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[Interview] Tom Parkinson-Morgan talks artistic process, women in popular fantasy media, and more!

Comic Books

[Interview] Tom Parkinson-Morgan talks artistic process, women in popular fantasy media, and more!

In a few short weeks you can be holding in your hands the death of six billion demons…give or take. Image Comics recently picked up Tom Parkinson-Morgan’s phenomenal webcomic to publish in physical format and we couldn’t be more excited. The series looks remarkable and the story contains plenty of strong female protagonists. We recently chatted with Tom about the title, his process, and much more. Check it out below!

AiPT!: What would be your elevator pitch for Kill Six Billion Demons and if you had the choice who would be the director of the film you’re pitching to?

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[Interview] Tom Parkinson-Morgan talks artistic process, women in popular fantasy media, and more!

Tom Parkinson-Morgan: I like doing the elevator pitch question because it’s kind of hard to explain to people just what my comic is about. The best one-sentence summary I’ve come up with so far is ‘a totally average sorority girl must save her boyfriend from seven insane god-kings who rule the multiverse.’ If I had to pick a director it couldn’t possibly be anyone but Guillermo Del Toro, since he does so much stuff that’s right up my ally with design. I don’t think my comic would fit particularly well to a film, actually, since it’s sort of a weird, obtuse, sprawling thing. The world of the comic might make a fantastic backdrop for a 10 minute animated short with super minimal dialogue though.

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AiPT!: I love that the protagonist is a woman. It’s not often you see this and I was curious what prompted you to use a woman as the lead?

Parkinson-Morgan: I had a rule when I started the comic to make all the main characters female, because that way it was impossible for me not to write at least one female character who was compelling. In my opinion (one I think is shared by a lot of people), women sorely lack compelling or interesting roles in popular fantasy media. They often get written as a side character that doesn’t really do anything relevant to the plot, a sexual object for the (typically male) hero to conquer, or a ‘strong female character’ who is a kickass action-heroine who ultimately has the character depth of a puddle. Fantasy as an entire genre especially, and a huge chunk of popular comics that I’ve read, suffer from this problem. So I sort of cheated in a way by making my main cast a bunch of cool ladies, because I have to write compelling characters or the comic is going to suck.

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AiPT!: Could you tell us about your creative process? Where do you work, when, and what sort of materials or techniques do you use?

Parkinson-Morgan: I work from home, which takes some getting used to, and I use a Wacom Intuos tablet and Photoshop CC. I like to work very loose, so I usually throw down some super rough sketchy page layouts and just ink right over that. It ends up that my lines are a bit shaky, but a lot more organic, they’re like pencil lines in some regard, and my work flow is a lot smoother. I hate trying to ink traditionally because it makes my work super stiff. I used to do traditional lines/inks and color in Photoshop, but I gave up on that for the aforementioned reason and the eternal pain of scanning/cleaning lines to use. I can work anywhere from 5-30+ hours on a page, depending on the complexity. If you’ve read the comic you’ve probably guessed correctly which pages were the 30+ hour ones. I think a typical page is about 7-10 hours of solid drawing.

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AiPT!: I understand you have a relationship with Brandon Graham (who I love) and I can see some of his influence on your work. Can you shed some light on your relationship with him?

Parkinson-Morgan: Brandom Graham is the person who first passed my work around Image, I believe. I greatly admire Brandon because he’s passionate about the kind of comics he likes, and trying to bring creators in to the Image fold who are making the kind of work that he enjoys. He’s a taste-maker in a sense, and he has very similar tastes to mine, so I really like all the people he’s brought on (in Island, for example). I’ll also mention Brandon has been an amazing mentor through this whole process from the very beginning, and he had absolutely no obligation to be so generous. I remember contacting him and a few days later I chatted with him on Skype for about two hours and he was showing me pages of projects he was working on. It blew my mind because it totally redefined for me who a professional comic artist was. It was fantastic.

AiPT!: You write, draw, color, and letter Kill Six Billion Demons and I was curious is there any facet of the creative process you enjoy most?

Parkinson-Morgan: Writing is always sort of secondary for me, as I think a comic should [be able to] get by on the strength of its visuals alone if it needs to. I love drawing huge two page spreads, even though they kill me. When I used to ink traditionally, inking was what I hated the most, but now I’m all digital I absolutely hate flatting (putting flat colors down under the lines). It’s like doing a needlessly complex coloring book where you actually need to worry about the value/color balance of all elements at once, and you’re not really any closer to finishing your page as you’re doing it.

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AiPT!: What’s your favorite method of procrastination? Temptation? Vice?

Parkinson-Morgan: My favorite method of procrastination is queuing up music/podcasts/documentaries on YouTube or iTunes to listen to. I cannot work without it, but sometimes I spend way too long finding enough material. Favorite vice is without a doubt, coffee. I used to drink coffee for the taste, would you believe, but a few years ago I became a teacher and that changed overnight.

AiPT!: What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility)?

Parkinson-Morgan: If I had a superpower it would be the ability to sleep and wake up whenever I wanted. I’m a light sleeper and all kinds of things keep me awake. This irritates the hell out of my housemate I’m sure.

AiPT!: Thanks Tom!

You can purchase Kill 6 Billion Demons on Amazon 9/7 and the book market release date is 9/13.

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