By day, Patrick Quinn teaches comics at the Savannah College of Art & Design's (SCAD) Atlanta campus. By night, he draws them himself.
Quinn broke into the comic book industry in the mid-1990s, working in the same books as futrue stars such as Leonard Kirk and Joe Quesada. The Atlanta-based artist bounced around to work on books for Avatar Press, WildStorm, DC Comics, and elsewhere. He's drawn Green Lantern, G.I. Joe, The Phantom, Gen13, and even Knights of the Dinner Table. Recently, Quinn drew a story in the recent Ricanstruction anthology, and his creator-owned series Cryptopia (with writer Ben Raab) has returned with a new limited series on comiXology.
Earlier this month Newsarama spoke to Quinn about his career leading SCAD's sequential art program in Atlanta, and now we turn to discuss his career drawing comics.
Newsarama: Pat, what have you been working on recently?
Patrick Quinn: I drew and colored a story (written by Raquel Reichard) in the Ricanstruction benefit anthology for Puerto Rico, Cryptopia (written by/co-owned with Ben Raab) is seeing new life and I have a few other things that I have on the drawing board.
Nrama: Your days are kept busy as Associate Chair of Sequential Art at the Savannah College of Art & Design’s Atlanta campus. How do you balance that and your own career as an artist - or can you, really?
Quinn: It’s tough, but we make it work. My wife Pilar is a big help, allowing me to spend time working on everything that needs to get done and spending plenty of time with the kids.
Then of course, there’s stuff like this that throws it all out of whack…thanks Chris!
Nrama: [Laughs] It’s what I do.
You broke into comics in the mid-1990s in the same era future stars such as Leonard Kirk and Joe Quesada. How would you describe that period for you?
Quinn: [Laughs] I think “coincidentally during the same era while other, better creators were already doing great work” is more accurate, and let’s be honest, I’m still breaking in, but thanks for the generosity!
That period was crazy. It was initially a harsh reality that I wasn’t any good at what I wanted to do (pencil)…some might argue that’s still the case… I was spending more money on xeroxing and mailing samples than I had money coming in. It was thrilling though. Every con, every trip to New York meant more feedback, more headway. Meeting other people trying to break in made it easier to go to cons and cut down on the cost of going to a con by having 12 people in a room.
What I remember most about that period was the “thrill of the chase” aspect and getting excited about every little victory whether it was my own or one of my buddies. The first Comic-Con International: San Diego I went to I was in the Marvel portfolio review line with future stars Kaare Andrews and Walden Wong, then in later years going to cons with Shawn Crystal, Nolan Woodard, and others, so that at the end of every day you’re back in the hotel room comparing notes with everyone and planning next steps.
I was very lucky early on to get to know people like Beau Smith who did a ton to help me just by introducing me to his peers or recommending me for projects.
Learning how to learn from mistakes was important then too…it still is. There were lots of frustrations too, for sure. Looking back though, as tough as it could be, I can still feel that buzz. Comics!
Nrama: Just as you graduated from SCAD, you begun to make some big breakthroughs - helping out on WildStorm's Gen13 and then doing a Image series called Cryptopia. WildStorm and Image are very different now in 2018, but what was it like then for you?
Quinn: I had done a handful of independent stuff before grad school so the Gen13 gig was my first really big break. That was right after my first quarter at SCAD and it was a kind of a stereotypical first gig – everything was on fire and at the last minute, but it was a blast. Really exciting!
That was due to pages from a miniseries I had just finished called Necrotic (available on comiXology) written by Buddy Scalera and Mike Marts who I met through hitting all the cons.
Cryptopia was almost two years later, I think, and that was thanks to Buddy introducing me to Ben. That was super exciting because it was part of the promotional pieces when the “Image Comics Introduces” line launched.
Like I said earlier, when you’re breaking-in every moment at every con, every professional contact, chasing every lead, it’s an exciting time.
Nrama: You say Gen13was your “first really big break.” What was your first big breakthrough, you feel?
Quinn: Breakthrough career-wise? Breakthrough creatively? I feel like I’m still working on both, but I know that I’m extremely fortunate to have accomplished what I have so far.
Nrama: When I first noticed you was Green Lantern #150 - A Jim Lee cover, Dale Eaglesham interiors, working with you. What was that experience like?
Quinn: That one was out of the blue and really exciting as well. I’m a big nerd so being able to draw all the Green Lanterns of Earth (at that time) in a few pages was really cool. I didn’t have any interaction with any of the other artists, except for colorist Moose Bauman who I had met at a con, it was mostly interacting with the editors, Nachie Castro and Bob Schreck, which was also exciting for me to work with well-respected editors.
Nrama: After that you seemed to start a long-term career project of yours, the Phantom. Was the Phantom a character you'd always been interested in?
Quinn: I worked on four issues of The Phantom regular series, plus a few special projects and at least one cover when Moonstone Books had the license. All thanks to Ben who was writing the book at that time. He put my name in front of the editors. I was always aware of the Phantom, but not very steeped in the lore. I had a great time learning about the character, but what was really interesting to me was learning about the way that the Phantom is viewed around the world.
Nrama: You also did a run on Devil's Due G.I. Joe. How'd that come about? And is there as much military research as I'd think there'd be for a book like that?
Quinn: I think it was John Lowe that recommended me to Mike O’Sullivan (Devil’s Due editor at that time) for another gig. After that first one was done, Mike started giving me some G.I. Joe gigs. Yes, tons of research, a lot of which was built into the script by Mike, which was amazing. He took the time to put hyper-links to all the weapons and characters in the script! It was a life-saver.
Nrama: Around this time you segued to a full-time role back at SCAD, as an instructor What drew you into teaching?
I was already a full-time teacher at another local college, so the entire time I’ve been a professor I’ve also been making comics. Once I transitioned to administration (I was an associate dean for a while) I had to cut back on freelance. Now I’m back in the classroom.
I always assumed that teaching and making comics would be my life. Sometimes the pendulum swings more in one direction, it’s tough, but again, I’m crazy lucky to be able to make comics and teach comics.
Nrama: And I bumped into you last year tabling at HeroesCon. What's that like for you, doing that with other students of yours also tabling elsewhere in a con?
Quinn: It’s great fun! It’s where I re-charge and re-connect. These days I bring my family with me to shows like Heroes and my kids always end up with the first sales at the table!! I spend a lot of time geeking out over everything I see and hear, so that part has never changed.
Nrama: What are the goals you have for drawing comics moving forward?
Quinn: I think that (almost) any gig in comics is a cool gig. So my goals are to make the most of opportunities and have fun with all of it.