At Heroes Con 2010 we caught up with Sean 'Cheeks' Galloway, character designer
of Hellboy animated and Spectacular Spider-Man to talk about his work.
David Pinckney: Obviously you are
a pretty predominant illustrator and you got your start with Hellboy in
character design, how did you know this is what you wanted to do?
Sean 'Cheeks' Galloway: When I got my first gig with Marvel comics in 2004 I had to do 16 pages in 15 days and that about broke me. I had to work about 17 hour days because I never did a page per day expect for fun and to do it with a script it was little difficult to break down a script for me. At that moment I thought, “is that something thats gonna happen every time, where it takes me 17 hours to do a page?” At that point I needed to find something where I can still be in the business and paid the bills. So on the online forums people said you have an animateable style. So I was like “what does that mean?” They said it means it feels really animated. So I started breaking it down and I thought they meant the way it moves but later on down the line I figured out they meant the simplicity of my lines. So I thought even though I thought of what they were trying to say in a different light it actually brought me to the part I was trying to get to. It was a happy accident.
David Pinckney: When you were a kid did you read a lot of comics? Or did you just fall into it? How did that work?
Cheeks: I grew up on comics. My parents use to not let me buy comics. So I use to get it and hide it in a drawer. My desk had this pull out drawer and they had these 2 little areas on both sides of the railing that held the drawer in where I kept my comics that I would buy with my lunch money. I wouldn't have lunch so I would have comics to read. That was junior high and they knew they couldn't stop me from buying comics so they let me start to read them. The first one I bought was classic X-men and I was hooked because of Arthur Adam's cover on there, and from there it was history
David Pinckney: Do you have a favorite superhero?
Cheeks: Spider-man. And X-men. I know X-men isn't a super hero when it's X-men it's a group. And Superfriends. I know they are called Justice League but back in the day it was called Superfriends.
David Pinckney: Now, my favorite superhero is definitely Spider-man and you did the character design for Spectacular Spiderman, but you did Hellboy animated first correct?
Cheeks: Yes, Hellboy animated. It's funny you should say that because Khary [Randolf] designed Hecate the villianist on the second one. But yes I started on the Hellboy animated.
David Pinckney: How did you get into the Hellboy animated? That's kinda huge.
Yeah, I say it like it wasn't huge, but it was a very huge deal. What
happened was I got an email from Chad Stone, he asked me if I wanted to
try out to design for the show. I said yeah I would like to try out for
it. I was up against some really great people, but what I think was in
my favor was I didn't try to draw it Mignola all the way. I just drew
it the way I interpreted Hellboy and that's what I think Mignola was kinda
interested in at the time. And I think that's the theory now that he doesn't
want that recreation of his characters, he wants a new recreation. That
was huge for me. It was very surreal. I had a meeting at his house and
I remember it to this day because I was going to his door and I was hyperventilating
a little bit. When I rang his door bell I heard these little steps coming
to the door and it was Mike Mignola coming to the door and I was wondering
why I heard some running and he has the long hall in his house. It was
a pretty funny memory.
David Pinckney: Like you said, you have a different style then Mike Mignola. How long did it take for you to create this style? Did you have people that thought it wouldn't work or was it more with people that thought this was all you?
Cheeks: Well it's a mixture of two things, I got people back when I first posted online people who were accepting the newness of what I was trying to do. But looking back yeah I was overly exaggerated so taking in what people were trying to tell that weren't feeling it and people that were feeling it, I came to the realization if I stayed exaggerative I would be really limited with work if I worked at that time. So I tried to get on some cards with with upper deck and they said “you're drawing too cartoony, you're too cartoony.” So from that time I took that as a lessoned learned to mesh being cartoony without going to realistic. And it's still an ongoing journey to find that style that I exactly want, but I'm happy with the style that I have achieved for now. But I do want to evolve a little bit more, but not depart from what I do now but just adding on to what I do now.
David Pinckney: Who were some artist that really inspired you?
Cheeks: Let's see, John Boy, Khary Randolf, Andy Coon, Jason Pierceson, Eric Canete, my all time favorite is Norman Rockwell. I have a broad size, [I also like] Checko, Sean Gordon Murphy, it's endless. All those cats, they are super amazing, and then you start meeting other people who are new to this business now too that are just great. I think there is a never ending well of inspirations. But my all time favorite is Norman Rockwell.
David Pinckney: What is the one big dream job that you would like to do?
Cheeks: [Spectacular] Spider-Man was the one. Of course there are others like you have the 80s stuff but Spiderman is my all time favorite. I would love to do X-men but being in animation I know how hard it is to design a show with just Spider-man itself in the supporting characters. So I can imagine in X-men. When you are working with the logistics kinda thing it gets kinda hard, so knowing that side of the business I don't know if that's a fair answer to give back to you. If I didn't know that side of the business and how hard it would be to design a show, you learn a lot, but it's a lot of work, you have to deal with licensing and stuff like that. I would design a show that wasn't a licensed show so you have a little more freedom. I had that freedom on Hellboy animated, but when you mess with Spider-man you have everybody and their mom that you have to go through to make sure they appoint approval which is good because they know what's up with everybody that enjoys Spider-man and they want to make sure everybody could flock to it which is great.
David Pinckney: You have your own line of characters right?
Cheeks: Yup, Bastion 7.
David Pinckney: Ever thought of making that an animated thing?
Cheeks: Oh definitely. Right now we are trying to work on an animated teaser. We are trying to work on it for Comic-Con. It's a little difficult, everybody has their own schedule. But we have amazing artist on there at the moment helping out. Just to throw out some names, we have Adam Van Wig, Calvin Zain we got a great crew, we got Mark Talla, Kevin sawyer. They've really come together to make something really nice for the future.
David Pinckney: Thank you for your
time Sean! Best of luck!
Comment on this interview here or on our