Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ten Questions (sorta) with Gerimi Burleigh

Hi All,
Welcome to another installment of "Ten Questions Or So" our new feature on Samurai The Graphic Novel blog. 
This latest interview is with Comic Artist, Writer, Illustrator Gerimi Burleigh. Gerimi has brought his considerable artistic ability to his story in Samurai The Graphic Novel. Gerimi is best know for co- creating the animated TV show Alien Racers as well as the writer/artist behind Eyes of the Gods his own creator owned Graphic Novel.

You can pre-order Samurai The Graphic Novel here: Samurai Pre-Order

Samurai The Graphic Novel

In two sentences what is your STGN about?
A little girl who finds a haunted samurai sword on a school field trip and unites with the noble warrior spirit to fight an ancient evil

Where did your STGN story come from? What were your trying to achieve with the art?
I tend to write dark and unpleasant stories.  I wanted to do something fun and offbeat.  The story has a wacky twist that most people wouldn't expect from me.  I'm trying to let my inner 80's animation lover go buck wild

What was your experience like working on Samurai The Graphic Novel. Was it a challenge?
It was some of the most fluid comic creation I've done in a long while.  No artist is ever satisfied with their work, however, I do fill like I pushed my talents a little further.  Each project is a baby step.

What was your process for creating your story for STGN? Describe it step by step.
I always start with an outline.  In this case, I limited myself to one sentence per page, so I had a 24 page outline, ((3) 8 page sequences).  I do thumbnails based on the outline, adding dialog as I go. 

I do the lettering/panel layouts in Adobe Illustrator, print out the lettered panels 2-up on 8.5x11 inch paper, and draw layouts. This lets me work the lettering into the image composition and storytelling better.  I try to avoid placing characters in places that make for awkward speech continuity.

I draw the layouts in red pencil so they are dark enough that I can see them through a lightbox, but not so dark that it will obscure any corrections I draw over them in regular pencil (HB). I flip the layouts on a lightbox to fix anatomical mistakes and tighten up composition/perspective.  I scan in the corrected layouts, enlarge them in Photoshop and print them out in a low opacity 100% cyan on 8.5 x 14 inch bristol board.  I stole that technique from mainstream comic inkers who frequently work from scanned pencils emailed or uploaded to an FTP server. 

I choose to work on 8.5x14 inch board because that's the largest size my scanner will fit.  I got tired of tiling pages when I scanned them in.  For some reason, there's always one part that doesn't seem to line up right.  I used to pencil on the cyan layouts, then ink over that, but I've recently started jumping straight to inks.  My pencils aren't particularly tight anyway, so it saves me a step.

I scan the finished page, flat it, and color it in Photoshop.  All done

In one word what best describes your style?

How many years have you been creating art?
34 years

What's your biggest influence artistically/story wise?
Bill Sienkiewicz, Walt Simonson, John Byrne, Will Eisner, Frank Miller… it's a boring list because they're the guys every comic creator goes to, but they're the ones who've been laying it down for years.  I'm starting to enter an Alex Toth phase.  I always keep reaching back and finding new things to study.

Why do you think the idea and iconography of the Samurai resonate with the imagination?
Every culture has a noble warrior class that strikes a chord with story-lovers. In the case of the samurai mythos, I think it's the stoic, unyielding commitment to a code of honor and conduct, unto penalty of death/ritual suicide. In a world surrounded with so much dishonor, it's inspiring to hear tales of figures so committed to protecting their ideals.

If you were a Samurai what part of Bushido (The Samurai code) best describes you. Pick two: loyalty, honor, obedience, duty, honoring your elders/ancestors, and self-sacrifice. It sure as hell ain't obedience! …I suppose, loyalty.

The sword was the main weapon of the Samurai. What is your weapon of choice when it comes to art?
Miyamoto Musashi, master swordsman and author of The Book of Five Rings says:

"You should not have a favorite weapon. To become over-familiar with one weapon is as
much a fault as not knowing it sufficiently well. You should not copy others, but use weapons
which you can handle properly. It is bad for commanders and troopers to have likes and
dislikes. These are things you must learn thoroughly. "

I'm always tweaking my process and trying new things.  I've tried inking with a brush several times over the years and have never been please with the results.  I recently discovered that I was using brushes far too large and I have been pleased with the results for the first time.  I tweeted about it… "Finding the right brush to ink with is like meeting the perfect girl after a string of bad relationships"

When you create an idea what's your first action? Write it out? Do layouts? Character designs?
Most of the time, I write down a summary of the story, anywhere from a paragraph to several pages.  Depends on how much of the story comes to me at once.  Occasionally, I get an idea that primarily visually based.  In that case, I'll do a sketch or two.  Sometimes, I write paragraph descriptions of paintings I want to do.  If I see the picture clearly in my head, but know that a quick sketch won't do it justice, I'll just describe the image to myself and stick it in a folder somewhere until I have time to come back and flesh it out properly.

What do you hope readers will get out of your story in Samurai?
Fun, adventure, and a sense of wonder.

What are your latest projects or projects you are going to be working on in the future?
My graphic novel EYE OF THE GODS is a psychological thriller about a man cursed with remote viewing.  It is available in print and eBook format and will soon be solicited for distribution at fine comic book retailers everywhere.  A 26 page free preview is available for download from my website.

I'm also working on a book called MORNING STAR.  It tells the tale of Lucifer's fall from heaven as a western.  A preview sketchbook is available.  Find out more about both books at

1 comment:

  1. Nice post - I'm drafting up an amateur graphic novel, and posts like this are incredibly insightful. Thanks! The GN looks great