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Interviews With The Industry: Ken Garing

Hello and welcome to Comical-Musings and “Interviews With The Industry.”  This monthly post seeks to get you a different look at the people who make comic books work through interviewing some of it’s most interesting people.  We hit a home run for you this time!  It’s professional comic book creator, Ken Garing.
Ken Garing is a freelance illustrator based out of San Francisco. PLANETOID is his third
self-published comic, and the first to be distributed online.
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Deaux: We at Comical Musings are incredibly thankful to Ken Garing for taking the time out of his breakneck busy schedule to be interviewed by our humble little production. Ken, didn’t your hit comic book Planetoid start out as a humble little production too?

Ken: Yeah, I’ve been working on Planetoid and a bunch of other comics projects before that for years while working days jobs. The whole time, it’s been a pretty low budget operation based out of my apartment here. It still is in many ways

Deaux: So, what is your “official place” in comic-dom?

Ken: I’m not sure. I’m guessing I’m on the lower tier because I’ve only put out two comics at this point.

Deaux: How long have you been working on art/writing related projects?

Ken: I actually remember drawing a lot in the second grade. Maybe I started making my own comics that time too… it’s hard to remember. Jet-Pack Man was the first comic character I created. He had very large sunglasses.

Deaux: Are you full-time yet?

Ken: I am. I work on Planetoid seven days a week.

Deaux: Planetoid is one of my favorite new comics to come out of the Image boom that we have seen lately, but you were making it before that digitally, right?

Ken: Planetoid was always made for print. Just to be clear, all the line work in Planetoid is drawn and inked by hand and then scanned. These days, all comics are digital in the sense that they ultimately take a the form of a hi-res TIFF file prior to print. But Planetoid #1 was in fact sold digitally through Graphicly prior to being published by Image.

Deaux: I think that our readers would be fascinated to know how Planetoid came to be a topflight, printed, Image comic. Might you take us through the journey?

Ken: Over the years while trying to break in to comics I would send samples in via snail mail and email and never got a response. I would show work at conventions but that was just for feedback from artists… I don’t think anything gets published that way anymore. I noticed other artists were generating buzz about their work by putting it online. I was up for doing this but I didn’t want to give Planetoid away for free. The deal on Graphicly looked looked really good to me so I sold the comic through them digitally.

Deaux: Planetoid started an interest in sci-fi comic books for me that I hadn’t acquired yet and I thank you for wetting my appetite for it. What are some of your favorite sci-fi properties? (comics, films, books)

Ken: There are many. I’ve spoken elsewhere about Frank Herbert’s Dune books being a big influence. I like the way Herbert told the story of a small group of people out in the desert set against this epic backdrop intergalactic war and political intrigue. Dune is political but not overtly. The effects of the politics in Dune are subtle, almost invisible, much like real life.Other than Dune, I like Harlan Ellison’s Approaching Oblivion, Philip K. Dick’ We Can Build You and Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy. John Brunner’s novel The Sheep Look Up is particularly good.For comics I like Richard Corben’s Den, Mutant World and all of his short story work. He recently did a comic called Murkyworld that I liked a lot. I like all the science fiction work of Katsuhiro Otomo and Moebius. Tsutomu Nihei’s Abara, and Paolo Serpieri’ Drunna are also favorites.Science-fiction films I enjoy include THX-1138, Alien, Blade Runner, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Akira, and Ghost in the Shell.

Deaux: Your art style is really wonderful and I often find myself with my mouth agape when taking in Planetoid. When I look at the beautiful scene in Planetoid #2, where Silas is walking towards the ship I can’t help but wonder, just for a sense of how much goes into it, how long does an epic scene like that take to draw?

Ken: For technical work you have to be willing to sit down for extended lengths of time. There’s no way around it. That ship didn’t take too long though because it’s a made up object and one can cut corners on a thing like that. I also used a lot of black. Doing fine lines in perspective is what really eats up time. Like the interior of a factory or scaffolding on a building. But even in those cases there are little tricks you can use. Otomo is the master of this. If you look very very closely in Akira you can see his some of his techniques.

Deaux: As an artist, you are responsible for many of Ifanboy.com’s “panels of the week” and ultimately tease my eyes a little more every issue with your sprawling landscapes and incredible talent for scale. At the same time, the reason that the art works so well is your skill at laying out panels and scripting events as a writer. Do you have plans to ever do one of these exclusively, perhaps with a company like Marvel or DC, or would you prefer to continue with the creative control and benefits of Image or KGAR Comics?

Ken: I’m open to working with any company that wants to work with me on creating great comics. People use the term creative control but I think that’s a destructive term in a creative environment. Creative collaboration shouldn’t be a power struggle. If I’m brought on board to work on a project in a creative capacity, I expect to be given creative control. Otherwise what am I doing there? In that sense, Image really is a great place to do work. The only input they give is constructive and they are very technically astute on the production end.

Deaux: When a smaller act blows up and gets famous, producers and publishers tend to want more from them. We saw this with Flight of The Conchords. As they rose to popularity, HBO demanded a second season from them and the stress of trying to create something that they were proud of in such a small time was too much. Their first season had taken a long time to prepare. This is a two part question. What is the next thing that we will get to hold in our hands from Ken Garing? Do you have any great stories that you are itching to tell?

Ken: I’m doing a project called Intergalactic, with writer Joe Keatinge. It will be digital only release from Chris Roberson’s MonkeyBrain Comics imprint. Being digital, the scheduling is very flexible, allowing me time to work on other projects. I have a lot of other creator owned work that I want to get to work on. Many of these ideas predate Planetoid. I have been contacted by other writers and companies, but I would like to continue to do creator owned work at Image. I have no problem producing a high volume of work as long as it’s on projects that I’m interested in.

Deaux: Well Ken, we wish you great luck and fame. Planetoid #3 is available now and #4 is scheduled to be released on September 19th.

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Ken Garing is an up and coming talent with great potential. There are lots of indie/self-published comic books, but there aren’t many like Planetoid. I was so nervous to do this interview by questionnaire and Ken made it easy, even though he was battling scheduling deadlines for his own projects. Will Ken make a jump to mainstream comics near the end of his meteoric rise to stardom like Sam Humphries from “Our Love Is Real?” Will Planetoid make him rich off of trade paperback sales and possible optioning for movies? Where does Ken’s story go? Comical Musings is just happy to have had a tiny blurb in this chapter and we will anxiously wait and see what becomes of him. You can support Ken by pre-ordering his books at your local comic book store. This will ensure that they come to fruition. Thanks for checking out Comical Musings today and stay tuned next month for when we will bring you an interview from another interesting personality in the world of comics.

 

~ Scott Deaux ~

About Scott Deaux

Favorite Comics: Lazarus, Essex County, Chew, Superior Foes Of Spider-Man, Age of Apocalypse stuff, The Nightly News, Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men, Pax Romana, Avengers, NEXTWAVE: Agents Of Hate, Sweet Tooth, We3, others... Favorite Quote(s): "Journalism is just a gun. It's only got one bullet in it, but if you aim right, that's all you need. Aim it right, and you can blow a kneecap off the world." - Warren Ellis "People who hold signs go on...to hold many other things" - Eddie Pepitone
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