Artist Spotlight – Frank Forte
As an animator Frank Forte has worked on Despicable Me 2, Bob’s Burgers, Allen Gregory, The Super Hero Squad Show, and many many more. He has also written and drawn many comics over the years as well as started Asylum Press. He’s going to be guest editing issue #271 of Heavy Metal magazine along with contributing to the issue and he has an art gallery show coming up. This seemed like a good time to turn the artist spotlight on him.
BLEEDING COOL: How did you get started drawing?
FRANK FORTE: I Started by copying cartoons off the TV – Old Hanna Barbara and Warner Brothers. I would also copy from comic books. I remember a story from first grade where me and some friends were drawing these drunk characters drinking beer. I think because all of our parents drank. But it was pages and pages of these bad drawings of drunk characters chugging beer, falling down, puking – it was hilarious – we were laughing so hard. How would first graders know this stuff? From our parents! where else? Then we got caught. – the teachers looked at these drawings of drunk people and we got in a lot of trouble. Our parents had to come in and the school showed them the drawings trying to say we were delinquents or something. It was the 70′s. For some reason all the kids pointed at me like it was MY idea – they told the school I was the ringleader or something. The next day none of the kids would talk to me. Their parents told them to stay away from me. I was like, “we were all in it together,” why blame me? Anywa, my mom wasn’t too upset. I think she just shrugged her shoulders. I think I still have the drawings somewhere.
BC: Who were your biggest influences?
FF: In comics, at first it was John Byrne and Chris Clairemont’s X-Men. It was early 80′s Marvel. Frank Miller (Daredevil), Michael Golden (Micronauts), Werner Roth, and Sal Buscema. Everyone likes John Buscema, but I was always a Sal guy. Then I got into horror and it was all Bernie Wrightson, Graham Ingels and Tales from The Crypt. Those artists blew me away. They could really draw. That led me to the Warren books, 1994, Vampirella, Eerie and Creepy. Then the magazine racks led me to Heavy Metal. Once I found all these European comic artists, it was all over. I stopped reading tights and capes books and just read Heavy Metal, Epic, The Catalan Books and anything else that didn’t have a comics code. It wasn’t long before I found Zap, Fat Freddie’s Cat and all the San Francisco underground stuff. For animation, I’m a big fan of classic Warner Brothers and Fleischer Studios cartoons. In college, it was Spumco and John K all the way. Also, Beavis and Butthead, Terry Gilliam (Monty Python), Bill Plympton and Liquid Television.
BC: What is your process for doing a page? How long does it take you?
FF: For the Bob’s Burgers comic it was all digital. We would work out rough layouts from the script and pass it by the Supervising Director of the TV show, Bernard Derriman. He would make notes and then we’d finish it. We were free to add our own style to the books and any sight gags we thought might spice it up. So it was fun. Then I’d digitally ink in Photoshop and color in Photoshop as well. These pages took a while. If I did soup to nuts with letters, it was about 1.5 - 2 days per page.
BC: Where might folks have seen your work previously?
FF: Recently, I’ve been self-publishing comics through my indie publishing company Asylum Press. I’ve written and drawn The Vampire Verses, Warlash, Billy Boy and Zombie Terrors, among others. I did colors on some of the Fearless Dawn books by Steve Mannion. In the animation industry, my day job, I do storyboards. I’ve worked on Despicable Me 2 (boarded the El Macho jumping out of the plane sequence), Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out, Lego: Hero Factory and Marvel Heroes 4D (A dark ride at Madame Tussauds in London).
BC: What are you working on now?
FF: I’m currently doing storyboard revisions on the Bob’s Burgers TV show. Recently, Kevin Eastman asked me to be guest editor for Heavy Metal Magazine. It was a real thrill. I felt like I came full circle. I gathered together all the writers and artists that worked fro Asylum Press and put together a horror/sci-fi extravaganza that is sure to blow people away. It’s HM issue #271 and will be on sale in October.
BC: What is your dream project?
FF: To write an 8-page horror story. Have Bernie Wrightson draw it. Get Tim Vigil to ink it. Dave Stewart to color and Tom Orzechowski to letter (of course). Then have Jim Shooter do the edits. Yeah, that would be cool.