TRADD MOORE ANSWERS 15 QUESTIONS WITH JULINDA MORROW
Tradd Moore is relatively new to the world of comics, yet he is firmly establishing himself as a sequentialist to watch. Tradd’s art has graced the covers and pages of books for Marvel and DC, and his creator-owned series, Luther Strode, published by Image, is a bona fide hit.
A gallery of Tradd’s kinetic art follows this interview.
Julinda Morrow: What path led you to comics and sequential art?
Tradd Moore: Ah, I’d say it was a path paved in fate, passion, a lucky draw on genetics, good parenting, and some good old-fashioned stubbornness. My dad used to travel a lot and when he’d return from his business trips he would bring home comics for my brother and me. The three of us would sit around and draw together, often emulating panels and characters from the comics. From there, there was no turning back! My ambition to become a comic artist was set in stone from those early years (as far back as I can remember, honestly) and I never wavered from it.
JM: What schooling or training did you receive?
TM: I graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2010 with a degree in sequential art. I had a fantastic experience at the school and would suggest that anyone interested in attending art school give it a look! Also, give scholarship options a look. You will want them, I promise.
JM: Who, in your opinion, are the pioneers of sequential art?
TM: Well, these guys aren’t the pioneers of sequential art, but I’ll tell you about some guys who pioneered my personal journey into comics. Artistically, the first creators in comics who I ever knew by name and would seek out comics based solely on their involvement were Jim Lee, Adam and Andy Kubert, Joe Madureira, and John Romita Jr. I was obsessed with X-Men as a kid and these guys were my absolute artistic heroes due to their work on various X-Men titles. They laid the groundwork for what I viewed as comic art and essentially defined my early perceptions of the field. While my tastes have expanded all over the place over the years, their work will always hold a special place for me. I actually didn’t even realize that comics had continuing story lines from month to month (I would just pick things out arbitrarily based on the cover [and the] characters involved. Kids will be kids…) until Joe Mad[ureira]‘s Deadpool mini in the early 90′s.
In terms of writing, Neil Gaiman is huge for me. I didn’t, and often still don’t, pick up comics based solely on the writer, but I will check out anything Gaiman puts out there. Not only do I love his work, also I find his attitude and overall demeanor to be very inspiring. He’s just a great role model, in my opinion.
John Buscema’s work on Silver Surfer also affected me a good bit. I bought a collection of that stuff in my early high school years; before coming across that, I didn’t really appreciate or understand comic artists from previous generations. I wanted everything to be shiny and new and lightning-fast like the anime that I was into. So yeah, I’m very thankful for his work and the perspective it gave me.
JM: How do you define sequential art?
TM: Telling a story through pictures. The amalgamation of literature and visual art. Or—regarding my body of work—consecutive images of men being punched.
JM: Do you find that sequential art provides you with near-limitless possibilities for storytelling or do you experience it as constraining? Please elaborate.
TM: Limitless. Absolutely limitless. Everyone has unique stories and experiences to share and everyone has unique ways of expressing their ideas. I can’t imagine any idea or story, or whatever, that I feel couldn’t be expressed via sequential art.
JM: What qualities or resources do you believe are most important for a sequential storyteller to have?
TM: Qualities: passion, dedication, persistence, and imagination.
Qualities if you’d like to do it professionally: talent, dependability, self-awareness, social competence— all in addition to passion, dedication, persistence, and imagination.
Resources: Something to write and draw with, something to write and draw on. Inspiration. The Internet is pretty awesome, too. Obviously not a mandatory resource (so say old people, dead people and history books), but I certainly like it.
JM: How do you approach your work process?
TM: My work process is about as simple and straightforward as they come. When producing pages, I go from little 2×3 pencilled thumbnails, to loosely pencilled 11×17 roughs, then into inks. Regarding inks, I do virtually everything with a brush. Here’s the one I use, if anyone out there is interested: Winsor and Newton Series 7 Size 2.
JM: How many hours a day do you work? Are you uniformly productive on any given day or more productive on some days than others?
TM: In terms of actual drawing time, I’d say I put around eight to ten hours a day on average. I also spend about three to four hours a day doing other facets of work. Emails, interviews, marketing, and so on. It’s strange to imagine emailing for three or more hours a day… maybe I should try cutting back on that.
Man, I wish I were uniformly productive. I’m way hardcore from Monday to Thursday, a bit less hardcore on Friday, entirely not hardcore on Saturday, and about 40% hardcore on Sunday—to be mathematical about it.
JM: Was it a struggle, at the start of your career, to find work and make ends meet?
TM: Luckily, finding work wasn’t difficult for me. Luther Strode was picked up by Image about five or six months after I graduated from SCAD and in those in-between months I was doing various comic art and illustration gigs with a number of different collaborators.
Financially, the first year or so wasn’t the greatest for me. I had to move back in with my parents for a bit while working on the Luther Strode prior to its release, but thanks to the success of the title, the comic artist thing is working well for me. Now I got the skillz to pay the billzzz.
JM: What has been your most valuable professional experience?
TM: Working on Luther Strode, without a doubt. The best experience any comic creator can have is to simply produce a comic book. It sounds stupidly obvious, but a lot of artists get so wrapped up in doing pitches or pin-ups or sample scripts that they don’t take the time to actually produce a comic. The length of said comic isn’t terribly important, just decide what you’re interested in creating and, you know… do it. Standard comic, web comic, mini-comic, graphic novel, whatever. Just do it, guys!
I’d drawn a couple full length comic issues (one self published, the others never saw the light of day) prior to Luther Strode, but Strode was the first book I had ever worked on where I experienced a fully collaborative environment between writer, artist, colorist, letterer, and publisher. I learned so much about the industry thanks to being involved in the book. It got, and continues to get, my work into the hands and in front of the eyes of a broad audience. Collaborating with Justin and Felipe has been an absolute pleasure for me, as have my experiences with Image Comics. Working on Luther was a trial-by-fire crash course in professional comics and I wouldn’t have wanted to have it any other way.
JM: What inspires or informs you creatively?
TM: Oh, Lord. Everything! Life, personal experiences, the world around me; comics, games, movies, music, books, cartoons, lasers, tigers; relationships. Friends, family and fellow artists. Society, religion, and questions. The Internet, Goku…But yeah, everything.
JM: What is your position on digital comics? Are they a good thing or a bad thing?
TM: Love ‘em! Years back I used to be against the concept, but that was silly of me. I was afraid of losing the print medium that I grew up with and love so dearly. Also, I think it was because people liked, and still like, presenting the situation as, “It’s print vs. digital— choose wisely, cretin”. We like drawing lines in the sand, don’t we? It’s unnecessary, of course. The market needs to expand and digital comics offer the broadest potential market. It’s a no-brainer. Sales are sales, so go out and support comics that you like via the avenue that you like.
JM: If you were to make any changes to the industry or the market what changes would you make?
TM: I don’t know, man. I’m a horrible businessperson and am roughly one shade above being ignorant when it comes to understanding the market, so it’s hard for me to make any real suggestions there. I’m reading up on the workings of the comic market to get a better understanding of things, so I’ll hit you back up with an opinion on that in…like… five years.
As for the side of the industry that doesn’t involve sales figures, I just like seeing creators being creative and producing amazing work and, honestly, I see a lot of that going on right now. I always have. So yeah, keep it up, everybody! I think that so long as we keep pushing boundaries, keep questioning what is acceptable, keep challenging conventions, and keep telling stories for the love of the story and not for a paycheck, then there’s nowhere to go but forward. Nurture new talent. Support the things you love. Spread the word about the things you love. Inspire people. We have the Internet, for goodness sake. It’s not difficult.
Also, this is more of a change in the human condition that I’d love to see, but I often notice a thick and invasive fog of negativity in the comic community and I’d like to see that change. Try being positive. Being cynical and rude doesn’t make you funny or clever. Being funny or clever makes you funny or clever. Internet presence is a real thing that has real effects on people. Discussion, critique, and disagreement are to be expected and often a very good thing, as long as it’s dealt with integrity and respect. Speak into the digital void just as you would speak to a person face to face. Always conduct yourself as if you’ll be held accountable for your words and actions.
JM: If you could apprentice under any artist at any time in history and anywhere in the world who would it be?
TM: I’m actually not too keen on the idea of being an apprentice. Like, I’m not against the general concept, by any means; it’s just not something that has ever interested me personally. I don’t like the idea of one single individual having that much influence over my artistic direction. That said, if I could attend some kind of doom synth metal art school that had guys like Albrecht Durer, Hieronymus Bosch, and William Blake as professors that would be awesome. Trent Reznor would be there too. He’d play haunting airs for months at a time on a broken, city-sized organ while accompanied by an orchestra of robots with Moogs for chests. The school would be located in Mordor, and it would be the year 4552.
JM: What, in the future, would you like to accomplish creatively?
TM: Tons of stuff! There are a couple characters and concepts of my own that I plan on pursuing in the future through various comic formats. I’m really passionate about those —about one in particular—so hopefully I’ll get to them sooner rather than later. I’m aiming for sometime within the next couple of years, at least. As for some other creative goals, let’s make a to-do list (in no specific order of interest):
- Make a children’s book (I’ll tone down the violence)
- Work on an animated show in some capacity
- Do design work and a soundtrack for a video game
- Create and maintain a webcomic for a semi-respectable amount of time
- Do a run on X-Men —that’s always been a dream of mine.
- Work on something HUGE. Like, physically huge, not huge in length or importance. I don’t know…that just sounds like fun.
So yeah, those are the things on my mind at the moment. If I’m not decrepit or dead by the time I do those things, that would be good.