Khary Randolph's art can be seen almost anywhere. He has worked
on many high profile characters such as Spider-Man, X-Men, Hellboy, Teenage
Mutant Ninja Turtles, Boondocks, Adventures of Spawn and Teen Titans.
We caught up with artist, Khary Randolph, to talk about his influences
David Pinckney: So the first obvious question is when did you
realized you liked drawing, before you knew you wanted to make it a career?
Khary Randolph: I've always been drawing, since I was
like 3 and half, it was a hobby and something I'm good at. At school,
I was always the best drawer in class. I was always that shy kid but when
I drew people would pay attention. Even in high school if I didn't want
to do a homework assignment and it was getting late, I'd just draw a comic
about it instead. It worked a couple of times but then teachers got hip
to that s---. I pulled that a couple times, but I never thought of that
as a career. I thought it was fun but never thought of it as a career.
Even when I was 16, I went on a black college school tour, we went to
a bunch of different schools. I met another kid on the tour named Wes
who also drew comics and we started talking about it. We were like you
know what “all those black colleges were dope but none of them had
anything for illustration”. We thought maybe we should go to an
art school, we were both in the same boat where we weren't good at anything
else. We checked out some art schools together. I got into an art school.
Went there and within a week I was like, this is what I want to do. It
was like home. Being around other artists and creative individuals. It's
big man. Even though I got into school I was like, I don't know about
art man, people told me I'd be broke and at that point I was like f---
it. I got to do what I go to do and this is what I was meant to do. F---the
money. Just do it.
David Pinckney: What was your first foot in the door?
Khary Randolph: My very first real art job was in my
senior year of college. I got hit up by a company called Itsy Bitsy. They
did all the Teletubby stuff back in the early 2000s. One of the art directors
came to our class and he was looking at portfolios. I didn't even bring
my portfolio but I was like whatever I'll just show him my sketch book.
I showed him and he really liked it. He said to come by the office and
I'll hook you up with a job. I came by and he gave me a job. I was working
pretty much all my senior year to the point where I was working more then
going to school. I thought about dropping out all together since I was
already working. The only reason I didn't was because my mom would kill
me. I mean it was senior year and I got so far, I pretty much graduated
for her sake. Because I was working pretty much full time, when I graduated
I had a job waiting for me. We were doing Teletubbies and all children's
David Pinckney: I was looking for through your original pages
and saw you did some Invincible: Atom Eve and I'm a huge Invincible fan,
what was it like working for an indie comic that big? What is it like
taking on a project of that size?
Khary Randolph: The thing about is, I don't think about
it that way. I knew Robert Kirkman before he was doing that stuff. We
knew each other all the way back in 2001 when he had a little independent
comic company called Funk-a-tron. So, I knew who he was, but he wasn't
a big deal to me, he was just Robert. Even before he was doing that stuff
we did a book for Marvel called Sleepwalker. So I've known for a while,
so when he asked me to do some Atom Eve stuff I was like sure. It's a
big deal now because he's blown up and become “Robert Kirkman”
but because he's my friend I didn't think anything of it. I knew he was
really creative and genius but it was just like hanging out with Sean
Galloway you know? He's my homeboy, it's a different meaning.
David Pinckney: Have you ever taking on a job that seemed very
daunting for you? Something you knew that “people will remember
me from this”?
Khary Randolph: You know, I would say a lot of jobs
are like that. Part of being an artist is they come with a job and sometimes
even if you don't know how to do it, just lie. Straight up. You'll figure
it out one way or another. My first real job for Marvel was Spider-Clan.
What happened was my boy Skottie Young was on the first 4 issues but couldn't
finish the fifth, he had another book to do. So he went to me and was
like, do you want to draw this and at first I said no. I had a full time
job then to come home and illustrate a 22 page book in a month, I was
like I can't do that. Then I thought about it and was like, this is Marvel,
I've been trying to get into comics for years. This is make or break,
to pass this up would be dumb. So I called him right back and said I'd
take. I was like I don't know how I was gonna do it, but I was going to
do it. Basically I didn't sleep for a month, and I cranked it out. No
matter what you get the job done one way or another. I got it done, and
got more work after that so it worked out, but I was scared s----less.
I didn't know how I was going to get it done.
David Pinckney: Were you always in to comics? Reading them or
Khary Randolph: No, not at first. When I was a kid my
mom would buy me stuff off the spinner rack like Star Wars comics or Transformers.
It was always based off a cartoon or something I liked. I loved the Transformers
comics because I liked the cartoon. I didn't start really getting into
comics until Image came out in like '92. I was reading a video game magazine,
and they had some coverage on Youngblood and Wildcats and the art in those
blew me away. Straight up. I have never seen art like that before and
was like, I need to pick this stuff up. I went to the comic store that
day and bought like 10 books. I knew I wanted to draw this. And that's
when I got into comics when I was 13 or 14.
David Pinckney: Who were some of your inspirations?
Khary Randolph: Some of my favorite right now, because
it changes like every day, but my favorites now are like Jason Pearson,
Scott West, Bruce Kim. Guys who know how to be simple but say a lot with
their line art. Those guys appeal to me, those guys are amazing. Seeing
a lot with very little is inspiring to me. I try to be like them. Also
guys who've I've come up with like, Sean, Scottie Young, guys who are
in my same age bracket but push me to be better then I am now. We are
all coming up, I've seen where they came through and where they are now.
It makes me want to push myself because they are my boys and I respect
them. There are older guys that I respect because they are on this [different]
level but guys who are at my level, we are all doing the same kind of
stuff guys like Jonboy too, guys who really push each other all the time,
those are the guys I admire.
David Pinckney: Thank you so much for having this interview with
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