Kevin Colden has written, drawn, colored, and lettered all sorts of comics over the last decade including Fishtown, I Rule the Night, Yours Truly Jack the Ripper (with writers Joe R. Lansdale and John L. Lansdale), and helped IDW Publishing relaunch James O’Barr’s The Crow in 2012 with writer John Shirley. His most recent work includes a digital one-shot adaptation of Robert Bloch’s Pumpkin with writer Steve Niles and colors for Dynamite’s GRIMM digital series, as well as his own upcoming series Ἀντιόχεια (Antioch). He lives in New York with his wife and their three-year-old son/personal assistant.
What made you decide to work in the medium of comics?
Comics have been a part of my life since I can remember, and until I was about twelve or thirteen years old, the only thing I wanted to do for a living when I grew up was write and draw comics. When I was a teenager I got very serious about music and theater, but I came back to comics when I decided not to pursue acting. My reasoning was that if I went to school for visual art I could always find work as a graphic designer if nothing else, but if I went to school for acting I would end up working as waiter or a clown at children’s birthday parties or something like that. I also hate auditioning, so I picked the fallback career that I liked more. As it turns out, that was a good idea, because it took me about eight years after graduating to be able to make any kind of living wage from comics. The reason why I picked comics as opposed to illustration, animation or design work probably comes from the fact that I like writing and telling stories as much as I like drawing. What I love most is when I’m able able to craft a complete piece of work from beginning to end and have people engage with it directly from me to them, with as little as possible in between. You can’t really do that with film or animation because there are so many other people involved. You can’t even do that with most comics if you want to make a living. So I guess it’s a little bit of an ego thing after having tried a few other disciplines that were more collaborative.
What part of the process is the most challenging or frustrating to you?
From a creative standpoint, I find the amount of time involved in drawing to be very frustrating. For a long time I was known as a guy who could do good work really fast, but that was mainly because I’m a little impatient, possibly a little ADHD. Nowadays I take a lot more time with the work, but it can be excruciating to realize that it’s taken me a month to do ten pages – until I realize that I’m doing full grayscale hatching and coloring it as well. Still it’s hard to accept that the reader is only going to spend a minute with a page that took three days to create. From a business standpoint, I’m not a huge fan of the standard business model as a creator in American comics. I’ve never really been all that keen to follow instructions, because no one has ever done anything creatively interesting by following the rules. I like to know those rules, for sure, but – as an example – if I’m making my own comic and need to promote it, where is the money coming from to go to six or seven conventions a year? Breaking even at a con is nearly impossible even if you’re very popular or are able to charge a lot for sketches. That’s not sound business to my eyes. So I prefer to find fun ways to work outside the system and then let everyone else run to where lightning just struck.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring comics creator, what would that be?
Spend a lot of time trying different genres and styles, and when you find something you love and that you’re good at, focus on it. If you start hating it, start all over again.