Chris Kemple, Richard Case, Craig Rousseau, Kelly Yates and Rich Woodall are five guys who, in addition to their other gigs, have formed the webcomics community Artist Alley Comics. We’re profiling all five this week with MIGHTY Q&As and if you wanna know more — and you do — check out our story here.
Dan Greenfield: What’s your Secret Origin?
Kelly Yates: I started getting interested in comics after a summer road trip. I was 12 years old traveling from North Carolina to California with my grandparents and mom. On the way back, we stopped at Yellowstone National Park and I quickly discovered they didn’t have any televisions there. This was difficult because I was hooked on this newfangled channel called MTV. Bored with watching water shoot out of the ground, I wandered down to the gift shop and saw a few comic books that caught my eye.
Once I got home I discovered that there was a local comic book store that could fill my newfound need for comic books. My passion for comic books grew so much that I went on to work in a comic store for several years during college. It was during those college years that I decided I didn’t want to study Exercise and Sports Science and started pondering the idea of becoming an artist.
So at the ripe age of 21, I left the university and went to a two-year college to learn how to use a computer. I also started taking a few drawing classes and staying up late learning how to illustrate.
I guess deciding to become an artist later in life has always made me feel that I have to catch up with others. It’s great motivation!
Tell me all about your Artist Alley project and how it came about.
MonstHer grew out of my love for the Nightmare Before Christmas movie. I initially developed the project so it would come out annually on Halloween, but the concept morphed into something new and completely different.
What other published work have you done that you’re especially proud of?
One of my favorite people and artistic influences is Olivier Vatine. After seeing his work on Star Wars: Heir to the Empire, I mailed him a fan letter and over the years we became friends. He later asked me to work with him on a book called, Carmen + Travis for the French publisher Delcourt.
What about some of your influences? Name some of the artists and writers who you’re really into, past and present.
Not that I draw like any of them, but here it goes: Mike Wieringo, Olivier Vatine, Iain McCaig, Dave Stevens, Al Williamson, Mark Schultz, Art Adams.
In a perfect world, what’s your perfect gig? Besides Artist Alley, of course.
As much as I’d love to continue doing covers for the Doctor Who comic, actually working on either Star Wars movies or Doctor Who show would be pretty awesome!
What was your first comic? Do you still have it?
The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior #6 with Nightcrawler on the cover. Which then led me to X-Men comics and the larger Marvel Universe. It’s long, long gone.
What’s the most sentimental comic-related item you own?
X-Men #1 circa 1963. I bought it with all the money I had made one summer mowing yards.
What artist or writers not involved with Artist Alley should be getting more attention? What’s your favorite work of theirs?
I’m pretty sure this answer would change after every visit to my local comic book store. Currently, I’d have to go with Jeff Parker and Evan Shaner on Flash Gordon. That book is firing on all cylinders!
Single best comic book you ever read. Not story. Not arc. Comic. Name it.
Dark Knight Returns #4
Tell us something about you and your work that we haven’t covered.
I was supposed to be one of the original artists on the Firefly comic from Dark Horse Comics. I’m talking about before the show even originally aired on Fox. They wanted me to illustrate a few pieces to showcase my work, but they didn’t have a script or single image from the show. Basically, it was described as “Cowgirls in Space”. That’s all I had to go on at the time. Ultimately, it fell through, but still a great memory.