Comics are no stranger to fiction – but some things stretch the imagination more than others. Although Mike Mignola’s Hellboy stories stretch the imagination every issue, probably the most eye-opening story yet is the amazing talented new artist on B.P.R.D. that happens to have never done a published comic before.
But its true.
Discovered while Mignola was walking through artist’s alley at a convention, artist Tyler Crook has been tapped to follow-up Guy Davis as illustrator for the long-running paranormal series B.P.R.D.. Crook, who comes from a steady career in video games, has already completed a graphic novel called Petrograd for Oni, but his upcoming work on B.P.R.D. is on schedule to start hitting shelves before the Oni OGN will be released in August.
With this whirlwind story still sinking in for readers and the artist himself, Newsarama talked with the San Diego-based artist about trading in video games for B.P.R.D and how genuinely excited he is to be doing it.
Newsarama: This sounds like a real whirlwind of a job, Tyler. Can you tell us how Dark Horse got in touch with you and how this developed?
Tyler Crook: I had been talking to Mike Mignola a little bit since I met him at Long Beach Comic-Con. Mostly just to keep in touch for when our schedules lined up and we could work together. Mike seemed to really like my stuff and I was pretty confident that I would get to work with him and John Arcudi eventually. As soon as I was contacted by Scott Allie, our editor, it all came together really fast. The whole thing didn't really develop per se, it kind of just dropped instantly into my lap. I can't help but feel that there was a lot of good luck involved on my part.
Nrama: This must all be coming pretty quick for you – your first major comics work, Petrograd, is set for release from Oni this August and now this. What has it been like for you?
Crook: It's been awesome and scary. I figured that Petrograd would come out then I would pick up a few fill-in issues and I'd do a few more graphic novels. After a few years of that I might start to get jobs that would allow me to quit the day job. So right now I'm 4 or 5 years ahead of schedule.
Nrama: I heard that you quit your day job working at a video game company once you got the B.P.R.D. offer. Is that true?
Crook: Yeah. I had a pretty sweet job working on a game called MLB The Show. I think its the first game I ever worked on that was actually good. They are a really good team and I'm going to miss seeing my buddies every day. But as much as I like making video games, I've never loved it like I love comics. And there's no way I can draw a monthly comic and work a full-time job at the same time. So that was that.
Nrama: Over on your website you have some great comics you wrote yourself. Will you be able to continue to work outside B.P.R.D. while doing the series?
Crook: I'm going to focus completely on B.P.R.D. for the time being. I might get back to some of my own stuff in a while. Right now I'm way too excited about B.P.R.D. to be able to work on anything else. I am hoping I'll find some time to do a little bit of painting though.
Nrama: You know, a painted B.P.R.D. cover would be something special.
Anyway, have you started working on the next B.P.R.D. series yet?
Crook: Yeah, I started drawing pages last week.
Nrama: Once you got in talks to do the project, did you start buying up every piece of Hellboy and B.P.R.D. material you could?
Crook: I had a bunch of the trades already. And as soon as it looked like I'd be doing this I got a box in the mail with all the books I was missing. I don't know if I can properly express the awesomeness of getting a box of great comics delivered to your door. I've started watching the movies again and the cartoons a bit too - but that's mostly just for fun.
Nrama: Although all comics are art, it seems like the “Hellboy-verse” titles are especially so. Mike’s an artist writing for you, and Dark Horse has always gotten a great pedigree of talent on these books. What’s it been like joining that company?
Nrama: It's pretty crazy. Mike is one of my favorite artists. Every time he says something nice about my work I still pee my pants just a little. And John is amazing! He has a knack for writing exactly what I want to read. It can be a little intimidating sometimes. I have to keep reminding myself that they know what they are doing and that they asked me to join the team for a reason.
Nrama: What kind of conversations have you had with Mike and John about B.P.R.D.?
Crook: Oh, man! We set this all up so fast that we haven't had too many super deep conversations about B.P.R.D.. It's pretty much been Mike, John and Scott getting me up to speed on where we are generally going with the story and how the characters will change, grow, and deal with the whole Hell on Earth situation.
Nrama: What was your process like sketching the B.P.R.D. characters and getting a handle on them?
Crook: That's been a pretty fun process. Guy put such a strong stamp on these characters that it's really hard to tell where the characters end and Guy's style begins. Guy is the only person in the world who can draw that kind of awesome. So I haven't been too concerned with trying to match his style. What I've been doing is finding ways to express the stuff that is fundamental to a character in my own style. Luckily, I have Mike to help me figure out what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong.
Nrama: Do you have a favorite character to draw yet in the book – and is there anything unexpectedly challenging you’ve found once you started the project?
Crook: What makes a character fun to draw for me is their personality. I really like Liz because she has so much going on inside her that its really interesting to try and bring that out. Johann is fun too because he doesn't have a face and somehow that makes everything he does seem a little bit funny to me. I'm not sure why. Panya is super fun because old, wrinkly people are just more interesting to look at. In the end though, I like drawing everything and everyone. It makes it hard to pick a favorite.
So far work has gone really smooth. Nothing has been unexpected really. But the challenge is always the same: to do the best work I can and to get better at what I do. I really want everything I work on to be the best thing I have ever done.