Inspiration Lives In the Curious & Moody World of Graphic Novelist, Ross Campbell

Julie Redwood

 Artist and graphic novelist, Ross Campbell usually creates diverse and offbeat characters in unique, southern-gothic settings.

His best known work, Wet Moon, follows the lives and tales of young, edgy and unconventional women in the mythical bayou town of Wet Moon.

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 “Like a lot of artists, I started drawing when I was a kid. Although for a while in high school, I wanted to be a writer instead. I got serious about comics in college, and that was pretty much that!”

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Campbell’s series Shadow Eyes features a teen vigilante, Scout Montana, who transforms into a mysterious, blue-clawed creature, and defends her dystopian city from evil.

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According to Ross Campell on his southern gothic style, 

“It’s both intentional and an unintentional, natural progression. I think it started around when I was doing volume 2 of my series, Wet Moon. Some people confused one character for another, which woke me up to how most of my characters had similar features. After that, I started trying to consciously make my characters look different from one another, and that led me to a more cartoony style, which was kind of returning to my roots, since I did cartoony stuff when I was younger. I think now I do something like ‘cartoony realism,’ a combination of both, although my style is always changing as I get older and improve, so I’m hesitant to put any clear divisions on old and new work. It’s an ongoing evolution.”

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Campbell’s drawings normally have imperfections such as piercings, tattoos and missing limbs. He explains why.

“I’m always trying to increase the range of my characters’ appearances, but it’s something I have to actively work at, since like a lot of artists I tend to default to a certain type of character (basically Scout Montana from my comic Shadoweyes, haha) if I’m not thinking about it. It’s hard for me to come up with new faces that work in my style, since my face designs are fairly simple, without doing an exaggerated nose or something that might look silly. It’s something I’m not that great at, I’m always trying to improve. Same goes for body types. For creating characters, I usually come up with their personality and appearance simultaneously, I think of a basic type of personality I want to write and a basic type of look. Then those two things get fleshed out and developed, or change completely, as I draw the character again and again, and get a sense of who they are. For characters I’m not writing and just drawing, like when I’m working with a writer, it’s much easier because the personality part is already mostly taken care of, but I still have to figure out body language and expressions that fit into that, which usually involves things that the writer doesn’t put into the script. As for the body mods, they’re both aesthetic choices like if something fits with the design or I feel like drawing a certain thing, but of course I also take into account who the character is and what piercings or tattoos they might get, if any. It has to fit the character and what they’re into.”

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desktop-1420651144“The characters usually come first. I think of a character or two that I really want to write and draw, and then the story comes up around them. I don’t really come up with plots and then plug the characters in. For me, if the characters are strong and I’m invested in them, the story practically writes itself. For the narrative part, I start with an outline, which begins as a list of ideas and scenes all mashed together, and then I go through it and organize it over and over and sort of preening it, until it starts taking shape and then I turn it into a script. After the script comes thumbnails. I like to lay out the whole story in little sketches before I draw it, so I can see the whole thing at once and how the pages flow together and how the pacing goes. I’m pretty simple when it comes to materials, if I’m working traditionally it’s just pencil and usually brush with ink, sometimes I use pens, and digitally I use either Photoshop CS2 or Paint Tool Sai. I don’t really use anything fancy, even digitally I just use the basic tools like the Pencil Tool or whatever. I don’t know how other artists work, but I feel like my process is pretty straightforward, I don’t have any secrets or fancy tricks or anything.”

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Tell us what you think about Ross Campbell’s work, stylistically. The diversity and non-conformist take to the characters offer a refreshing view on the way the females are portrayed. Would you purchases his work? Or perhaps you already read them. Sound off in the comments below!

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