While checking my Twitter feed I saw the current artist of Marvel’s “Rocket Raccoon”, Skottie Young, tweet that he had just backed a really cool project and that it needed some love. After checking the link I knew immediately why an artist the likes of the amazing Skottie Young would both back and talk about backing the project. It was terrific. “Scribbles” by Kevin Merriman is a collection of art and stories told through a comic book medium. It drew me in and led me down a rabbit hole of discovery. At the bottom of that rabbit den I found a fantastic artist and I knew I had to know more.
Kevin Merriman’s work was in the popular Kickstarter funded “Reality not Included” comic book anthology. That book collected a series of amazing stories and illustrations from students studying art at BYU. Many of the artists in that book are working for animation firms like Disney and Blizzard while others, like Jake Wyatt, are working for Marvel Comics. In a, “where are they now moment”, I found out the Kevin Merriman was launching his book Scribbles but that he’d also had an amazing indie comic available called “Mariachi Dachi”. The art is wonderfully whimsical so I knew I had to talk to the creator.
I contact Kevin and he was immediately welcoming to me. We talked quickly because I knew his Kickstarter campaign was ending soon and Big Shiny Robot readers would want to know about his latest project while they could still back it. With that in mind, I decided to get a better understanding of Kevin, what inspired him, and use that to get to understand the artist behind the art.
Big Shiny Robot!: Who are your influences and how would you describe your art?
Kevin Merriman: I could make a list of people longer than this actual interview, but I’ll painfully do my best to keep it short. My BIGGEST influence is Akira Toriyama and his work from Dragon Ball and Chrono Trigger. It changed my life forever. After him it’s anybody’s game, but some that come to mind are; Josh Gainsbrough (L0cke); Corey Sutherland Lewis “The Reyyyy”; LeSean Thomas; Francisco Perez (Pac23); Jeffrey ‘CHAMBA’ Cruz; Jake Parker; The Avalanche concept art crew of Disney Interactive; and those Catfish Deluxe guys. Seriously though there are at least 5,000 other people who should be up here too.
If you could pick and choose random elements from both Western and Japanese comics/cartoons, shake them up in a bag and dump the contents into a fighting game, I think the result would accurately describe what it is that I do.
BSR!: What influenced your color choices in “Mariachi Dachi”?
KM: Mood. Whatever the main feeling in the story was on any given page, I tried to tell with colors. I also tried to have it make sense with the time of day – it starts off in the middle of the day. As the sun starts to set, colors start to get more exciting/interesting… and you get the idea.
BSR!: How much of your work is as an illustrator vs. comic book storytelling?
KM: Even in a single illustration, when I can, I try to tell a good story – but that said, I’m probably sitting on 90% illustration vs 10% comic books. Why that is, is an entirely different and much bigger subject.
BSR!: In Scribbles, your Kickstarter campaign, what kind of stories can people expect to find?
KM: The main comic story in the back is one I’m very proud of. It’s about an anti-graffiti vigilante who gets in a fight with a graffiti ninja. Other stories you’ll see glimpses of are one’s involving an organization after some guy’s beard, classic RPG characters getting their quest on, and a tengu group ordering the extermination of kunoichi’s ninja clan, to give you a few examples.
BSR!: You’re very close to funding, what have you learned from your time on Kickstarter?
KM: You are the core engine behind your kickstarter. If you don’t push it, nobody else will – and you MUST push it, EVERY. DAY. That being said, you NEED people and communities synching together or else it probably isn’t going to get pushed very far (especially if you’re not that big of a deal, like me 😉
BSR!: After Scribbles, do you have any other big projects you are planning?
KM: Absolutely. After Scribbles, I’m immediately diving back into finishing the art assets for a mobile game I designed with the help of my programmer-genius brother called “Astro Samurai.” Should be lots of fun :] I also see some big comic ventures on the horizon, but it all depends on timing, availability, and the balancing of any other opportunities (or lack there of.)
BSR!: Can local Utah people look for you at the Salt Lake City Comic Con this next month?
KM: YESSIR!! I’ll have copies of Scribbles, Mariachi-Dachi, a bunch of rad stickers, and some prints!! Find me in Artists’ Alley under the big banner that says “THEGREYNINJA” !!
“Scribbles” can be yours through the Kickstarter backer/reward plateform. For anyone reading this too late to get in on the Kickstarter, or who may be interested in “Mariachi Dachi”, you can visit his web links, buy it in print here, or check his available works out on digital retailers like ComiXology. Until then, be sure to keep in contact with him via Instagram Instagram @thegreyninja or Tumblr. He keeps up on both of his blogs located at http://thegreyninja.blogspot.com and http://kevinmerriman.blogspot.com so be sure to visit often to see more of his work. He also gives visitors a behind the scenes look at some of the “super-secret” projects he happens to be working on at any given time.