Talking Free Comics With Illustrator Adam Rex


Free Comic Book Day is tomorrow and one of the books up for grabs is an issue of web-series-turned-comic The Guild, with the cover illustrated by local artist/acclaimed children's book author Adam Rex. Rex will be at Heroes & Villains tomorrow (the press release is below the cut) signing the free book.

I talked to Adam about comic books, his cover, and what he's currently working on:

DG: Tell me about how this project came about.

AR: I taught at an illustration boot camp in Amherst, Massachusetts about a year ago, last summer and another faculty member happened to be Scott Allie, an editor at Dark Horse. He was already a fan of my kids books because he has a son and he was sort of excited about finding something to do with me. I was excited about that too because frankly, I'm kind of obsessed with all the Buffy the Vampire Slayer type stuff, that he publishes and writes for sometimes as well. So, I'm still angling for that. A little while back, he asked me if I'd be interested in doing the cover and he knows I don't have a lot of time, so something like a cover here and there is perfect.

DG: Have you done comic covers before?

AR: I don't think so...not really. I tried to get into that world years ago. I got my start in the 90's taking my work to the San Diego Comic Convention every year and that's how I got my earliest work for game companies like Dungeons & Dragons and Magic the Gathering. I never got into comics that much for work and I did some work in trading cards, but never a painted cover like this.

DG: Do you have a personal history with comic books?

AR: Sure, I've been reading them since I was a kid. A lot of characters in comics remain the same sort of characters that I would make time as an illustrator to do something like Spider-Man, that would be a sort of "drop everything" sort of job, so I could practically communicate directly with my own childhood doing something like that.

DG: Do you have a sense of the place of the comic book in today's pop culture/youth culture world?

AR: It's been a little surprising in the last ten years or so how much more legitimate the form has become to people outside of the industry. Before, you might have expected in the 90's that all children's librarians or parents turning their nose up at reading comics, now it's recognized as a form, not a genre. Now, the idea of a comic doesn't suggest low quality, in art or story, or of violence or misogyny or that sort of thing. People recognize that it's another way to tell a story, literally any kind of story you want. I talk to librarians all the time who are very excited about comics and the new comics for real young kids that are being published now. Plus, if you just look at pop culture as a whole, you could be forgiven for thinking that comics are pretty much driving everything.

DG: Tell me a little about your new book.

AR: I have a new novel out, largely for young readers, maybe eight and up, although I have a lot of adult readers, so I try not to set an upper limit on the intended audience. It's going to be a trilogy about a breakfast cereal company that is stealing the magic out of leprechauns, pixies, pookas and all these folk-tale characters that show up as cereal company mascots. They're stealing the magic and turning it into cereal, feeding it to unwitting children, hoping to create an army of sugar zombies and conquer the world. It has all this Arthurian influence and stuff about secret societies. I'm having a lot of fun writing it and the first volume, Cold Cereal, came out a few months ago.

Check out Adam's website for more information about his work. More information about Free Comic Book Day at Heroes & Villains is below the cut.