He most recently illustrated Calamity Jack. But you can also stay up to date with his work by checking out his blog. He posts almost daily!
My Questions are in purple.
And Nathan's replies are in bold black.
1. On the book jacket of Rapunzel's Revenge, it said you listened to 68 audio books while creating the illustrations for the graphic novel (and I'm guessing you've listened to a couple more while working on Calamity Jack). Did any on those books stand out in your memory or help you to work more quickly on your art? What are some of your favorite books to listen to or read?
Hmmm. Let me get out my “Book Book,” I keep a journal of what I’ve read, just for kicks. I don’t read exclusively in one genre or age group. I basically take what I can find (selection is limited on audio books.) Let’s take a look back at the Rapunzel period…I listened to the Bartemaeus trilogy, I really liked that. The reader was fantastic! Fire on the Mountain by Edward Abbey, Split Images by Elmore Leonard, The Reverse of the Medal by Patrick O’Brian (I only have four books left in the 21 book Aubrey-Maturin series, I’m going to be so sad when they are over.) Some of the George R. R. Martin series, some of the Stephen King Dark Tower series. Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck (everyone assumes Steinbeck = heavy. But a few of his books, this one, Cannery Row, for example, are pure party-hard good times.) This Gun for Hire by Graham Green—lots of books. Some I may go back and relisten to…it’s been four years now. Wow!
2. In terms of creating the illustrations for Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack, to what degree were you allowed to choose the actions and the ways that the characters were depicted? (I ask because I really liked some on the repeated imagery. For example, when Rapunzel falls into a pond at the Gothel's villa than when she falls into the water after escaping her tower four years later in Rapunzel's Revenge.)
Thanks! Some of it was written out in detail by Shannon and Dean, but a lot of it was my own—the scene you mentioned, with the tree climbing was mine. Our process was pretty organic. A lot of things were formed in the collaboration, I can’t quite remember who came up with what.
3. Did you have to do research to capture the settings, animals and costumes in the graphic novels? Do you have any stories about your research or illustrating process? Did you learn anything new about yourself or the subject matter?
I do a lot of research—too much in fact, especially on JACK. I had stacks of costumes and buildings I never got to use on JACK. I’m very interested in historical dress and detail, it’s fascinating stuff, and I’m constantly getting hung up on weird stories and details that pop up. Like, for some reason, when looking at old west costumes, I came across a paragraph on Lon Cheney (Sr. not Jr.) He was raised in Colorado, both parents were deaf and mute. So his childhood was totally silent. That’s why he was such a wiz at pantomime. Cool huh?
4. You also make webcomics on your blog, spacestationnathan.blogspot.
com. What is your inspiration? Do you ever have trouble thinking of ideas?
The blog is my idea generator. Since starting it, I have more ideas than I have blog space for. When you have to post every weekday, which I do. You have to always be thinking ahead, planning stories. I love doing it. I usually cram two, maybe three stories into each month. Come visit, it’s a pretty small blog, not a lot of followers, I comment on everyones’ comments. Come check it out!
5. On your blog, you said that you drew all the time as a child. Did you ever get in trouble for drawing with your parents and teachers or were they always encouraging?
Yeah, they just left me alone. I think I had one teacher who told me to knock it off and pay attention, that was Drivers’ Ed.
6. Here's a strange question for you. Do you think or dream in illustrations?
I never thought of that. But I guess I do, because if I want to explain something, the first thing I do is map it out on paper. And I can’t drive very well, because I’m always staring at the scenery—my wife drives the car, so I can look out the window.
7. Do you show your children your illustrations as you work? Do you share the final products with them? Has either of them expressed interest in following in your footsteps? What are some ways you can recommend for teachers or parents to encourage students to appreciate or create art?
My kids (8 and 4) aren’t that interested in what I do. I think they assume every kid’s dad draws pictures for a living. They live with it, to them it’s more exciting when I’m NOT drawing.
To encourage drawing? Boredom. If a kid is bored enough they will eventually start drawing. You just have to really bore them. And give them some paper.
Boredom, eh? I'll have to keep that in mind when I'm teaching....
Thanks, Nathan, for the wonderful interview!