Friends of the Fiend 28: Brian Fray
CF. Hello, Brian.
BF. Hey, there, Fiend!
CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?
BF. I have a lot of on-going work, such as my editorial cartoon for the local paper, a small gag panel I do called Fray's Way and several trade magazines I work on. Something different always seems to be coming in. I do lots of stuff for restaurants and breweries and various government agencies. At the moment I'm working on a series of cartoons for The World Bank. Also, I've just completed two books, DeVil's Riddle and Chef Pierre's Fresh Sheet. Too early to tell how they'll do, but hopefully OK.
I'm Trying to find the time to get a DeVil's Riddle website up and running to create interest in the book.
CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?
BF. I always wanted to be an artist of some sort from the time I was old enough to hold a pencil. I studied fine art at university and I started out as a painter, but decided the starving artist route wasn't for me. So, I tapped into my humourous side and haven't looked back.
CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?
BF. Pretty basic. For gags, I write, sketch and doodle first and reject the duds. Then I pencil, ink and scan. Clean up and colour on the computer and e-mail. For other more complex illustrations, I sketch in pencil, ink and colour with watercolurs, gouache and coloured pencils, then scan, clean up and send. Then I send the bill...my favourite part.
CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?
BF. Depends on what I'm working on. I have a couple of different styles. If I'm doing gags, I draw with a Staedtler Permanent Lumocolor marker on sheets of matte coated stock that I purchased from printer. I scan and colour/clean up in Photoshop. If I'm working on an illustration for a story, I work with a Crowquill pen on Bainbridge 80 board and Windsor & Newton India Ink. I colour with gouache, watercolours and coloured pencils. I work on a Mac G4.
click for a larger version
CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other artforms, in your opinion?
BF. Absolutely! Cartoonists are definitely proper artists. I've been on both sides of the fence, as a cartoonist and "fine artist". Is something any less valid because it is humourous? I know a lot of fine artists, painters and sculptors, who are much less disciplined and skilled than many cartoonists. Cartooning involves not only drawing skills, but in many cases, writing skills, as well. Cartoons have a huge impact on society and culture. "DOH!" is firmly embedded in our modern vocabulary, to give a silly example.The nasty business with Mohammed and the Danish newspapers is anothernot-so-silly example.
CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd like to work in, if you can find the time?
BF. I'd love to work on an animated film. But more on the character development and creative director side. Leave the repetitive technical stuff to the techies who are way better at it.
CF. Who were your major artistic influences?
BF. As a kid, I loved Don Martin's off-the-wall work in Mad Magazine. Also Kliban, Walt Kelly, the old Warner Brothers Looney Toons cartoons and a lot of Disney's earlier stuff. I also love Ronald Searle, Ralph Steadman and Brian Froud.
CF. Who was/is your favourite cartoonist/writer, of all time?
BF. That's a toughie, because I admire so many of them. I guess I'd have to say Kliban.
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.
BF. Everything changes, but I think the creative process will remain the same. The media through which we preceive things is evolving, and the tools that we create with are evolving, but talent is still talent. Good drawing and writing will still rise to the top. The human touch is still essential. That won't change.
CF. If you had the time, and you were helicoptered in to work onanything you chose, any publication, strip, panel, character,book, show, what would you like to work on?
BF. I'd like to write and illustrate a series of books based on my DeVil's Riddle characters, which would spin into a movie...on which I would be the creative consultant.
CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?
BF. Taller, thinner and younger...with more hair.
CF. Thank you for visiting with us.
BF. It was my pleasure and honour. Thank you for inviting me.