Pronto Presents: Joe Wigfield
By David Rondinelli
Joe Wigfield is one of Pronto Comics’ newest artists. His work is featured in the third issue of Pronto’s ongoing horror anthology, Deathology #3, in which Wigfield draws the story “The Knock,” a tale about a young woman who goes to great lengths to resurrect her prince “charming.”
Wigfield grew up in central Pennsylvania, and later earned a degree in graphic design and computer animation from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. There, he developed both education and enthusiasm, and refined his illustration skills. Since then, he has gone onto work in commercial printing, as well as doing character and card designs to bolster his growing portfolio. His love of comics is still with him, as he aims to make it a full-time career as a penciler and inker.
Here, Wigfield opens up about his process, what he likes most about comics, and what you can catch him doing next.
Pronto Presents: You just finished up your first story for Pronto called “The Knock.” Tell us a bit about how you formed the idea and made it into the story it became?
Joe Wigfield: “The Knock” is the first comic story I have completed since doing a couple of my own ideas in high school. I had to start from scratch with it because I didn’t know what I was doing on my earlier comics. The story follows the daily routines of the character Nancy.
Since I was required to draw her in numerous situations, I relied on lots of gestures and body language. I just wanted to ensure that I didn’t draw her in the same poses over and over again.
PP: What is your drawing process? How do you go about creating a page?
JW: After I get a script or write my own stories, I create thumbnails. During the thumbnail stage, I try to square away the perspective so that I don’t have to tweak it as much in the finished pencils. I also scan thumbnails and then move images around in Photoshop to make things fit better in each panel. Afterward, I enlarge and transfer the thumbnails to Bristol boards with my light table. This stage, I do tighter pencils and then inks if required.
For future projects, I really want to experiment with printing blue line pencils on Bristol board and inking those.
PP: What is your favorite page for “The Knock?”
JW: It’s a toss up between the page with the golem/automaton scorpion and the last page.
These pages have lots of texture, and I like drawing stuff with lots of texture. The one drawback to my texture crutch is that my women usually look like hardened female inmates, but I’m working on it.
PP: What are some of the comics that influenced and inspired you growing up and today?
JW: I grew up during the late ’80s/early ’90s and loved Saturday morning cartoons like Thundarr the Barbarian, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, and Dungeons and Dragons.
Pretty much all of the Image creators became my influences by the time I hit high school. However, the first comic that I can remember and still have is Uncanny X-Men #162. I don’t remember where I got it or how it survived my destructive earlier years.
Anyway, the Brood secretly impregnated the X-Men with Brood eggs and Wolverine fights off the gestation cycle at the end of that issue. The late artist Dave Cockrum drew Wolverine in a super badass pose!
PP: What made you choose comics as opposed to other visual mediums?
JW: I like to draw superhero, supernatural, or Sci-fi elements and also tell stories.
With comics, I get to combine these interests.
PP: Since “The Knock” is a horror story, what do you think makes for good visual horror?
JW: I don’t have much experience with drawing horror comics, but I think that the approach depends on the story. For this story, it didn’t call for gratuitous violence or viscera so I tried to build things up with tension. I tried to distinguish Nancy’s normal and supernatural interactions. Whenever there was a supernatural encounter, I tried to make it a little macabre without being too gory. Hopefully, I succeeded on some level, but I have tons of room for improvement.
PP: How did you find out about Pronto and become a part of the group?
JW: I went to the inaugural Camden Comic Con a couple years ago.
My objectives were:
- To find some cheap trade paperbacks.
- Check out some local artists’ work and get inspired to work on my own stuff again.
- Lastly, I wanted show some of my samples to indie comic book companies.
Not only did Pronto show interest in my work, but you guys actually contacted me after the fact. That in itself spoke volumes. I’ve talked to many indie companies at comic cons and the editors frequently said that they would contact me. Ultimately, I wouldn’t hear anything even after I followed up with them. Experiences like this can really be frustrating, especially when you’re trying to get a foot in the door. So I’m super grateful that you guys backed up your words and offered me a gig.
PP: What are some other projects and events that you have coming up?
JW: I’m currently working on a comic book one-shot. Not sure how much of it I can disclose. It’s a little bit hockey player and a little bit samurai warrior. In addition to this comic project, I am also working on full-color illustrations for a CCG called Ophidian 2360 by Hack and Slash Games. I originally did painted illustrations for Ophidian 2350 cards back in 2003. So this will be a fun reunion and hopefully lead to more work.
Be sure to check out Joe’s work with “The Knock,” available in Deathology #3 and on Pronto’s website.