MAX ALAN FUCHS
Think back to the very first time you picked up a pen or pencil to draw, do you remember what that image was?
I still have one of the first finger paintings I ever made! My mom held on to it for me. As far as “drawing” drawings, it’s tough to say. I remember learning to draw faces with our elementary school art teacher, Dr. Wrigley. When I was around 8 or 9, a friend gave me a stack of his older brother’s comic books, and I distinctly recall trying (unsuccessfully) to copy a drawing of Captain America. It was the black costume! Soon after that, I would sit and make up my own superheroes. I think I liked creating my own characters because it was easier than trying to draw Marvel or DC characters. You can’t draw it wrong if you made it up!
How long have you been actively drawing graphic art and when did you find your niche?
Ive been drawing professionally since about 2012. I don’t know that I’ve found my niche! I’ve done work in a variety of different art fields, and it’s helped me stay afloat and build a career. Comics are my first love, but doing storyboards and designing graphic assets for different clients has helped bring in some cash. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about manicuring my art identify a bit more. Maybe trying to find my way towards something like a style. It’s not something I want to force, but there are instincts and inclinations I’d like to explore more.
You mentioned not forcing rather finding your style. Do you find that many of the up and coming artwork of this genre seems forced or searching for its own identity? Also could you give us a hint as to instincts and inclinations you’d like to explore?
Oh, really quite the opposite! The mainstream comics industry today is more open and experimental than ever. You can see a much wider variety of styles out there now than even 10 years ago. It's really exciting! Of course, I think there's a segment of the industry still bound up in certain "house styles," meaning the art is sticking to a prescribed set of graphic rules. Those rules aren't necessarily bad, but they haven't changed much in 30 years. If you, as an artist, have a fire in you, those rules can feel like a cold bucket of water.
For me, rule Number 1 is storytelling. Tell your story, and make it clear. Everything else is a playground. And that's where I like to play. Right now, I'm trying to find a harmonious way of combining my graphic interests. I find myself drawn towards the caricatured drama of Jack Davis, but I also want to play with the kind of severity and spontaneity I see in Bill Sienkiewicz. Those are two VERY different parts of the spectrum, but it's what I'm drawn to!
While many illustrators chose to ink and color their art you post mostly penciled and inked (black and white) images on Instagram. Tell us about this choice.
Well, from the practical side of things, most of my professional work has been black and white. So I have a lot of that stuff to post! But I think I’m drawn to the severity of black and white. That contrast has a lot of power. It’s an appealing challenge to try and harness that power.
Your art is very graphic. Getting back to the B&W, you don’t need color to convey the direction. Where do you draw your inspiration from capturing all of that action?
There are so many. I played a lot of sports growing up, and I’ve done some boxing as an adult. I’m still an avid boxing fan. I think real-world action feeds into my work a lot. As far as art-world inspiration, I think I could fill your whole publication just with lists! I love Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Moebius. Guys out there today that I love include Jason Shawn Alexander, Dan Panosian, R.M. Guéra. The list really, really goes on!
Are you a huge fan of vampires and Van Helsing? We noticed quite a few images posted to IG.
I’m glad you noticed! I definitely am a fan of vampires, which is why I was so excited to get onboard with this project. I’ve been working with some excellent collaborators on a book called Bram Stoker. It’s about Bram Stoker, in case you couldn’t guess! In our story, Bram, who we all know as the author of Dracula, is a young, fresh-faced kid, right out of college. He’s still a few years away from writing his famous tale of the undead. He runs up against real-life vampires, vampire hunters, and girls! Adventure ensues! I’m not sure how much I can say at this point, but we should have something in solicitation by September.
We can’t help but be drawn to The Motherfucking Fucker! We want to know more!
The Motherfucking Fucker! He's my sweet baby boy! I came up with him as a way to explore that style combo. Cartoon-ish, but with a jagged edge. I love wrestling, so creating a masked luchador was a natural choice. My twisted sense of humor explains the name! You can see more of The Motherfucking Fucker this summer in Halcyon Days!
You teach illustration now? How is that going?
Teaching is terrific. Being asked to return to the Kubert School as an instructor was a great honor. Working with students has consistently inspired me, and helped keep me plugged into what’s happening out there on the cutting edge of the industry. I’m continually humbled by these students. Many of them have tremendous talent, and it’s so exciting to see them evolve into professionals.
Are your students school-aged, a cross-section of people or more adults? Which skills do you find most are interested in learning?
The Kubert School is a post-secondary institution, but we get students of all ages. Some kids come straight out of high school, and we also have people in their 40’s and 50’s. I was 29 when I started as a student at the Kubert School.
I think people come to the school to take a shot at that dream, no matter their age. The comic dream. Comics are a unique industry, with a unique fandom. Lots of people are fans of music, but few aspire to be guitar virtuosos. I think there’s a huge portion of comic fans who want to be comic creators. They want to do the thing, and be a part of it. So that’s what our students seem to be interested in. They want to know about the business, the people involved. What it’s like on a day-to-day basis.
LUMPS OF THE TWELVETIDE
By Max Alan Fuchs
Tell us about Lumps of the Twelvetide. A play on the Twelve Days of Christmas?
Hey, that’s some good deep-dive research! Yes, the Lumps were sort of my psychedelic twist on the Twelve Days. Those drawings came from my quirky love of drawing lumpy, bumpy, weird textures. I did them simply for the freedom to flex my imagination. There was never any real preparatory sketching or plans. I just let the pen move. It’s a sort of meditation. Tying them in with Christmas was a marketing idea - and it worked! Several of them sold!
Do you ever attend conventions and participate in Artist Alley?
I’ve done a few conventions. This year, I’ll have a table at East Coast Comic Con. Brittany Pezzillo, a dear friend and co-conspirator, and I will be selling our original anthology, Halcyon Days. It’s a 48-page collection of comics we’ve collaborated on over the years. Come see us and get a signed copy!
Any upcoming exhibitions?
Other than ECCC, nothing on the slate presently. But stay tuned!
You’re on DeviantArt and IG. When is your website going to come to life and where else can we find your work?
My website is www.themaxfuchs.com
You can find some of my portfolios there, including storyboard work and personal projects. You can also check out https://dirty7.wordpress.com/ Over there, you’ll find my work, along with Sian Mandrake, Justin Prokowich, Wes St.Claire, and our fearless leader, Bob Hardin. This group of renegade artists were tapped by comics legend Chuck Dixon to illustrate his epic graphic novel, 7 Deadly Sinners. We’re currently wrapping up art chores on over 100 pages of cars, motorcycles, drugs, explosions, and hippie love!
In this issue Max Fuchs is also a guest contributor. Check out his assignment on Roswell.
All artwork on this page is by Max Alan Fuchs.