AP: First, ALL PULP is tickled pulp to have you here today, Kelly. Can you share with us a bit of personal background about yourself?
KE: Well I grew up in southern Ontario, Canada where I was feed a steady supply of monster movies, comic books and pocket novels.I went to college in London Ontario where I graduated with a diploma in Fine Arts. Shortly after that I meet my wife Michelle and we decided to take a road trip across Canada in 1995. I fell in love with the mountains on the west coast so we ended up settling in Vancouver, British Columbia where I try to make a modest living as a freelance artist working for a variety of clients producing book illustrations, storyboards and concept drawings for the film industry. I also work on my own comic books and paintings.
AP: You’re an artist, some would even say a pulp artist. What sort of work have you done in the pulp field art wise?
KE: I’ve done a cover for Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ The Eternal Savage quite a few years ago and some illustrations in various pulp related fanzines. Currently I’ve been illustrating some books for Airship 27/Cornerstone books. The books available so far are “Dan Fowler G-Man” and “Tales of the Bagman”. Both can be found on the Airship 27 website – http://www.gopulp.info/
AP: Pulp Artist. Do you think there is something that sets a pulp artist apart from an artist in other, perhaps more traditional fields? Is being a pulp artist different somehow?
KE: I guess pulp art would fall under the illustration category. The definition of what work is considered ‘illustration’ and what is considered ‘fine art’ has always been up for debate. For me the only difference between them is, illustration artwork is done for a specific purpose usually with a commercial application while fine art is done with no real purpose other than the artists desire to do the piece of work for themselves. Of course the definition isn’t really that simple, I could go on all day about this. While every artist’s main goal is to catch the viewer’s eye and pull them into their world, it is an even more critical part of an illustrator’s job. You want the casual browser walking by to stop in their tracks. If you look at the old pulp covers from the 1930s and 40s you can imagine what an awesome field of bright colours the old news stands must have been. All designed to attract the attention of anyone strolling by.
AP: Do you have a certain technique or approach to pulp art? Do you do anything special to get in the right frame of mind to do a pulp piece? What process do you go through in getting ready to complete a pulp piece?
KE: Every piece of work is a little different. I guess there is always some outside stimulation that influences any piece of work I do. It may come from a book I’m reading or a movie I’ve watched, a conversation, going for a walk, anything can spark ideas. However the pulp artwork is usually done for a specific project so I just read the stories and other material that the publisher sends to me. I usually get a copy of the manuscript from the editor with notes detailing where they need a drawing. I skim through the stories to get a feeling for the writing style, every writer is different so I try and tailor my work to best compliment the story. I start off with some quick sketches and I jot down a lot of notes for anything I need to reference. Most pulp stories take place in a specific time period and location so I always need to find reference for old cars, clothes, buildings and so on. Google images is great for this, I used to have to make many trips to the library for reference. Once I have a good rough sketch done and I’ve worked out the composition and black and white areas I start in on the full piece. Sometimes I do a lot of the rough work on the paper or board I do the completed drawing on especially if I want to keep the piece loose and energetic. If I do too many roughs the final piece usually ends up being to stiff and you can lose interest in it pretty quick. I also like listening to old radio shows while drawing, they can really get the brain juices flowing particularly with the pulp stuff.
AP: Any characters you haven’t worked with yet that you would give your pen and ink to put your signature on art wise?
KE: There are quite a few. Any of the jungle adventure characters would be great to work on since I love the jungle genre. I’d also like to work on some of the horror pulps, another favorite genre of mine. And characters like The Shadow, Domino Lady, The Spider, and The Black Bat would be a lot of fun. And being Canadian, it would be great to work on a Royal Canadian Mounted Police pulp as well.
AP: Why is art tied to pulp at all? Of course there were the great covers and illustrations of the past, but it seems that there’s more to the relationship between words and pictures for pulp than just past association. What do you think?
KE: Aside from the fact that the covers were designed to attract as much attention as possible, I think the illustrations where present to really add to the story telling. Pulp yarns are fast paced white knuckled thrill rides with little room for long descriptive prose. Pulp writers didn’t waste a lot time on describing each character or setting in complete detail, they chose their words carefully and got right to the meat of the story. The illustrations add those extra details the reader needs and they can get them with a quick glance while racing through a tale and never slowing down. A picture’s worth a thousand words after all.
AP: Any pulp type art in the coming days, weeks, and months you want to discuss?
KE: I’ll be starting another project with Airship 27, unfortunately I can’t discuss the details yet but it’s one of the things on my list I’ve been itching to work on. I’m also working on some other great pulp style comic book projects of my own, Jungle Tales and Trilogy of Terror with my wife Michelle who writes all the horrific yarns. And a comic I’ve been working on with my friend and fellow artist Robin Thompson called Frenzy Comics, an anthology of terrifying shark stories. You can always visit my website to see what’s new – http://members.shaw.ca/kelticstudios/Keltic_Studios.htm
AP: That’s great, it’s been awesome to visit with you, Kelly.