Interview with Tayson Martindale

Tayson is a comic book creator based in Edmonton, AB.

His works include: Work: Box Boy (graphic novel), Parker Purr: Cat Adventurer, Bedtime Tails, The Legendary: Winter, Active Animals The Game, Thunder Frog (artist), Kids (comic strip)

You can find him at:
Instagram: tayson_martindale
Facebook: /taysonmartindale
Twitter: @tadmartindale

All images used with permission from the artist

When did you first become interested in creating comics?
In Grade 3 my teacher Mrs. Kokatylo made the last Friday of every month a special event called ‘Authors Day’. All month long we would work on writing stories and drawing pictures to accompany them. She would bind them for us into a little book complete with special covers and everything, and then on that last Friday of each month we would spend the whole afternoon reading our stories to the class and voting on our favourites and talking about them. Those days really stirred a love for visual storytelling in my heart that has stuck with me and grown ever since.

Which comic book creators inspired and inspire you? 
Comic strips were my first love. I absolutely adore the work of Richard Thompson (Cul de Sac). The humour and life in his drawings are a big inspiration. Skottie Young’s work was a huge help in getting the confidence to find the freedom to develop my style. John Romita Jr (especially his Spider-Man runs). Stan Sakai.

What were your favourite comics when you were a young person?
Comic strips were my jam! I loved Garfield, Get Fuzzy, Pearls Before Swine, Fox Trot, Calvin and Hobbes, and above all Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson. A little later on I discovered the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Archie run, all the Spider-Man comics, and the 90s Deadpool run of Joe Kelly.

What are your favourite comics now?
I still collect TMNT and Spidey still has a place in my heart, but my comic tastes have expanded a lot the more I’ve read them. These days I love a good graphic novel. Luke Pearson’s Hilda series of graphic novels absolutely steals my heart and runs away with it. There is SO MUCH packed in every page. I’ve also developed a love for black and white comics and mangas– something I could just never get into for whatever reason when I was younger. But now the entire Usagi Yojimbo saga (Stan Sakai) sits proudly on my book shelf alongside well worn copies of Attack On Titan, The Promised Neverland, and old Miyazaki mangas. 

How did you learn to create comics? 
Mostly just from making them. It’s one of the things I love so much about the medium of visual storytelling that is comics– you don’t have to be the greatest artist of all time to start making great comics, you can literally tell a compelling, engaging story just with stick people and a bit of knowledge on how comics work. I’ve taken some classes to learn more about specifics (colouring techniques, storytelling, etc) but the bones of how I learned to create was from reading comics and then making my own.

How many hours per week do you draw/write?
As many as I can! Sometimes I can spend a whole day and night drawing, sometimes it’ll only be an hour, but it’s consistent. Another thing I love about comics is all the different layers to making them– thinking up a story, writing, thumbnailing, penciling, inking, lettering, colouring — if one day the drawing just isn’t happening for me, I can go for a walk and think of story ideas. If I’m getting burned out in the thumbnail/problem solving part of it, well I can just pop on a podcast and relax with some inking and colouring. I love the diversity there is in making a comic.

What genre/type of comic is your favourite to draw/write?    
Hmmm… good question! I like all the different genres there are, but my favourite  to draw/write is probably some kind of adventure story that has colourful characters and can be accessible to all ages. That said, another item on my long list of why I love comics is the wide range of stories that can be told through this wonderful medium. 

What’s one thing you didn’t know you would have to do as a comic book creator?
All the technical stuff– saving files, and learning programs, and building websites, and buying stamps, etc etc blah!

What advice would you give anyone wanting to get into comic book creation?
1. Read!

2. Start and keep a sketchbook: it’s a thing that can be as private or public as you want it to be, so there’s a lot of freedom in that and especially when you’re starting out learning to draw there’s a lot less pressure to make a ‘perfect’ drawing in a sketchbook than on that intimidating blank piece of paper. It’s a place you can play around in and start finding your style, it’s a place you can learn your craft in and keep notes and study, and it’s a great measuring stick too– a thing you can flip back through and see tangible evidence that you are improving in your craft.

3. Tell a story that you care about. It’s something that is going to help you finish and push through the ups and downs that we all go through when creating something. If the story you’re telling has a piece of your heart in it, it’s going to give you that extra bit to help keep going.

4. Finish a comic. Start small– a 1 page comic, or a comic strip — and then go from there. When you finish something it’s almost like it unlocks this super power in you– “Hey… I finished it! I did it! I can do it again…”

5. READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and watch movies and listen to music and play video games and go for walk and tell stories– fill up that inspiration!) 

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