In any comic book artist’s journey, the one constant is the difficulty getting “The Big Break.” There are hundreds, if not thousands, of aspiring artist out there, and many of these artist are all running the rat race for a spot with one of the Big 2, Marvel and DC. Others shoot for the independent companies like Image or Dark Horse, and then you have those whom choose to self publish. Even with all of the options available today, until your work catches the eye of one of the big guys, you’re still at a disadvantage. Once you finally do catch someone’s attention, the uphill battle has barely begun.
As both a fan and an artist myself, I’ve seen some amazing comic book art that’s as good, and sometimes, in my humble opinion, better than what the big boys are putting out. Marvel and DC receive so many submissions, and are only able to publish so many titles, so who is in and who is out can really just be a matter of the person checking out the art that day. If these companies take a chance on an unknown artist and it flops, it could be bad for business. They must consider how an artist will work with the rest of the creative team, if these artist will remain consistent to the style, and if the artist can match the art style of past artists that have made the comic books history what it is today.
I want to featuring those comic book artist that have the flare, skills and drive to make it big, but are still waiting for that moment they are in the spotlight. Each artist has a unique style all their own, with hints of multiple influences, it’s fun to break it all down, find the details, the quirks and the little bits of personality left in the artwork. I’d like to take the time to dive deep and examine what makes these guys so good and so passionate about the art of comics.
One such artist is Robert Nugent. Nugent is the ASHCAN (Alternative Showcase Hub for Comics and Animation) award winner for “Best Colorist of 2016.” If you haven’t heard of it yet, ASHCAN is a Facebook group of about 1500 plus indie creators, they vote on other Indie work and dub the few with high honors. One look at his amazing color work, and it’s clear why Nugent deserved to win.
Nugent has worked on a number of independent titles such as “Traitor’s Grace” Issues 1-4, and “Book of Monsters” Issues 1-2. Both were put out by Broken Icon Comics, where he is currently the color editor. Nugent is able to use his position to mentor and critique new colorist, teach them insiders secrets, and help them improve their style and skill. I talked with Nugent about how his inspiring journey in the comic book world.
At what age did you get into comic books?
Robert Nugent: I guess I’ve always been into comics from a young age. My brotherhad the Jim Lee “X-Men” run, and I was fascinated with Wolverine and Beast. I would also watch the X-Men animated TV show and Batman: the Animated Series as I grew up. I really got serious about comic books in college around 2005-2007. My friend lent me a copy of “The Long Halloween” and I just fell back in love, and all these emotions came flooding back.
At what age did you start your interest in art?
RN: My family has always been a very artistic family. My mother is a photographer for a local paper and my aunt paints as well as produces plays. Our family has always been very open to the artistic world, and very supportive to whatever life you may want to lead. My brother is also a painter and comic artist. So my grandma would always supply me with pencil and paper to express whatever was on my mind, and encouraging me to do better. My brother would teach me new techniques and help me thrive to become a better artist in a safe environment free from mockery. It was nice to have someone to share my passion with, and to learn from.Continued below
What was your inspiration to put the two together?
RN: I put them together in high school. I wanted to tell really ridiculous stories so I put them into comic format. It was a lot of fun, and a big step towards my passion of creating stories with what I consider “good” art.
What artist are your inspiration comics or otherwise?
RN: I really love the art of Lee Bermejo, Jae Lee, Adi Gronav, Alex Ross, Tim Sale, Ivan Albright, Francis Bacon, and Stan Yak. Writers that I’ve come to love are Alan Moore, Jeph Loeb, Jeff Lamire, Brian Azzerello, Brian K. Vaughan, Juan Diaz Canales to name a few.
In a perfect world what would your comic career look like in 5-10 years?
RN: The dream would be to be able to make a living off of my art work alone. This can really quite hard unless you are working for DC or Marvel. I would love to work on a Batman title at some point in my career. So I guess I would be working for DC on a Batman title in 5-10 years.
What has been the hardest part of breaking into the industry?
RN: I still consider myself to have not broken into the industry until I reach the top companies. The hardest part is making the connection to get jobs and building a reputation for yourself. You have to stay steady and reliable or else no one will come back for your services.
Finally what advise would you give aspiring creators?
RN: If this is really what you want to do; just stick with it. The beginning is tough. You might have to do a couple free jobs before some money starts rolling in, but if you’re happy with what you are doing then it won’t really matter. You just gotta have fun!
Robert Nugent’s artwork can be seen in the above mention titles, and on Instagram @rnugentcolors