Drawing Jonah Hex: a Dylan Teague interview
by Antonio Solinas
Leggi l'intervista in italiano
Do you want to introduce yourself to the Italian readers?
Hi my name is Dylan Teague, I´m a freelance illustrator specializing in comics based in the UK. I´ve been working professionally for about 10 years now.
How did you get involved with comics in the first place?
I used to love comics and drawing from an early age. At about the age of 14 I started to get the idea of maybe pursuing it as a career. I used to draw all the time, even in classes where I shouldn´t have been. I remember doing pages of my own strips. When I was eighteen I started sending samples off to a couple of companies, Marvel UK and 2000AD. I didn´t hear much from my first samples but after that started to get some positive feedback. I stuck at sending stuff for a couple of years and eventually got my first professional job for a Judge Dredd movie tie-in comic called Judge Dredd Lawman of the Future.
What are your influences? I can see a bit of Bolland and a more ”European” approach than the average British artist. Am I correct?
Yeah, Bolland is a big favourite of mine as are a lot of the other early 2000AD artists. Steve Dillon, Dave Gibbons and Colin Wilson are also up there. Iï¿½ve always been drawn to Black and white comics: to me itï¿½s the way they should be. Saying that, though, I did get into European comics quite early. What drew me to them was the amazing draughtsmanship and sense of design. I really like Moebius, both his sci-fi and western stuff. I got into Enki Bilal too. Another favourite of mine is Horatio Altuna: he is just a master of composition and storytelling, he makes it look effortless. He again has a brilliant sense of design: his album Chances is probably my favorite comic in terms of artwork.
You have done a fair share of work for the UK market. What are the challenges in working for a British publisher?
The only real challenge is that the market in the UK is pretty small at the moment. There is not really enough work to go around. I work for 2000AD and Marvel UK but it is difficult to get regular work. In recent years Iï¿½ve branched out into magazine illustration and also book illustration. On the comics side I taught myself computer colouring as it means there are more work opportunities out there for me.
And what about the US? What are the differences with the UK market?
Itï¿½s a lot bigger market and because of that the pay is better. Iï¿½m probably not fast enough though to draw regularly for the Americans but would really like to get into the inking side of things over there.
Your Jonah Hex has been just published. How did you get involved with the book?
2000AD had a publishing deal with DC a couple of years ago. Some of my stuff was published and an editor at DC saw it and liked it, which was nice. He got me to do a pinup of the Flash and after that I got offered Jonah Hex.
Which challenges did you face in drawing a western comic, compared to what you usually draw for 2000AD?
I found it quite tough as my favourite thing to draw is sci-fi and Iï¿½d never drawn anything like a western before. Horses were particularly difficult. What was nicer though is the extra space you get in terms of storytelling. In 2000AD the strips are usually only 5-6 pages long and you have to cram a lot into them. In an American comic the 22 page format leaves a lot more room and the pages donï¿½t have to be rammed so full of information.
How much freedom were you left on Jonah Hex? How was your relationship with Palmiotti and Gray? Did you apply any of your knowledge of the Bonelli comics to the western setting?
There were no restrictions really. I didnï¿½t have any contact with the writers I was just sent the script. It was a good script with quite straightforward panel descriptions, I added the odd panel here and there. I think because Jonah is not one of the big characters at DC that there is a certain amount of leeway on how artists approach him. The Bonelli stuff was a big influence on my approach to Jonah and I tried out some of the inking techniques used by Bruno Brindisi on Tex, that sort of dry brush look.
Was Jonah Hex your first American experience? Have you got anything else lined up for the American publishers?
I did a strip for a Batman 80 page giant about 9 years ago. I havenï¿½t really got anything else lined up with them at the moment.
We know you have a big love for Italian comics. What do you like about them and how did you get introduced to Italian comics?
Like I said earlier I love black and white comics and a few years ago a friend of mine showed me some Bonelli comics. These were Dylan Dog and Nathan Never. I was blown away by the artwork in them and ended up buying loads more online. My favourite artists were Roberto De Angelis and Claudio Castellini. Since then though Iï¿½ve discovered Tacconi, Brindisi and Mastantuono (all of them amazing) and the stuff I look at most nowadays for inspiration.
Since you have already worked for various markets, would you be interested in working for Italian or French publishers?
Yeah Iï¿½d love too. I think my dream would be to get into doing European style albums but I would also love to draw for Bonelli. I tried sending some samples for the Dampyr book a few years back but nothing came of it in the end.
What are your current projects?
At the moment I am drawing a short strip for 2000AD, inking and colouring for Marvel UK and doing some illustrations for a magazine.
Do you still read comics? What do you read, usually?
I donï¿½t read enough really and tend to buy comics more for the artwork that the stories. Iï¿½m enjoying Justice from DC though as the story is really good and there is some lovely artwork from Alex Ross in there too.
Iï¿½m a big fan of The Ultimates too: great story and stunning artwork from Bryan Hitch.
If you had to choose three comics that everyone should have on their shelves, which ones would they be?
Batman: Year One, Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns.
In terms of artwork though, Iï¿½d recommend anything by Altuna, the subject matter can be a bit dubious but he is just a master storyteller.