FEATURE: Comic Book Tattoo: Ming Doyle

Comic Book Tattoo week here at Globecat concludes today with up-and-coming illustrator Ming Doyle, who illustrated book editor Rantz Hoseley's story for "The Waitress" off Under the Pink. (If you missed it, be sure to check out Rantz's interview here, as well as our interviews with Kelly Sue DeConnick and Tom Williams!) Thanks again to Ming for her time, and to all of the fantastic writers and artists Davecat got the chance to talk to for this feature: all of us here at Globecat appreciate it more than we can say.


>>>> How did you become a part of Comic Book Tattoo?

I've been working a bit in both freelance illustration and comics since graduating from art school last year, and Image has been especially kind in terms of extending opportunities to me to work with talented writers on all manner of short anthology pieces. I think it was through my work on PopGun Volume 2, the "mix-tape" anthology, that CBT's editor Rantz Hoseley noticed me. He offered me the chance to illustrate a story of his based on "The Waitress" from Under the Pink that was so unlike anything I'd read before, I had to give it a try.

>>>>Had you been a Tori Amos fan before the project started? If so, what is your favorite album and why?

I've been a casual fan of Tori Amos since middle school, and a sometimes fervent fan since listening to all of Boys for Pele on repeat about a thousand times during studio in art school. There's not a song on that album that isn't obsessively catchy or compellingly layered, and it has harpsichords. I find I really dig the occasional harpsichord.

>>>> What was it like to work with Rantz Hoseley on creating "The Waitress"? At this point in your career, have you done much collaboration with other artists or writers?

So far I've done nothing but collaborate with writers in my published work, and Rantz was particularly helpful and involved. When you consider how many tiny details, grand ideas and unique visions he had to wrangle into one book, it's a wonder the whole thing came together at all, let alone so beautifully. When I was having trouble with some of my layouts, Rantz even took the time to sketch some thumbnails for me. That's an extraordinary level of commitment, in my opinion.

>>>> Was it daunting at all, as a young illustrator, working next to some of the top names in comic books on this anthology (not to mention Tori Amos)? What's it like knowing that countless music and comic book fans will be seeing your art in print around the world?

Absolutely daunting, yes. Without question. But also thrilling! Some of the other creators are friends of mine, while far more are admired strangers or welcome surprises. I'm quite honored to be counted among their number, which on a project like CBT is practically legion.

I can barely comprehend that people may be reading the story Rantz and I labored over for so long even as I type this. It's mind-blowing to me that all that art is finally off my poor beleaguered hard drive and out in the physical world now, on bookshelves and bedroom floors who knows where. That's really something. But something more than that, at least to me, was the experience of walking into Newbury Comics today and seeing the anthology front and center, in pride of place amidst the new releases. My name's just one of many on the back pages, but that doesn't diminish my sense of accomplishment in the least. This book is a clear example of strength in numbers.

>>>> What was the biggest challenge in converting music to illustration? How difficult was it to make your art fit with not only Rantz's story, but the song that inspired it?

Rantz's story is basically a great crashing wave of frustration and stunted malice, so it's quite close to the spirit of the song. Stylistically, I think my gritty, grungy, fairly atmospheric take was tonally appropriate. The greatest challenge was including as many of the details in Rantz's script as I could in the art, since he came up with something really fantastically ambitious. I hope that even a fraction of the depth and intent he imbued in his words shows in my finished work.

>>>> Along the same lines, "The Waitress" contains one of the most memorable lines in the entirety of Under the Pink: "But I believe in peace, bitch / I believe in peace." How were you able to deal with the dichotomies of the song -- anger and humor, wanting violence while still believing in peace -- in your artwork?

Oh, well Rantz handled that line really nicely. He gave it its own page and emphasized its place as the moral of the story, and after all the trauma, callousness and heartache that the characters in the "The Waitress" inflict upon each other, that's only fitting.

If there's any humor in "The Waitress," I think it can only be the wryest kind. There's such an overflow of love lost between the characters in the comic, and that makes for a neat contrast to the restrained, disdainful malevolence of the song. In both cases, the excess of intense emotion seems to consume the narrator to the point that her commuted intent or mere sentiment is almost as harmful and destructive as immediate, violent action.

In my art, I tried to keep in mind that this was a really personal story focusing on two women, but more than that focusing on one woman's perception of the best and worst thing to tear through her life thus far. As her story arc begins, the lines are somewhat free and open. As it progresses, they close in on themselves and grow a bit more choked with ink. It's all very dire, as it should be.

>>>> Now that you've had this experience, are there any other songs (Tori's or otherwise) that you'd enjoy illustrating?

In terms of Tori, "Mr. Zebra" and "In the Springtime of His Voodoo" both speak to me, and they say very strange and interesting things indeed. Casting my net a bit further, I'd love to illustrate a rock opera based on the lives and personae of Frank Black in all his permutations, with Tom Waits popping in for a cameo or two.

That could keep me busy for a while.