Artist Eoin Marron tried to break into comic books for five years, but a short apprenticeship with Declan Shalvey has helped him push to become a full-time comics pro with some ambitious plans for the future.
Marron is currently working on a four-issue arc of BOOM! Studios' Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original which began in January, with plans for his first American convention in April and another five-issue work-for-hire project already contracted.
Newsarama spoke with Marron about his career, his art style, and how his apprenticeship with Shalvey helped him transition from being an aspiriting comic artist who moonlighted as a cleaner, printer, and barista to becoming an actual full-time comics professional.
Newsarama: Eoin, what are you working on today? What's on your drawing board?
Eoin Marron: Right now I'm inking three pages I'm doing for the Bartkira project- which is a crazy, gigantic Akira X Simpsons crossover Ryan Humphrey started online years ago. The first five volumes are finished, and the sixth, final volume that I'm contributing to is just about done.
Nrama: Your first major comics run is underway with BOOM!'s Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original. How'd you get connected for this, and what do you thing makes your work fit with this tv show-turned comic book?
Marron: I was approached by assistant editor Matthew Levine last year to try out for a creator-owned gig at BOOM! - I didn't get it, but they kept me on their radar. Months later Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original 's artist Luca Pizzari was leaving after the first arc, and recommended me to Matt as his replacement. I did some character studies plus a test page and got the gig!
As for suitability, I think I've always been attracted to grounded, realistic setting and stories. I love drawing anything with a bit of grit, rawness and character drama to it, and the Sons of Anarchy world is that to a tee.
Nrama: You're doing four issues of this, so what do you have planned next?
Marron: I'm taking a short break between sequential work to do some commissions and prep stuff in the run up to C2E2, the first of four cons I'll be tabling at this year. I also just lined up my next work-for-hire project too in the form of a five-issue miniseries at another publisher, hopefully more on that soon!
Nrama: I came to know you because you apprenticed for Declan Shalvey for the past year. What was that experience like?
Marron: This is off the record, right? Nah it was fantastic! I didn't realistically consider a career in comics until I started apprenticing with Declan, and I'm confident that I wouldn't be where I am if it wasn't for him (and Jordie!). To practice and work alongside two of the industry's most prolific, hard-working and sought-after professionals once a week for a year is the opportunity of a lifetime. A serious crash-course in learning.
Nrama: This is Declan's first time doing it official - how did he do?
Marron: Best way I can illustrate that is with the fact that I went from amateur hobbyist doing short stories on the side while working full-time in a bar to industry-standard and working full-time for an American publisher in only seven months!
I had decent drawing skills but I wasn't doing it consistently enough to really learn anything until I left my job and started the apprenticeship. Dec was especially helpful with some of the more technical aspects of comics like page sizings, how to promote yourself, portfolio preparations etc. He was also critical and honest when he needed to be, and has supported me all the way since. So not too shabby!
Nrama: You went to art school - how was this apprenticeship different?
Marron: The apprenticeship was a lot more focused than school. Couple that with me being a naive young gobsh*te at the time who didn't even know what area he wanted to work in, and it'd be safe to assume most of it went in one ear and out the other. I only really adopted a proper work ethic and attitude in the non-art related jobs I took in the years after, and was thankfully able to apply that to my craft.
Nrama: Declan tells me you do a lot of your work in the inking stages. For those not versed in comics art creation, can you tell us about your methods for that and not laying it all out in the pencilling/blueline stages?
Marron: I follow a process more or less the same as Declan's; I start with tiny, super accurate thumbnails (or layouts) where I do all the problem solving. I blow these up to A3 scale on Photoshop and lightbox them before going in with pencils. Unfortunately, my pencils are very sloppy (I draw with a heavy hand and boards are a lead hazard), so I try to just nail down the basic outlines, shapes and perspective. All the detail and rendering (textures, shadows and effects) will be done when I ink - which is the area I'm most confident in. When I'm working to a tight deadline I want to cut out as much of the secondary stuff in pencils, focus on the construction and cut straight to what the reader is actually gonna see on the page.
Nrama: So, big goals - what are they for comic books?
Marron: To be honest I didn't even think I'd be doing this even two years ago, so I haven't really though that far ahead! I'm still only finding my feet, so I'm happy to continue on work-for-hire comics for the next while, boosting my profile, earning a living and understanding more about this craft.
Nrama: Do you have a dream project (or projects) you'd like to do?
Marron: Like everyone I have a list of creators I'd love to work with at some point down the line (you'll hafta wrangle them out of me in person over a few pints), but I'd love to do a big war epic in the vein of Charley’s War or Fury: My War Gone By. I grew up on British Commando Comics when those and The Dandy and Beano were all the sequential goodness I could get a hold of, so it's been in my blood ever since! That and a pointlessly grimdark, vegan Desperate Dan reboot.