Friday, May 26, 2017
Home  >  Features  >  Mighty Artist Spotlight - J. Briscoe Allison

SWEET LULLABY

 

Meet J. Briscoe Allison. This mild-mannered Floridian is the artist on SWEET LULLABY, the assassin thriller out now from Darby Pop Publishing, and also the subject of MightyVille's newest Artist Spotlight!

 

J. Briscoe Allison

 

MightyVille: When did you first get into reading comics and what was the title that got you into the genre?

J. Briscoe Allison: I guess I was twelve when I really got into comics. It was 1992 and I was waiting to get a haircut. There was a small collectibles store next door to the family barber shop, so I went in there to kill the time, when I saw Todd McFarlane's SPAWN #1 and #2. I flipped through them and just freaked out over the art! I'd never seen anything like it, so I bought both issues and have been hooked ever since.

What are you reading these days?  Any particular comic series, characters, or writers that you are enjoying?

I'm a big re-reader. I love dissecting my favorite stories over and over as it's a great learning experience for me. There are a lot of great stories out there with art that I don't really care for, just as there are a lot of great artists working on stories that I don't care for, but sometimes, a great artist partners with a great writer and you get something really special. The most recent run that comes to mind is Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder's take on BATMAN in the 'New 52.' Those first few arcs were just amazing!

 

SWEET LULLABY #1

 

You're a graduate of the illustrious Kubert School. In general terms, what got you into drawing in the first place?  Do you remember some of the first things you drew and do you ever go back to them to see how you have progressed?

Well, according to my mother, I've been drawing since I was two. She's told me that she used to bring legal pads home from work, and that I would just fill every page with circles of various sizes. When she finally asked me what I was drawing, I told her, "Rocks." Honestly though, I can't remember when I started. It's been a life-long thing. I think, after I graduated from 'rocks,' I just started drawing everything. So, here we are a great many years later, and I've got a closet in my house that's packed with my old art. Every year or two, I go through it. It's funny how I remember a lot of those drawings being a whole lot better than they actually are. 

Do you have any advice for those interested in creating comics on how to get their ideas out there and get noticed by publishers?

Story! I know it's a lame answer, but the truth is, it's all for naught if you don't have a good story. Read books, watch films, listen to music. Stories are everywhere, and several of them have changed me as a person over the years. There's a lot of power in that. Now, it doesn't hurt to have killer art, but even the best artists in the biz can't rescue a bad story. If you have an amazing story with killer art, you absolutely WILL get noticed. That's how this industry works these days. Most of the bigger publishers don't even take submissions any more, so if you want to work in comics, just start working in comics. 

 

SWEET LULLABY INTERIOR ART

 

You're the artist on SWEET LULLABY currently, from Darby Pop Publishing, with issue #4 debuting February 13th. How did that come about?

I had been working as a graphic designer/illustrator for seventeen years, bouncing from one job to another, always working for someone else. I had wanted to work in comics that whole time, but had been told too many times that it was just too hard an industry to break into. So, three years ago, I took a leap of faith and did what I'd been told not to do so many times. I 'quit my day job.' I had written and self published a single issue of a comic called 'Botched,' so I used pages from that to fill out portfolio's on art related web-sites. For two months, I went without work. The little savings I had was almost gone and I was preparing to re-enter the work force, thinking "Well, at least I gave it a shot." That's when A.J. Scherkenbach (the creator and writer of SWEET LULLABY) found me on one of those web-sites. He pitched the story to me and I loved it! If he hadn't contacted me when he did, there's a good chance I would be sitting in an office somewhere, designing t-shirts, or web-sites or something like that, instead of making comics. I'll forever be grateful for that.

What have you most enjoyed about working on SWEET LULLABY?

The story! (funny how that keeps coming up...) Seriously, at it's heart, it's a spy story, so you're dealing with all kinds of hidden agendas and double crosses. That sort of thing is like candy to me, as an artist! The facial expressions and mannerisms that these characters require are what gets me pumped up about working every day. That, and my relationship with A.J. Since we started working together, we've become great friends and collaborators. He's a smart guy with a great story, and I feel honored that he's trusted me to help him tell it through this medium.

 

SWEET LULLABY #3

 

Describe your daily Martial Arts training routine...

Hahaha! I used to have a routine, but that's all out the window these days. I'm a night owl, so I tend to work late. I'm one of those artists that isn't always 'in the zone.' I have bad days where I can't seem to get a stick figure right, so I'll find some other way to spend my time that day. The flip side is that, when I AM in the zone, I don't dare stop. I've had times when I've drawn over thirty hours straight, so really there's no routine. Creativity has always felt like a faucet that doesn't always work, so when it's running, you just let it run.

What's been the craziest thing you've been asked to draw?

That all depends on how graphic I'm allowed to get here, haha. Early in my career as an illustrator, I was designing t-shirts, and a high school football coach requested a design for his team's up-coming home town rivalry game. He wanted me to draw a bulldog (his team's mascot) swinging a puny, scared eagle (the other team's mascot) around by the testicles. I wish I could make that kind of stuff up, but I'm not that clever.

Walk us through your journey from BOTCHED to SWEET LULLABY.

BOTCHED was a passion project for me. I missed drawing comics pretty badly since leaving The Kubert School, so to keep myself busy, I wrote BOTCHED. I worked on it at night, in my spare time for several years. I was able to self publish it digitally, and had completed most of the art for issue #2, when it just sort of fizzled. Looking back, I'm glad it did, as I feel my art has changed a lot since then, but really, it was something that I spent thousands of hours on, and didn't really make any money from, so I hung it up. That was about six months before I quit my day job, and I think I covered the rest earlier.

 

Art from BOTCHED

 

SWEET LULLABY is part of an impressive catalog of titles at Darby Pop Publishing.  How has it been working with them?

Working with Darby Pop has been fantastic! They're a great publisher that really puts a lot of care into their books. Jeff Kline and Renae Geerlings have both been instrumental in bringing this book to life in its strongest form, acting as Editors and helping us out with both the story and the art. It's been awesome!

Lullaby vs. Harley Quinn: Who Wins?

Now there's a cross-over I'd love to see happen! I've been lucky enough to have met Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner several times, and would love to have that conversation with them! For my money, Lullaby wins, hands down. Maybe I'm biased, but Lullaby's got the training to get it done.

 

HARLEY QUINN

 

Who are some of your favorite characters to draw?

I like acrobatic characters, so Spider-Man, Daredevil, and to some degree, Batman. I like drawing everything, but those characters stand out to me.

Do you currently have, or have you had, any projects outside of comics?

Too many to list here. I worked as a designer and illustrator for nearly twenty years, so I've been involved with a lot of things. When I was seventeen, I designed a logo for a pro hockey team in the WPHL called 'The Abilene Aviators.' Most recently, I did a bunch of art for Grindhouse Games' reboot of INCURSION. I've story-boarded commercials and short films, and designed thousands of t-shirts. The list goes on and on.

 

DAREDEVIL

 

You're initially from Texas, living in Florida. What's your favorite style of barbecue?

Any! I wish I was cool and had the self-control to be a vegetarian, but I'm a carnivore, through and through. The best barbecue I've ever had has been in Texas, but the sea food is better in Florida.

Anything else you would like to add or plug?

The tradepaperback of SWEET LULLABY will be available at the end of March, but it's already available for pre-order through Darby Pop Publishing, Diamond Distribution, or Amazon!  Check it out!

Thanks for your time, Mr. Allison! 

 

SWEET LULLABY #4 will be out this Monday and be sure to preorder the tradepaperback!

 

More Spotlights on MightyVille: 

SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW: Jeff Parker

MightyVille Publisher Spotlight: Aftershock Comics

Mighty Artist Spotlight: Sam Bentley

 

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