Artist Frankie B. Washington has created incredible images for the RoboG Akamatsu mosaic project. He recently chatted with comicbookinterviews.com publisher John Michael Helmer about his giant robot project and what he has lined up for the future…
JMH: Where were you born and raised?
FRANKIE: I was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up in Jamaica Plain. Me and my sister were latch key kids, but more on the “positive aspect” of the term. Meaning, I grew up with a strong sense of self-reliance and independence. Which helped me a lot when I decided to move out after graduating high school.
JMH: Tell CBI about yourself…
FRANKIE: Well, I grew up in JP and pretty much had an active imagination since an early age. I loved reading books, especially comics… And television became a tool of learning for me. Sesame Street, Electric Company, 3-2-1 Contact, Wild Wild World Of Animals became a must see, while weekday/weekend morning cartoons became my addiction. It was a escapism which allowed me to go beyond the world of my buddies and our occasional “rock wars”… Or my sister and her need to play with and destroy my toys. Because they were so much more cooler. The ability of mentally generating worlds and scenarios was probably my own version of the Matrix (movie). This willingness to dream helped to propel my passion laster in life to pursue art as a career.
JMH: How long have you been drawing comics?
FRANKIE: I’ve been drawing since 8 or 10. It’s a rough guesstimate but I know I was young and my mom would give me the brown grocery bags to draw on. When I think about it now, I wish I still had those drawings on that brown paper.
JMH: How did you break into the industry drawing comic books?
FRANKIE: Well technically, my first comic was a self-published title called ” Peace” way back in 1991 – I believe. Afterwards I worked on another book which was called “Brothers In Arms” and was a creator-owned collaboration, similar to what I have now with Robot God Akamatsu. Off and on I’ve worked on other small press titles like : Robert Steven Rhine’s presents Satan’s 3 Ring Circus Of Hell, Mysterious Visions After Hours, Grave Conditions, Johnny Raygun Special, Marooned On Mogo, Zombies vs Cheerleaders Issue #1, Penny Dreadful’s Cauldron of Terror, Princess Lucinda and I will be having a double page spread “Frog Prince” pin-up in the book called Once Upon A Time Machine, published by Dark Horse for release – Fall 2012
JMH: Do you have any formal art training?
FRANKIE: I received a scholarship which covered two years of my 3 yr enrollment at the Butera School Of Art located in the Boston. This school specialized in commercial illustration and sign painting. With a strong mandate that upon graduating you would have the tools to work in the art industry. My fondest memories are of my time learning there and shaping my skills and perception of the business that I so wanted to be a part of. 20+ years later and I can say with great pride that the education paid off.
JMH: Who are your artistic influences?
FRANKIE: Honestly there’s a score of individuals I admire but the first three who continue to stay at the front of my mind are Jack Kirby, John Byrne & Herb Trimpe. What I love the most from all of these amazing artisans were their ability to generate a dynamic layout and literally drag the viewer into their work. Every time I lay pencil to paper, I’m think of a panel I might have seen that was done by either one of these artist and I immediately begin the process of challenging myself go further (If I can) than they did – If that’s even possible.
JMH: How do you focus when drawing?
FRANKIE: I normally have music going when I draw. I have an eclectic ear so my Itunes and Zune device are packed with various sounds that can stimulate my creativity. One minute the John Carpenter score of Halloween is playing and the next Floatation by Prins Thomas. Each and every melody can set off an emotional stimuli that instantly results to new artwork or a concept.
JMH: What types of technology do you use to draw?
FRANKIE: I use various pencils from mechanical to Prismacolor, Copic markers, Sumi Ink and Micron Pens, Brushes and a Wacom Tablet. I work in photoshop CS3 for digital coloring and even some illustration work if need be.
JMH: What was the first comic book you ever read?
FRANKIE: The first comic book I can remember purchasing from the store was an issue of Spiderman. I was pulled in by the cover and the colors and had to get it. For the luv of me, I can’t remember what issue or book it was- LOL.
JMH: Do you read any of the new comic books that are being published today? If so, which ones?
FRANKIE: Yes, I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead, Scalp, Fables, 100 Bullets, Ex Machina and I’ve started getting back to Mangas like Akira, Pluto, Kikader and The Big O.
JMH: Print vs. Digital. Your thoughts…
FRANKIE: I’m a huge fan of the graphic novel format more so than comic books because I’d rather have the luxury of reading a volume of stories than waiting for an issue that may “never” be published. I’m also a fan of digital because of the ability to reach a more broader audience without the hassle of traditional distribution channels. Web comics are definitely part of the future evolution of print comics.
JMH: What sources do you use for a cover image?
FRANKIE: Surprisingly I just plunge into a concept and if I need reference to help solidify an approach to it. I will either Google an image or scan through my extensive tear sheet reference library. the best idea, I’ve found is the first initial stage whereas it’s raw and not contaminated by other images.
JMH: What other mediums or genres have you drawn for?
FRANKIE: I was credited as story board artist for the films “Next Stop Wonderland” & “Squeeze”. Developing concepts and executing images for the directors at Olive Jar Animation was an awesome experience. For sometime I did detail pen&ink illustrations for a number of gaming companies like Glu Mobile, Fantasy Flight and Spartacus Publishing. I continue to do art boards for some of the most recognizable commercials on television via the various ad agency clients I’ve accumulated over the years. I’ve always considered myself an eclectic artist, never satisfied until I’ve tried my hand on some project in the vast field of art industry.
JMH: What project are you currently working on at now?
FRANKIE: I’m currently working on a Transformer Card set for Breygent Marketing/ Enterplay for release Fall 2012 : http://www.nsu-magazine.com/breygent-marketing-to-release-transformers/
JMH: What future projects do you have in the works?
FRANKIE: Robot God Akamatsu is occupying a great deal of my art slate and rightfully so, But new projects tend to knock on my door and like clockwork- I always ten to open it.
JMH: Do you have any words for aspiring artists?
FRANKIE: The truth is that this is very hard to do and you really have to look at business aspect of what you’re trying to achieve with great importance as well the creative side. make sure that there is a strong synergy with your team and that everyone is truly passionate behind the concept. Remember that life is a reality and that you have to respect it. The fantasy should stay on the paper, where it rightfully belongs. All the best and strive forward each and every step you take toward your endeavor.
JMH: How can fans and publishers get a hold of you?
FRANKIE: I can be reached through my website : http://www.frankiebwashington.com
JMH: Frankie, CBI appreciates your time. All the best.
FRANKIE: It’s my pleasure and thanks again CBI for allowing me to share a sliver of myself with everyone.
About the interviewer –