes, I knew that they published comics that are based on some of the current bestseller fantasy/supernatural fiction novels.

3. When the Dabel Brothers approached you to draw the Mercy Thompson series where you familiar with Patricia Briggs, her character Mercy Thompson and the series of novels?

I was not.

OCT084070F Ten Questions with Mercy Thompson artist Francis Tsai
Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson Homecoming #2 (of 4)
NOV083984F Ten Questions with Mercy Thompson artist Francis Tsai
Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson Homecoming #3 (of 4)

4. Are you a fan of comic books? Do you enjoy urban fantasy stories such as Mercy Thompson or are you more into super heroes and capes type of stories?

I’m a fan of good art and storytelling, so when those aspects are present in a comic book I tend to like it. “Good” is pretty subjective – I guess what I mean by that is when something new is added to the mix, or things are done in a slightly different way that puts a new spin on what we’ve all come to expect as comic book readers. I’m personally a big fan of science fiction, so it would be great to work on an adaptation of something like Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, my all time favorite novel.

5. What initially attracted you to this project?

The things that attracted me to the Mercy Thompson book in particular were the female lead character, a shape shifting/were-coyote mechanic, and the supernatural angle. That tough, non-girly-girl type of character definitely appeals to me. Additionally, I had recently completed work on a couple of different projects, where I was taking over for the original art team. (“Vanguard” in Marvel Comics Presents and the Impaler trade paperback from Top Cow.) On those books I was trying to match the tone and some of the look and feel that had been established before by the previous artists. This project presented me with the opportunity to start from a clean slate in terms of the look and feel of the art, which was pretty exciting.

6. Your artwork is very dynamic and you have a unique style. Do you think your artwork lends itself to this type of story?

Thanks, I certainly hope so!

7. How do you go about designing the visual look of the series? Is it all left up to you or does anyone else have input?

I’ve had a fair amount of freedom so far – I am getting feedback on certain things just to make sure that the look is consistent with what has been established in the novels. Otherwise, I guess I would say that my priority is to convey the author’s intent as closely as possible, using my own visual language.

8. What have been some of your favorite things to draw in the series so far?

Women, werewolves, and cars! So far….

9. What has your experience been like working on the books? How has it been collaborating with Patricia Briggs?

So far, great – I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product on the shelves.

10. What is up next for Francis Tsai? Would you revisit this character of Mercy Thompson or another comic book project based on a series of novels? Any final thoughts?

There are some original story concepts I have that I would like to write and draw once this series is done. Aside from that, I’m continuing to provide covers for Marvel and some of the other smaller companies, doing other freelance conceptual design and illustration, and putting together material for a how-to book on science fiction art. I have a book on fantasy art that just came out. As far as doing more Mercy Thompson work or stuff from other novels, I’m certainly open to doing that if the reception to this first series is favorable!

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