Tea Time? More like rambling lunatics at 2am. Tony Poulson is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, and a really good illustrator, too. He was kind enough to talk with me last night about his work, movies, and the creative process.
Hey, Tony! Thanks so much for taking a few minutes to chat with me tonight! I know you have a lot on your plate with Comic Con coming up, and your show at Watchtower starting in a couple of days…
Thanks for asking. Truly. I always tell Jimmy (one of my co-panelists on the Geekshow Podcast) when I see him (which is often recently) that GEEKSHOW is definitely fuel for creativity. Fun as shit and honestly like my younger years with my friends chit chatting about geek stuff (sadly mostly all those friends “like” the same stuff, but aren’t as entrenched like I am).
You have a show starting at Watchtower Cafe this week, why don’t we start with what you do artwise for the people who aren’t familiar with you yet?
Since getting into Comic Con 3+ years ago I created a series called Hand Over the Hero. I take classic and current characters and literally draw them being handed over by their friends, counterpart, etc. It was an accidental idea from a greeting card I created for my wife ages ago. She’d always joke about wanting to take a kitty with us on a date (back then we only had one, Gypsy, and now we have a stampeding herd…for realz). I drew a confused cat being handed over and said “here, take your damn cat” on the inside. The card sat on a shelf for 4 years before I turned the same concept into this series.
Working on this tonight after my conversation with Cori and Mike (at Watchtower Coffee)
Is that El?
Nice! I love it!
Thanks! Gotta add the waffle.
You work primarily with markers, and I envy that. Markers can be unforgiving… What is your process like? Are you the “concept, execute” type, or do you have 50 plates spinning at the same time?
I love the process of laying down some color and moving on. Don’t get me wrong I dick up here and there and even get the dread bleed through onto other colors, but you work with it and you get good at covering up. I started with Markers in high school and honestly don’t recall why I picked them out of everything in the art store (insert awesome story here about rescuing a princess from utter death and her bestowing a set of the kingdom’s finest art supplies here).
Well, now that I think of it, Kat Martin and I used the most intoxicating markers in high school when we drew the school’s massive weekly calendar during my term as a student body artist. Yep, that was it. Markers were also easy to transport and “setup” anywhere I could carry my bag of supplies (unless you ask the TSA in Denver who had to shut down their screeners and call every available supervisor to check my suspicious bag of art supplies after Denver Comic Con…I mean it only looked like a homemade bomb the way i stack my paper and markers). I also love pairing them with Prismacolor pencils and a few highlight pens to give the whites the POP they need. And yes, I have an ungodly amount of projects going on at the same time.
I’ve always loved the way you sling color. One of the first things I saw of yours was some Star Wars art you did, with Yoda at a bar. It was so elegant, yet simple, yet intricate… That can be really hard to pull off!
I see your dad helping you out at your booth during shows. Who’s the better salesman?
Him for sure. He’s the life of the Con. 73 years old and the man will stand for 3 days straight, never complain, and talk to anyone and everyone. It’s so fun to be with him selling something… he’s been my #1 fan of for all these years. I used to go to trade shows with him so it’s cool to see it come full circle
I call this the “Gwen Stacy” question: All of your art is being dangled over the George Washington Bridge, and you can only save ONE piece. Which one is it?
MY art or what we own in our collection?
I’d say I’d save my Silvia Ji Original piece because it was the real first art piece I purchased and as far as my own work – GRAB THE HARD DRIVE – I don’t know what to save. I’d say I’d pick my piece from that Star Wars show you actually had at Frisch – it was my first group show, the first time I cut out and mounted my art, and it’s C-3PO and R2 being denied at the Star Bar because of the oldest rule in the book “no shirt, no shoes, no droids, no service.”
I was really blown away by them (the Star Wars pieces). I almost bought them about a thousand times!
Thanks for sharing the Eleven sketch with us! Stranger Things was awesome, and a great throw-back to some classic movie moments. What is you favorite classic horror or sci-fi movie? (at this point, Tony says “waffle is go” and posts this pic:
Now that is hard to pinpoint – but, not so much sci-fi, but Big Trouble in Little China is one of my all-time movies. Netflix suggests I watch it since recently viewing from the night before. No joke.
OH MY GODS. I adore that movie more than both of my kids. I love that Jack Burton is actually the idiot sidekick. It’s my favorite Carpenter movie.
I recall you loving that film. Also, Swamp Thing. I remember watching that on TV in my parents house back in the 80’s and remembering how disturbing it was when everyone starts to turn into crazy creatures. Practical effects still make me all giggly inside because it’s fucking real!!! Bubbling skin is literally bubbling skin (well make-up skin), but still!!
Who are your favorite illustrators working today?
Jake is so good! I fanboy so hard whenever I see his stuff. I really love the Society of Visual Storytelling site, he does a lot of great classes on there.
I can truly say I pay $15/month and have only watched 1 class. wtf is wrong with me???
I have a subscription, too. I was about an hour into the comic book class, and Jake says “you’ll learn a lot from just drawing, too.” and I was gone. Still pay the sub, because I know I’m going to dive back in head first when I run out of steam on these 15 projects.
Thanks for talking with me about your work, Tony! Other than the Watchtower show, where can people check out your art?
Instagram will give you the live stream @thetonus and my site has most of my current work for sale thetonus.com. I also have apparel available at thetonus.threadless.com and that is always a work in progress to get the right print on the right product.
Seriously, Tony! Thanks so much for talking with me tonight. Have a good one!
Hold on one sec…
whatcha think?? (final pencils for El drawing pop up on screen)
Hahaha! That is so great!
Suddenly, Tony and I both realize that Art Drop Day is two weeks away and panic. Well, I panicked. I think Tony kept drawing and fired up Big Trouble in Little China again!
Tony Poulson’s Hand Over the Hero series can be seen at Watchtower Cafe’s Gallery of Rogues (1588s State Street) from August 19th through September 9th!