Hey there fellow comic book nerds and nerdettes! Welcome to We Love Your Work, where we spotlight creators, writers, and artist we admire. We will discuss their work, careers, and share personal stories.
Recently we were delighted to have the opportunity to talk to Washington D.C. based writer/illustrator/all around renaissance woman G.E. Gallas. G.E. is the author and artist behind the graphic novel “The Poet and the Flea” about the poet and painter William Blake. Please consider supporting her Kickstarter campaign.
And without further ado, here is our conversation with G.E. Gallas…
What is the story behind your introduction to the “arts”? Were you encouraged at a young age by family? Is there something that stands out in your mind as an early inspiration?
G.E. Gallas: I’ve been telling stories through words and images for as long as I can remember. My mom’s an abstract artist and my dad (a lawyer) is very artistic, so they’ve always been very supportive. When I was in elementary school, I was obsessed with ancient Egypt. So my family got me Cigars of the Pharaoh from The Adventures of Tintin. After that, I collected all the Tintin volumes. Even though you can’t see Hergé’s influence in my illustrations, I think he inspired the way I tell stories. Around the same time, my parents also got me one of Edward Gorey’s Amphigorey books. And, similar to Tintin, I collected all the volumes. I believe Gorey has had a huge impact on my illustration style and fascination with the macabre.
Who are your greatest influences when it comes to your artistic style?
G.E. Gallas: As I said, Edward Gorey and Hergé, as well as manga artist Ai Yazawa. I’m also inspired by Victorian artists like John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. And, of course, William Blake.
Is there anything in particular that you find inspires or informs your work? (e.g. authors, books, music, films)
G.E. Gallas: Joseph Campbell and his The Hero with a Thousand Faces has been important to my work for many years now. I always use his universal hero’s journey as a foundation for my storytelling. I find that the simple steps of departure, initiation(trials), and return are the perfect outline for any story, in any place or period.
Is there something you can tell us about your process that is unique to you? (e.g. materials, tools, software)
G.E. Gallas: I very much prefer using physical materials instead of the computer. Not to say that the computer is evil; I often use Photoshop and InDesign. But I feel less constrained without the computer. A must-have for me is Bristol board! The thickness is perfect for pens and markers, and I never have to fear crumpling the edges like I often accidentally do with thinner paper.
When you begin a piece, do you typically have an idea in mind of what you want that piece to be or does it evolve in a more fluid manner?
G.E. Gallas: I definitely have an idea in mind. Often, I have an image formed in my head before I start drawing. And, as I draw, I let the idea evolve naturally. I think my work evolves with each layer, from pencil, to pen, to shading with marker. I’m always thinking about the positive and negative space of a drawing. And, with comics, I’m always looking at how each panel relates to the others and how the pages work together.
If you could see any artist, living or dead, create art based on any comic character of your choice, who would that artist be and what character would you choose?
G.E. Gallas: I would love to see Toulouse-Lautrec use his dynamic figures to illustrate his own volume of The Adventures of Tintin.
Do you have any projects that you would like tell our audience about?
G.E. Gallas: Currently, I’m preparing to self-publish my graphic novel The Poet and the Flea(Volume 1) about the poet-painter William Blake. To tell Blake’s story, I have infused historically recorded events with fantastical elements. The graphic novel’s main antagonist, The Ghost of a Flea, originates from a miniature painting by Blake of a muscular and menacing creature that is said to have haunted him. Playing with a foundation of Christian mythology and a number of historical figures and their works, this graphic novel explores the psychological and emotional complexities of Blake’s character, mind, and art. You can preorder The Poet and the Flea via Kickstarter from now until November 29th:www.kickstarter.com/projects/868711984/the-poet-and-the-flea-ode-to-william-blake-volume
What has your experience been like as an independent creator working outside the support of a major publisher? What has your experience been like with Kickstarter?
G.E. Gallas: There are pros and cons to being an independent creator. But I’m very lucky to have a loyal and enthusiastic following of both Blake and graphic novel fans. Running a Kickstarter campaign takes a lot of time and effort, trying to get the word out there. But I’m thrilled that I’ve received very positive feedback and backers.
If you could choose 5 people, living or dead, fictional or nonfictional, to be on your side in a bar fight, who would they be?
G.E. Gallas: David Bowie, The Count of Monte Cristo, Hortense from Anthony Burgess’s Earthly Powers, writer Patricia Highsmith, and opera singer Nadja Michael. A group of brains, brawn, and incredible creative talent. We would defeat our enemies with snarkiness and glamour.
For more of We Love Your Work, check out We Love Your Work #2: Bennett Robley
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