Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Creator Interview: Chad Du Lac of The Gifted

The Gifted
Originally uploaded by Heidi Meeley.

Chad Du Lac, artist on The Gifted, has a multi-faceted existence. Not only is he on active duty in the Navy, but he is also drawing The Gift mini-series, as well as being a dedicated family man. I was fortunate enough to meet him briefly this summer, before he left for a new tour. His art is mature and tells a story. If you are ever able to meet him, you will also find that he is exceptionally polite and has a good sense of humor. QEW Publishing and Angel Gate Press are lucky to have him.

Like Jason Reeves, I was impressed with Du Lac’s insight into the industry, and dedication and love of his craft. Read on to find out what I am talking about.

How did I get into the industry?
Originally in 1994 I was working at a Helicopter Squadron in San Diego, and had a friend of mine accidentally overhear a conversation about comic book creators at a Denny's in Chula Vista. She knew I was an artist and got the names of those people (Arnold Gordon, and Vincent White) passing it along to me the following day. I contacted them, and got pumped into their network of individuals (Committed Comics) with whom they'd been building relationships with.

Tom Doherty, and Alex Cruz the head of Committed Comics, had a meeting with me, liked the art they saw, and had me do smaller art jobs (8 page short stories, single page contributions for COMICON compilation books, an issue of Team Kaiju etc.) Around 2000-2001 Quenton Shaw (who'd been with Committed for a few years) decided to segway into QEW Publishing, and I followed him, being given the chance to pursue the creation of my own book "The Gifted". Quenton's network of people (to include Debbie Bishop of Angel Gate Press) were shown the various books QEW Publishing was creating and decided on a contract for The Gifted with a slated date of July 2007 now being the premiere for my comic.

Tell me about your influences? My influences range from multiple comic artists to fantasy painters. My comic influences are Alex Ross, Todd Mc Farlane, Jim Lee, Chris Bachalo, Adam Hughes, Arthur Adams, Terry Dodson, Brian Hitch, Carey Nord, and Greg Land. My fantasy artist influences are Larry Elmore, and (the late) Keith Parkinson. Other influences (as a writer) has been Margarett Weis and Tracey Hickman (DragonLance series), and Terry Goodkind (Sword of Truth series.)

What audiences are you hoping to reach with your work? Due to the fact my comic book is a fantasy Genre, I'm hoping to appeal to the Dungeons and Dragons generation, and the tolkienites (followers of the Lord of the Rings etc:) While all comic book readers are welcome to read, the medieval swords & sorcery area is most suited to my book.

What unique qualities do you possess that make you stand out from your peers? Dedication, tenacity, the ability to work with deadlines, a meticulous attention to detail and the ability to make decisions in relation to the title. I can draw, as many other people can (some much better than I), but I've also been an Illustrator Draftsman in the Navy for the last decade making art of all forms, not just comics, that give me a wealth of mediums, styles and techniques to implement if I desire. Couple that with a wide knowledge for how to ink, do digital coloring, and having good time management I think I'm a little bit ahead (albeit older) than most.

The project I am currently working on is a comic book called "The Gifted". It will start as a six issue mini series that will be published through Angel Gate Press Summer of 07'.

The only special thing I can mention about my comic is that I've quickly come to the realization of how much work goes into making, what I feel, is a professional quality comic book. Not just on my part, but all of my team. My inker Eric Richter adds so much more weight and feel to the lines I've penciled that the end line art is better than either of us could have done individually. That in itself increases the level of art in the book. Slide that onto Gabriel Armenta, the colorist for The Gifted, and he brings the next level of dimension to the book putting warmth or cool tones to the pages to set the mood more and add life to the characters and their environment. Each page he colors defines the world that, up till that point, was only flat black and white. The last person of significant note is Eric Bell; the wizard letterer putting the words I've written into the cascading sequence for the reader to follow. With his placement and utilization of dead space on the pages he makes the book easy to read, as well as placing the final link in providing the reader with the information (text) hopefully shown by the art in the paneled pages. Eric Bell is also responsible for all the special sound effects (graphics) in the book for which it would be a much less dramatic book without the feel and heart pounding pulse that is brought with his text additions.

What do you think about the industry today? Where do you see the industry five years from now? I think the industry today is a fairly good market though at times it seems that covers sell more than they should. To pick up a title with your favorite character on it drawn by one of your influences is misleading when the interior art is substandard and not anything like the cover. Granted I understand there are cameo cover artists (Adam Hughes for example has been drawing Cat Woman, and used to do covers for Wonder Woman exclusively without internal art.) The gimmicks also from the industry to make so many spin offs during the summer months of a single event are becoming overwhelming to a purchaser with little to no real entertainment. For example there is the comic title CIVIL WAR by Marvel right now and the main story line is outstanding. Great art, cover done by the interior artist with a good continuity to it. All the other books in the marvel world though are making spin off civil war books that aren't coinciding with their own title. Meaning that the Amazing Spiderman has Spidery affected during civil war, and an "additional" civil war issue or mini-series of Spider-man also comes out. It starts getting expensive and confusing at times to collect. And often times the spin off is substandard art and plots.

In five years
I think the industry will be about the same. Just like the era of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee new artists arise as others move one. New blood, new technology for coloring and the evolution of old characters introduced to the new will keep comics fresh. One thing that also seems to elude the current consumer of comics is that there are new kids born every day who get turned onto the comic genre. For that reason alone, the desire to have comics and the demand will endure for some time.

The most interesting thing about me that has nothing to do with comic books is that I am a United States Naval Officer. I've served in the Navy for 14 years of active duty service being involved in Operation Enduring Freedom shortly after the World Trade Center Terrorist attack of Sept 11th. I am 4th generation Navy, and I am the only one in my family history to ever earn a Commission.

Five years from now I "Know" I'll still be serving in the Navy. I have a commitment for 9 1/2 more years to retire (at a very young 42 :) as an Officer at which point I'll begin my second career. Being able to pursue comic art as a side occupation, doing commission work for Dungeon Magazine and Dragon Magazine has likewise opened doors for me into the industry. In relation to comic books I hope to have had several mini-series of The Gifted, with my pursuits branching out possibly into video game art/ design, and storyboarding. I'm pursuing my BS in Game Art and Design from The Art Institute Online with only a few more years to go, at which point I'll make a more educated decision as to my artistic path that I'd like to follow professionally, following my service in the Navy.

Closing comments? I wouldn't have any of the joy or happiness in my life without the support, compassion, caring and love of my lovely wife Della (to whom I've been married 13 years) my two children Elizabeth, and Erik (who will grow up to be superhero children:), and my parents who, while not particularly fond of comic books, always supported my ambitions to do anything I wanted in life. Their faith, trust, and belief in me, just like my wife and kids, is an invaluable set of morals and values I keep today making me positive and hopeful for whatever is to come.

I would like to thank Chad Du Lac for taking the time out of an immensely busy schedule to reply to my questions. I was very impressed to learn more, and highly anticipate his upcoming work being published in 2007.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

In searching for Chad, a previous 'shipmate,' I came accross your interview with him.

I remember him working on 'The Gifted' when we were on the Stennis together. Amazing work and I'll have to grab it this summer!

How did you contact him in the first place? Feel free to pass along my informaiton including my MySpace page (he should know who I am).