Interview: Artist Nathan Stockman talks Reyn

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I’m afraid I was a bit behind the curve on Irish artist Nathan Stockman’s new Image series Reyn. I’ve caught up on the first few issues (I like it) and decided to ask him some questions about the series.

How did this book first come about?

I worked on the last issue of the Image series I Love Trouble in 2013. The previous artist wasn’t able to finish the series so colourist Paul Little recommended me to step in for the final issue. I had worked with Paul on a couple of bits and bobs for years so he knew I could do a decent job in a pinch that wouldn’t be a million miles away from the look of the series up to then.

Afterwards writer Kel Symons and I kept talking. We had enjoyed the brief time working together so we wanted to try and pitch some ideas. He had two pitches ready and the one I really liked eventually became Reyn. We put together a pitch document to send to Image and we got the green light!

We ended up working with the same team as on my I Love Trouble issue, Down to letterer Pat Brosseau, So it was great to be able to start a new series off with a team I really enjoyed working with before.

For somebody who hasn’t picked up the book yet, how would you describe it?

The book is the story of Reyn, the last of a legendary group of warriors called the Wardens. He’s plagued with visions from an invisible guide who has set him on a quest to save the land of Fate. The book follows Reyn and his partner, the “witch” Seph, along with several of her people as they uncover some very unusual secrets about Fate and its strange history.
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Even only after a few issues, you’ve managed to create a unique world. I was wondering what were your influences when it came to creating the book.

Thanks very much! Kel is a bigger fantasy fan and has a lot more knowledge of it than me. He put together some images he liked that he sent me to give me an idea of what he was thinking (More for tone than anything else though). A lot of book covers and iconic posters and paintings. Lots of Frazetta and the like. We also wanted a western feel to the book too. I like me a bit of Clint Eastwood so we were on the same page there. There’s a lot of Man With No Name in our lead.

Colourist Paul Little should get a huge amount of the credit for the look of the world too. He really nails each scene. He has a copy of the script so knows the tone of each page. He knows exactly what’s needed. I can’t stress enough how important a good colorist is to the look of modern comics. Thankfully they’ve started to get some well deserved attention in recent times.

One thing I noticed is that there is a great representation in your cast of characters from the lead Reyn and Seph all the way through the supporting cast. Was this something you thought about when creating the world?

I’m really glad people are responding positively to the diverse cast. I wanted there to be a variety in the cast of characters. I wanted to try my hand at drawing a cast of different ages, races and body types. It helps me not get bored by drawing the same types of (white) people all the time and it’s cool to have a cast of characters that a lot of different readers could identify with. Kel had no specific race in mind for the majority of the cast so I was given free rein to do what ever suited the individual character.
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Another thing I like about the series is that Kel Symons seems to know when to get out of the way and let your art do the talking. There’s plenty of action.

I love that about Kel’s writing. I noticed it straight away when I read the scripts. I love when a writer understands comics are a visual medium and that an action doesn’t have to be accompanied by a dialogue box explaining what’s going on. [Reyn opens the door. He looks angry. blah blah blah.] If it’s there in the art it looks silly if the reader’s hand is held.

Kel is also great at letting me put my own spin on scenes (Particularly action ones) if I can find something cool to add. He’s not precious about the scripts. As long as I follow the beats that need to be hit he’s always open to suggestion.

Without spoiling, revelations in issue 3 kind of change my entire idea of what the book was all about. It is nice to be kept guessing.

Yeah we took a bit of criticism for the first issue in particular. Saying it was a bit cliched. It’s definitely a slow build. After issue 4 and 5 though I don’t think it’ll be looked at in the same light. A reader can only judge on what’s in front of them so it’s hard to disagree if they found it a bit cookie cutter early on. I’m hoping the ones that stick with it will be pleasantly surprised. It’ll read very well in the trade (Out this June for $9.99 plug plug!). There’s still a lot of surprises to come too.
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I think being an Image book has pros and cons. Image has a great reputation right now but they have a lot of quality books that you’re competing with for readers. What do you think makes your book stand out?

I’ve been drawing the book through a couple of Image Expos and seeing the caliber of artists that were coming up made me want to hide under my desk and cry. James Harren, Declan Shalvey, Gabriel Hardman, Eric Canete, Dustin Nguyen. Just tons of incredible artists. At the end of the day I can only do my best. I’m setting myself up for a fall if I start trying to compete with any of these guys. I just do the best job I can in the time I have and hope enough people enjoy the work that I can do the same again next month.

Any hints about the future?

I just finished issue 6 which answers some of the big questions from the first arc but there’s still plenty more to reveal as we continue.

Issue 4 of Reyn hits stores on April 15th. You can follow Nathan Stockman on twitter here.