Karl Kerschl talked to Multiverso DC about Teen Titans Year One, Transmission X and The Abominable Charles Christopher.
Multiverso DC: Karl, first of all, I would like to thank you for the time for this interview.Well, tell us where you was born and how was your first contact with the art. Naturally it comes from your childhood, right?
Karl Kerschl: I was born in Toronto, Canada and I've been drawing since I was very young. Mostly a lot of dinosaurs and animals and then, later, superheroes and cartoon characters.
MDC: So and how it comes professionally?
KK: In high school (I think I was around sixteen years old) I was reading a lot of comic books and I decided that I wanted to draw them for a living. My goal was to work for Marvel at the time, so I drew some sample pages and attended some small conventions. When I was eighteen I got my first professional work from an independent publisher, and a couple of years after that I was hired by Marvel. I've been drawing comics ever since.
MDC: Did you improve your talent by yourself or did you curse some school of arts?
KK: A little of both. I went to the Ontario College of Art for a year, part-time, which was very helpful, but other than that I mostly practiced on my own and tried to improve my storytelling and drawing skills. It's a never-ending process, of course. I'm always learning something new and I try to go in different directions to challenge myself and the readers.
MDC: What are some of your artistic influences?
KK: Oh boy. There are a lot. As a child I drew a lot of animals. I wanted to be Robert Bateman. I was heavily influenced in my youth by anime like Macross, and then by the Pinis' Elfquest comics. Then I discovered Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz and that completely changed my life. When I got into superheroes I absorbed all of Jim Lee's work, and then I became obsessed with the Capcom artists and Street Fighter design.
MDC: Your style has changed and evolved since you broke into the industry with books like NEW WARRIORS and ICEMAN. Did you consciously make that style change, or was that something that just evolved organically?
KK: It's a style I'd always wanted to try and I was lucky enough to get to work in a studio with Serge LaPointe and Steph Peru, so we were able to refine the 'animated' style I was hoping for. But I'm always trying new things. I like to match the look of a story with the tone of it, so an animated style isn't always appropriate. On previous books I experimented a little with brushes and on my current project I'm trying something completely unfamiliar.
MDC: Did you read the TEEN TITANS growing up? How familiar are you with the characters?
KK: I read some of Marv Wolfman and George Perez's issues, so I'm quite familiar with that generation of characters. Robin was always a favourite of mine. I haven't kept up with them recently, so I don't know who's on the team or how old they're supposed to be. That's worked in my favour, though, as I was able to come at the Year One series from a fresh perspective.
MDC: How did you become involved with TEEN TITANS: YEAR ONE?
KK: Eddie Berganza asked me if I wanted to do it, but at the time we didn't have a writer or a story – just an idea of how we wanted the series to 'feel'. A book about a group of kids tasting their first bit of independence.
MDC: How closely do you colaborate with Amy Wolfram over story elements?
KK: Very closely. We start with a group phone call. Amy, Eddie and I throw ideas around and decide what each issue will be loosely 'about'. Then Amy goes and does a draft of the script and we talk it over again. Often, she and I just chat on the phone, taking what she's already written and breaking it down into more specifically-paced scenes. It's a wonderful process, and it feels right that everyone is involved with every aspect of the production.
MDC: TEEN TITANS: YEAR ONE has a very rich, animated look. Can you take us through that artistic process, and how you work with the inker and colorist?
KK: I draw the pages in pencil, but the characters and foreground elements are drawn in very clean lines and the backgrounds are rougher and more loosely pencil-shaded. Serge inks all of the characters to clean them up and give them life and depth, and then Steph colours the page in two stages: first he paints the backgrounds in lush, moody tones, giving them a soft quality and adding lighting, then he colours the characters in a flat style. They resemble cel-shaded art from an animated show and when they're placed over the backgrounds they pop out.
MDC: Do you look at the original source material? If so, how to you translate that to your style?
KK: I referenced the original Teen Titans issues to get an idea of their feel. More than anything, they set the tone for the light-hearted quality of our series. The kids in the old books hung around the cave dancing and listening to music and I wanted to capture that feeling, but in a more modern age.
MDC: Do you try to stay close to the original stories, as far as the character looks? Some characters are very familiar (like Wonder Girl and Robin) and others are a departure (Aqualad and Antithesis). How did that develop?
Let's talk about Aqualad. It was a little jarring for some long-time fans to see your depiction (laughs) – but many have grown to embrace your version and, recently, you posted on your blog about a dream, where you felt bad for give for Garth his fish aspect. In you dream, you saw Robert Bernstein – The creator of Garth – wearing the Aqualad’s suit. Why such a visual departure for Aqualad, but not so much the others?
KK: Actually, they're all very close to the original versions. I didn't really change their costumes much at all. With Aqualad, I wanted a design that was different from the others. It's a story about teens in their awkward years, but all of these kids were too good-looking. I needed to represent the gawky, pimply side of adolescence and Aqualad was the obvious choice because his character was such a blank slate to begin with. And he's from the ocean, so I could get away with more physical changes than I could with the others. I'm very happy with those decisions – at least now he'll be remembered. And you know, to address all the readers who disliked that representation, try to remember that he's a character at the beginning of his adventure. He's not heroic yet, he's not sure of himself, and he has a lot of growing up to do before he becomes any of those things you might expect from a 'hero'. Give the kid a break. He has so much potential.
MDC: Do you have a favorite character to draw in TEEN TITANS: YEAR ONE?
KK: Aqualad. Without question.
MDC: Something that's just great is the way all the Titans really look like kids (since they are about 14 years old during the course of the story). Was that something you guys discussed?
KK: Not really. I just don't understand why they don't ALWAYS look like kids. The book is called 'TEEN Titans'. When I flip through the current books they all look like muscly adults.
MDC: Many readers are nostalgic for those Haney-Cardy stories, where the Titans flashbacks always seem perennially entrenched in the 60s. Was there a concern about going against that?
KK: Nope. If you're nostalgic for those stories (and I really enjoy them, by the way) then go and read the collected books. They're not going anywhere. I did this series for kids, and I don't think any kid is going to read it and wish there was a sixties flashback in it.
MDC: Some readers have also noticed some anachronistic elements in a TEEN TITANS: YEAR ONE story – like iPods and instant message avatars – was that something you guys thought about while you were creating the series?
KK: Nope. Things like that are such modern conventions that the KIDS who are reading this book will have grown up with them and they won't seem out of place at all.
MDC: Do you have some plans for the future? Has the team given any thought to a YEAR TWO? Many fans would love to see you guys handle Lilith, Mal and Mr Jupiter….
KK: We haven't talked about it, but it's always a possibility. I know we barely scratched the surface of what we wanted to do with these characters. I'm sure Amy has other ideas for them. Right now I'm focused on other things, though.
MDC: You work on various styles of comics, for example The Abominable Charles Christopher. The backgrounds are specific of Canadian. So, Am I right to presume that Charles could represent you or even situations for the common people?
KK: Definitely. Charles (and all of the characters in the story) represent different facets of my own personality and behave in very recognizable human ways. Their traits and situations are familiar to everyone and easy to relate to. It never occurred to me that the comic would feel Canadian, but if it does then that's fantastic.
MDC: What could you tell us about Transmission-X?
KK: Transmission-X is a collective of artists and friends who are producing personal work under a shared banner. We're all professional artists in our daily lives, but these stories are the ones closest to our hearts. They can all be found, for free, at www.txcomics.com .
MDC: Do you have some project with some writer who you would like to work?
KK: At the moment, I'm enjoying my first steps as a writer on The Abominable Charles Christopher, and that's very exciting for me. I'd like to continue writing and drawing my own stories for as long as I can.
MDC: Speaking on this, which are your favorites writes?
KK: Paulo Coelho, Eckhart Tolle, David Foster Wallace
MDC: Months ago, I was reading your blog and I noticed your comments about to drop the comics. Sill loving comics, you realized that you don’t want read it anymore. Do you think that work on it could influence your decision?
KK: I think I'm just disillusioned with the idea of collecting material things, and I'm less likely to buy as many books as I used to. Certainly, when I come across something very special and it speaks to me from the shelf, I take it home and cherish it. I find those gems less and less in my local comic shop. There's still great work, but I think I'm just looking to other places for my stories and inspiration now.
MDC: Would you like to let some message to Brazilians fans?
KK: Thanks for reading my work and thank you especially for reading The Abominable Charles Christopher! Some of my Brazilian readers have translated the comics so you can read them in Portuguese, which is amazing. The translations can all be found at www.abominable.cc
Tags: Entrevistas, Especiais