Manifest Destiny debuts tomorrow (preview here) and to mark the occasion we conducted an interview with the man behind the pencil: Matt Roberts! If you think about it, Matt is actually one of the Skybounders with the longest history, having worked with Robert ALLLLL the way back in the Battle Pope days. We’re beyond excited that he’s drawing for us again and his skills are on a whole new level. Manifest is gorgeous. Here’s our brief interview with the super amazing Matthew Roberts:
What’s the most interesting or exciting part about illustrating Manifest Destiny?
Aside from the Monsters themselves it’s fun bending the rest of the world around them. Like, if we have huge monsters roaming about, what would a fort have to look like in order to be a safe refuge and not be made of steel and concrete? Figuring that stuff out is fun.
How did you start the design process for some of the stranger creature in this book, like the buffalotaur?
Lots of anatomy reference. Looking at bull anatomy and smashing a human torso between it’s neck and shoulders. Then having fun with hair styles.
Are there any particular challenges you’ve encountered working on Manifest (time period fashions and weapons for example)?
I bought a whole book on Corps of Discovery fashion and equipment. It was cool to learn how put together they probably were at the beginning of the journey. Military issued clothing for most things. Not a lot of raccoon hats and tasseled buckskins at the start (although I couldn’t resist tossing a few of those things in). We’ll meet a few characters soon that aren’t so put together and as the journey continues things will start to roughen up. Also – there are a lot of weird little parts to a flintlock gun.
How has it been working with Chris Dingess?
Chris has been fantastic. He’s let me kind of do my thing and is always supportive of how I interpret his script. On the few occasions were I’ve asked to bend the scene details a bit one way or the other he’s been very trusting. I think we both have a similar take on the material – honoring the time and place of the story, but allowing things to go off the rails when the big monsters show up.
Do you have any specific design inspirations you drew on for Manifest Destiny?
Although a lot of the action so far is on land, they’re traveling by boat. Chris mentioned Master and Commander during one of our initial conversations and that’s always stuck in my head. That and old Disney frontier, folk hero films. Davey Crockett on a boat. Aside from that it’s mostly just the reference material I find. I found out that some of the French frontier forts had vertical log houses. That complicated my life for a bit.
Who’s art are you really enjoying these days?
My 1st comic crushes were Art Adams and Mike Mignola and they still continue to blow me away. Matteo Scalera can make a speck of dust look like it’s going to jump through the page at you. Ryan Ottley, Cory Walker, Craig Thompson, Becky Cloonan…so much unique talent drawing their asses off these days.
Are we treating you OK at Skybound?
Is this a trick question? Everyone’s been fantastic. No kidding.
Matt is on Twitter at Shinolahead!