Have you ever met a force to be reckoned with? Get prepared, because Ben Templesmith is that force. He is an artist of immense talent with shades of Ashley Wood and Bill Sienkiewicz. His art brings about something different, something abstruse, obscure, modern, diverse, dark, mystifying, and abstract. Already creating a large fan following with cult hits "30 Days of Night" and his creator owned "Singularity Seven" the man is an unstoppable artistic juggernaut. He has done numerous comic book cover work, an album cover for the band Fear Factory, and has worked with top notch writers in Steve Niles and Warren Ellis. Is there anything this man cannot do? Let's find out!
Blazedent(BE): You made a huge splash with your unbelievable art in 30 Days of Night. Did you expect it to be a huge hit?
Ben Templesmith(BT): 30 Days wasn't actually a hit, not as a comic really, though true, quite a few people really dug the art from it, ( so big thanks! ) what made it a hit was the character art book I did and Niles overall concept which was sold to the Hollywood types. It got passed over once before apparently. The hype built from there. Issue #1 of 30 days sold maybe 3000 copies, which wasn't too good at the time but thanks to the hype that built up after the series came out, the TPB collection is well into it's 5th printing now. It did surprise me that there was a bidding war of sorts going on between some Hollywood types for the film rights, yep, but the concept was made for a movie really.
BE: How did you and Steve Niles hook up?
BT: We were simply both working for Todd McFarlane Productions at the time on Todd's Hellspawn comic. It went from there.
BE: What have you been up to recently? Are there any creator owned projects in the future? Can we expect more of Singularity?
BT: Far too much really. I need a rest!
Fell, written by Warren Ellis and published by Image Comics is a creator owned thing, which is really the biggest thing to happen to me since 30 Days, and if I may be so bold, I also think it shows a bit of evolution in my work too. It's all about Warrens idea that he can make a 16 page comic, with some back matter, for under 2 dollars work...so far he's been proven right too. I'm happy to be along for the ride really!
Also just finished Shadowplay, a split story comic, with one by Amber Bensen and I, and the other done by Ashley Wood and Christina Z. Probably my last vampire genre story for a very long time. That's for IDW Publishing.
Hatter M, which is written by Frank Beddor. It's his modern take on Mad hatter really, from his series of novels, the Looking Glass Wars. Not out yet, but when it is it's with Desperado and Image comics.
And finally, there's Wormwood, my next thing after Singularity 7 that I'm trying my hand at writing again. Wormy was actually my first thing, I started him long before I was even published in comics.... and is much more 'me' I hope. It'll be at IDW.
Bunch of other stuff, but I probably can't say much more yet.
BE: I see you have been commissioned to do some work for the band Fear Factory. How were you approached to do this project, are the members of the band fans of your work? And have you considered branching out to different types of media for potential projects (for ex. storyboards for movies, advertisements)?
BT: I got contacted by Burton, the singer for it basically. I think he liked what I did on 30 Days. Cool guy too.
I'd consider doing more stuff along those lines in the future, sure. All depends on the project and who's asking of course.
BE: What type of music does Ben Templesmith listen to?
BT: Lots of things really. Depends what I'm doing. When I'm working I put some of the harder or ambient stuff on these days, like Fear Factory, NIN, Aphex Twin, Radiohead, Filter...lots. I forget most. I hate trying to make lists!
BE: Are you in any way involved in the movie making process of 30 Days of Night? Can you give us an update on the progress of the movie?
BT: Nope. And I doubt I will be alas. As to progress...well it's still being made I know that...you'd be best asking the hollywood types what's actually going on though!
BE: What attracted you to comic books as a medium in general?
BT: I get to draw strange and interesting things, and get to tell story at the same time. They're cheap movies with a budget only limited by what
you can imagine and draw.
BE: Have you considered working for the big two companies? I would love to see your art on a dark/horror take on Batman or a Blade or Werewolf By Night project for Marvel.
BT: In passing yeah, I'd definitely consider stuff if asked, but I'm generally not seeking it. I prefer to own a stake in what I work on, it gives you more control and personal investment. I do break that rule of course, since I did Cal McDonald stuff, and am currently doing Hatter M.
BE: Are there any regular, Marvel or DC characters that you would love to draw/paint?
BT: Batman, Lobo, Ghost Rider...Deadman...stuff like that I guess. Interesting and dark really. Or something cute and colourful I can mangle up completely and horrify people. They'd never let me do that though.
BE: What is your take on the current exclusive contracts that have been the talk of the industry? What are the pros and cons of that in your view?
BT: It's all PR and marketing. Most of it, apart from the big names they might be able to lock in, don't really mean anything other than a bit of press for the company. I've yet to hear what the financial benefits are generally for going 'exclusive' over just normal work, though I sure would be interested to know. I just see that stuff as jostling
between companies for a bit of attention really...and to deny the other side of a few creators who otherwise might work for them. Business is just as much about denying the competition something as making sure your own stuff is good after all.
BE: As an artist, do you have any "habits" or "rituals" or "routines" that you go through when approaching a particular project?
BT: Not really. Not that I can think of. Mostly I just procrastinate for far too long! I do go out drinking once a project is finished...it's like a weight lifted from your shoulders and you can finally cut loose a little. Good times.
BE: What is your favorite type of food? And what do you do to relax?
BT: Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and anything seafood basically. I live in our little version of Chinatown here so it's heaven. To relax, I sit on the couch, maybe watch a DVD, take a nap...or play a computer game for a bit...small luxuries since for the last few years there's always work to be done and very little rest!
BE: What's the one thing people won't know about you just by looking at you?
BT: Easy. That I'm Australian and can kill a man with my bare hands.
Ok I 'm yet to prove that last bit.
You can follow all of Ben Templesmith's exploits on www.bentemplesmith.com.
- Pawel Goj & James Chan