10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – Sam Tung

We continue our interview series with members of The Gathering and GrayHaven Comics. We’ve put out the same questions to numerous individuals and can compare their responses. A hopefully intriguing interview series.

Check out our previous interviews.

George Amaru Doug Hahner James O’Callaghan
Elena Andrews Erica J. Heflin Chris Page
Arcadio Bolaños Travis M. Holyfield Amanda Rachels
Marc Deschamps Marc Lombardi Jason Snyder
Andrew Goletz Glenn Matchett

Up next is artist Sam Tung.

Graphic Policy: How did you get started in the comic book industry?

Sam Tung: My first published comics work was actually in the first issue of The Gathering!  I’d done some self-published comics in college, and some other freelance illustration and poster work before that.  They’re floating around online if anyone is curious.

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

ST: Absolutely — I grew up on a healthy diet of Calvin and Hobbes and Amazing Spider-Man and never stopped.

GP: Do you read comics now? If so, what are some of your current picks?

ST: I do, as much as I can find the time.  I don’t read much cape stuff any more, though I really like Bendis and Pichelli’s Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.  I really love Blacksad, and I’ve been really into Claire Wendling’s art lately.  Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples is rocking my world.

GP: How did you get involved with The Gathering?

ST: I was a member on the Jinxworld boards, and I guess at some point I posted some art there.  Andrew saw it and reached out to me when they were putting together their first anthology.  I was fresh out of college and eager for any opportunity to draw, and it sounded like a really cool project.  I’m so glad I jumped on board and have been fortunate enough to work on a number of projects with them.

GP: Each issue of The Gathering has a theme, how did that factor into the comic creation?

ST: I think I give a higher degree of fidelity to the script, and hope that it all fits in with the overall theme.  I seem to get put on the “horror” stories — I’m not sure what that says about my art!  But I try to tell the story in the script as clearly as possible, and put a lot of thought into concept design.  In my second story, with Evan Valentine, we told a story about the monotony of working in Hell.  I tried to play up the dreadful, unending conveyor belts of work the demons had to do, and the Devil’s creepily cheery, used car salesman-type attitude.

GP: What advice would you give to independent creators just breaking into the business?

ST: My advice would be two-prong: one, draw until your fingers bleed.  To get your art up to professional quality, you’ve got to not only know your anatomy, perspective, and form drawing, but also design, composition and acting.  There are a lot of great resources out there, both print and online, for aspiring artists.  I would recommend picking up The Five C’s of Cinemetography to learn about storytelling and composition, and The Skillful Huntsman to get your design gears turning.  Sketching: The Basics by Steur and Eisen is great if you’re a beginning artist.  James Gurney’s Color and Light for the Realist Painter is also really informative.  A number of DreamWorks storyboard artists have blogs and they’re fantastic resources for visual storytelling.

Second, you’ve got to network.  If you’re the world’s greatest comic book artist but your pages are all in a desk drawer, you’re doing it wrong.  Hustling isn’t always fun but it’s absolutely necessary.  Fortunately, it’s easier now than ever, between Jinxworld and Deviantart and other online places to show off your work.  However, if you want to not only work in comics, but animation or concept art, I would really recommend moving to Los Angeles or New York so you can meet people and get in on “the scene.”

tl;dr work hard, be nice to people and things will happen..

GP: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned through your experiences?

ST: Wow, just one lesson?  I feel like I’m still learning so much about drawing, storytelling, and the industry!  I think my best advice is to go out and make something.  This means finishing a project — even if it’s only a five or ten page story that you write and draw entirely on your own.  Finishing a project, small or large, is satisfying and invaluably educational for the next, larger project.

GP: Do you think it’s easier today for creators to get published?

ST: Definitely — the last ten to fifteen years have seen an explosion in independent comics.  It was really only very recently that comics stopped being such a superhero-driven medium.  Now, Scott Pilgrim from Oni Press gets a huge movie deal and Walking Dead is a smash hit on AMC.  There’s a lot of great stuff being done online, too — the guys at Penny Arcade seem to do pretty well for themselves.  There are a lot more ways to get noticed, and niche comics to find a fanbase.

GP: How do you think technology like social networking or crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter are impacting comic book publishing?

ST: To an extent, I think this remains to be seen.  People are definitely getting money to produce their own comics projects, but I’m not sure what the larger result is.  Are any of these smaller, self-published books leading to larger visibility for the creator?  Or do they print their 400 copies, send them to the Kickstarter investors and go back to square zero?  I honestly haven’t looked into the “where are they now” aspect of this method of production.  Are publishers or executives in positions to produce future projects ending up with these books?  I’d be curious to learn.

GP: What can we expect from you next?

ST: Well, I work in visual effects so there will be some Hollywood movies with my name in the credits next spring and summer.  I’ll be working on a graphic novel with comedy writer Josie Campbell and colored by my cousin Anita Tung for Committed Comics called Monstersitter which we’re really excited about..  And, of course, I’m working on some projects for The Gathering — I’ll have a seven-page, full-color story in the new, regular Horror anthology and I’ll be working on a larger project as well, but it’s super top secret.

Sorry!  Lots of great new things, all of them hush-hush for the time being!  Stay tuned!!