Pigeons From Hell: An Interview with Nathan Fox

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from illustrator and Kitsune Noir friend Nathan Fox and it mentioned he had a new comic out called Pigeons From Hell. I had NO idea that he was working on a comic book so I went out and bought it the very next day, read it all the way through and was amazed. The story is adapted from a Robert E. Howard story, the guy who created and wrote Conan the Barbarian, though this story is a spooky/horror kind of story set in a swamp in the South.

Nathan’s art has never looked more beautiful, and it’s pretty rad to see him doing sequential artwork for a change. The story is also colored by the amazing Jeromy Cox, who colored one of my all-time favorite comics, Promethea. Since I was so enamored with the first issue of the series, I did a little interview with Nathan and asked him a little about the book and his new experience with comics.

+KN: So how did you get attached to drawing Pigeons From Hell?

Nathan Fox: I’ve been sending my work around for a while through pitches and narrative illustration work, trying to see if anyone would take a chance, and Matt Dryer at Dark Horse called me up for Pigeons From Hell.

+KN: Were you a fan of Robert E. Howard’s work before you started work on the comic?

Nathan Fox: Nope. Didn’t know about Joe’s work at all. I really didn’t know that much about the breadth of Howard’s work out there to tell you the truth beyond the barbarian movies. I only knew about Conan comics wise but rarely picked up any issues except for Greg Ruth’s work on the series. Love his stuff. But once I got into Howard’s writing and short stories and read the original Pigeons From Hell and caught up with the work Joe had been doing I was sold. And here we are.

+KN: Have you always been a fan of comic books or comic book artists? By the look of your work it totally looks like they may have been an inspiration.

Nathan Fox: Growing up I never really got into comics beyond Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes. I was a Disney and Saturday/Sunday morning TV kid, no doubt. The only two comic books I ever remember buying were a double pack at a convenient store one summer vacation when we got stuck indoors during a hurricane. We went out for supplies for the weekend and I grabbed it off the rack, haha. It was an old Conan issue with an issue of Spider-man in the bag with it. I think I tossed the Spider-man for some reason but the Conan I remember going over with a fine tooth comb. Never really got into superheroes outside of cartoons for some reason back then.

I started getting into comics and was to be influenced by them pretty late in the game. I had some great friends and roommates who were into comics and they really exposed me to it all in college; indie, underground, alternative and mainstream comics, all at once. It was amazing. My sheltered Disney days were over and once I saw Akira, Disney was quickly on its way out as being what I went to art school for. Anyway, I owe a lot to their bookshelves and watching them develop as narrative/comic book artists over those years.

Yoshitoshi’s Ukiyo-E prints really got me thinking about comics as a serious possibility some day but I never really took comics seriously as a profession until much later. In those book shelves I fell in love with Darrow’s detail work, made me feel at ease and not so odd for wanting to put everything and the neighbors kitchen sink into drawings. Pratt, Williams, Crumb, Ottomo and the mainstream fair in the 90’s were my influences back then. I was and am still very much influenced by a lot of fine artists as well, but my knowledge and breadth of comic book history since then though has expanded a great deal more so than printmaking and fine art influences. Samura and a ton of other Asian/Manga artists stock my shelves as well as European imports like Berthet, Bernet, De Crecy and Gipi to name a few. Over the last few years, aside from Caniff and a few others, most of my collection have been from overseas but I still pick up a lot of books from Dark Horse and Image and the like.

+KN: How’s your experience with drawing a monthly comic book been? Anything you like or dislike about it?

Nathan Fox: It has been an interesting roller coaster to say the least. I had no clue how difficult or challenging it would be to go from a freelance illustration schedule to a comic book schedule, not to mention having to balance the two at the same time, haha. Much wiser now or at least I know a little bit more of what it takes to do it all. Next time I’ll be better prepared with my time working on it all, no doubt.

That’s been the roughest part of it all. As far as what I like… I F#%KING LOVE IT!!! Illustration is amazing and I’ll never be able to give it up, but now that I’ve gotten a few samplings of comic books and what it means to take a narrative and delve into it page by page instead of a set of single images or one single image… I’m hooked. Addicted! I’ve really gotten into the process and character development. Hopefully my story telling abilities are developing with each page and issue. If I could keep working on books or a monthly run I would be a happy man.

+KN: You were at the NY Comic Con a couple weeks ago, how was that?

Nathan Fox: Yeah, I did a signing at the DH booth the last day, got to do a few interviews, and promote the book a little as well. Met some amazing editors and artists as well. They sold out of almost all of the copies before I got a chance to do many signings so hopefully thats a good sign of how the series will do. Issue 2 hits the stands on the 21st of May, I believe, and I just saw the colors Dave did. Like Jeromy Cox, Dave takes the art and propels it so much further than I could have ever imagined. I love collaborating with those guys, I hope to work with more writers and colorist’s of this caliber, I’ve been pretty fortunate so far. Other than the signing I got my hands on a bunch of Paul Maybury originals in a trade, met up with friends at their booths and got a little work done thanks to Tony Moore, Eric Powel and Steve Niles coolness by letting me crash in the back of their space and ink a page or two.

I’ll be at the San Diego Comic Con and trying to go to Chicago as well for the Con this summer too. So if anyone’s around please stop by the Dark Horse or Heavy Metal Booth and let me know what you think. Good or Bad!

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Thanks for the interview Nathan! Like I said before, definitely check out this book, you definitely won’t be disappointed… that is if you can find it!

Bobby

Bobby Solomon

May 5, 2008 / By

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