If you’ve never seen Chris Giarrusso’s work then you are really missing out. In an industry that thrives on creativity, his Mini-Marvel strips and creator owned G-Man work is awesome delivering that cartoon feel like no other. With his latest Image 20th anniversary tribute covers being all the rage, it was an honor to get to sit down and have a chat with this brilliant cartoonist.
Bobby: Your unique style is not one normally seen with big companies like Marvel, how did you get your start?
Chris: When I was a kid, I used to draw because I would copy whatever my big brother was doing, and he was often drawing. We were big readers of newspaper comic strips, so we often would draw characters from those strips, and we would also try to draw our own characters. When I later graduated to reading superhero comic books, I also tried to learn how to draw in the mainstream superhero style. That sort of art was far more sophisticated and challenging than I could wrap my head around.
So I aspired to be a humor strip cartoonist, where I could cultivate my own style without adhering to established rules of drawing “realistically.” I began submitting comic strips to my college newspaper, and my style was mostly informed from the way my brother and I would draw comic strips as kids.
Bobby: How did you convince Marvel to step outside the box to let you deliver your fun Mini-Marvels?
Chris: I had several unlikely lucky breaks in rapid succession. First, I got an internship at Marvel while I was in college. Second, the editor I worked for, Kelly Corvese, offered to publish my comic strips in the letters page of a WHAT IF comic if I could come up with something he liked. So I ended up getting a few humor strips published at Marvel as an intern. Third, I got hired on staff at Marvel in the production department, so I was once again close to the action. The Bullpen Bulletins editor, Zena Tsarfin, offered me a weekly spot in the Bullpen Bulletins page, where the Mini Marvels started as the Bullpen Bits comic strip. I was very fortunate to get those opportunities.
Bobby: How did you hook up with Erik Larsen to get you’re Comic Bits published in Savage Dragon?
Chris: Erik Larsen likes to include supplementary back-up material in SAVAGE DRAGON. He’d run back-up material from Chris Eliopoulos, Don Simpson, Karl Hornell, Nick Derington, and many others. I was always a big SAVAGE DRAGON fan, and when I learned Erik liked what I was doing with Mini Marvels, I asked him if he’d be up for running a strip from me. That’s where G-Man got his start in the Comic Bits strip.
Bobby: For Image’s 20th anniversary, you have been delivering some awesome tribute covers. How did you get involved with them and do you have one that was your favorite to work on?
Chris: Over the years I’d done some commissions of Mini Marvel style cover recreations of classic Marvel Comics covers. Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson was always a fan of those pieces, and would often comment that Marvel should use them as variant covers. Then he decided that Image’s 20th anniversary would be a good reason for Image to do it instead, and I got to work. The SAVAGE DRAGON cover was my favorite to work on, as it’s my all-time favorite comic series, but they have all been a lot of fun.
Bobby: Where does your inspiration for the world of G-Man come from?
Chris: G-MAN is largely inspired by my own childhood and my friends and family growing up. It’s basically what I imagine life would have been like if everyone had superpowers.
Bobby: Your cartoon style is amazing, and has been a big inspiration for my style as well. Prior to your success, did you ever have aspirations to try and draw in a different style?
Chris: There was a period of time when I tried to draw like Jim Lee or Rob Liefeld or Todd McFarlane, but that proved way too complicated for me to ever get a grasp on.
Bobby: I know for me besides your stuff, I’ve been highly influenced by Jim Davis. Who have been your biggest influences?
Chris: Primarily my brother Dave and Charles Schulz. And everyone else on the comics page, like Jim Davis, Bill Watterson, Mort Walker, Hank Ketchum… eventually you start learning from everything you look at.
Bobby: I heard that there is a third volume of G-Man coming is there any new updates or anything you can give us on it?
Chris: Right now we’re looking at an April 2013 release.
Bobby: Do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
Chris: I draw a weekly comic called TALES FROM THE CON for emeraldcitycomicon.com, written by Brad Guigar.
Bobby: Can you tell us where fans can get their needed dose of Giarrusso art, books, or other swag?
Chris: G-MAN graphic novels volumes 1 and 2 are available through comic shops, bookstores, and amazon.com. For the latest news, check out chrisgcomics.com and find me on facebook and twitter.
Bobby: I really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. Your art is some of my personal favorite and cannot wait to see what you come up with next. I personally have studied your art for hours in hopes to improve mine and wanted to thank you for being my unknowing teacher and making me a better artist.
For more information on Chris Giarrusso and to purchase his artwork and books head over to his official site at www.chrisgcomics.com