"Frazer Irving is a denizen of the dark, the disturbing, and the diabolical in comic book illustration." – from the description of the book.
When I sat down to read this volume, I had very little knowledge of Frazer Irving, other than his work on numerous covers, like DC Comics's Arkham Reborn. What I found was that Irving has been working in the industry since 1997. He seemed to me to only burst onto the scene a few years back. In reading the interview within by Nathan Wilson and Eric Nolen-Weathington, I learned a great deal about Irving. From his attempt to break into the industry at an early age to his four-year timeline to break in once he graduated high school in 1990.
He missed his deadline by a couple years but you wouldn't know it by the quality of work he's produced in his 14 years in the industry. Looking through this issue of Modern Masters gives you a great over-view of his art and how he's evolved over the years. The interview is very well researched as well. Doing my own interviews for this site, it was a joy to read such well thought out questions and follow-up questions.
The book is broken up into six sections — chapters, if you will. Following an introduction by Grant Morrison, his colaborator on Klarion the Witch Boy from the Morrison-helmed Seven Soldiers metaseries, is a chapter that details his early childhood, where he begged his parents for a copy of The Official Marvel Comics Try-Out Book so he could take a shot at drawing comic books. Inspired by Legend, the Dark Horse Comics imprint of the 1990s, he cites John Byrne's Next Men and Mike Mignola's Hellboy as being very influential in his realization that you could have your own artistic voice within the comics industry and still be successful.
He got his start, as most British artists do, working for 2000 AD. It was thorugh them that he met comic book writer Andy Diggle. Diggle was an editor at the time and decribed Irving as "fast and professional." Irving quickly became known for his speed, in fact. He joked in the interview that if an editor needed a five-page short drawn and had only three days to draw it, they would call him up. That degree of dedication to his craft is still part of who he is.
Throughout the interview, you can tell Irving is still very humbled and not sure why he would be considered a "Modern Master." In fact, he seems almost puzzled at times when he gets high-profile assignments, like the Grant Morrison book or a short in X-Men: Divided We Stand.
Sprinkled throughout the 120 pages are rare black and white scans of his work, spanning his entire comics career, as well as insights into his process and how it eveolved over the years. This latest volume of Modern Masters is a must read not only for fans of Frazer Irving but for artists everywhere.
Steven A. Wilcox is an aspiring comic book artist whose work has appeared in various small press books, mostly from the El Paso, TX publisher; Project4Studios. He has been a comic book fan for as long as he can remember. His favorite part of doing reviews and interviews for Comics Bulletin is it gives him an excuse to read more comics, watch cartoons and talk to his favorite creators. He can be contacted on Twitter at @StevenWilcox72 or on Facebook.