Capturing Creator Plaid Klaus-Artist For Void Trip
Plaid Klaus is the creative mind behind the art in November 22’s upcoming hallucinogenic hi jinks story, Void Trip. A couple of wild space peeps trip, both literally and figuratively, their way across the galaxy in search of Euphoria. The art is full of color and gorgeous shots, smooth lines- it’s truly wonderful. Klaus gave OG a chat today and answered my questions and with pizzazz no less! Get to know a bit more about him and find out a little info on this very cool cat in today’s interview.
Klaus, can you tell the readers a bit about the work you’ve done?
I’ve freelanced as a 3D modeler, illustrator, concept artist, designer and comic artist (my main passion). I worked a lot in games before breaking into comic books.
My personal work is really bizarre, counter-culture stuff that combines humor, challenging philosophical paradigms with some psychedelic sprinkles.
Can you tell us how you came to be involved in Void Trip and what your role has been?
Ryan and I created TURNCOAT together and realized we made a good team (it was a great fit from the start). TURNCOAT was a fun web comic that grew a large fan base, we kickstarted a printing for the book and that gave us a nice printed piece to show publishers. Now VOID TRIP is our first big creative mark in the industry.
There is a very familiar creature who helps the vagabonds out and a couple of spots that remind me of Maurice Sendak’s work (Where the Wild Things Are), he’s one of my favorite artists. Do my eyes deceive me or is his work something you’re influenced by?
That’s a wonderful children’s book; I definitely was drawn to it as a child. I think it’s one of many illustrated styles that bled into my brain and formulated my comic oeuvre. However, the older I get, the more I learn to surrender to whatever is naturally coming out creatively. There are a lot of “Easter egg” satirical caricatures I throw into my backgrounds however, especially hurried throughout TURNCOAT.
You’ve used a brilliant cyan for the cover which both makes me think of Blue Sky (the pure crystal meth on Breaking Bad) and gives that psychedelic feel. Can you tell me if there were any influences for the cover?
The color palette for the cover is meant to evoke a glowing psychedelic experience embedded in a space landscape. I wanted the characters faces to feel like a ghostly neon nebula in a mass of deep purples. I parsed a lot of galactic imagery, from the “pillars of creation” in the Eagle nebula to the rings of stellar fire.
Eventually I tweaked the colors so they felt more like spirits floating in space. There is a very intentional visual metaphor that looms over the series as each cover is revealed. I don’t want to spill the beans yet, but I’m happy to elaborate once the series is concluded.
How did you decide on the style of art used?
My personal preference is to draw in a more cartoon based style, but I needed a touch of realism to counter balance the comics levity with the more somber scenes. In general, I like to strike juggle cartoonish dark humor with serious emotional existentialism. A flexible style allows me to play up caricature in a surrealist manner and still evoke heart-break in the reader when necessary.
Now, hopefully you don’t mind, I’ll go on a bit of a rant. I have a distaste for the American comic industry’s departure from artistically driven stylistic comic worlds in favor of the realm of photo-realism. To me it was a Faustian pact made by certain producers and writers who saw the comic industry as a back door to the film industry.
Personally, I want a comic to have an artistic style; a style breaths life into the comic world. SIN CITY is Frank Millar’s city. HELLBOY lives in the Realms of Mignola. SPAWN was resurrected into the McFarlane/Capullo world. Scottie Young is the man behind the curtain of “I HATE FAIRYLAND”. The artistic style is the foundation for the entire Universe of a comic. It’s very important, and I take it very seriously.
I don’t want to read a comic that looks like flat photography for the purposes of testing out a film script. This isn’t to say images can’t look realistic and still carry life. However, there are comics drawn technically well that feel dead, and conversely comics can be drawn simplistically and be full of life. It’s all about page design, understanding the way a page operates and keeping the imagination alive on the page, free from the constrictional optics of a photo lens.
What’s your creative process to create art that vibes so well with the story?
I ingest a ton of imagery surrounding the subject matter, creating an archival database of images to have on hand. Research for a comic artist is the foundation upon which the textures and essence of their world is built. So, I first study the environments and objects by sketching in an attempt to absorb the essential elements into my psyche. This does two things.
First, when I draw the final pages, I’m recalling and formulating the forms on the page, instead of conforming the objects to a specific photo reference. Secondly, by digging through visual photo references, I’ve catalogued the essence of the world in my mind. This memory recall creates a filter in which the world becomes mine, it’s a memory of the external world but through the lens of my imagination.
Were there any sections in Void Trip you struggled with?
There is always a struggle to capture perfectly the realm in the imagination. There’s this platonic state in the mind where the story resides and grows; trying to wrangle that on the page becomes a series of evolutionary compromises.
For me, the greatest struggle comes from scenes that carry the emotional weight of the story. Those moments must be as close to their “perfect state” as possible. If you can’t connect to the reader’s emotions in those moments, the rest of the images won’t matter.
What is your favorite part of this project so far?
Getting to set almost every new scene on a new planet has been a lot of fun. Since each planet can have a completely new atmosphere, I can adapt the texture and color palette of the environment to meet the emotional requirements of the scene. It’s been a great opportunity to draw some beautiful landscapes.
Finally, my off the beaten path question: You can either have time travel or the ability to read minds, which do you choose and why?
You can do both by combining the proper meditational practices with the appropriate alchemical shamanic drug formulas. Mind reading is only beneficial if all parties are involved, otherwise you’ll find yourself sociopathically alone in a tangled web of the species internal conflicts. Time Travel seems pointless, the past is filled with Neanderthals and the future is laden with cyborgs. Being that our mortal coil is so entangled with the age were born into, I don’t know we would be psychologically prepared for other time periods.
Round about way of saying, I’m happy with the super powers I’ve already been granted in the time I’m currently living in.
Thank you so much for your time and answers!
Thanks, anytime. Hope you enjoy the rest of the ride!