Hero Spy: When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
Nick Percival: Ever since I could hold a pencil, I’ve always been drawing stuff. I always loved monsters and creatures as a kid and knew that whatever I ended up doing, it would have to involve creating new characters and worlds. I was making up my own comic strips from about three years old which usually involved Spider-Man getting his ass kicked by some beast from Hell or something.
Hero Spy: I am always interested to know what tools of the trade that you would use to do a sketch?
NP: Just normal pencils for sketching. Because all my final work is fully painted, I work with anything from acrylics to oils to digital painting. It all depends on the nature of the job, timeframes, etc. I prefer to paint traditionally but for speed, most of my work is now painted digitally, but I still use all the old traditional techniques to get a unique look to the finished piece. You still want to keep your own style whatever medium you’re using.
Hero Spy: Who would you consider to be a great artist?
NP: I think obviously, Frank Frazetta is a classic and helped define a genre and style of fantasy artwork. I’m a big Bernie Wrightson fan. I love old, classic horror stuff, like the original Universal movies, all the old EC comics and such. Very cool stuff and some great artists involved.
Hero Spy: How long does it usually take to do a colored piece?
NP: Usually a couple of days, depending on the content. It’s great to able to spend a long time on one piece but it never usually works out that way with deadlines, etc.
Hero Spy: Do you have time to do commission work?
NP: I do some private commissions and have a waiting list at the moment. Since the commission work is for traditional paintings (not digital), they take a little while longer and I tend to paint quite large. You do get some odd requests for commissions though. One guy wanted a painting of himself as ‘Thor’ and Pamela Anderson as the female goddess, ‘Sif’, with ‘Odin‘ looking like Skeletor. Needless to say, I’ve not actually started on that piece, yet!
Hero Spy: What would you say is the biggest challenge when doing Concept art?
NP: I think the challenge is to capture the look and feel of what’s required. With concept art, it’s not really about how tight or slick the painting is. It’s more about quickly getting the environment or character idea down, so you can then expand on that and try different versions. You sometimes feel that your concept work can look a bit loose and rushed, but that’s kind of the point. It’s like thinking out loud with a paintbrush.
Hero Spy: Is there a comic book character that you would like to work on in the future?
NP: I’d like to do my own take on a classic, dark Frankenstein tale one day. I’d also like to paint the Hulk, but really savage and dark – not set in the city or anything like – really primal stuff. That’d be cool. Also, I’m a big fan of the author Richard Matheson and it’d be cool to adapt some of his work one day.
Hero Spy: We know that your first comic was Judge Dredd, can you tell us how that came about,
and were you looking to break in to the industry at the time?
NP: I was managing a comic book store many years ago and working on some art samples in my spare time. I got the chance to go down to the 2000AD offices and show my stuff about and got my first work on the spot. On the train back home, I decided to quit the comic store job and luckily I continued to get work ever since.
Hero Spy: You have worked as a professional artist on all kinds of projects from comics to computer animation and even film, which was your favorite and why?
NP: It’s all about storytelling at the end of the day. You get a lot of control in comics and the end result is pretty much immediate, but directing the computer animated projects I’ve worked on was also a good experience. It great to adapt your 2D creations into 3D and then make them act and move. The film stuff is always fun and very collaborative. They all have their own unique qualities I guess. I find myself leading more towards film these days though, since it’s really a combination of everything.
Hero Spy: You have worked with Garth Ennis on multiple occasions. I have to tell you that Garth is one of my all time favorite comic book writers; what was it like working with Mr. Ennis?
NP: Garth’s a great writer and I’ve always had fun working from his scripts. The guy has a very dark twisted sense of humor as anyone familiar with his work will know. His scripts were pretty tight so you always got a good idea of what he was thinking. The Dredd stuff we did together was cool, since it was just before he went off to do ‘Preacher’ and you could see some of style and themes in the Dredd series we did that were starting to go down the ‘Preacher’ route – the whole Western vibe and feel.
Hero Spy: You are more then just an artist, you’re also a writer; which art form do you prefer?
What can you tell us about your Graphic Novel “Legends”?
NP: Writing can be just as satisfying and when it’s going well, I enjoy it just as much as creating a paining. It takes a different kind of discipline but the end results can be just as creative.
In between all my other projects, I’m writing and painting a mini-series that I’ve created, ‘Legends’. It’s a dark, fantasy tale that takes some familiar themes and characters but gives them a violent twist, set in a very stylised world. It’s an epic action tale but very character driven. It’s due to come out from Radical Comics at some point. Sorry, I can’t say much more than that, but it’s a while off yet and I don’t want to jump the gun!
Hero Spy: “Legends” will soon be a major motion picture, which must be exciting. Is there any interesting inside information we can extract from you about the movie, like who’s attached to star and direct?
NP: A well know production and creature designer is attached to direct at this stage. The guy does some great stuff visually and the time I’ve spent with him has been fun and very useful, so I’m hoping that after he’s completed his current film, ‘Legends’ can move forward at a good pace- not very enlightening I know, but I’m a natural cynic about Hollywood and have heard a lot of hype from various folks in the past, so it’s safer to remain realistic and keep your feet on the ground.
Hero Spy: Do you have any projects you would like to plug? If so plug away my friend.
We always ask this question at the end: What is your favorite snack?
NP: I’ve just finished my work on Marvel’s horror mini-series ‘Dead of Night: Man-Thing’ and about to start something new for them as well as my various covers for 2000AD and BOOM! Studios and trading card work. Also still busy with the film work and working on a new live action/animated project that I’m hoping to direct – based on a very cool, cult comic book character…
Also, my website (which shamefully needs updating) www.nickpercival.com
Hero Spy: We always ask this question at the end: What is your favorite snack?
NP: Favorite snack? I’m an Englishman so it’s got to be toast and tea.