Pronto Presents: Artist Chris Brimacombe

Pronto Presents: Artist Chris Brimacombe
By David Rondinelli

Head_Shot01Growing up, Canadian native Chris Brimacombe had to contend with constant cold weather that gave him large amounts of time to kill. With little else to do, he refined his skills and set sights on an expanding portfolio. Today his work displays a wide variety of talents in composition, character design, and visuals that make up highly stylized pages featuring the worlds of fantasy and the macabre.

Brimacombe’s early entry for Pronto was American Monsters, a series that highlights famous American serial killers in a black and white noir style. The gritty books give an unapologetic look at the violent lives of those who did it and tried to get away with it.

Nap Boy is Brimacombe’s newest title with Pronto. A tale that weaves the supernatural with the psychedelic, the story revolves around a young man who dreams of having extraordinary abilities and then wakes up with those same abilities in the real world. As the lead artist, Brimacombe gives us a peek into the world of Nap Boy, while letting us in on a bit of his own life too.

Pronto Presents: How did you get involved with Pronto Comics?

Chris Brimacombe: Pronto was looking for writers and when I showed one of the editors, Patrick, a true crime story I wrote and illustrated, he offered to publish it. I first met Patrick in a coffee shop where he was walking around with a sign that said “Pronto Comics” like a limo driver.

PP: How long have you been drawing/writing?

CB: I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. The first drawing I was really proud of as a kid was an isometric drawing of my house back in Canada. With the long winters, we stayed indoors a lot so I think that contributed to my love of drawing.

PP: Nap Boy is a new project for you. What attracted to you to the project?

CB: Hargis and I were doing the AIDS Walk in Central Park and he described Nap Boy as Spider-Man if he did a lot of drugs. I thought, “That could be a comic,” so I read the script and it lived up to the hook and even surpassed it: Callum Broderick, Nap Boy, is in debt to his drug-dealer/best friend Jamie, and does pharmaceutical testing to make some money. The experimental drug that he’s given causes him to physically change based on his dreams. Therefore, if he dreams he’s falling, he wakes up with wings. Callum’s relationship to Jamie only gets more complicated after that.

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PP: Is there a character or page that you had to draw that you found to be particularly difficult? How did you overcome it?

CB: There’s an extended dream sequence in the first issue where Nap Boy is flying along a bridge that transforms into glass, which then collapses while rain turns into pills. He gets entwined in cables attached to the super structure of the bridge. I wish I had a magic wand to solve problems like that, but since I don’t, I just had to draw and redraw and redraw it.

PP: What is your favorite character or type of sequence to draw for Nap Boy?

CB: The characters are a fun challenge because you don’t always know how they’re going to end up. You try things and see what works, and see how people react to them. Lately I’ve been giving a lot of time and effort to designing the backgrounds so that the story feels like it’s really happening somewhere.

PP: What are some of the other projects you’ve worked on for Pronto Comics?

CB: American Monsters 1 and 2, which are true crime comics about David Berkowitz and Ted Bundy; Nap Boy 1, written by the inimitable Hargis Bullen, and a few cover illustrations for Strange Stories.

PP: What is the process like for you to design a page?

CB: It varies. When I’m really intent on crafting a whole scene, I sometimes go with very traditional six panel layouts so I can spend more time worrying about the content of the panels. While at other times I want to showcase a particular image and still include other images, which can be a challenge. I want to have enough uniformity that all the panels, pages, and scenes fit together into the whole story but also have enough variation that it’s interesting.

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PP: What tools, techniques, or materials do you use? Have you begun to utilize more digital effects or do you use traditional pencil and paper?

CB: My first comics were all by hand—penciling, inking, lettering…but I’ve definitely used more and more digital tools. I think my own sensibility still comes through and I can produce more so I love it.

PP: Who are some of your influences in comics and art in general?

CB: In comics, there are almost too many inspiring artists to name but I’ll say Jack Kirby, Osamu Tezuka, Neal Adams, John Byrne, Frank Miller, Yoshitaka Amano, Marc Silvestri, Todd MacFarlane, Jim Lee, and Dave McKean.

PP: Do you do commissions or work for hire, or are you strictly devoted to your own comics at the moment? Is this a full time career for you?

CB: I’d like to do more commissions and work for hire and keep producing my own comics. I believe in the adage that if you want something done, ask a busy person. It isn’t a full time career yet, though.

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PP: Do you have any other hobbies or artistic ventures that you do outside of drawing comics?

CB: I run. A few years ago I did a marathon, but now I’m happy to do 5 km runs. I might do another marathon one day, but training properly is a huge time commitment.

PP: What are some upcoming projects?

CB: There’s an expression, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans,” which I tend to believe. “Oh, you thought you were going to do that? Ha Ha Ha. Oh my no.” That being said, I’m going to finish this second Nap Boy comic, regardless of what the supernatural peanut gallery says.

To learn more about Chris Brimacombe, check out Nap Boy and American Monsters at prontocomics.com.

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