Artist Spotlight: A Conversation with Will Perkins

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This week’s Artist Spotlight introduces us to Will Perkins, a Rochester, NY-based artist who specializes in some crazy, sci-fi stories. Perkins began his journey like many other artists, consuming the works of others who then inspired him to pursue his own dream. Said Perkins, “Comics started everything for me - from Spiderman to Archie Comics - and a copy of the original Legend of Zelda set me off with two addictions that would last the rest of my life!” Perkins also credits Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes for fostering his love of comics. “I loved the fact that it was anything it wanted to be,” Perkins said. “Hyper realistic dinosaurs on one page, and crazy science experiments that went wrong on the next.  Everything was about tone and the perfect blend of absurdism and heart.”

Like many great artists, Perkins didn’t only draw inspiration from 2-dimensional media, but live-action films as well. Perkins credits his father showing him old westerns, among other genres, to help him gain an appreciation for the art. “Movies are some of the best influences for illustration because they are no longer limited to where you can put a camera,” Perkins said on films. 

When asked what his proudest moment was, Perkins told us about Gregory Suicide, the story of a obsolescent A.I. who wakes up in an unfamiliar near future with only vague memories of his past lives, each ending with his death at his own hand.  Not only is Gregory trying to navigate his life, he gets thrust into a war between the A.I. that replaced him and the humans who fear him. Gregory Suicide was a collaboration between Perkins and writer Eric Grissom published by Dark Horse Books, a dream-come-true for Perkins. “My 15-year-old self had set this goal of someday being published by Dark Horse,” Perkins said, “So when I got that letter in the mail from Dark Horse that they wanted to take a chance on us I was blown away.  I worked harder, faster, learned more and f**ked up more in that year than I ever have on any project before or since.” 

Will Perkins
A scene from Gregory Suicide, Perkins and Grissom’s first joint venture

Perkins admits that his “dream” franchise has changed many times as his career has progressed, saying,  “I told myself I’d get paid to draw SUPERMAN by the time I was 30...and I blew past that one,” Perkins said.  “At the moment I’m chest deep in a review of both Dawson's Creek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I can't help but dream of a reboot of Buffy. It’s my love of monsters and horror and my tendency to want to cut tension with a joke.” Perkins admitted that his guilty pleasure is Dawson’s Creek and envisioned a scenario where characters from the series crossover with Archie characters in Riverdale. Perkins also mentioned revisiting one of his past works, a collaboration with brother Michael Perkins called Beware...Comics, a Twilight Zone-inspired love letter to all things classic sci-fi. 

Will Perkins
The poster for Beware...Comics, a collaboration between brothers Michael and Will Perkins

Perkins’ latest work is another collaboration with Grissom called GOBLIN, an ode to all the Dark Crystal/Neverending Story and Legend of Zelda we absorbed and using it to tell a wonderful story about the other side of adventure. According to Perkins, Grissom, “...has written this killer script that subverts the usual fantasy tropes with all the darkness and edge of fantasy in the 80’s. When the average “hero” slaughters a band of monsters in the forest and one gets left behind, what path does he take.  What is more powerful than revenge?  And what can hate become with the right sequence of adventures?” Once Perkins got word of Grissom’s new story, he demanded a shot at a comic adaptation. After months of convincing, Grissom turned over a script, and the duo can’t wait for the next step.

Will Perkins
A panel of Perkins and Grissom’s latest work, Goblin

One pearl of wisdom Perkins would impart on his younger self is to, “Try the hard thing NOW.  There is no shame in it not being perfect.  Just do the work, and throw it out into the crowd and just keep doing it. You might trip over some perspective stuff, your anatomy might not be perfect or you might have some storytelling mistakes...but you have to get them out of your system so you can use some of that shame to be better the next time.”  

You can see more of Will’s art on his website,  and follow him on Instagram. You can also see more of his work as Art Director for 215 Ink Comics.

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