Many people dream of becoming a comic artist, not always realizing the long hours required for completing the work to an acceptable level; and without their work looking like it was copied from an existing artist. Now imagine facing those challenges, the sheer amount of competition to become a comic book artist and still maintain your job and family all in a healthy balance. That would make it difficult to maintain the passion for the art form needed to create quality comic art. Yet this is exactly what American comic artist Rob Norton is doing.
A self described ‘late bloomer’ to drawing, Norton recalls beginning to draw when he was in grade 7 and then moving on to copy other artists before creating his own images.
The (largely) self-taught artist has always found himself drawn to comic books, specifically the storytelling aspect of it. For those who don’t think that’s a big deal and a comic artist should focus on their drawing skills, they are very wrong. Comic companies do look for artists with strong anatomy, perspective and compositional skills, but the also require that a comic artist is able to tell a story clearly with their work; which is something that Norton finds himself drawn to.
And this reflects in his work. Already he has had the chance to work on titles for Red Leaf Comics and the (currently available) Emerald Star Comics reboot of the Highlander franchise with the series ‘Highlander 3030’.
Yet despite these achievements (many who wish to become comic artists rarely ever see print) Norton’s passion for comic art drives him to improve. Which would seem a natural thing for comic artists to do, but some believe that these successes have put them on the road to success and (mistakenly) believe they now have a style that they will be able to ride to the bank.
Never afraid to admit that he is experimenting with ideas and approaches, Norton’s work shows constant growth as a result of this passion and drive. Often its very subtle, you know that you are looking at a better quality piece of work than before but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is about the piece. And perhaps this is one of Norton’s greatest strengths, along with his love of great storytelling.
His approach has been a mix of strong poses and contrasting light in his compositions, while not feeling the need to fill every square of the page with lines and imagery. He gives the reader a chance to pause their eyes as they read across a page instead of making them feel as though they are in the middle of an optic challenge. Yet in contrast to this approach with his comic work, Norton produces soft figure based images that do not include background, dialogue or complex details that could take away from the focus on the main figure in his work outside of comic art.
Working in mostly traditional media Norton does use digital for clean up and to tighten up his work. He says that this is due to what he became used to as he was growing up, and has just stuck with an approach he knows works for him.
Constantly seeking to upgrade his skills has lead Norton from one project to another, where his ability to work well in a team environment, and focus on story, has been a strong bonus to any project he has become involved with.
Currently Norton is working to further develop his inking skills as he continues to push himself to in developing his abilities to match his passion for comic book art.
You can follow or message Rob Norton through his DeviantArt page.
John Goodale is the author of ‘Johnny Gora’ (available through Amazon.com), and a number of articles here on TMRZoo.com. His monthly column ‘Indy Comics Spotlight’ appears here and through his blog Indy Comics Spotlight