As I was wandering around the recent Edmonton Expo one particular artist caught me eye. The images were bold, they were powerful in presence they also screamed of a narrative which seeped through the artwork. I was intrigued as I flipped through the pages of the portfolio, familiar characters like Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman were present. There were also fantasy characters poised for action and bursting with colour. This is typical of the artwork of Dawn McTeigue, work which draws you into it’s detail and dynamism. It invites the imagination to play with the images and image the settings and the background narrative and the story to come. I was very grateful to be able to spend some time with this busy artist and discuss her work with her.
[Isis Red from Divinica A study in mythology with JP Roth]
Dr Chris: It’s great to have this chance to talk with you. I have finally found my replacement for Bob Ross! I’ve been watching your Youtube channel which is absolutely captivating. I’m enjoying watching you create and craft the characters before our eyes and answering questions as you do so! You give us an intimate understanding of the act of creation.
Dawn: Thank you! I love Bob Ross and he’s so relaxing and calm. I really enjoy drawing and being able to show the process. I hope I encourage others to begin to create and I love chatting about the work I do.
[One of my favourite series from Dawn’s Twitch Feed – crafting Black Canary]
Dr Chris: So I am going to begin by asking you a question which you been asked time and time again. But it’s an important one and I know you have a fascinating ‘origin’ story so I have to ask it. How did you get started in the comics industry?
Dawn: I was drawn to the comic book media from when I was a kid. I loved the visuals of Disney and the artwork. I was an avid cartoonie! I love all the magic and the imagination of the Disney cartoons. What little girl doesn’t enjoy watching the stories of princesses? Growning up I also loved to play with Transformers, I was also into cars and Hotwheels. Artistically I was drawn to the more ‘girlie’ elements. So I was always drawing and sketching throughout my life. I grew up overseas so while I did see a lot of comics, I was also influenced by Japanese Anime and Manga. I understood some Japanese but not enough to get into the stories. I was just so drawn to the artwork and the presentation style.
Later when I moved back to the west I discover comic books written in English, which was like the Holy Grail. I originally gravitated to J. Scott. Campbell’s work in Gen 13, that immediately got me into the art. From there I discovered Witchblade and the whole Top Cow catalogue. J. Scott Campbell’s work really influenced me during that period. I started in the comic book industry itself working with a friend of mine, J.P. Roth. She had some novels that she wanted to turn into comic books. So I started out drawing interiors and covers for her. From there I met other companies and publishers who asked me to start drawing covers for other people.
[A Collaboration with JP Roth for Ancient Dreams # 5 – A deeply evocative and sensual work]
Dr Chris: What’s your favourite comic book at the moment?
Dawn: Right now in front of me on my desk I have The Witchblade origins volume 1 which I am re-reading. It’s to give me some inspiration for a Witchblade commission which I am working on at the moment. It’s actually a piece of work which I will be streaming on Twitch later on today. I just love all the artwork, it’s so incredible, the writing is amazing as well. This is written by David Wohl who is a wonderful person and has really helped me a lot in my career as well. It’s really cool to go back and read someone’s work whom you know and get reacquainted with what drew you to their work initially. It’s been really cool to meet some of my greatest influences and heroes in my career and I very grateful for all their encouragement.
Dr Chris: One of the projects which you have worked on which I loved was Divinica. I love the whole mythology aspect and how you visually craft deity in that series. Can you tell me a little about the process of creating the artwork for that series?
Dawn: J.P Roth and I will start with an idea and then as the idea progresses it becomes something incredibly epic and more time consuming than originally intended. It was initially going to be some small sketches and I became captivated by the project and went full into the detail. With the process of the artwork for that, we wanted the whole book and the series to have that old look to it. It’s a story about mythology and in every-bodies minds, the idea of mythology is parallel with something being ancient. With that we wanted to give it that aged look and that’s what made me decide to create the artistry in a traditional format. Some of the covers are coloured digitally, this is for print quality reasons and to produce something to catch the eye.
For the interiors however I used Copic markers, Watercolour pencils, acrylic paint. My first love is traditional. I am very new to digitally colouring my own work and I am gradually making the jump from traditional to digital. It’s a completely different way of crafting artwork because you are so used to having the feel of the texture of the paper. I am probably more associated as a penciller in comics but being able to be able to encompass the other skills in creating art in comics is a tremendous amount of fun.
In Issue 4 of Divinica we produced it in watercolour. We are not just about making it look ancient but also about when you open the book that you are stepping into that old world. I’m very excited about the Goddesses and an enthusiastic artist when it comes to exploring their mythical histories. Most of the characters which we are choosing for Divinica at this moment are, in their specific region, protectors of women and bring healing. We wanted to take them from many pantheons of mythology to make the stories more globally inclusive and relatable to a wider selection of people. If we just stuck to the traditional Greek Goddesses we wouldn’t be able to make that world wide impact.
[DiVinica # 4 which was published in July 2018]
[Dawn produced this stunning cover for Batman #50 The Wedding of Bruce Wayne]
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Dawn for her time and to say that I really enjoyed our conversation and analysis of her artwork.
Check out Dawn’s Professional Website for more information on her convention appearances and her shop.
You can find the DiVinica series on Comic Vine
Dawn’s work can also be seen at Rothic Comics
Dawn’s Youtube channel features Q+A and her live sketches from her Twitch channel.