Texas natives have a reputation of maintaining strong work ethics, and this holds true with the talented comic book artists and writers residing in all corners of the state. Here’s a brief look at two Texas artists who are definitely worth looking out for in the future:
Among the Hills: Scott Zirkel
Texas Hill Country artist Scott Zirkel has been “making stuff up since 1977” and his sense of stylized humor flows through his work, including his original comic book “He-Guy and the Guys of the Universe” as well as his writing talents to Viper Comics’ graphic novel “A Bit Haywire” and Arcana Comics’ “Wonderdog, Inc.” Zirkel has also contributed to graphic novel compilations by both Viper Comics and Penny Farthing Press.
He has contributed sketch cards to such sets as “Empire Strikes Back 3D,” and “Indiana Jones Masterpieces,” “Zombies vs. Cheerleaders” and “Hack/Slash,” just to name a few.
Zirkel’s work and wit reflect the artists who have influenced him through the years.
“I’ve always been drawn to the more animated styles,” he said. “The artists that have inspired me the most are Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Bruce Timm, Bil Amend, Gary Larson, and Mike Kunkel.”
He finds himself comfortable working in both the world of pop culture and fantasy, and with commissioned portraits for “real” people. He has different reasons why he enjoys working with each.
“I like the fictional characters because I can show my own versions of those characters, but I enjoy the ‘real’ people because I enjoy the challenge of trying to capture the likeness of the person,” he said. “I don’t know that I’d say I have a favorite, it just depends on what mood I’m in when I put the pencil to the paper.”
Zirkel maintains a diverse workload ranging from commercial graphic arts work with The Alara Group of Kerrville to his comics and illustrations. He said he tries to keep his graphic arts as professional and straightforward as possible, separate from his work in comics. As such the audience between the two is fairly diverse. His comics audience in itself makes up a diverse group, particularly as he offers something all ages can appreciate.
“For the comics, I generally produce all-ages materials. I don’t have any books that would be considered PG-13 or R,” Zirkel said. “I do have some art books that are more risqué, but I don’t have those in stores, just at conventions and online.”
He said his book “A Bit Haywire,” (featuring art by Courtney Huddleston) seems to receive the greatest feedback from readers of all ages.
“Kids and adults alike have enjoyed it and it’s been really fun to hear from them over the years,” he said.
See more of Zirkel’s art and writing at scottzirkel.com.
Along the River: Andy Perez
El Paso artist Andy Perez has taken his West Texas hometown’s cultural uniqueness and infused it into his prints, comics and other works with impressive results.
Perez is best known as co-creator and illustrator for the indie comics “Lonely in Black” and “The Afterlife Chronicles of a Zombie,” but he has contributed digital color work and art, sequential art, sidewalk chalk art creations and pin-ups for titles for several projects. His art has even been featured in the San Diego Comic Con Souvenir Book, and he has created sketch cards for “Hack and Slash,” “Lady Death,” and “Painkiller Jane.”
Perez said having picked up a pencil as a kid and “never putting it down to this day,” his list of influential artists is long and still growing.
“My early work was driven by rad comic artists such as Jim Lee and J. Scott Campbell because comics were my first introduction to art,” he said. “Fast forwarding to more recent years, the art beats of Jim Mahfood, the awesomely gritty art of Ben Templesmith, the cheesecake eye candy from Adam Hughes, the beautifully colorful art of Tara McPherson and the storytelling imagery from a James Jean piece all lend something to my work as an artist.”
He said two works in particular have really struck a positive chord with people of all backgrounds: the dreamlike black-and white portrait, “BOOM!” and the Day of the Dead-inspired “Dia de la Page.” He said both pieces have not only been a big success with the comic con goers, but have made the successful crossover into other venues as art showpieces, not an easy feat for any work of art, he admits.
“With ‘BOOM!’ people have noted that they have enjoyed getting lost in the calmness and flow the piece offers along with the colorful idea of having music follow you as balloons,” Perez said. “‘Dia de la Page’ has been a great conversation piece for those that are unfamiliar with the culturally rich Dia de Los Muertos or the pin up queen Betty Page.”
As one of a growing number of El Paso artists working to make his mark outside the region, he hopes his work will help comic readers and collectors, and art lovers in general, see how diverse and trendsetting the Sun City’s artists can be.
“I think the misconception is that it’s all southwest art with landscape paintings, which it really isn’t,” Perez said. “It’s been very exciting for me to see my hometown energetically jam art and creatively raise the bar artistically in so many mediums.”
See more of Perez’s work at artedeandyperez.com.