An Interview with Comic Creator Benjamin Allen
This is the first in our series of interviews with comic creators! Benjamin Allen is a filmmaker-turned-comic-creator. Check out the first 2 issues of his work, Shriekers, on his website!
We will be interviewing people at all levels and in all roles. If you are a comic creator or know someone who may be a good fit, hit us up at email@example.com!
Please introduce yourself! Who you are, where you’re from, and what you do for a living/in the world of comics.
Hi! My name is Benjamin Allen. I'm from the small town of Bridgewater, Connecticut. I initially began working as the thumbnail/storyboard artist as well as colorist on my first comic and am now completing all of the art in my most recent comic/zine.
How did you get started? What got you into comics and, eventually, making them?
I am originally a filmmaker by trade. Having directed several live action and animated short films I drew all of the storyboards and planned each aspect of the films. With each film I fell in love with the storyboarding/visualization process more and more... so much that I wanted to take this stage of the production even further and create a graphic novel of a post-apocalyptic story. By creating the story graphically I would be able to work out necessary world-building details as well as gauge the audience's response to the story and the way it would unfold.
What are some of the most rewarding parts of making your own works? What are some of the toughest parts?
The most rewarding aspect of making your own work is you get to do exactly what you want on every part of an idea. The inherent problem with collaborating or being a hired professional is there is always compromise or more often than not you are simply a hired gun. However, when you own the entire concept you are the final decision maker and everything from what happens in the story to how it is depicted is your responsibility - which is a two edged sword.
On the flip side, you now need to do all the work and anything that could be out of place or distracting to a reader is inevitably something that you had a hand in creating... From the color of the protagonists hair, or the weapons they carry, the sky, the ground, the sound effects, what the story feels like when you read it... Certain smaller things that may not be the most important thing in the story are really becoming just as important to the tone, the character and the plot because it all adds up to the final product and must make sense in some sort of way.
What are some of your inspirations and favorite works?
My favorite work is Hard Boiled by Goef Darrow, written by Frank Miller. I actually owned the black and white oversized art version with the images out of order first, before I got the actual story version. Artists like Moebius, Ramon Villalobos, and Katsuhiro Otomo are my favorites. Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Daniel Clowes are my favorite writers. I seem to lean towards risk taking writers who push the limits of what is acceptable or possible and are not interested in finding a main stream audience, but rather connecting with something real; or deep, for lack of a better word.
Any advice or tips you want to share with aspiring comic and graphic novel creators?
Just draw! Pen miles matter; the amount of time you spend drawing will equal the quality of the drawings. Look at art and obsess over art you like. I also feel it is important to listen to and watch art that you don't like and sort of try to figure out what it is you don't like about it. Always be learning. Always be open to new information and possibilities.
Anything else you’d like to add?
One of the greatest things about the pencil is the eraser. It is a tool that allows you to make mistakes over and over and over again. Drawing isn't about getting it right on the first try or line or dot. It is about working towards the image you seek. Draw, erase, and have fun!
Where can we find you and your work?
My instagram account where I post my art is instagram.com/JustNukeIt. My two issue post-apocalyptic story, Shriekers, is available at JustNukeIt.com and SundayNightBombers.com/shop/ I recently completed a Taxi Driver spoof titled SchoolBus Driver, which I will be releasing soon. Some of the artwork including the cover designs are available to see on my instagram.