Interview with artist Sean Izaakse

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]With the advent of Action Lab’s Actionverse event upon us, I was able to dig up this interview with artist Sean Izaakse, which I original thought lost but was able to recover it. This interview does play a little into the upcoming event, talks about Actionverse # 0 that came out during the Fall and his run on Stray.

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BI: Sean, let’s start off with a bang. You are doing some of the art duties of Actionverse #0. What can you tell us about your portion of the story. 
Sean: In Actionverse #0 I’m basically inking over Ray’s pencils. Ray Anthony Height is the creator and artist on Midnight Tiger for anyone who doesn’t know and if not, shame on you and go pick that series up. Even though I’m inking over the pencils it’s not quite inking. We decided early on that we wanted to merge our styles a bit more. So Ray brings in his dynamic layouts and characters full of energy but leave just enough room for me to decide where, for instance, I would wanna put in the spot black inks and shadows. I think we compliment each other very well and think we bring out the best in each others work and Actionverse #0 is where you’ll see it. As I said to him once we, we make great art babies together.

BI: How do you feel about being part of a project that pretty much launches a new superheroic universe? 

Sean: Honestly, it’s pretty crazy when you put it like that. It’s intense but exciting. Like, I just get up and do what needs doing, coming up with cool characters and telling the best stories possible and it doesn’t seem so big. But when I stop and think about how important it is and could be then I could almost get creative paralysis. And then the doubt sets in. So I try focus on the task at hand and hope I don’t disappoint anyone.



BI:  Artistically, what do you feel you bring into Actionverse #0 compared to Stray?



Sean: Well, this will be my fifth comic drawing Stray. I think it’s less gritty-looking than how I was drawing the main Stray series. Ray’s artwork is very bold and dynamic and he has a more conservative use of line than I do so I’m trying to enhance that. It makes the characters so much more expressive. I like to think I bring that extra little bit of detail from the weight of the lines I use and techniques I use on my work to the clean, bold work of Ray’s.

BI: Let’s go back a little bit and talk about your work on Stray. How did you end up being the artist for Stray?

Sean: Well it’s a bit of a long story so I’ll try give the short version. Vito Delsante, my co-creator on Stray, started a line of dialogue with me on DeviantArt a few years back. And it turned out we had an affinity for the same kinds of characters, Nightwing and Aquaman were who we chatted about most at the time. And then he commissioned me to draw a character for him. (If you want an artist to take you seriously about any project, start by paying them for everything they do). Then after that I kinda browsed his DeviantArt page and found some characters of his that he was working on, and one of them happened to be Stray and I thought that was awesome! 

I’m a huge dog lover and was always trying to figure out how to do a cool dog themed superhero but there was always something missing from whatever concept I came up with. And here this guy had such a great concept. I couldn’t work on it with him at the time since he was working on it with another artist but while we were coming up with other projects Stray sorta became available and asked if I wanted a crack at it. So I jumped at it! And that’s the short version.
BI: There was a lot of different character designs and different kinds of characters in the miniseries. How did you feel about working on those designs and how they turned out?

Sean:So much pressure. Ask Vito and he’ll tell you how pedantic and critical I am about my character designs. I usually hate anything I design 10 mins after I finish designing them. And even then I usually do like 15 or more designs where I’m sort of happy enough to let them go. But very rarely am I happy from the start or have a clear idea. Stray himself took only 3 passes, maybe 4 and I was glad with his design. It sorta came naturally and is probably the design I’m most happy with. It will probably get some tweaks down the line to keep his look fresh and to show how he evolves as a character and a hero too.

Some characters I literally just design on the page as I’m drawing. Usually the minor ones that don’t have a prominent part in the book at the time, those usually also end up being some of my favourite designs. Probably because I don’t overthink them.

BI: What was you feelings on Stray and your work on Stray? 

Sean: Like i say, I’ve always wanted to do a dog themed superhero, but there was always something missing from whatever I came up with. And Vito had that something. And I think we’ve come up with a very special character that channels a lot of the things we enjoyed about comics when we were growing up. I think that the magic of Stray could literally only be done by the creative chemistry Vito and I have by creating this book together. I’m really proud of what we’ve done on Stray so far and looking forward to seeing how far we can take him.

BI: What are some of your artistic influences? What inspired you to be an artist in the first place?

Sean: I started drawing when I was about 3, and I even have pictures from when I was 5 years old of Batman, Superman and Spider-man that I drew. Comics were a big part of my life from a very early age and I think that they just totally captured my imagination. And I just wanted to draw all these amazing characters that I spent so much of my time with and who took me to these fantastical worlds y’know. 

I have tons of influences. I analyse so many of the artists who’s work I enjoy and try find out why I like the art and if there’s something special I can take from them and inject into my own art.  My biggest influences would be the greats, Alan Davis, Stuart Immonen, George Perez, John Byrne, Jim Lee, Mike Wieringo and Jeff Johnson. The list could go on for a while, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few.

BI:  What do you love most about your art? What’s your favorite panel or scene that you have drawn thus far?

Sean: That’s a tough question. Whatever I draw, I’m bound to hate the very next day. But if I had to choose, it would probably be a few of my Pathfinder covers, I usually love how those turn out. But from Stray specifically, my favourite panel that I draw and think came out really awesome, was Page 21, Panel 1 of issue 4. That was a puzzling action to show on a page to how I saw it in my head and was really stoked about how it game out. One of the few times I feel I got the energy and impact I wanted to convey to the reader.

BI: What are you looking forward to most as an artist with drawing the Actionverse event?

Sean: I’m looking forward to drawing everyone else’s characters! I love getting a feel for new characters and figuring out how I would tackle them. How they emote, their body types and expressions, and powers of course.

BI:  What’s coming next with you, Sean? 

Sean: Next, well Stray turns bimonthly next year so at the moment Vito and I are working on the upcoming story arcs for that right now which is just a whole mess of fun. New characters, new enemies and all the stuff in between. I still work on covers for Pathfinder and issues whenever they ask and I have the chance. I’m also working a bit on my own graphic novel and have my fingers in a few other projects with different creators so we’ll see what comes of all of them. If I had my way, I would be putting out books with everyone.

BI: What kind of advice you have for aspiring artists?

Sean: I dunno if it’s the best advice but here’s what I’ve learned, and I still feel like I’m still trying to figure things out myself. Never give up, always be open to constructive criticism, every day and every job is one step closer to where you want to be. Every piece of art you make is going to teach you something, sometimes it’s how not to draw something. You’ll draw a whole lot of weird looking feet before one day by surprise you’ll figure out how to draw the right one. Learn to draw everything and don’t forget the basics. Make your own comics and put them out there and the rest will come to you. It may take some time but if you want it bad enough, it’ll happen.

BI:  Anything else you wanted to say about Actionverse # 0 or Actionverse itself?

Sean: Actionverse is the not just a big event but it’s a story full of heart and aside from heroes bashing villains it’s more about a group of characters building those emotional connections that fan’s enjoy. Seeing how this character will react around that character. And anyone reading the series will get some good chuckles out of it and amongst all the event books out right now, I’m hoping that the heart in ours will be what makes it stand out among them.

BI: Thank you so much again, Sean.  Sean will be writing and drawing Actionverse: Stray #1, which hits stores this May.

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