Prep Time Posse is a little different. The fact that we all love comics and its many shapes and forms is one of the reasons why we formed this little cabal of miscreants. Now my goal was to track down some of my favorite artists and get a little insight into how they go about creating the things they do. So when I first contacted Mr. Taylor and he was down to do this interview I was what the kids say, "geeked". Despite my fanboy gushing over his works Kev was super cool and urbane. The guy has a wit and style that really shows in his work, something that can't be said about a lot of artists today.
Now for all those faint of heart lets get this out in the open; KJT's books aren't for the kiddies, they're for grown folks. Some will complain that its sexist, misogynistic, and pornographic, well it could be, its what you take from it. To me his work is art plain and simple.Kev is one of my favorite artist in the medium and he's one of the best erotic artist in the business. To me he's the American equivalent to artists like Serpieri and Manara, except "rawer". So for all you "18 and overs" out there do yourself a favor when you finish reading this interview. First clean yourself off then click on over to Amazon.com and buy some the man's graphic novels and art books.
MM: I really appreciate you being able to take some time out and have a talk with the PTP blog. First I'd like to ask you to give a little personal background information/bio about yourself. Where did you grow up how did you get introduced to art?
KJT: I was born in Brooklyn but I grew up in Harlem in the Polo Grounds, right across from the Rucker basketball park. I guess I got into art and drawing from watching cartoons and picking up comic books.
MM: How and when did you decide you wanted to make comics?
KJT: In junior high school two other artist friends and I were the only wanna be comic artists in the school, so we created our own by folding sheets of typing paper in half and writing and drawing our own stories and characters, which were just rip-offs of the Marvel and DC heroes.
MM: Who are some of your favorite creators in the industry, who has influenced you?
KJT: I don't have any current favorites in comics but as far as influences in the early stages, there was Gil Kane, Barry Windsor Smith, Billy Graham and Neal Adams. Over the years I've focused on artists outside the industry, like the fantasy painters and soon I began studying European comic artists whom I have more in common with than the American artists as far as how my books look sequentially.
MM: How did you break into the industry?
KJT: While working in several animation studios I wrote and illustrated my first book "Model By Day" and sent copies around to several independent companies. After almost a year and a few "Not at this time" notices, Rip Off Press picked it up, and that was the beginning.
MM: Did you ever want to do mainstream books for the Big 2 or were you only interested in putting out creator owned titles?
KJT: Most artists that were into comics started out wanting to work on the characters of Marvel and DC mainly because it seemed an easier way to get into comics. But the talent in those companies were so inbred it led artists to finding ways of publishing themselves. Now it's the other way around, once you have a successful self published book. My books have done well, but because of the adult genre, I've never been invited to work for other publishers and that's fine by me. I like the fact that I own everything that I've ever done.
MM: I see on your site and in your art books (Foreplay and Body by Taylor) that you get a lot of commissioned work. Do you like doing these works more than your comic related stuff or are they equally enjoyable?
KJT: Commissioned work helps to pay the bills. Doing comic books and graphic novels is grinding, especially since I do everything myself. They're both gratifying in their own way but both require a different mindset.
MM: Your work is extremely erotic to say the least. Some would call it pornographic. How would you describe or classify it? Have publishers ever told you to tone it down? Do you ever find yourself doing any self-censoring?
KJT: I don't try to describe or classify my work-I'd rather leave that to everyone else. I'm an artist. Bang. Art is what the audience brings to it, what people have been taught or convinced what "art" is supposed to be. It's just too bad that nowadays skill doesn't seem to be a requirement in a lot of so called "art".
I've never been asked by anyone to tone it down-in fact, publishers and fans have been constantly asking me to "amp it up". As far as censoring myself, people expect to see hardcore sex in most of my books so there's no need for censoring. But I do have to edit the scenes in order to keep the story moving. I can't make any sense out of other adult comics that have ten or twelve pages of nothing but close ups of penetration shots. There are only so many ways you can draw a dick going into an orifice. Believe me, I've tried them all.
MM: Could you describe your creative process? How do you go about creating a commissioned piece versus you doing a Girl graphic novel? Do you use models? What are your preferred media to work in? I know from your comics and art books that you use very traditional media like markers, watercolor and inks but have you experimented with non-traditional ones like computers or programs like Photoshop or Painter?
KJT: Doing a commissioned work has its difficulties in that I have to get a story or mood across in one image-in a graphic novel I have several pages to build on in order to get a point across to move the story along. I can't describe my creative process except to say I begin knowing how I want the piece to end and I'll just have to work towards that. My creative process isn't confined within any time frame-it's a never ending dilemma. With models, I use them when I have time-they're fun to work with. I use mostly water based media in my published work, but I've experimented in just about everything. I never know what I may feel like using at any given time. At this time, I've never experimented with computer art because I have no use for it. I prefer painting with brushes as opposed to clicking and dragging. Maybe in the future, but right now I only need my computer to answer e-mails and to check out those pop-up ads for "transvestite bikini waxing" products. (Trust me, I only look. There are a lotta freaky people out there.)
MM: Your dialogue tends to be extremely real and very raw. I remember reading certain parts of Body Heat and thinking, "This guy must be black", because the dialogue seemed very authentic. I think very few writers can write convincing urban (for lack of a better term) slang and not sound contrived or completely corny. Your work sounds, feels, and reads as being very real. Do you think to non-urban readers 'get' all of the dialogue?
KJT: As a writer, you're inviting the audience into your world,
or into the world and characters that you've created. You can't really be concerned with catering to any particular audience, unless that's your main goal because if the audience is into the work long enough, they'll catch on and understand the language of the work. But I do put in phrases that even my publisher doesn't get. Like in the third volume of GIRL: The Second Coming, Jaleira says to Jill "Jilla, please." My publisher thought it was a typo until I let him know that sometimes my characters only speak in typo's.
MM: In hunting down some of your more rare books (Kama Sutra and Lust) I've noticed you seem to have a huge following in Spain and I would assume other European countries as well. You have a lot of your works reprinted under the Coleccion X and the Kiss books. How is your work embraced overseas? Do you have a bigger following in the European market? If so why do you think that's the case?
KJT: So far my work has been published in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian, not to mention some illegal magazine in Swedish. I'm currently working on other possibilities in other countries. My work does well overseas
and the fans have a different respect for it that I admire. There's not a bigger following there, but it's out in the open more than it is in the states.
MM: Tell us about your most famous, and one of my favorite characters, Girl. Is Girl/Jaleira based on a real person or an amalgam of real people? What do you find women's reaction to her tend to be? What do you find is women's reactions to your work in general?
KJT: Jaleira was initially based on a girl I saw one summer day in downtown New York. I recreated her look from memory as best I could a year later, especially her clothes, in the first pages of the first chapter of "The Girl". Over the years, her looks were altered along with my idea of her.
Women's reaction to Jaleira has been positive, once they got past Jaleira's looks and their own insecurities and focused on the stories. Women seem to like the way my female characters speak and the fact that they're in control of sexual situations, and in particular the way I depict body language and interaction. For the most part, women prefer my stories over my individual paintings and that's fine with me. I've gotten letters from guys and I've even met a few men that have told me that some of my books have gotten them laid. I'm not sure how true any of that is but, if so, it's a hell of a good reason to leave one of my books lying around.
MM: How many more Girl: The Second Coming books can we expect?
KJT: At the moment I'm working on the fourth and final volume of Second Coming. After that, I'll work on something else. Right now I'm not sure if it will be "Girl" related.
MM: Are you ever going to revisit your other characters? Will we ever see another Fang or Model by Day?
KJT: I would eventually like to revisit both FANG and MODEL BY DAY. I'm just not sure what medium it will be in.
MM:Any chances of us seeing new characters?
KJT: I have sketchbboks and notebooks full of different characters and stories that I'd like to get out there. I'll just have to decide what should come next and, more importantly, when. Hopefully, I'll have the strength to see them through, however I decide to do them.
MM: Speaking of Model by Day what was up with the TV movie from the 90's? I never saw it personally but did you have any hands on involvement with that?Any chance we'll ever see Girl or Fang move on to other media?
KJT: I had nothing to do with the Model By Day TV film except that I provided the source material. My credit was the "Based on characters created by" credit. It did pretty well when it aired and it still plays in Canada where it was filmed, so if you get any Canadian tv stations you might catch it one evening. As for any of my other characters making the leap to another form other than printed, we'll have to wait and see what happens. I'm not against it, but I'll have to have a bigger hand in it if it does happen.
MM: What do you think is the current state of the comic's industry? Has it peaked? Is it on its way out or is there still life left in it?
KJT: To be honest, I haven't been paying attention to what's been happening in the comics industry. I haven't even been in a comic book shop in well over a year now. But there are still comic book conventions advertised in some papers I read, and Hollywood seems to be going comic book crazy, so I'm sure the industry is doing well. After all, every industry has it's peaks and valleys,
like the huge decline in music sales a few years back and the lack of movie ticket sales before that, but those industries are still thriving. Why should the comic book industry be any different? Even as I write this, there's a tv commercial for the film version of Alan Moore's "V for Vendetta" . Comic books will be around for a long time.
MM:What comics are you reading these days?
MM: What advice would you give to anyone trying to break into comics?
KJT: I'm no good at giving advice, especially about getting into comics because I got where I am by navigating through a series
of unorthodox influences to learn my craft, then forgetting them and finding my own way of doing things. There are far more qualified artists and editors who like nothing more than giving advice to young artists and, from my experiences of having heard a lot of their advice, they basically like to hear themselves talk.
If you really feel the need to do comic books for a living, then find your own style and be stubborn about it. Stubbornness isn't necessarily a bad quality-it's what's kept me painting all of these years. But, if I were to have any advice for any would be comic book artist, it would be to get a real job with a steady paycheck and health benefits. You'll thank me later. (Especially if my books help you get laid.)
MM: Finally, what can fans look forward to seeing from you in the future? Any new projects? More Girl? Please feel free to pimp anything you got coming up.
KJT: All I have coming up is GIRL:The Second Coming vol. 4, hopefully by Christmas 2006. I'm also doing a lot of commissioned work and most of them will most likely end up in
a future art book. Besides that I'm trying to update my website www.blacklacestudios.com but that may take a while. I'll try to stay in contact to let you know when that's back up and running. Until then, I have to get back to work. It's only 1:16 a.m. and I'm way behind schedule. But that's normal for a comic book artist. Peace.