Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Four Days of Undying: DAY THREE -- THE ARTIST SPEAKS!

Viking Warrior in The Age of Undying
Art by Nick Burchard
For the past two days I've been talking about The Age of Undying, the Dungeon Crawl Classics supplement that is only available in print via this month's Mythoard box. For this project, I wanted to do something a bit different with the art. I wanted to work with Nick Burchard, a high school student who had been showing me his drawings (and comics) for years and was getting better every month. He'd done some early work for Crawljammer but he didn't want to stop there. Since the project grew out of an after-school program at the high school, it only made sense for Nick to help conceive of the visual reality of The Age of Undying. So I shared an early draft with him and told him to draw whatever inspired him. He designed the covers and drew a handful of pen-and-ink illustrations for the guts of the project.

Nick is an actor first -- he was Nathan Detroit in the fall Guys and Dolls production -- but he's a heck of an artist too. He's just getting started on his career as his days at high school wind down. I threw some questions his way so you could find out more about his connection to this little project of ours:

How did you get involved in creating RPG art?
Ever since I was young, I've always been really interested in telling stories and creating characters in any way shape or form. As I recall it, Tim Callahan the Assistant Principal of the high school I attend (editor's note: that's me!) noticed me drawing a character from DC comics (I think it was Raven from Teen Titans, but it was probably Batman. Ha! I draw Batman a lot.) And he started up a conversation with me about his knowledge of the comic book world, and we became fast friends. Later on that year. he showed me a role-playing game book titled Crawljammer, I then found out that he was the creator of it, I asked to borrow the first issue and I got one look at all of the fantastic art that these artists were able to create for this unique platform of RPGs. It was super-fascinating to me and I came in to school the next day and said to Tim, "How can I get involved in this project???"

As sort of an audition piece he had me draw a character called the "Technomancer" (basically Gandalf meets Cyborg) and the rest is history!

What RPGs have you played? What do you like about them?
Aside from Crawljammer, and being the comic book nerd that I am, I've played the DC Comics version of Dungeons & Dragons (editor's note: the Mutants & Masterminds DC RPG thing from Green Ronin). I remember having a lot of fun playing that one! I think RPGs, aside from being really entertaining, can also be a really awesome tool for writing stories -- the creator of the game as well as the artist come up with the world -- but the players get to create the story, and that's really cool to me!

Who or what inspires you as an artist?
Oh! This question is always so hard for me! Here's what I'll say, as a young artist that gets to grow up in this amazing time for art and storytelling, what doesn't inspire me? First, I'm a huge film buff, the movie Mad Max: Fury Road was a huge inspiration for me while creating the designs on some of the characters in Age of Undying. The film was so off-the-wall and bold, it can only be described as a "symphony of madness." I think readers will definitely see how that movie inspired the artwork for this one. The people that inspire me artistically are Josiah Brooks who taught me how to draw, acclaimed local cartoonist (and mentor of mine) Howard Cruse, and Tim Callahan for being another fantastic mentor to me throughout the years! I'm a huge fan of Greg Capullo, Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Alex Ross, and Charles Addams!

How would you describe your style?
I'm really interested in the quirks that make certain characters pop, and I try to add every bit of their personalities into their designs. I would categorize myself as a comic book artist -- my style tends to focus solely on what the motivations of a character are. I never really care to "just draw" a character, I want to put them in a scene or give them something to do, whether it's a massive shark-worm exploding out of the surface of a moon (Crawljammer throwback) or a confident Viking Warrior standing atop a mountain of skulls screaming after a battle. I prefer there to be purpose in my illustrations.

What are you trying to improve about yourself and your art?
At the moment, I'm trying to improve my storytelling skills...aside from the art that I do, I am an actor, so storytelling is my passion. As of late, I've been wanting to better my coloring skills, I know that in the comic book business, the penciler normally does, specifically, the pencils, the inker handles the inking, and the colorist does the colors, but I would like to learn how to do all three of those things to perfection!

What other kinds of projects would you like to work on?
I've been doing a lot more writing lately, I'm in the scripting and concept phase of creating a graphic novel series. I'll be attending the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts in
New York City in the fall, and I hope to do more artwork while I am building an acting career. I love working in the RPG industry! I want to create many more characters in my lifetime and let their stories be shared!

The Age of Undying is only available via Mythoard and subscriptions are 25% off until February 10th for new subscribers (that's the date when orders close for the month!). Use code AGEOFUNDYING at the checkout. Go to Mythoard HERE!

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