Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pheaturing Anton Emdin

Hello, kids, and welcome to another entry of the Phile on a Sunday. How are you?  Have you guys been watching the Olympics still? I have been. Something else is going on this week that's just as important as the Olympics. Shark week? Yes, that is going on. But no, something even more terrifying than sharks. This week is international clown week. That's something more terrifying than sharks. Some people think clowns descended from a medieval court jester. I don't. I just think they're jerks in makeup. Some people think clowns are really scary. These people are called correct. There's a lot of famous clowns. Bozo the Clown, Krusty the Clown, Joe Biden. There's three right there. Maybe I'm being too harsh on clowns because it's a tough gig. Imagine putting on a ridiculous wig and squeezing into a suit every day. It's like being William Shatner.  The US is trailing in gold medals. Naturally...    because every time they win one, they hand it over to the Chinese to pay off our debt.  Romney has come back to America after his trip overseas. All in all it was a successful trip. Best of all, Romney has checked three countries off the list of 1000 Places To Offend People Before You Die.  Vice President Joe Biden said that he had to ask his wife Jill to marry him five times before she said yes. Five times! Joe, that's not a proposal, that's harassment.  Yesterday my friend President Obama celebrated his 51st birthday. Obama already got one really nice gift: Mitt Romney’s trip to London. Mitt Romney is still getting a lot of attention for a series of gaffes he's made while he was in London. And in response, Romney said that he has nothing but respect for the people of England, especially their monarch, Queen Latifah.  Well, people are still talking about this whole Chick-fil-A controversy about the president of that food chain saying he doesn't support gay marriages, or somewhere along those lines. Well, churches across America are selling this poster that somehow ties into all of this.

With all the Olympics watching I noticed a few things. First thing, some things at the Olympics are scary.

Man, what's the deal with his arms or are those shoulders? Geesh. The other thing I noticed are that some Olympians from around the world have some very interesting names. Here's my favorite so far.

LOL. I want to change my name to Jason Takeshita. I am so glad there's an Olympics inspirational poster and I love this one.

Maybe the female kissing game I mentioned in the last entry might happen after all. Speaking of, here's another...

What a bad picture. Lets focus more on the waterfall and more on the rowers... Anyway, chances are if the Mayans are right this will be the last Olympics ever. Those Mayans are all full of wisdom so I thought once again I would invite a friend of the Phile to give you some advice to get you through the week. So, please welcome back to the Phile...

Me: Hello, Marvin. So, what advice do you have for us today?

Marvin: Nya b’a’n tu’n t-xi t-xon tsmal twiy, t-xcy’aka, mo tstey, ku’n ka mina× i jet aj tcyima, ocx cok’ila cyi’j.

Me: Well, that's a lot, but once again we don't understand Mayanese. What are you saying?

Marvin: It is not good to throw away your hair, fingernails or teeth because if you don’t find them upon your death, you will regret it.

Me: That's a good one for me, I am always biting my nails. Thanks, Marvin, once again. Marvin the Modern Day Mayan, everybody.

He's crazy, that Marvin. So, there's a new comic book coming out from Marvel called "Hawkeye" which I'm interested in. I thought I would invite a good friend of the Phile who has a Facebook page called Comics Will Make You Stronger and a podcast as well. Please welcome back to the Phile, my friend Jim Mello in a pheature I call...

This Review Will Make You Stronger: "Hawkeye #1" by Matt Fraction with some sleek ass art by David Aja only matched by the colors of Matt Hollingsworth.  Let me regale you with a tale of a young man... pure and beautiful and sexy and awesome... who stepped into a comic shop six years ago with a head full of dreams and promise. The shop itself smelled of new paper and ink overlapped with the more feminine scents of the girls behind the counter beckoning like sirens to the unwary sailor and exuding monetary doom.  It was in this place that I first laid eyes upon a book, shuffled about upon the Marvel Comics rack, called "Immortal Iron Fist". The cover was unlike anything the young man had ever scene... stylistically aware, fantastic sense of design. The young man had only but one choice... to open it. Guess what? The interiors looked EXACTLY the same.  That was my first time witnessing David Aja art. It was mildly intimate.  This was also the book that turned me into a Matt Fraction apologist, when everything else the man seemingly wrote either bordered mediocrity or was downright bad.  Now, "Hawkeye #1" comes along with the exact same creative team, and while Hawkeye has never held the inate "cool'-factor to me the Iron Fist has, I was still excited.  Rightfully so.  Fraction & Aja deliver here with a self-contained story that sidesteps his Avenger status, and approaches him from the human level. It follows Clint after a mission gone bad that left him in a wheelchair for a bit. After leaving the hospital, Clint must go on the most dangerous mission of all... saving his apartment complex from a Russian mob lieutenant and his completely legal takeover and eviction of its tenants. Yeah, there is no "splitting the arrow" trick shots here, or Avengers movie "not even looking" explosive arrow scenes. He's just a regular guy with the means to bring a little common decency into the lives of his neighbors, and he intends to do so.  Fraction is apparently at his best writing these sorts of B-List characters. They come as close to "regular guys" as the Marvel U can give you, and I think he just imposes a facsimile of himself in their characterization. When your major characters are a pantheon of pseudo-gods and your readers are polytheistic, it's hard to sneak in the story about the guy (or gal) you can relate too. I think Fraction relishes that. Characters like Clint and Danny Rand are inherently blank slates to the post-20th century comic book reading audience, and that opens up the playground quite a bit.  And it looks beautiful. I will say that the covers released so far are not nearly as compelling as the Iron Fist run, but the interiors match the quality. Aja continues to display his mastery of stylized storytelling, and you have to hate that he doesn't take on projects more often. A month without a David Aja book is a sad month indeed. Oh, and Matt Hollingsworth continues his long run of complimenting every artist he works with unbelievably well. He switches his palette seamlessly between conflicting styles, and always manages to make the artist look a lot better.  If you head to your shop this week and you happen to catch this on the stands, I highly recommend taking a look at it. It's a #1 and it's just a really solid story. Out of the eighteen books I read last night and this morning, this stands close to the top.

Thanks, Jim. Go visit him at the Coliseum of Comics store in Orlando.

Today's guest is the 21st artist to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Art Gallery. He is is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist from Sydney, Australia who draws for MAD Magazine. Please welcome to the Phile the very talented... Anton Emdin.

Me: Hello, Anton, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Anton: I'm well thanks... happy to be here. Your office is pretty swish, and I love the polar bears. Nice touch.

Me: Okay, you're from Australia, am I right? What part?

Anton: Yep, that's right. Sydney... on the East Coast.

Me: How does someone from Australia get to work for an American magazine like MAD?

Anton: In 2010 I went over to the States for the National Cartoonists Society's annual Reuben Awards. I was nominated for the 'Magazine Illustration' gong (which incidentally went to the talented Mad artist Ray Alma) and met the MAD Art Director (and illustrator extraordinaire) Sam Viviano. Now, the awards were in New Jersey, and afterwards my wife and I spent a week in New York. We were just doing the usual tourist thing when cartoonist John Kovaleski (a MAD contributor, whom I'd just met at the conference) called me up and asked if I wanted to go visit the MAD office. Hell yeah! So we all went up and met the team, got the tour, and had a great time. I'd been working for the Aussie MAD for a couple of years, so they even let me deface their 'wall of shame' and I got to draw on the same board as some of my heroes. (I wrote a post of all this up on if you're interested.) Anyway, a few months later I get a call from them saying they'd like me to draw an illo of Glenn Beck, and I've been fairly regular since.

Me: You draw for an Australian version of MAD as well, am I right? How is that version different? 

Anton: Yes. It's pretty much the same... mostly the American stuff, but with local content, too.

Me: How long have you been an artist, Anton? Professional that is.

Anton: I'd been drawing for money (that almost sounds dirty, doesn't it?) since school days, but in 1995 I ditched the day job and went full time freelance.

Me: You have your own distinct style which I like. How long did it take you to get your style down pat?

Anton: Thank you. I think that my style is always evolving, but I'd say that only in the last few years have I been able to draw the sort of art I've wanted to.

Me: Who are your influences art wise?

Anton: I have so many, but the old MAD artists have had the greatest influence on me: Elder, Kurtzman, Davis, Wood, Drucker. I love Popeye, Peanuts, old newspaper comics... Milt Caniff, Al Capp. The Seattle Fantagraphics scene of the 90's had a big influence on me, too. Kaz, Bagge, Clowes, Moriarity, Burns. And then of course Crumb, who is probably the greatest cartoonist of our time.

Me: A lot of artists I interview here don't use paper and pens anymore but computers. Some say that is cheating... I don't know. What tools do you use?

Anton: I'm drawing digitally more and more. It's a speed thing. Prices for illustrations aren't going up too much, so you need to work faster to make a living and keep up with shorter and shorter deadlines. I love brush and ink, though. There is a magic in splashing real ink, and having imperfection and happy accidents. I'll never give up using traditional materials, but I tend to reserve them for personal art and the odd magazine illustration in a loose style. Cheating? No, the computer and drawing tablet are just different drawing tools and provide different results.

Me: I love to draw with Sharpies myself. I don't draw animals that great, but I like drawing people. What is your favorite and least favorite thing you draw?

Anton: Well, people, and in particular, faces are the most fun for me, too. I'd like to think there's nothing I really dislike drawing. But perhaps clean, straight lines are at the bottom of the pile.

Me: You work on graphic novels, comic strips, and all different types of things. If you could only do one thing, what would it be?

Anton: Editorial or magazine illustration. Communicating the gist of an article visually... and without using words really excites me. I also like the rush of the fast deadlines.

Me: I have to ask you about Mr. Bogdan Trole. You created that character for People Magazine. Is that the Australian version or the American version? I have a picture of him here.

Anton: That's the Australian version. Although, it is not affiliated with the American one... it's an entirely different beast. It has celebrities, too, but they're naked.

Me: Man, that's cool. I want an issue of that People magazine. Anyway, explain who Bogdan is and where did the name come from. Is he based on anyone in particular?

Anton: Bogdan is the brainchild of the editorial team. He turned up as the work experience kid at the magazine about a year ago, and has been ridiculed ever since. The team thought it was time to bring him to life, so they called me up. I have a special red phone for this sort of thing.

Me: Of course I have to ask you about How To Draw Naked Girls. What is that for? We don't have that in America. Was that a MAD magazine thing?

Anton: That was another People magazine job. A double-page spread (pun intended). I designed it so it might actually be helpful, yet entertaining and stupid at the same time.

Me: Are you an expert in drawing naked girls?

Anton: Perhaps. I also draw naked girls on a weekly basis for the same magazine. Readers send in their ribald stories, and I illustrate them in a humorous way. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

Me: Who was the first naked girl you drew, Anton?

Anton: Probably one of my classmates at school. Or maybe a teacher. You can't be sure of these things.

Me: Most importantly, who is this blonde chick?

Anton: That's my personal nude model. She just hangs around the studio all day.

Me: Lucky bastard. Alright, so I have to congratulate you on your Stanley award. I have no idea what that is, can you explain it to the readers?

Anton: Thanks, Jason. It's the Australian version of the Reuben Award. Basically, the' Gold Stanley' Award (named after cartoonist Stan Cross) is an industry trophy awarded to the Cartoonist of the Year by the Australian Cartoonists Association (ACA), and I was honoured to receive it last year.

Me: Was that the first time you won?

Anton: I've received a few 'Bronze Stanley' Awards for Illustration and the NCS Reuben Division Award for Magazine Illustration, plus a handful of other nominations... but that was the fist time I've won the big one.

Me: Did you know you were gonna win it beforehand?

Anton: No, I knew I was nominated, but I didn't think I'd have any chance of winning.

Me: You did work for a magazine called The Spectator, which is a British magazine, am I right? I am from Britain and never heard of it, but I lived in America for over 20 years. Anyway, one cover you drew had a guy with saliva coming out of his mouth, which they didn't want to use. Did they explain why?

Anton: The Spectator originally from the UK (and is the world's longest running mag) and is also published in the US and Australia. I've been drawing for the Aussie one for a couple of years, and recently have drawn a few covers for the UK version. The illo you mentioned had Britannia drooling over her shield. They felt that it might be a little too coarse for their more sensitive readers. The Spectator readership is failry conservative, but the magazine has a real bite. Particularly into shields.

Me: Did you have to draw the whole thing over? I guess this is where computers can help I guess.

Anton: No, I just painted over that part. As you say, computers help a lot. I just created a new layer and made the revision. That way I don't lose the previous version of the art.

Me: You do commissions as well, what is the oddest commission you ever was asked to do?

Anton: Yep, I do a few private commissions from time to time... mainly caricatures. I can't think of any odd ones, but drawing art for tattoos is pretty fun! I've had two that I've drawn thinking that they would be small, and both have sent photos of full back tattoos. That is very strange and humbling.

Me: Anton, what do you think of the Phile's logo? If you were going to make a logo, what would it look like?

Anton: Yeah, it's pretty good. Although I'm not sure if it would work reduced to a tiny size, which is something I like to consider when doing that sort of thing. (Do you mean to make a logo for me... or for you?)

Me: For me, the Phile.

Anton: Ah... I think I'd draw a strange little man popping his head out of an open filing cabinet. (I'll send you the bill for the design consultancy.)

Me: Thanks. LOL. Thanks also so much for being on the Phile. I love your art and hope you can come back on the Phile sometime. Go ahead and mention your website and take care.

Anton: My pleasure, and thanks for having me. Your readers can peruse my stuff at or

Me: Keep up the good work.

Anton: Thanks, and you too, Jason.

There you go, another entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Jim Mello and of course Anton Emdin. The Phile will be back tomorrow with singer Paul Cox. Then next Sunday it's another Alumni... Shirli McAllen from Leftover Cuties. Then on Monday it's singer Anna Estrada. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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