Friends of the Fiend 18: Grant Miehm
Born in Canada, Grant received his art education in the New York City area. His freelance work includes assignments for DC and Marvel Comics, working on: Disney's: 'Gargoyles', Saban Entertainment’s: 'Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers’, and other features. Past clients include: Wal-Mart, McDonald's and The Sci-Fi Channel.
In January 2000, Grant took over the writer / artist chores on the long-running 'Scouts In Action' feature for Boy's Life magazine. Boy's Life celebrates its 95th year of publication in 2006.
In 2001, Grant received two Ace Awards for Illustration and an Icon Award in 2003.
Future assignments include continued book, advertising and magazine illustration and a serious foray into concept and character design for the video game market.
CF. Hello Grant.
CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?
GM. I’m still involved in producing: ‘Scouts In Action’ for Boys’ Life, as well as doing illustration for European-based clients. And I’m always developing some sort of comics project on the side, too.
CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?
GM. I think I started-off wanting to be a writer. I recall being about 7 and investigating what I thought was the way children’s books were written then. Funny how I wound up writing much of the material I do now, given that initial spark. I do cartoon work, but it’s more accurate to call me an illustrator – I hope that’s not too pretentious. And definitely, it was a long process, born out of drawing for enjoyment, rather than serious study. That came later.
CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?
GM. SIA ( Scouts In Action ) is akin to writing a news story. I review a lot of factual information – no less than 10 to 12 pages – detailing the rescue a given Scout is involved in. Then, I edit the details down to less than 100 words, bearing in mind the style that’s endemic to writing for Boys’ Life.
From there, it’s the usual process of getting a sketch and the pencil stage approved, after which the page is inked, scanned and colored digitally. I’m still using the traditional tools of pencil, ink, brush and pen and then digitizing that. When I paint, although I use the computer, I’m still approaching it like an illustrator. The computer is just another tool, which I believe is the way it should be used.
CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?
GM. I’ll use whatever gives the effect I’m looking for – anything works if you use your imagination. Normally, it’s the standard Windsor-Newton brush and the 108 flexible crow quill. For a lot of advertising / commercial work though, I use Pilot markers or any super cheap Flair-type marker. You can create some beautiful fat lines and nice pseudo-dry brush effects using those.
CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other artforms, in your opinion?
GM. Cartoonists are among the most versatile of all artists. Schooled ones, that is. Cartooning has an immense impact on other art forms. How many fine artists, for example, have created what are considered groundbreaking pieces, citing cartooning as a source? Many. Roy Lichtenstein is an obvious example, yes?
CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd like to work in, if you can find the time?
GM. I think I’ve been really blessed to have done at least some work in the areas that I’m interested in. Concept art and storyboard work interests me greatly at the moment. My major concern is being able to land assignments where I’ll have time to craft, as closely as I can, what I see in my head. I keep working toward that.
CF. Who were your major artistic influences?
GM. Too many to list. Not only other artists, but I also think any creative person is influenced by everything around them. A neighbor of mine has a dog that’s the wildest, funniest critter – I’m often fascinated watching her play – the action of how she moves. Remembering that sort of thing as I work influences how I draw. So aside from artists who’s work I admire, life itself imprints upon the psyche of the artist, I think.
CF. Who was/is your favourite cartoonist/writer, of all time?
GM. A ton of people, but I think it’s a toss-up between Alex Toth and Roy Crane. Their work suggests so much with so little. I wouldn’t presume for a second to be as capable as either of those 2 gents, nor show their influence in my work, but I’m very inspired by studying what they do.
CF. There's a lot of talk about a new 'paper-less future' and 'new digital reading habits', do you think this will affect cartooning, at some point.
GM. I think it already has. However, I can’t see it replacing holding a comic book or the Sunday comics page. I think people will always want the personal, tactile experience that comes with reading what you’re holding in your hand.
CF. If you had the time, and you were helicoptered in to work on anything you chose, any publication, strip, panel, character, book, show, what would you like to work on?
GM. I think I’d like to work in film. Being one of the creators behind an animated film like: ‘The Incredibles’, for example, would be a mind-blowing experience. To see what you had sketched or did as concept work, eventually becoming something intensely animated like that? Awesome!
CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?
GM. Nope. This is definitely my path. God knows it took me long enough to get on it correctly and I’ve never been even remotely successful doing anything else, so...
CF. Thank you for visiting with us.
GM. No problem. Thank you so much.