Markosia Creator Interview with Douglas A. Sirois and Erik von Wodtke
Doug, introduce yourself:
I am a painter and illustrator, art director, father to two wonderful boys, a husband to a beautiful wife, and an educator! I mostly work in the entertainment world developing graphic novels, illustrated books, and concept art for film. I graduated from the Art Institute of Boston in 2001 earning myself a BFA in illustration.
In 2009, I earned my Master of Fine Arts degree in illustration from CalState, Fullerton in California. I also serve as Art Director for Edge of L.A. Productions. After relocating back to New England after ten years living in southern California, I teach illustration classes in and around New England.Erik, introduce yourself:
My name is Erik von Wodtke. I'm a writer and producer living in Los Angeles. Douglas A. Sirois and I have done exciting development proposals and content for all kinds of clients around the globe. We work with producers, writers, directors, and executives to develop their content for film and television. Our services include story and screenplay development as well as conceptual illustration, poster development, and storyboards. From story to script, we have the ability to develop programming content for motion pictures, television and the web, including graphic novels, reality-TV, animation, and other formats. I am also into design and integration of renewable energy and sustainable "Green Architecture".Erik, what made you want to work in the comics industry?
Recently I have become interested in writing and producing "High-Art" graphic novels that read as epic cinematic experiences. Think of them as the evolution of the screenplay.
The text and paintings flow like a classic cinematic storybook. It targets the blockbuster-13-year-old audience, which today pushes an age range of 5 to 80 years old. Like movies, this is a visual form of storytelling that is intended to captivate the audience in a single sitting.
We are also working on a second book!
It is a Steampunk epic adventure, entitled Doc Holliday the Galactic Gunslinger, which is being done in a similar classic cinematic storybook style.
The art of story and the study of narrative theory are fascinating to me. At a young age I got into reading all kinds of fun stories, some comic books, and I especially remember being awestruck reading the Narnia and JRR Tolkien series.
Because my mother is from Holland, my family enjoyed the opportunity to travel to lots of parts of Europe, learning about the history and stories of different lands. I remember going to Switzerland to the Matterhorn and then coming home and going to Disneyland to the Matterhorn ride and pointing out the differences. At an early age, my family also exposed me to Shakespeare and other plays that sparked my creative imagination to desire to write my own ideas and dreams.
Doug, what made you want to work in the comics industry?
It would be hard to see myself doing anything else. The love for storytelling came at such an early age, but while in my early teens, I found my passion for sequential artwork through the pages of Daredevil comic books written and illustrated by Frank Miller. I wholeheartedly embraced each issue. It was my first exposure to more mature subject matter aided by the use of contrasting shapes of shadows and lights that is prevalent in old film noir movies that gave the comic book a sense of moody realism. Story after story forever branded my mind with the fantastic and astonishing ideas and images.
In my college years, the works of painters turned comic artists caught my attention which was mainly the work of Dave McKean. He illustrated a graphic novel Arkham Asylum, a Batman story that changed the way I looked at the comics forever. You can paint these books! McKean’s use of painted photographic realism combined with graphic compositions and mixed media such as a old fabric, wires and circuit boards painted into his images, created a richly horrific tone to the work that still inspires me.
Doug, tell us a bit about the Apollo book?
Well, I can tell you more about the look and feel of this book and how this is such a blast for me to work on! When Erik approached me about this book, I had just come off working on a Mythological graphic novel, entitled Hercules: The Knives of Kush published by Radical Publishing . I was excited that I could take a new approach to another Greek mythological hero and tell it in a way that was both haunting and beautiful. That in it’s essence is the motivation for the art in this book. With almost every page as a double page spread, I can really invest some time making each painting as epic as possible. Some of the influences in the painting of the book come from master painters Rembrandt, Caravaggio, as well as Winslow Homer and illustrators like NC Wyeth, and more contemporary illustrators Petar Meseldzija and Todd Lockwood. There is a very strong sense of mood and lighting in every painting that will really set this book apart.
Erik, tell us a bit about the Apollo book?
Apollo has always been my favorite of the Greek gods. His story is fun, dramatic, and becomes more interesting when you get into reading things like The Iliad and The Odyssey. After years of researching Greek mythology and reading stories about Apollo, I became inspired to compose my own reimagined version of the legend, which pulls the narrative together as if it were a storybook for a larger-than-life feature motion picture.
Here is the synopsis:
In ancient Greece, twin 18-year-old farmhands, Apollo and Artemis, encounter Leto, their true mother. She explains that Hera, the queen of the gods, caught her falling passionately in love with Zeus, the king of the gods, and released the gigantic Cthulhu creature from the depths of Tartarus, to kill her. Attempting to save Leto, Zeus sent her to an enchanted island, where she hid and gave birth to the twins. Concerned she would not be able to care for her infants, Leto left them with a farmers wife on the mainland and planned to return when they were the right age to embark on an epic adventure to protect their mother from the vengeful queen of the gods.
Apollo is a graphic novel of classic Greek mythology, uniquely reimagined within the H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos universe. Written by Erik von Wodtke. Illustrated by Douglas A. Sirois. Published by Markosia Enterprises Ltd.
Erik, who/what influences your work?
Joseph Campbells teachings on comparative mythology and comparative religion have been inspiring and influential. Ancient cultures, history, literature, and anthropology are my favorite things to dig into and be influenced by. It is fun to find facts about a grounded time and space that you are writing about. I also admire the work of Alan Moore and Guillermo Del Toro.
Less than a decade ago, a librarian friend, gave me the book At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft. I had never read Lovecraft and had heard some people turn up their nose at his works. I gave it a read, which opened my mind to discovering that Lovecraft was everywhere in pop culture, television, and film. The more I read, the more I found fun references to how artists have been inspired by his works and ideas for years.
Doug, who/what influences your work?
In addition to the artists that influenced the look of this book I am influenced by the great golden age illustrators, NC Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish, Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham , JC Leyendecker, and Norman Rockwell.
I love the contemporary book, Spectrum which showcases the best of fantastic artwork. James Gurney is a huge influence! This list can really go on forever. I love film, animation and really any medium that tells great stories really. I find inspiration in my kids daily.
Doug, what are your favorite comics/graphic novels?
Again, so many to list! Where to begin? My favorites are Gaiman’s Books of Magic, Black Orchid, Arkham Asylum, Millers Batman, Hellboy, anything by Dave McKean, Jon Muth, Greg Ruth. I follow a lot of artists but that’s a good start for me!
Erik, what are your favorite comics/graphic novels?
When I was a kid we would walk down the street to the comic book shop in a vacant citrus packinghouse. I was into the oddball characters like the blind lawyer with superpowers, or like the former neurosurgeon who serves as the Sorcerer Supreme. Fun stuff. Mostly I would follow the writers instead of the characters. If a writer moved on to a different title, I would follow.
When I started working in the film industry, I discovered that producers would refer to specific comic writers and if you have not read these stories then you were kind of lost. "Have you read Alan Moores Superman?" "Have you read Frank Millers Batman?" "Have you read 300 or Sin City or V for Vendetta?" "Have you read Gary K. Wolfs Roger Rabbit?" It has been fun to revisit all the characters now with my own kids.
Graphic novels have become a newer art form that is quickly evolving. I like the books that have a real "High-Art" feel rather than a standard, flat, comic-book style. The whole industry is changing. Comic-Con has become the largest entertainment industry event of the year.
Erik, what advice would you give someone who wants to break into the industry?
Keep your wits about you and realize that it is all about the work. The industry is filled with power-people who want you to fail. There will be people who will intentionally try to put a stop to your projects and dreams. Be ready for it and keep on trucking. The industry is a brutal battlefield, so if you want to break in, you are going to have to lead your own charge like a Spartan warrior. It is a great time to dig in and have fun.
Doug, what advice would you give someone who wants to break into the industry?
I always tell my students to stick with their passions. Do what you love. Don’t try and get into comics to make money! Creating comics is a labor of love and if you love it and stick with it, you’ll catch a break. Don’t give up and always create good work every time and you’ll get better. Learn from doing bad drawings! I stand by that, just keep sketching in your sketchbooks and learn from your mistakes. Create your own stories and characters and own your creations. Meet your DEADLINES!We all hope you enjoy this book!
It is set to release during New York Comic-Con on the 13th of October. There will be a hardcover large-format New York Comic-Con exclusive printing that you can pre-order now on Amazon and here on the Markosia publishing website. We don’t want you to wait in any lines, so please pre-order the book now and we will safely send it out to you.
-Doug, Erik, and Markosia
Apollo is now available as a Pre-Order on Amazon UK – Click here for details: AMAZON UK
Merchandise is now available!
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More about Douglas A. Sirois
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