Kevin Cannon - The High Arctic, a Dare, and 'Far Arden'
by Zack Smith
Date: 12 March 2009 Time: 12:26 PM ET
NRAMA: What were some of your historical and fictional influences?KC: Shanks the character was born during a semester I spent in London. During that trip, I jumped from the Maritime Museum to the Cutty Sark to Dulwich College, and came face-to-face with the artifacts polar explorers used during their many expeditions to the north and south poles. Ernest Shackleton's story was the most popularized and celebrated at the time, and he became a big inspiration for Shanks's look and personality. Also, as a kid growing up in Minnesota, it was hard not to be exposed to the books of Jack London and Gary Paulsen, both of whom inspire a great respect for the power and indifference of Nature. NRAMA: Have ye plans for more tales of that salty dog Shanks in the future? KC: All in me head, mate, all in me head. NRAMA: What are some of the things you're working on outside comics? KC: Zander Cannon (his brother) and I run a comics & illustration firm called Big Time Attic. These days we mostly illustrate nonfiction graphic novels like The Stuff of Life and T-Minus: The Race to the Moon. However, when we started the company nearly five years ago (with our friend Shad Petosky) we took on jobs like animating online games for Cartoon Network, and designing pizza restaurants. The most bizarre (and fun) job we've ever had is designing "Action City" -- a family fun center in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. As cartoonists, we were completely outside our element, designing nearly every square inch of this huge indoor theme park. By the end of the project we lived on site for three weeks and oversaw construction crews, painters, resin sculptors, tilers, and the like. It was extremely stressful, but a blast. NRAMA: What advice would you give people who have graphic novels they're reluctant to write or draw? KC: Two rules helped me get through Far Arden. The first rule is knowing that you have to make time for your project, because no one else will. This seems obvious, but it can be difficult (for me at least) to turn off the TV or put down a good book in order to stare at a blank page. Second is to always make sure you're writing something that you would want to read. Part of my day job is working on corporate illustration gigs where I have to think about pleasing target demographics and not offending anyone. At home, it can be hard to turn that thinking off. If you sit down to draw and you're thinking “What's hot right now?” or “What do the kids like?” or “What's Top Shelf gonna buy?” then you're wasting your time. NRAMA: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet? KC: I'd like to plug a gallery project that I'm co-curating called "Big Funny." To celebrate the life and death of the newspaper, the Big Funny team is asking cartoonists to submit an original Sunday strip in the spirit of the original Sunday strips (think Little Nemo). The best will be printed in a big fat newspaper, and original art from the submissions (as well as actual turn of the century Sunday strips) will be exhibited at Altered Esthetics gallery in Minneapolis. All the submission details are here: http://www.cartoonistconspiracy.com/bigfunny/ Take a trip to Far Arden this May from Top Shelf. The Diamond Order code for this book is: MAR094430, or you can check out the online comic at www.kevincannon.org/288hour