Vic Malhotra is cunning man. He tackles his comic work with the stories interest in mind, not yours. He understands that pacing and reworking panels are key to storytelling. Like a master of his craft, Vic puts in the extra effort to make sure each panel is the way the story wants it to be. I got a chance to steal a few of hours from Vic’s life and we got to talking about griffins (don’t ask) and his work process.
Victor Ochoa: Lets get to the basics. Tell us a little about you and your background (age, location, school/work).
Vic Malhotra: Okay, well I’m a Canadian comic artist. I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, a city with amazing summers and long cold winters. This lends itself well to staying in and sketching and spending time at the art board. I spend most of my days working various marketing and advertising jobs and my evenings working through the many comic projects I have going on.
VO: Sounds like a good set up. What projects are you currently working on?
VM: It’s a tiring set up… but one that I consider as “paying my dues.” Lately I’ve been taking on lots of projects. Mostly just to push myself to do more work and get in the habit of not cherishing any page I complete. It also keeps me on the edge of completely failing, which I find invigorating…I think! I have a few pitches in the works. One with up and coming writer Jeremy Holt called Sleepwalker. This ones coming up really quick… We’ll be presenting it around in a few weeks at Fan-Expo Canada and I think it has a great chance at getting out there! Another pitch/long-term project I’m working on is called Fort Ripley and the Gangsters of Kalamazoo. That’s with my Muttnik collaborator Richard Carbonneau. Richard is a really profound and smart guy… the story is a lot like him actually… think Hellboy with a Lovecraftian twist. Finally I have a few short stories for anthology’s in the works. Muttnik is one of those. There are other projects (bigger and smaller) that I’m in discussions with people about as well at the moment.
VO: Yeah it’s always good to keep busy and staying in the habit of creating. And good luck with those pitches! I won’t ask too much about Muttnik since we interviewed Richard a few weeks ago. People can check that interview out here. As someone who does their own stories along with working with others, do you find the way you attack projects to vary?
VM: A bit, but it always boils down to how the story will play out on the page. For Muttnik, I wrote down panel descriptions for each page, main beats, and few pieces of dialogue and then sent it to Richard to flesh out. I think it gave him some insight into my process. Whether it’s my own idea or a script from a writer, it’s always very visual for me. “How will this play out in panels?” “What’s the pacing?” “Where will the reader feel the impact or emotion we’re trying to get across?”
VO: So is that your usual routine? Drawing outlines and going on from there? What comes after that?
VM: Once I have a completed script, it’s all about layouts and planning each panel. I spend so much time at that stage, revising, and trying different options, viewpoints, and angles, that it makes the rest of the process go much quicker (usually!). The work I put in at that stage saves me a ton of work when I actually go in and pencil and ink the page.
VO: Cool. Yeah it’s always interesting to see what areas creators spend more time on. And what are your tools of the trade? Do you do everything manually or digitally?
VM: I do all my work other than colouring, manually. Regular wood pencil or mechanical pencil…. Lately, I’ve been using a larger pencil holder with thick 3.15 MM lead. My inking tools are all over the place. I use Winsor Newton Series 7 brushes sizes 2 and 3, a Pental Colour Brush in black, Various nibs, markers, and some large brushes for dry brush… And whiteout/white paint, don’t forget that!
VM: Oh man, my work area is super messy! Brushes, ink, markers, and pencils all over the place. Sketches for all sorts of things, thumbnails, scripts, pages laying everywhere. Organization is something I need to address in the next little while. I definitely listen to music while I draw… either through my headphones or just straight from the laptop if I have it handy. A big mix that swings from Cab Calloway to Justice to Nas to Lil Wayne. All over the place. I also like listening to soundtracks to get my head into a specific scene or feeling.
VO: And who/what are your influences?
VM: It always comes back to the artists I like to call the masters of ink. Noel Sickles, Alex Toth, Austin Briggs, Jorge Zaffino, David Mazzucchelli, Bill Sienkiewicz, John Paul Leon, Mike Mignola. The way they make marks on the page is something special and something I strive for as well. It doesn’t hurt that these same artists are master storytellers as well! Often times ignoring the flashy shot for the best possible shot and in the process ended up making some timeless and iconic work. I also love that each of these artists works/worked with an individualistic line. Something with personality and often times shaky…Slick inking has never really done anything for me. I mean, it takes a ton of talent to work that way too, but it’s just not my cup of tea.
VO: Yeah, anytime I try to ink with a brush my hand shakes. So is that the appeal that keeps you away from digital inking? I know there isn’t a command + z function in real life so I guess the mistakes and the whiting out creates a strong relationship with you, the tools, and art.
VM: That’s pretty much it. It’s also easier to sketch on scrap pieces of paper at work, in meetings, in the car, etc… There are certain ways I hold pencils/markers/brushes that give a different type of line. I don’t think I could emulate that with a digital setup.
VO: Cool. And if you could tackle any book or comic property, what would it be?
VM: Hmmm, that’s tough to say. I really think creator owned comics are the best ones out currently. What’s better than owning what you work on, right? Nonetheless, I’d kill to draw Batman, Iron Fist, Punisher, Hellboy, and so many others I can’t even think of right now. Stories with large moments and quiet moments.
VO: I think that’s all I have on my list of questions. Do you have any last words?
VM: Last words eh? Check out my work and the work of the creators I mentioned. If you’re an artist, take your time working out the storytelling before moving onto the actual “drawing”. If you’re a writer, think about how the scenes you write will play out on the page. Pacing is important. Pick your moments. For the readers, pick up the NOBODIES anthology in October and beyond, and to you, Victor, I really like your name dude!
VO: Amen to that! Oh, and if you could be one mystical animal what would it be?
VM: In a million years humans might be mystical animals! To answer your question, probably a griffin. Not sure why, maybe because they would be awesome to draw…yes I’d do a self portrait.
VO: Haha awesome. Thanks!
You can check out Vic’s site out along with other projects/people he’s associated with below: