Saturday, November 06, 2010

Questions 12: Ron Randall

Ron Randall has as an illustrator and storyteller  for over 20 years.   He has worked for most major publishers Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse, Virgin, and Image Comics, and many others.    He trained under Joe Kubert and has a classical style to storytelling, pacing, and a clean line.   He did Gamekeeper for Virgin, with Jeff Parker and Ron Chan.   He also worked as an illustrator for commercial clients such as Disney, Nike, SeaWorld and PlayStation.  He is a member of Periscope Studios.   You need to check out his creator owned work, 'Trekker'.  Ron’s webpage is at
Doug Dorr:   What projects are you working on currently?

Ron Randall:   I am co-penciling Doom Patrol for DC, finishing the pencil art on Anne Steelyard, book 3 a historical adventure graphic novel for Pennyfarthing Press, and preparing to start drawing a comic book mini-series about the life of John Adams for a commercial client. And if all goes well, I hope to have a western comic on the horizon as well. So, a pretty diverse workload.

DD:   What is your artistic Process?

At the beginning of a new project, I like to start with sketching the characters I will be working on. Usually, that means a few sketches of the main characters to get something of a feel for their design and "personality". Once that's done, I turn to the script that I have been sent, usually by the editor of the project. I read  through the script and start working by doing quick, small "thumbnails" of a few pages at a time. These are very simple "doodles' where I work out the design of a page in rough form-- composing shots, choosing "camera angles" and so on. Then I move the rough designs up to 11"X17" bristol board for the actual drawing. Then my process varies some depending on the nature of the particular job. Some projects require a lot of reference- historical settings or specific locales for instance. For some projects, I use a lot of photo reference for people and figures. Whatever the pages seem to require, I gather the best reference that I can. Then I break out the nice pencil and eraser and get to work.

Once the penciling is done, the pages are inked. If I'm lucky, I have the time in the book's schedule to do that inking myself. Inking is an incredibly subtle and important step in the process. A sensitive ink job can bring pencil work to life, and a crude or rushed ink job can drain all the grace and life out of the pencil art. Different artists use various tools for inking-- brushes, pens, markers. I'm pretty old school: I prefer a high-quality brush for about 90% of what I ink, and flexible nib pens for the rest.

DD:   When are story illustrator, how involved are you in the writing?

As I say, the script usually comes to me in a finished form. I occasionally make comments,minor suggestions fr staging or pacing a scene but generally my process is one of interpreting the story I have been giving, doing my best to bring it to life on a comic page.

DD:   What Comic/ Trade would you recommend?

I am way behind in my reading, so this will be dated information. But I have only recently been digging into the Powers series by Bendis and Oeming. It's a great pairing of word and picture, smart, bold and strong throughout.

DD:   What Comic/ Trade would you recommend to someone new to comics?

I believe in starting with the classics. Foster's Prince Valient, Raymond's  Flash Gordon, Eisner's Spirit and Caniff's Terry and the Pirates. If something there doesn't fire your imagination and take you to wonderful places, this is not the medium for you.

DD:   What skill would you like to learn?

How about three? I'd like to be a better writer. I'd like to be a decent colorist. And I'd like to keep increasing my skills on the computer. It's just clear that computers are becoming a more essential part of the business all the time, and I always feel behind the technological  curve. I am blessed to share a studio with a bunch of smart and skilled artists who very patiently keep dragging me along into the 21st century.....

DD:   What's the most important thing you've learned?

It's no good trying to be someone that you are not. It's the same on the page you are drawing as it is in life. 

DD:   Do you have a collection?   If so, what is one of the items you're most proud of?

I have a meager collection. My dearest possession is the short set of Flash Gordon comics that Al Williamson did for Gold Key back in the mid-sixties. I bought 'em off the rack back in the day, and the grace, beauty and Romanticism of those books was something I have been compelled to strive for ever since.

DD:   What is your favorite genre of Comics?

That rare genre of well-written comics. Give me a story that has a reason to exist and characters that work, and I will enjoy drawing it.  Seriously, beyond that I really don't care if it's a super hero story or a science-fiction book or a western. If I can get into the story and characters, I am ready to draw.

DD:   Do you have an Ipad?   If so what do use it for the most.

No Ipad, I do have a spankin' new MacBook Pro and a Cintiq touch-sensitive drawing screen.

DD:   What is your favorite TV show/ movie?

I could try to sound hip and cool but I will be honest and say Casablanca.

DD:   How does the Portland comics culture shapes your work?

I am not as active as I could be in getting around to a lot of things going on in this restless little town, so for me "Portland comics culture" means Periscope Studio, where I am one of about twenty active cartoonists. Being exposed to the variety of approaches and experiences of so many diverse artists is constantly supportive and inspiring.

DD:   What was your first comic convention?

Back in the mid-seventies I went to a show at the Masonic Temple that has Jim Starlin and Al Weis as guests. I was too shy to show either of them my work which is just as well since I was, of course, atrocious at the time.

DD:   What is your favorite part of comic conventions?

Doing sketches for the fans of a well-liked character.

DD:   If you weren’t doing comics what would you do?

I have no Earthly clue.

DD:   Do you have a favorite restaurant that you would recommend?

Always Old Town Pizza on SW Davis between 2nd and 3rd. Also Chai Thai on 140th and Stark in southeast. An unassuming neighborhood restaurant run by a sweet Thai couple that makes great food.

DD:   How long have you lived in Portland, what made you choose Portland?

I was born and raised here. I lived in New Jersey for about eight years as my only comparison. But some of the reasons I still love Portland are the size of downtown-- big enough to feel city-like but small enough to be user-friendly , the artist-friendly temperment of the town, the Aladdin and Roseway Theaters, Music Millennium, Powells Bookstore and the bike-friendly streets.

DD:   What is your favorite part of Portland?

Think I probably covered enough of that above.

DD:   Where in Portland/ Oregon would you most like to visit?

I love the coast in any weather.

DD:   Would you like to write/Illustrate for another media? or conversely, how would you feel about writing a comic of a character from a different media, for example, Dr. Who, James Bond?  What would you explore?

Really, comics is my medium of choice. Storyboarding is a similar process and would be my second choice.

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