For many years the world of “B.P.R.D” has been brought to us by the award winning creative team of scribe Mike Mignola (“HELLBOY”), and illustrator Guy Davis (“BATMAN: NEVERMORE”, “HELLBLAZER”). That all changed recently as the artist parted ways with the rest of the “B.P.R.D” crew as his time with the series had come to an end with the final issue of the last arc. Enter artist Tyler Crook. The illustrator was recently announced as the newest artist to take up the task of illustrating Abe Sapien and the rest of the “B.P.R.D” crew, and last week Tyler was gracious enough to sit down and talk about working with Mike, illustrating one of the biggest macabre series running, and arm wrestling. Read on for the skinny!
THEoDEAD: “First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to sit down and do this interview with us, Tyler. We greatly appreciate it. Of course we will be getting to “B.P.R.D” shortly, but before we get into all that, how did you get started in the industry? Give us a little bit of your “origin” story so to speak.”
Tyler Crook: “Thanks, Glad to be here! I got started a few years ago when I decided that I needed to get into comics. I’d been working in the video game industry for a long time and I felt like I needed a change. Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved comics but I always came up with an excuse for not pursuing them. So I figured that I needed to give it a shot and see if I could make a go of it. I started working on my portfolio putting together some stories that I wrote myself and working from submission scripts I found online. When I figured I had a portfolio that would work, I headed out to the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland. They had a really nice portfolio review thing so I signed up. My first review was with the editor-in-chief for Oni Press, James Lucas Jones. His reaction was really positive and he said he had a few proposals on his desk that he thought I would be suited for.
He ended up sending me the pitch for “Petrograd” that Philip Gelatt was writing. It’s a historical fiction story about the assassination of Rasputin, the mad monk. I thought it was a great idea and I jumped at the chance to illustrate it. It took me a little over 2 years to draw the 250 pages. While I was working on “Petrograd” I was also going to conventions and showing my portfolio to anyone would would look at it.
So that’s kind of how I got started.”
THEoDEAD: “Recently you picked up the reigns for Guy Davis on Mike Mignola’s monthy “B.P.R.D” series. How did you get attached to the project?
Tyler Crook: “I met Mike Mignola at the Long Beach Comic Con last year. I showed him a bunch of my “Petrograd” pages and he kept saying “Wow.” So he encouraged me to keep in touch and let him know when my schedule opened up. So every couple of months I would touch bases with him. Mike showed my stuff to John Arcudi the writer of BPRD and to Scott Allie our editor and they all seemed to be excited about my stuff. I think I just lucked out by being in the right place at the right time.”
THEoDEAD: “Working on a project such as “B.P.R.D” is quite the undertaking, especially when you are filling the shoes of someone like Guy who has been so intrigual to the series’ look and feel. What was it like coming in, collaborating with Mike, and trying to bring readers this new chapter in the “B.P.R.D” lifespan?”
Tyler Crook: “Coming after a dude like Guy Davis is rough. He put such a strong stamp on the B.P.R.D. world that it’s hard to tell sometimes what parts are just Guy’s style and what parts are really part of the world. But my goal is not really to fill Guy’s shoes. I’m not going to be doing a Guy Davis impersonation. Instead, I’m trying to bring my own energy and my love of the material and see if I can bring something different and good to the world. Working with Mike and everyone else has been awesome in this regard. They’ve encouraged me to just do my thing. And I’m trying my damnedest to do it to the best of my ability.”
THEoDEAD: “B.P.R.D” is a very stylized effort, just as any other project with Mike’s name on it tends to be. How did you prepare for this project, and how did you finally settle on the look of the finished product?”
Tyler Crook: “Ha! You ask that like I had time to prepare for this! There was something like 3 weeks from the time they first asked me to take over until I started drawing pages. I think they picked me because they thought my style already fit with the world so I haven’t really had to search for a new style or anything like that. The fun part was getting up to speed with the story. I’ve been a fan of B.P.R.D. for years but there was a lot of the material that I had missed and never read. So I had to sit down and read all the trades back to back. If you haven’t done that, I recommend it. It’s a blast.”
THEoDEAD: ” Right now the characters in the “B.P.R.D” universe are going through some of the heaviest moments that readers have ever seen them deal with. Was it challenging to come into the story, at this juncture, and just sort of be thrown directly into the fire so-to-speak?”
Tyler Crook: “Being thrown right into the fire like this seemed kind of shocking but once I got started it felt remarkably comfortable. Even with the whole world going to hell these characters are great and the stuff they think and the stuff they do makes sense. As a fan of the book, I feel like I knew this world pretty well before I started. I just get to read the books a few months early now!”
THEoDEAD: “What can readers expect from this new chapter in the “B.P.R.D” universe?”
Tyler Crook: “You can expect it to be awesome. Mike and John have come up with some crazy stuff to throw at our heroes. There is going to be some new stuff that will surprise people and there is going to be some old stuff that is really going to surprise people.”
EXTRA CREDIT QUESTIONS (Three Sorta-Unrelated Questions, Just For Fun)
THEoDEAD: “Thus far, who is your favorite character to sit down and draw?”
Tyler Crook: “My favorite character to draw is Iggy Pop. But as far as the BPRD world goes it’s Panya. She’s awesome.”
THEoDEAD: “Who do you think would win in an arm-wrestling match – Hellboy or The Hulk?”
Tyler Crook: “When we engage in speculation like that we all lose.”
THEoDEAD: ” Do you think that Abe is a Dasani, or an Aquafina man?”
Tyler Crook: “I don’t think he cares. It doesn’t matter what kind of water it is, he always ends up finding a rotting corpse at the bottom anyway.”
A very special thanks to Tyler for taking the time to sit and chat with us. For those of you who would like to learn more about Tyler and his artwork, you can head on over to his official website. Also, be sure to keep a lookout for Tyler’s debut as the full-time illustrator on ‘B.P.R.D’ later this year with ‘MONSTERS’, and be sure to keep it locked here at Graphic Content as we continue to bring you more B.P.R.D coverage over the coming weeks.