Interview with Reilly Brown

Q1: Let’s start with the common question, if you can kindly introduce yourself.

I’m Reilly Brown, an artist and comic creator.  In the past you’ve seen my work on Marvel comics such as Cable & Dead pool, Incredible Hercules and Amazing Spider-Man, and I’m currently working on an independent creator-owned comic called Power Play, where I’m breaking out of traditional print comics and making a comic that takes advantage of modern digital tools.  Really trying to do something new and cool with it.


Q2: How did you get into the field of your work? 

Lots and lots of hard work, man.  I’ve always wanted to be an artist since I was a kid, and comics in particular were something I was interested in because in comics more than any other field the pictures themselves tell the story.

So after years of drawing I went to VCU to study illustration, and after graduating started going to a lot of comic book conventions where I met and showed my portfolio off to as many people as I could.  Eventually some editors from Marvel really liked my stuff and offered me a job, and I’ve been making comics for a living ever since.


Q3: Do you have any current favourite artists, comic artists, photographers who may have influenced you to become the artist that you are?

So many!  I’m always looking at artists for inspiration and checking out the newest things people are creating.  Currently the artists I think who are doing the most interesting stuff are Olivier Coipel on Thor, Mark Brooks’s stuff on X-Force, and Kev Walker on Thunderbolts.  Hiroaki Samura on Blade of the Immortal is always a favorite as well. On the writing side, I love Jeff Parkers characterization on Thunderbolts and his Agents of Atlas stuff in the past, and Dan Slott can weave such a wonderful story with such a wide range of emotion in Amazing Spider-Man, and Rick Remender is telling an incredibly epic story in X-Force that heavily pulls from decades of continuity, while at the same time remains accessible to readers who’ve never heard of the characters before.  It’s a master’s class in superhero writing.


Q4: What are the main tools of your trade?

I mainly use mechanical pencils and bristol board.  I use two pencils, a hard-lead 4H to do layouts, and a softer, darker HB to go into more detail over top of it.  Doing it that way I usually don’t have to erase too much.

Then I ink over that with Copic or Micron pens.  Usually a 03, 05, and 08, and maybe a brush pen for thicker stuff and filling in blacks.

I’ve also been incorporating Photoshop into my process a bit more, sometimes doing the layouts in Photoshop where it’s easier to shrink, enlarge and rearrange objects on the page before printing it out and tracing it onto the final art board.

Also, one of my most valuable tools is my mirror.  I frequently pose for myself in front of it to see how a certain pose or facial expression works, or how clothes crease or fold when in a certain position.


Q5: How was it for you to learn the process of that? Did you teach yourself, take classes or learn from other existing artist’s tutorial?

A bit of everything.  Some things I picked up from professors while I was in college, and others I heard of from fellow artists over the years or asked for advice on how to overcome certain challenges. Most of my work practices, however, developed slowly over time as I added and subtracted things into my process.

The main thing to remember when coming up with a good work process is that you’re trying to make it as easy as possible to get the idea that’s in your head out onto the page.  Anything that makes it easier to do that you want to keep, and anything that makes it more difficult you want to get rid of or change.  When it comes to image making, no matter what anyone tells you there are no things that you HAVE to do or AREN’T ALLOWED to do.  Do whatever works.


Q6: Do you think its possible for you to describe the process of your art style, what are the dos and don’ts, the important aspects you set yourself to achieve your style of design?

For me, the main thing I try to get across is the character’s personality.  I try to get across what their emotions are in any given scene, and pay attention to the unique ways that they might act and how the various characters differ from each other.  If I’m drawing Cable and Deadpool, and having them reacting to a situation in a similar way, or put them in a similar pose, I’m probably doing something wrong.

That uniqueness reaches every part of the characters, including what they wear or the type of car they’d drive or the type of gun they’d shoot.

The fun of the characters, no matter what book you’re working on, is in how they do things differently from each other.

That’s always at the front of my mind when I’m working, and when I’m planning a scene.

The first step of my process is to quickly do little thumbnail drawings of each panel as I read the script– just trying to get my first impressions down.  Then I arrange the panels into a page composition, deciding which panels are the most important and making sure the page has the appropriate focus on them.

Then I usually scan the layout into Photoshop and enlarge it to the size I want to draw.  At this stage the drawings are all REALLY rough.  Probably not much more than stick figures.  I’m mostly just going for size and placement of all the objects in the page, and making sure that the storytelling is clear.

Then I print these roughs out, and trace them onto the final paper.  This gives me a great place to start drawing, and allows me to maintain the energy that was in the thumbnails.

Then I go in with my mechanical pencils like I mentioned above.


Q7: What are the biggest struggles you encounter as an artist?

The biggest struggle is usually about time vs quality.  I always want to spend more time on my drawings than I have, working to make sure every little line is just right, but noodling like that is an easy way to blow a deadline.  I really shouldn’t worry about it so much, though, because a lot of my favorite pages I’ve drawn have been some where I felt the most rushed and didn’t have time to over think things.


Q8: Do you have any other future plans that don’t involve creative art?  

Heh, no, not really :)


Q9: Do you have any personal mottos, quotes or existing quotes that motivates you to do what you love doing? Can you share it with us or provide words of wisdom from your experiences for those who look up to you?

Here’s one I love– “K.I.S.S.– Keep It Simple, Stupid!”  I’m not sure who first said it, but it’s something I frequently repeat to myself when I’m on a tight deadline, or find myself over-working an image.  The best solutions are usually the simplest, and when you’re telling a story with your artwork, the clearest communication is usually the simplest as well.


Q10: What do you think the future will hold for all artists from all backgrounds from now?

I think the future is going to be all about putting the art where the people are, rather than expecting the people to go out and find the art.  That’s one of the biggest reasons why me and my writer on POWER PLAY, Kurt Christenson, brought our comic to Comixology.  Through them people can buy our comic online from their computer, or from their iPhone or Android wherever they are.  Wherever they hear about it and are interested enough to check it out, they can download it on the spot (and to simultaneously prove my point and shamelessly self-promote… click here!–> issue/12727/Power-Play-0 )

Another thing that we’ve done with Power Play that I think will be essential for artists to consider in the future is to try to make the best content for the form your comic will be viewed in.  That means that if your comic is going to be read on a screen as opposed to on paper, take full advantage of that and make it the best reading experience you can.  When we did that with Power Play we came up with some very cool storytelling techniques that simply aren’t possible on paper.  Too many comics are read on a screen but pretend they’re on paper, and I don’t understand the point of that.  Be honest with your medium, don’t fight against it.


Q11: To round off the last question, where can your fans and new fans find updated news and progress from you,  – Where can we find you?

You can find me all over the place!

The main gallery to check out my artwork is probably my Deviant Art page here– I update it with new artwork pretty frequently.

Also you can follow me on Twitter to get updates on what I’m doing as I’m doing it–!/Reilly_Brown

Currently my main project is my creator-owned story, POWER PLAY.  You can check out a free preview of it here– issue/12727/Power-Play-0

And the first full issue here– issue/15163/Power-Play-1

To discuss comics and art and things with me and other pros, make sure you check out the Ten Ton Studios message board here–

You can also get news updates about what I’m working on at my Tumblr blog–

Or “like” my Facebook page here–

And if anyone’s interested in purchasing my original art, you can find my art dealer at Anthony’s Comic Book Art–


Q12: Ok this question is optional for you, you and I know that art theft is so common now in the internet world, so there any words you want to share or shout at to those who steal people arts?

Every now and then you hear about one artist ripping another off, and I always think it’s stupid.  If you’re not actually talented enough to produce the artwork on your own, even if you do somehow con your way into a job, you’ll never have the skills to actually complete the thing to anyone’s satisfaction.  Artists are unique, and have unique, individual art styles.  People who hire artists know the art world well, and can recognize who’s style belongs to who.  If you try to rip someone off, you’re going to get busted.  It’s probably easier (and you’ll certainly be more successful) if you spend the time learning to draw on your own rather than pretending to be someone else.

In the end, you’ll be better off being yourself, and you’ll be better at it as well.
Visit my web site–
and check out my new comic, Power Play–


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