Taking Archery Lessons: Interview with Larry Watts

GameStop, Inc.

larry_wattsArchery is a popular activity these days mostly due to Brave and The Hunger Games. I, like many other girls, decided to take up a bow and arrow. Little did I know that it was an expensive hobby. I decided to forego my rent and buy a beautiful red compound bow with high quality arrows guaranteed to improve my accuracy. Threading the arrow, I aimed and made a bull’s eye, except it wasn’t on my target. I hit Larry Watts’ target, which is kind of ironic because he draws the Robyn Hood comic book. As I claimed my arrow, I took the opportunity to interview him.

Whitney Grace (WG): Why did you decide to get into comic books?

Lrobynhoodwanted_03_00_larrywatts_metcalfearry Watts (LW): I’ve always loved comics, as a child I would draw my own comics and my parents would photocopy them at work for me and I would sell them at school, and to my friends and neighbors. I remember writing to Marvel when I was in 4th grade telling them I want to work for them when I grow up. This was right around the time Levi’s had that Rob Liefeld commercial. He seemed so young and something about that made me think I could do it too.

Eventually I fell into advertising and graphic design out of college. I worked in those industries throughout most of my twenties, until one of my roommates reintroduced me to comics and Heroclix. Once I got another taste, I couldn’t stop. One thing led to another, and soon that childhood dream started to come alive again. I still enjoy designing and commercial illustration, but illustrating comic books turned out to be that thing I was missing from my life.

WG: You were a commercial artist for a while, what did you do in that position?

watts bloodshot_01LW: Anything from designing logos to building websites, spot illustrations, corporate branding, market research, print media campaigns, the works.

WG: You also design images for apparel, how do you do that?

LW: Usually I just ask the client what they are looking for, and go from there. When I am designing for a client, my personal tastes and processes come second to giving them what they ask for.

WG: What did you enjoy about designing websites?

LW: Very little.

WG: : What was the first comic book project you worked on?

LW: I worked on a few small projects for a company called Insomnia Publications around 2009 – they were short stories for a series of anthologies they were putting out. I was super excited to see my work in published format.-even if they managed to spell my name wrong in the credits.

005-Robyn-Hood-1-ColorsWG: I saw sketches for Metal Locus on your blog. It looks like an action-packed thriller, would you tell me about it?

LW: Metal Locus is a creator owned series I am working on with my friend Stephan Nilson. He is a super talented guy and we met back around 2010. The book itself is tons of fun. It takes place in a not so distant future, where a technologically driven portion of society clashes with a genetically engineered portion of society. Most of my work on that series is actually from back in 2010-2011 – I am excited to say that the book will finally be released in 2015 by Cosmic Times.

WG: Your headlining work is Robyn Hood from Zenescope. Please tell me how the project started and how you landed with Zenescope.

LW: I was originally contacted as a fill in artist for the original series. I was very surprised with the script when it came in and thought that it was such a cool story with a great take on the character. When I turned in my pages, the editor and writer were so happy with them they asked me to come back for another issue, and then another, until I ended up becoming the regular artist for the book after about two or three issues.

ROBYNHOOD_aod_001_colorWG: Why was the legendary thief turned into a woman?

LW: Zenescope likes to take classic characters and often gender swap them, or completely turn the character upside down, at least in terms of what one would expect from them.

WG: Robyn’s story emphasizes a very strong heroine, yet her costume reveals a lot of skin. What were the thoughts behind designing her costume?

LW: The costumes have all been designed by Anthony Spay, and maybe Eric Basaldua. If I were given the chance to redesign her look, I would revamp her in many ways – including giving her a badass haircut, and probably tone down some of the exposed skin. Her current costume in the ongoing book is a little less skintastic, which makes sense. Actually, in book two Wanted, Robyn was in a hoodie the entire run. I quite enjoyed that. I’ve always seen her as a punky/snarky girl with little reverence for what anyone thinks of her.

WG: Robyn Hood: Legend is the last part of the series. What are you thoughts about the series ending?

tumblr_n8vjtk45aZ1qg6efro1_500LW: I have a lot of mixed feelings about the series. On one hand, it was very satisfying seeing the story come to a finale. Not just a series finale, but a finale in terms of the story that began in the first miniseries . On the other hand, it was sad to say goodbye to so many characters that I’ve been drawing and bringing to life for almost two years. However, I’ve known for quite some time that we weregoing to follow up Legend with a Robyn Hood ongoing series, so I have high hopes that I will see some of those characters again. Looking back though, I am just amazed that I was able to do a solid sixteen issue run on a book that was so well received. That book kicked my ass and taught me a lot about myself and the business of comics in general.

WG: How has your drawing changed since you started Robyn Hood and has that grown as Robyn has evolved as a character?

LW: You know I don’t really think about it too much. I think my storytelling has improved, and looking back at old pages, I’ve definitely started to use more shadows and spot blacks. I’ve had a difficult time balancing the amount of work I would want to put into a page, versus the amount of time allotted for production. I would say I expect more out of myself now, and probably spend more time on the inking of the pages than I did a few years ago. Generally though, I really just want to tell a clear story that is easy for the reader to digest. Even in my older work, I can see that aspect in the forefront of what I’m doing.

metallocuscoverWG: Did you influence any of the writing of Robyn Hood?

LW: There’s been a few elements that I’ve brought to the table. Pat and I talk rather frequently so I feel like I have had the chance to slip some ideas into the fold. My favorite thing that I’ve pitched and seen in the book is the nightmares where all the merry men who have fallen haunt Robyn for letting them die.

WG: What types of scenes did you enjoy drawing in Robyn?

LW: I prefer action packed stuff. I don’t mind talking head books, but if I had my way: ACTION! I’m also a sucker for magic type stuff and gory, horror type things, so any time the book ventured into those areas, I had lots of fun.

AOD19921CovBSubCastroWG: What are your future plans with Robyn done? Any new, exciting comics on the horizon?

LW: I will be working on Robyn Hood again in the ongoing series. There’s that and a few creator owned books that should eventually make their way out to the world. Metal Locus should be released early next year from Cosmic Times, and I’ve got some other VERY interesting projects on the to do list that I still can’t quite talk about yet. I suggest keeping an eye out later this year. I’m also excited to be working not he new Army of Darkness from Dynamite Entertainment.  I’m a huge fan of this franchise and it was great working with new characters in a new world.  Visit your local comic shop or order it online!

WG: Anything to declare?

LW: Just that I have amazing friends, fans, and family. I can’t say enough about how hard making comics can be at times. I truly appreciate the opportunities I’ve been fortunate enough to come across and the encouragement that my friends and family have given me during those long months grinding away on deadlines.

Also you can find me online at larryewatts.com and at larryewatts.blogspot.com. I’m on twitter : @larryewatts_art and on instagram : larryewatts.

 

 

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