Beside the obvious fact that Smash is an awesome comic that deserves every bit of praise that it receives, there is the fact that the artwork is at least partially responsible for that praise. Kyle A. Bolton is the mastermind behind those addictive illustrations and I’m incredibly pleased to have this opportunity to pick his brain. Kyle hit the comic scene after graduating from the Art Institute of Seattle and then going on to work with the likes of Surreal Software and Electronic Arts. I won’t bore you with his resume but it is worthy of some inspection if your interested in that sort of thing. You can learn more about Kyle on his website: www.kylebolton.com. You should also check out his web-comic: Smash.
1. Tell us about your comic. What’s it about? Why is it cool?
Our comic SMASH is about a 10 year old boy (Andrew Ryan) getting the powers of his fallen hero Defender, the world’s only true superhero. His parents have recently divorced, and he has all the woes that come with school. Bullies, homework, gym… girls! On top of all that is a growing crime-fighting career, and an inherited arch-nemesis named The MAGUS.
2. Who are your biggest influences?
If depends on what kind of mood the work calls for. I draw from certain artists to get the mood and feeling just right. For SMASH, I pull from early Warner Bros. cartoons, Will Eisner’s Spirit, early Michael Golden work. Some time into making Season One, a friend turned me on to the stunning work of J.C. Leyendecker, and his Saturday Evening Post covers. His work came at a time when I needed some unique inspiration.
3. On a more personal note: how did you end up where you are today? What lead you to comics?
I came to Washington around ’98 and attended the Art Institute of Seattle. After graduating 2 years later, I had skills to work in Flash animation and 3D game animation. All the while playing with the idea of doing comics for a career. Chris and I worked on developing SMASH for almost ten years, but never finished a whole storyline. Then, finally, the time was right for us to work together and bring our comic book dream to life.
4. What advice would you give to someone trying to break into comics?
I guess just make sure you love what you are doing. Mainly because it’s a lot of work, and it takes a great deal of time and dedication to a craft. Be prepared to doubt yourself and your skills often when measured up against your peers. This can also be incredibly motivating and inspirational. And I guess last would be to network like mad. I feel most people get better at their craft by trying to always learn more, experiment with various styles, and never settle.
5. What’s your all-time favorite movie?
Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s a beautifully made action movie, with astounding set-pieces and visual FX. As the years go by, my #1 wobbles a lot when a new film comes along with something I’ve never seen before, or that tells a story in a way I never had encountered. Or maybe the intensity of the action, your proximity to it increases, with bigger budgets and bigger hard drives. And yet I always come back to Raiders. It stands the test of time.