The hope and idea of the Issues with Perspective feature is to provide a more in depth look at the creators who makes comics and their process/influences/environment behind the making of the issues/series. I am terrible at naming things (take the podcast Pages and Panels, holy shit I hate that name) but the thought is that you will get a better perspective of the issue/series by learning more about the process and the actual creator who made it (Issues with Perspective, get it? Nah). I hope with this feature readers will get a further look into the books they love and the amazing people who make them.
For the next installment of Issues with Perspective I was beyond excited to be joined by the creator Tyler Landry to talk about his upcoming series Vile from Study Group Comics. I have always loved Tyler's work from afar stalking him as a contributor for Study Group comics. His thoughtful and also often times disturbing story telling mixed with sometimes chaotic sometimes structured layouts were always comics I've adored. So when Study Group announced they would be publishing Tyler's Vile I bugged him to do an Issues with Perspective.
A huge thanks to Tyler for taking the time to answer questions and provide some insight into Vile, his thoughtspace and process. Be sure to pre-order the first issue of Vile at your local shop. You can grab other works from Tyler in his shop as well.
Tyler Landry and Vile
Who is Vile? (Creative Team)
It’s all me, dude. Written, laid out, and drawn as a sort of self-devouring, self-renewing brain creature process. Zack and Francois at Study Group provide support - an ear, a word, or a shoulder to cry on. And oh my, how I cry…
What is Vile?
Vile is a container for my more horror/fear/doom flavoured comics. Specifically, this first 48-page issue features the story The Coward’s Hole, about a spaceman marooned on an alien planet, forced to face his worst insecurities in a terrifying way. Future issues of Vile will be mostly single or double story issues, with more stories dredged up from the abyss of my burned out, barren soul.
Why should readers get Vile ?
Vile will always feature stories and art exploring the more unpleasant aspects of being alive. The stuff of nightmares and nervous, cold daydreams. I think we’re all, on some level, fascinated by our fears, and if you happen to indulge in reading about those things, Vile could very well be for you.
When/Where/How can readers expect to get Vile?
Vile will be available in comic shops May 11th 2016 (according to Previews). Really, we’re looking at using TCAF as a sort of debut platform. If you run a comic shop, or know someone who does and have the capacity to influence their purchasing habits, the item code for this first issue of Vile is : MAR161028
What was a normal workday/writing session like for you when working on a comic?
I’ve a decade-long (so far!) career as an Art Director in the video games industry, so my comics work sessions end up being clandestine night time affairs. Generally when I get home from work I put my feet up, or beat the fuck outta my drum kit in the basement for an hour or so, grab supper with my family, then retire to the cave to draw for a few hours. I put on some music, and depending on how i’m working, either hunch over my Cintiq, or my drawing table, and have at it. Without distractions, I’ll just barrel through whatever needs doing - laying out story cards, making thumbnails, writing notes/dialogue, drawing actual pages, scanning, colouring, etc. I really prefer to work on paper with (thing that makes marks), but this story for Vile was actually done mostly digitally. My starting process, however, was entirely natural - drawings and notes on cards as quick as they come to my brain, arranged, edited, and set. I photographed those sequences as references and composed the final pages right overtop of them. Pretty straightforward.
What is your work space while working on the project?
The dining room in my home is my studio. It houses a couple of bookshelves, a small desk for my computer, a drawing table, and a ratty old couch. I’ve got a project board, a couple of framed drawings, and a wicked print from Lale Westvind hanging over my desk. It’s quiet, if i need it to be, and at a back corner of the house, so it’s well out of the way. No through traffic.
What are the tools/applications/research you used most in the creation of Vile?
My tools are whatever i can get my weird little hands on. All of my planning is done with index cards and whatever garbage pens are around. The final pages were drawn in Photoshop, using a couple of brushes I created. Not a standard I live by, or anything. I change media all the time, just to keep myself as fresh as I can. I didn’t do any specific research for this story, since at its core it’s really about what goes on inside of the main character, his feelings, his attitudes - but it does take place in a pretty obvious sci-fi setting. There’s bound to be a sort of accumulated knowledge there, just based on years of consuming stories told in similar settings. I did lift the parachute and balloon landing idea from a documentary about trying to land things on Mars, though. I guess that qualifies as research.
What is the situation that gets the most productivity out of you?
Any situation devoid of distractions - especially phone/social/beep/boop distractions. Ideally, I’m in my studio space, music is on, and the drawing just comes out. It works so well that I actually spend too much time there, and my family sometimes wonders if I still exist.
What media were you engaged with during the creation of Vile (music/movies/books/games) that helped the creation process or that you just happened to be into at that time?
I can’t watch TV or anything while I work, visual stimulation is too distracting when I’m thinking in pictures and drawing. I listen to the occasional podcast - especially interviews with cartoonists, or discussions about their work, but I mostly stick to music. Music helps me get into a mood. It occupies another thread in my thoughts with what i hope is relevant vibes for the work i’m doing. I listened to lots of Brain Eno (Apollo, Small Craft On A Milk Sea), older Skinny Puppy albums (Too Dark Park, Remission, Last Rights), and heaps of stoner/doom metal (Sleep, Acid King, Let the Night Roar) while I was drawing The Coward’s Hole.
For readers who enjoy Vile what else would you suggest to them that they might enjoy that has a similar tone/style/message of your work?
Of my own work? Lonesome is a spooky short story about, well, loneliness. An olde time prospector having conversations over the evening campfire. Clav City is a bit more a “present time, present concerns” sort of story - with a good dose of the frustrating and the bleak. Hermit Crab Real Estate thrives on an uneasy vibe, but is not a literal, character/dialogue driven story. Then there’s the Shit and Piss series I’ve been working on, which is currently sold out, but you can find some of it for free online - you don’t have to look too hard - These are stories observed from a controller’s vantage point, assessing the putrid lives and deaths of things inhabiting what is essentially a haunted sewage processing facility. Fun for the whole family, really.
What is something you learned about the series/yourself/comics from work on Vile and now bringing it to print through Study Group?
I don’t normally do a lot of straight up writing of characters and dialogue, and The Coward’s Hole is my heaviest dialogue-laden story to date. I guess you could say I’ve learned a few things about what gives validity to the story, to a person in it. Rounding out a character’s personality through any number of means within the structure and setting of the story.
What Iv always enjoyed most about your work is the visceral and abstract nature of the stories and subject matter. Where do you think that comes from? At what point do you know an idea is fleshed out enough to be turned into a full comic for you?
First of all, thanks! I try my best not to censor myself beyond whatever editing is required to make a story legible. Every story i’ve done to date has some seed in my feelings - love, guilt, anger, insecurity, fear - and sometimes there’s some ugly fucking shit in there. I try not to be too direct or literal, and so i turn it into filth and flesh and sex and death - things that can offer some heightened emphasis and symbolism. I try to use objects and events in the story as condensed representation of the greater theme or feeling I’m trying to portray. As for the fleshing out, I just run with an idea until I’ve either destroyed it, or it has proven to have the gumption to exist on its own terms. If it stands up, I’ll share it as a complete story. I have sketchbooks and folders full of casualties.
You have an amazing feel for layouts. How do you approach each project when it comes to layouts?
The feel is assisted by a combination of a couple of major influences. First, I studied graphic design many (so many) moons ago, and even though i did ZERO good work at the time, I began soaking up that info, those approaches, those ideals, and I’ve been developing them ever since. The other big influence came from taking Frank Santoro’s correspondence course a few years ago. He teaches an approach based on centuries of development in geometry and art and general relationships between things, and of establishing a grid as a base, like a time signature in music, and then building off of that structure. My approach involves thumbnailing out a handful of pages worth of content, based on my notes, to establish a pace in the number and proportion of panels - seeing how they best convey the information i’m trying to communicate. With those results in mind, I’ll start drawing note cards to match those proportions and begin the sequencing and layout. Beyond that, it’s about framing, focus, proximity, and highlighting important things in a way that will help move the reader’s eye around the page/spread. There are plenty of “tricks” people use to try to make that stuff work, but I just eyeball the flow in whichever way it feels good to me. I use a lot of contrast between positive and negative space to highlight importance and directionality. Large fields of color/tone do the heavy lifting.
Was there anything that you found particularly challenging or blocks you hit in the creation process? On the same note what was the most enjoyable part of your creation experience?
This particular story, The Coward’s Hole, was actually conceived of and pitched to a different party at the beginning of 2015 - but that avenue dried up, and the story sat for a few months before i decided to finish it. The loss of momentum for a deadline felt like a real stopper at first, but to be honest, when I got back at it I re-wrote/edited the latter 2/3 of the story after that, and it turned out MUCH better because of the time I had to breathe in between. The place I usually feel the heat is near the beginning, when i’m dumping the very first ideas and beginning to find the sequence. That’s where I find holes and inconsistencies, where I feel frustration with connecting the whole thing together, and where I really prove that it has life or not. This story was chopped out of the middle of a much older, longer, and long laboured-over idea, so it came with baggage. Chopping out all of the connective tissue was tough going - but once I’d gotten the bulk of the important ideas sorted out, it came together pretty smoothly. Most enjoyable part? Shit, man, the entire process.
Best thing you could say about your work? The woman giving birth to the eggs with teeth in Shit and Piss #3 is fucking disturbing and fucking awesome. Just an observation and fact.
Thanks, dude. Combination of the most beautiful and most disgusting. “Sewer-dwelling trash golem gives birth to toothed egg-head triplets.” Best thing I could say about my work is that I love doing it. Whether they’re silly, or gross, or downright bleak, I’m making these comics because I absolutely LOVE to do it.
Why do you love Vile?
To me, Vile is an open door into a dark room. I have hints of what’s in there, and it scares the fuck outta me, but i’m gonna go in and pull something out to share as many times as I can before whatever’s in there eats me alive.