Exclusive Interview with Comic Artist Frazer Irving for ‘Annihilator’

– by Gig Patta

Since 2011, Legendary has launched its comic book division Legendary Comics that features original comics and movie tie-ins with Legendary Pictures. Some in the comics included “The Tower Chronicles” series, “Godzilla” and “Pacific Rim.”

In a new six-issue series, Legendary Comics presents “Annihilator,” an original graphic novel from Grant Morrison (“Animal Man,” “Batman,” “JLA”). The cover art and interior art is provided by Frazer Irving (“Necronauts,” “Judge Death,”).

The story is about a washed-up Hollywood screenwriter Ray Spass is caught in a downward spiral of broken relationships, wild parties and self-destruction. Out of luck and out of chances, he’s one failed script away from fading into obscurity. Little does he know he’s about to write the story of his life. As his imagination runs rampant, Ray must join forces with his own fictional character Max Nomax on a reality-bending race to stop the entire universe from imploding…..without blowing his own mind in the process.

Latino-Review had a unique opportunity to interview the comic artist Irving on this latest project. We discussed about his unique style, developing the characters’ looks and working with Morrison.

“Annihilator” is available on comic book shelves and digital formats today.

Read our exclusive interview below.

Latino-Review: How were you approached for this project called the Annihilator?

Frazer Irving: Grant Morrison approached me with this idea. We worked together before with “Seven Soldiers: Klarion the Witch Boy.” He gave me the option on either this or another story called “Happy.” I chose this one, because I like story about the haunted house. That was pretty much it. After that, I just had to wait for the script to be written.

Latino-Review: Since this is not the first time working with Morrison, what’s so great about returning to work with him?

Frazer Irving: The benefit is that I know his style of working now. It is a lot easier to anticipate the more unexpected happenings with someone like Grant. He’s pretty much the artist when it comes to writing his stories. It’s led by his motivations and philosophical views. At any point, his story would contain any strange imageries, ideas or instructions. I know that now to improvise rather than to sit there and get confused. Now when I’m enjoying his script—I know it’s going to be a little bit weird.

Latino-Review: When you first read the script for “Annihilator,” what was going through your mind?

Frazer Irving: It’s really hard to get the beat on what Grant’s story is really about especially on the first reading. The story is a living thing and it evolves as you work on it. The one thing I did get was this sense of madness—this absurd nihilism. Grant told me he experienced this in Los Angeles. I’ve personally never experienced this. So I thought it was a good feeling to get a hold of and I left that feeling with the character on the page.

Latino-Review: How did you develop the look on the characters of Ray Spass and Max Nomax?

Frazer Irving: There were some prompts from Grant. He did give me some iconic visual beats for Max Nomax. He mentioned the Rolling Stones and so forth. I tend to take those prompts as suggestions and go with whatever the story leads me with. With Ray Spass, I wanted to create a character that is fashionable and particularly strange.

His fashion sense is uncharacteristically Los Angeles. I’ve never lived in Los Angeles, but I’ve been told that’s not what people in Los Angeles wear. So I just stuck with the looks of being strange and still pass looking like a writer.

The evolution of the characters develops on the page as I’m drawing the actual story. The characters slightly as I progress [with this project] and I would like to know what people think of that.

Latino-Review: Your artwork is very unique. How would you describe this type of art?

Frazer Irving: [Pause] Psychedelic soul wrenching dream paint. How’s that?

Latino-Review: [Laughter] Great. Great. Is it hard and difficult to come with the ideas to get the art on to page?

Frazer Irving: It can be. For me, I’ve noticed the emotions and the dramatics of the story has to come first before I draw something. If can’t engage with the characters in the story—it could be the most difficult thing in the world to draw the face. Once I’ve got it and knows what’s going on, it would be the easiest thing in the world. It’s like when you spend all your effort crawling up the hill, and then it became really easy just to roll down. I’m at the stage now at the top of the hill and hopefully it’s all downhill from here.

Latino-Review: Could you tell me on the process on drawing this? I believe you used digital software.

Frazer Irving: Yes, I use Photoshop CS5 with a Macintosh. I’ve got a Mac Pro at the moment. I draw on the Wacom CINTIQ 21UX. So the imagery is created on all one piece of software. It’s all hand drawn. There’s not 3D modeling. There’s no photography involved even though I use photographs sometimes as reference. Everything is done old school style with the hand.

I had to develop some of my own special tricks in terms of creating colors and effects. I tend to see it as intellectual property these days like a recipe to pastry. It happened recently with “Annihilator” as I used secret palettes to get the special color combinations.

It’s 90 percent inspirations and 10 percent perspiration basically.

Latino-Review: Yeah, I did notice something about your color combinations here. It’s very unique color palettes that you use.

Frazer Irving: The colors for this particular story have been coded and I won’t go into any details of that now to give any spoilers away. Certain characters are of certain colors. There are different environments with different color schemes. It’s going to echo in other scenes. It’s one of the first projects that were allowed to do that because I’m not dependent on other people’s character designs or color schemes. I can completely invent all of the visual language. I have to say that the colors I’ve chose always based on the way on how it makes me feel not on what they represent. So you might have a scene on where it should be bright yellow, but it will be dark blue to be sad and somber. My understanding is how it makes me feel to translate to the reader.

Latino-Review: You have worked on many projects before like “Batman,” “Judge Dredd” and so on. Do you like drawing new independent characters rather than established characters?

Frazer Irving: That’s always been my goal since the beginning. When I was a child, I always wanted to draw the X-Men. Then I realized it’ll be more fun to invent my own. There’s always been the thing as the Holy Grail of the comics to create your own characters and control their destinies. I’ve realized years ago I’m still learning my craft. I wasn’t ready to leave the nest at the time for my own characters as of yet. This is one of the first things I’ve done without the support of the established universe. I’ve haven’t done anything independent creatively speaking before.

I have to say it’s a much more pleasurable experience. Like I said before, I can control every aspect of the visuals and it makes it a lot easier for me.

Latino-Review: Did you always wanted to be in the business? So how did you get into to this?

Frazer Irving: I definitely was reading comics since I could read and pretty learned how to read. It’s always been there. I realized I could an artist and do it as a career when I was around 11 or 12 years old. I always had that kind of different goal. For the most part, it was a fantasy and only happens in dreams. It’s strange that I’ve been doing this for fourteen years now. I’ve been doing this longer than anything else and it still feels like I’ve been doing this for the past five minutes. It’s a strange feeling that’s lurking.

Latino-Review: I’ve visited your personal web site. It seems like you are a rock star and have a lot of fans.

Frazer Irving: [Laughter] My tag line on the Internet—I wrote mockingly “international comic book rock star.” It was taken from an interview Grant gave in which he described himself as a comic book rock star. He wasn’t really going to use that. So someone had to adopt it. I’ve been putting that up for the past five years. And by the way, I do actually play music.

Latino-Review: Oh, really? What kind of music?

Frazer Irving: The music I play is very much similar to the art I draw. [Laughter] I play mainly with bass and drums. [Music] would be like Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead and King Crimson. Those are the kinds of beats that you want to go for. It’s certainly that ilk.

Latino-Review: With all these fans, you’ve certainly inspired a lot of people. What advice would you actually give them if they want to be in this type of business?

Frazer Irving: It does depend on the individual. I want to let people know that it’s a guarantee failure to quit. If this is your hobby, then consider this—when your hobby becomes your job—get another hobby. That’s why I play music. It’s because if you don’t, you’ll eventually end up hating your hobby and your job.

Remember that everyone can draw on whether it’s good or bad or subjective. Consider that when you’re making your own artwork. Just think of who you’re selling to and why they like it. That’s pretty much all the advice I could give in a few sentences like this.

Latino-Review: Well, any advice is useful advice. Thanks for this interview.

Frazer Irving: Cherrio!

“Annihilator” is available on comic book shelves and digital formats today.

Interviews, Comics, LRM Exclusives Annihilator, Frazer Irving