Ben Templesmith: Weird That Way

A comics interview article by: Felicity Gustafson

At San Diego Comic-Con 2011, Ben Templesmith was kind enough to do a brief interview to give us an idea of what he’s been up to, things he’s worked on and some of the inspirations he draws from as a writer and artist. While he didn't originally plan on attending Comic-Con, Templesmith was glad that he ended up going. Clearly because he was just dying to do an interview with Comic Bulletin’s own Felicity Gustafson.

Felicity Gustafson: So how are you enjoying Comic-Con so far?

Ben Templesmith: It’s been really good. I wasn’t going to come.

Gustafson: Are you glad that you came?

Templesmith: For many reasons, I’m glad I came, but it’s actually been a pretty slow con for me. Everything was sort of last minute afterthought. I didn’t even have a badge until a month ago. Everything’s cut off and booked up. I missed the boat. I had a hotel room, I knew that. It’s so hard to organize, you have to be early.

Gustafson: So you’re here promoting Bleed Out. Can you tell us a little about it?

Templesmith: It’s a future thing. Society has collapsed. It’s a lot of drugs and crime. I did one small chapter that focused on a couple of characters that were crime bosses. It’s cool. I can’t tell you much more about it. It was a small job at the time; I only did like a six-page thing. It was a fun thing to do.

Gustafson: So when did you finish Bleed Out?

Templesmith: Last year some time. 

Gustafson: And it’s just now coming out in book form?

Templesmith: Yeah, it was all in digital form first, to do with the game. They’ve just finally collected into a nice, big book to use it as a very beautiful promotional device. It’s marketing mostly. It’s a game tie-in. It was a lot of fun.

Gustafson: Have you gotten a chance to do anything with the game?

Templesmith: No. It’s an online MMO type thing.

Gustafson: Are you not a gamer?

Templesmith: I am. I just haven’t played games for awhile. I need more time to work. But no, I haven’t played it.

Gustafson: You enjoy your job though, right?

Templesmith: I do, but I don’t usually play many of the games that I do comics for. I do a little bit, but I’ve done a lot of computer game related stuff. I’ve done Silent Hill, which I have played. Dead Space, which I have played a bit of. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, that didn’t come out for me, but I did that and Kane & Lynch, which I haven’t played. I never get the games to actually play when I do the comics. I wish I did. Fallout! I want to do Fallout.

Gustafson: Fallout would be pretty cool. I would read that.

Templesmith: See?

Gustafson: I tried playing Dead Space; it just didn’t really do it for me. 

Templesmith: Well, I didn’t play it to the end, but I thought it was good.

Gustafson: So what inspires you to do your art?

Templesmith: I’m just a normal person, so I just get it out of me. It’s the people who draw cutesy stuff that you have to worry about, because they retain it all. I just get it out. Everyone has darkness inside of us. I just like what appeals to me and I don’t really know where it comes from. I have no dark history. I like mood and atmosphere, so I don’t know where it comes from. I just like horror and dark comics.

Gustafson: Your artistic flow just happens to be darker.

Templesmith: I started to like artists like Ralph Steadman, Victor Ambrus, Ashley Wood and Dave McKean.

Gustafson: So you wrote Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse, right? Was that one of the first things you did?

Templesmith: The second thing I ever wrote. The best thing I ever wrote.

Gustafson: That was one of the series that got me into comics. There were like three or four and that was one of them. They just took off for me.

Templesmith: Well, thank you very much. It’s my favorite book. It’s my baby. I came up with it originally in high school, but he’s changed a bit.

Gustafson: They tend to do that. They form their own story.

Templesmith: He’s the most successful thing I’ve ever done. Outside of having a movie made or working with Warren Ellis, which is the same thing.

Gustafson: So are you currently working on any kind of movie or TV deals?

Templesmith: Nope. I like doing comics for comics. I mean, if stuff happens, that’s great, but I’m not looking for it. I’ve had my Hollywood experience.

Gustafson: You don’t want more of it?

Templesmith: No, I would love more of it. I’d love the money, but I’m not in any way enamored by the mystery in that side of it because I like crafting my comics and telling stories myself. Unless I get into directing or something, I don’t need to. Hollywood adds further complications to what I’d like to do. So no, I don’t do anything specifically thinking, "Oh, this would make a good movie." It’s all about the comics first. I’m a purist that way. Possibly bitter, but not really. I’ve had a great time.

Gustafson: What’s your stance on digital comics? Would you rather hold the comic in your hand, printed paper, or are you more for the digital comics?

Templesmith: Digital is the future. I mean, I have my own app. Things have to be digital, but I’m still a fan of books. They’re never going to die. We’ve been in a transition phase for the last few years and then they’ll stop caring about doing them in print and having them online first.

Gustafson: I noticed a lot of artists are switching over to doing digital artwork, as well. Photoshop and all that. 

Templesmith: I started out really digital and became more fine artsy - putting more work into the original, physical work. I don’t draw or paint on the computer. I do a bit of coloring on the computer, just to finish it off, but I don’t draw on the computer.

Gustafson: I get the feeling that’s going to become more of a rarity.

Templesmith: Yeah, I’m a rarity. I’m old school. When some people start doing one thing, I’m going to do the opposite. I’m weird that way.

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