Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Square Comix by Ian McMurray

I'm sure many of you have not heard of Ian McMurry but I'm sure you will in the near future. Ian is an amazing new talent that you should keep an eye on.
Self portrait of Ian (center) on the cover of his book, Alone in Kyoto

I asked Ian some questions which he graciously answered.

Who are you? When and where were you born?

I’m a Canadian, born in Toronto, raised in the suburbs, but I lived right downtown for my 20's.  At the end of that, I just started getting out of step with things, bored, uncomfortable, unchallenged, so I moved to Japan in 2003, not knowing the language or what I was doing. Now I’m married with a kid, and speak fairly fluently.

Comic taken from Square Comix #11
What is your comic reading background? What comics inspired you to start working on comics? 

I was forbidden to read comics around age seven by my grandmother (specifically from buying Wierd War Tales #20 at the corner store), which made them what I wanted from then on.  A comic shop opened in my town when I was ten, and all my money went to buying comics for the next few years.  I drew a bunch of homemade comics, and kept at in high school, though I started to get self-conscious about it because it really was uncool.  I went to art school, and at that point, comics were still very much not considered art, and I was about to quit, when I found the Beguiling in Toronto, started getting D&Q, Fantagraphics, 80s stuff like Raw and Weirdo, collections of pre-1950 newspaper strips, basically anything out of the mainstream.  That made me say comics were worth doing.  Ten years on, I started getting back into mainstream, just to see what’s been happening, and reading a little more manga too.  

Comic taken from Square Comix #11

Who are your favorite creators?

The creators who first give me the impetus to keep going were the Toronto Three; Seth, Chester Brown, and Joe Matt, which were my first experiences of Autobio Comics.  I had some self-esteem issues about comics, some well deserved, since the mainstream of comics was especially immature at that time, around ’95.  I just started to see that have comics set in Toronto about real people were legit.  And the work of Clowes and Ware made me want to push the diversity of my content.  These days, the most exciting artists for me are people like Taiyo Matsumoto, Jim Rugg, and Noah Van Sciver, among others.  I just like idiosyncratic creators, the more personally developed, the better.

Comic taken from Square Comix #11
What is your process like? How long does it take you to make a page of comics?

Every project is different.  For a one pager, I plan it on a page in thumbnails, for a longer story, I tend to write the story panel by panel on index cards so I can shuffle it around and delete or insert things easily. The Alone in Kyoto book was a little different in that the memories were very clear, and since it was based on truth, there wasn’t as much to juggle around.  The key thing for me these days, since my writing is better than my drawing in my opinion, is to plan the images before attaching text, so that it graphically flows.  Also, I consider the two page spread, so things should be paced in terms of pairs of pages.  A black and white page is usually 2-3 hours, colour a bit more.

From Ian's Alone in Kyoto

Alone in Kyoto was started for the 30 days of Comics November challenge on Tumblr, and I finished it in under two months, so it was a short period of deep consideration about the way I felt.  I think the graphics tightened a fair bit from the beginning to the end.  By the end, I was using just brush inks, and possibly no hatching.  It was one of the first time I used a ruler in years as well.

What future projects do you have planed?

I have recently contributed an 8-page story to an Australian anthology magazine, OI! OI! OI!, which will see print in the future, and I’m doing one pagers in the meantime to keep the fires stoked.   As well, for May, I’m doing a Mini Comic Challenge with an international group of comic makers, so the goal is to finish a 16 page comic in a month.  Alone in Kyoto is my first published book, so I’m hoping to do more in the future, though I’m not aiming to do any graphic novels in the near future.

I want to thank Ian for graciously sharing his work and answering questions and I encourage all of you to check out his Tumblr feed and buy his books. 

Square Comix on Tumblr

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