Genre art must follow very specific rules. With noir, the art needs to reflect the dark, ominous tone of the story. Moritat, ongoing artist of THE SPIRIT, has done a superb job of capturing writer David Hine’s mysterious characters and storylines. We caught up with him and touched base on everything from Facebook chat to how he got involved with the series to how he turns scripts into the stunning art in the pages of THE SPIRIT:
On the tools he uses:
Chris Conroy told me that a Japanese brush maker by the name Kimitake Hiraoka makes a pretty good inking brush. He had also told me that several creators were using these brushes and that they were getting really good fan responses. I flew to Japan and sought out Hiraoka sensei. It turned out to be one of those 'wait in front of the temple until you were ready' or were 'pure in mind' scenarios. I'm not into all of that Eastern philosophy stuff. But, there were these cute Japansese girls who were working on their manga waiting and praying out front. So, I hung out with them and creeped in with them … when they were ready.
On how he got involved in the series:
A few years ago, I was catching the train at Broadway Junction to come into the city. Will Eisner walks up and we started talking. He said, “you should come work for me.” I said, “I would love to.” We talked a few times, but then I got drafted and I went off to Vietnam. So, it's a pleasure to finally work with Mr. Eisner.
On how he turns script pages into art:
I print out the script. I place each page around me and meditate on the meaning. I boil down certain words that come to me in my subconscious. When I feel ready, I ride my motorcycle very fast at night until it finally clicks in a cohesive artistic pattern that I am comfortable with. Sometimes I can't find the meaning. I confer with Joey Cavalieri and Dave Hine until I get maybe 90%. It's not a perfect process but I'm getting it to where it works.
On how panels are arranged:
Ladronn arranges most everything. I then convince Rob Leigh to draw for me … while I chat on Facebook.
On the noir genre:
I love the noir genre. It is the field I fancy. The characters are flawed. They carry around some kind of hidden shame. There is something wrong with these people. The environment is barely hanging on. A few steps away from post-apocalyptic hell. The color has been washed away or moved to the suburbs. Gabe Bautista, the colorist on THE SPIRIT, would call me some nights and complain that working on noir was too depressing for him and that he had to quit (he lives in the suburbs). I would spend hours lying to him that it was going to get better.
THE SPIRIT #13 hits stores this Wednesday.