TFAW interviews Invincible’s Ryan Ottley

by Jeff

by Elisabeth@TFAW

jun100417 TFAW interviews Invincible's Ryan OttleyImage Month continues with a highly entertaining interview with Ryan Ottley, artist of Robert Kirkman’s superhero epic, Invincible!

If you love superheroes and haven’t picked up Invincible yet, what’s stopping you? Focusing on the trials and travails of Mark Grayson, a teenage superhero who happens to be descended from an alien race that aims to–ulp!–take over planet Earth (don’t worry, he’s not on board with that plan), Invincible is pure, classic, superhero awesome, graced with Ottley’s clean, dynamic artwork.

In addition to the dangerous superheroics, complicated interpersonal relationships, and excellent aliens, Invincible has a strong sense of humor (note that the story arcs are all named after classic sitcoms such as Who’s the Boss?)–as does Ottley, as you’ll soon read:

TFAW.com: Hi Ryan, thanks for talking with us! How did you become involved with Invincible?

Ryan Ottley: It’s all the Internet’s fault. I gave up mailing submission packets long ago, I didn’t try to get into comics again until I was 27. But I didn’t really try to get in anywhere, I just started posting on a few different comic book message boards and then collaborated with a few writers. After about a year and a half of doing this as a hobby I got contacted by Robert Kirkman asking if I wanted to do a fill-in for Invincible. He liked my speed and what I did with the book, so he asked if I’d stay on full time. I said okay.

TFAW.com: What’s it like working with Robert Kirkman? What’s your creative process like?

RO: Not much to it, he writes it, I draw it. We’ve gotten good at pretty much knowing what each other wants out of a page, that’s a nice benefit of working with someone for this long, you get use to each other and there’s not many questions asked. I remember starting the book and he was always having me change things that I messed up on, mainly because I read his script wrong or something, but now it’s pretty smooth.

feb071893d TFAW interviews Invincible's Ryan OttleyTFAW.com: How do you feel your art has changed over the years?

RO: Luckily I feel it’s changed for the better. I still have a lot of work to do I feel, but I’m not too hard on myself. I realize that’s what makes an artist improve is knowing there is more to learn and knowing he sucks ass. My first 40 to 50 issues are very hard for me to look at. I wish I could re-draw stuff. Ah well.

TFAW.com: There are a lot of dynamic fight scenes, crazy-looking aliens, and complicated costumes to draw for Invincible. What are your most and least favorite things to draw for the book?

RO: I love drawing space stuff, my only complaint is I wish I had more time on everything to really enjoy the design process. But with comics something has to be rushed to meet the deadline. So designs don’t get as refined as I want them and that kind of thing. My least favorite stuff to draw has got to be cars.

TFAW.com: What’s the biggest challenge of drawing a book for so many years?

RO: A lot of artists have many projects under their belt, like the more you have, the more prolific you are and all that. A nice list of stuff, and every new project is newsworthy and really gets your name out there. When you stay on a book for a long run, it feels like your name isn’t out there as much, and keeping your name out there is good for the career. So sure I’ve been on Invincible for seven years, but that is still looked at as just one project, in that time I could have done tons of smaller projects and really amped my name up.

I could jump around to project to project, but something holds me firm to Invincible. And that something is the big strong hands of Robert Kirkman, he won’t let me leave. It’s like a sweat shop, making me work long hours with little vacation all alone in a dark room. The only difference is I enjoy this stuff, oh and he pays well. I really love the story of Invincible, it’s better than any other superhero comic I’ve read. That helps to keep an artist on a book for a long time as well.

jul100447 TFAW interviews Invincible's Ryan OttleyTFAW.com: Ha ha ha! Do you have a favorite character to draw?

RO: Any character–but angry, I just like drawing mad people. It’s just fun putting that kind of feeling into a drawing.

TFAW.com: Rereading through the books, I was struck by how Omni-Man resembled Superman in some panels–similar colors, cape, etc.–was that intentional?

RO: Omni-Man has a mustache. You are way off.

TFAW.com: I guess so! Is there a particular type of setting, character, or situation you’re hankering to draw?

RO: Give me more space stuff!

TFAW.com: When you go to conventions, who are you most often asked to sketch?

RO: In this order, Invincible, Atom Eve, [and] Allen the Alien. I do draw a huge range of other characters though, people have me draw Marvel and DC characters too, it’s all good fun.

TFAW.com: You’ve drawn a backup story in Walking Dead #75–the first-ever color story for The Walking Dead. What can you tell us about it?

RO: That was so fun to do. I can’t wait for everyone to see it, I just had a lot of fun drawing those characters in superhero costumes, and zombies, and aliens! Just crazy fun. And that’s all I can say really.

TFAW.com: Your style is a dramatic departure from Charlie Adlard’s–did you alter it at all?

may100419 TFAW interviews Invincible's Ryan OttleyRO: No, I kept to my style on Invincible. Cliff Rathburn inked it just like he would on Invincible, FCO Plascencia colored it the same way. It’s basically the Invincible team does Walking Dead.

TFAW.com: What advice do you have for aspiring comic book artists?

RO: You will make no money for years. But you have to draw all the time anyway doing free work. But look at it this way, it’s your schooling. The more sequentials you draw the more you will learn. I would recommend a full time job and do comics on the side. It’s hard work, and a total pain if you have a family. If you are good enough and you get lucky, then you can probably quit that job of yours you hate and do comics full time. That’s the hard part. It can get frustrating. Either way you won’t give up. Do golfers give up golfing if they can’t play professionally? No way! It’s fun! Drawing, not golfing. Golf is never fun. But hey, I’m glad I jumped in, best job I ever had.

TFAW.com: Do you have any other projects coming up?

RO: See?! That’s my point. You want to know what other projects I’m doing, it’s like a new project on the horizon is always more interesting than the book I’m on currently, people want to know what’s the next new big thing. I almost feel guilty not being able to say something. All I can say is “No, just new issues of Invincible, that’s about it. Same old project.” But new Invincible is awesome, it is noteworthy. So yes, [the] Invincible war is continuing strong, space stuff, war, designs, tons of action and mustachioed Viltrumites galore!

Oh and I do have something new coming out. Sea Bear and Grizzly Shark sold out, so we are re-printing it. If you didn’t get it the first time, get it now. Crap, a re-print isn’t really new. Bah, I suck. It does have a new cover though! I win!

TFAW.com: Nice! Thanks for talking with us!

RO: Thank you!

Browse our selection of Invincible comics and graphic novels now!

Do you wish Ottley would spread the wealth a little more? Can you wait to see what happens next? Post your comments below!

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