All Is Full Of Linky-Love: 3 Questions With Brad Rader, Illustrator Of Fogtown, By Dale Lazarov

Posted by September 18, 2010 Comment

self-portrait, ©2010 Brad Rader

His bio: Brad Rader graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, as an illustration major. From there he went on to work in the animation industry as a layout and storyboard artist on such TV series as Rainbow Brite, The Littles, The Real Ghostbusters, Alf: The Animated Series, ALF Tails, The Simpsons, Batman: The Animated Series, Biker Mice From Mars, Gargoyles, Men In Black: The Series, Tarzan and Jane, Atlantis: Milo’s Return, The Spectacular Spiderman, and Stripperella, among others. He has directed on such TV series as Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn (for which he won an Emmy in 1999), Godzilla: The Series, and The Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends.

He has illustrated comic books such as Batman Adventures, Gotham Adventures, and Catwoman for DC Comics, The Mark In America for Dark Horse Comics, Fused for Image Comics, and Tex for Atomic Basement.

August 10, 2010 saw the publication of the graphic novel Fogtown, written by Andersen Gabrych and illustrated by Brad, with gray tones by the manga cartoonist Rivkah. It was published by Vertigo Crime and has generated much interest and acclaim, including a 6 week long exhibition of the original artwork at Flazh! Alley Studio in San Pedro, California in August/September 2010.

Brad Rader has been doing homoerotic artwork since 1984, appearing in Drummer, First Hand, and Chiron Rising, among others. In 2003 he started Flaming Artist Publications, so far producing 2 issues of the homoerotic magazine, True Adult Fantasy, He has had one man shows of his erotic works in 1989 (The OneWay: “Recycled Erotica”), 1991/1992 (A Different Light Bookstore in Silverlake and San Francisco: “Free Art”), 2005 (Mr. B’s in Amsterdam and Berlin), and 2007 (Flazh! Alley in San Pedro, of the original artwork to the graphic novel, Harry and Dickless Tom). Flaming Artist Press published his first graphic novel, Harry and Dickless Tom, in July 2006. His erotic work can be seen on his website, flamingartist.com and he keeps a blog about his mainstream work at Rader of The Lost Art.

Raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Brad now lives and works in Los Angeles.

from Fogtown, ©2010 Anderson Gabrich and Brad Rader

First question: Fogtown‘s art is very tightly and articulately composed, the framing and page layouts reflecting the tension between the cool and disaffected distance that the protagonist takes towards his circumstances and the passion and trauma that threaten to come to the surface. Is there any particular set of influences or aspirations that guide you?

I was influenced by early 50’s comics, especially Russ Heath, Alex Toth and Milton Caniff. To a lesser extent I was influenced by Tony Salmons, Jordi Bernet, Richard Corben, Mike Mignola, and Gene Colan.

I also studied a lot of film noir movies from the late 40’s/early 50’s, especially The House on Telegraph Hill, The Dark Corner, Cat People and Vicki.

I was also influenced by “good girl art” in both a positive and negative way. I studied this body of work to find ways to make my women sexy, something I’m self-conscious about as a gay man. On the other hand, most straight cartoonist epic fail (in my opinion) at drawing beautiful women because they mostly draw the same woman over and over again with different hair styles. I was quite consciously trying to avoid this in my depiction of the 3 main female leads. I still failed, I fear; they all had the same breast size (and, to the degree that I was able to pull it off) beautiful legs. I should have made one of them short, one of them zaftig, one of them tall and skinny. But still beautiful. Or maybe even NOT beautiful. Why do all the female leads have to be beautiful? And what is “beautiful” anyway? Personally, I think Kathy Bates was HOT in Misery and Men Don’t Leave. (In fact, I used her as a character in Harry and Dickless Tom.)

I went for “old school” storytelling; I prized clarity over impact, though I think the storytelling was quite dramatic when it needed to be. It just didn’t need to be all the time. I think this is a major error of the majority of comics/movies/television these days; they think they have to go for maximum impact all the time. This leads to the ridiculous situation in John Woo movies (for example) where they start big and have nowhere to go but up, to the point where they become incoherent self-parody.

from Fogtown, ©2010 Anderson Gabrich and Brad Rader

Question no. 2: Other than its purpose as a noir detective graphic novel, what do you want people to take from Fogtown?

I don’t know. It wasn’t my story; I didn’t write it. If you want my philosophy of love and life, read my self-written, independently published graphic novel, Harry and Dickless Tom. This can be ordered at my website, http://www.flamingartist.com. I’m much more ambivalent about Fogtown. Frankly, I’m not sure what people should take from it. I’m not sure if I did a good job; I can’t argue with the negative reviews.

from Fogtown, ©2010 Anderson Gabrich and Brad Rader

Question The Third: What appealed to you about working in the Vertigo Crime black and white format for comics?

I was excited about getting a project in print from a mainstream publisher after several years of being on the outs.

It was a chance to receive broader recognition than I’ve gotten for my independently published work.

I also enjoy the give and take of working with a writer and editor. I’m used to collaborating, having worked most of my career doing storyboards in the TV Animation industry. Writing my own stories, as with Harry and Dickless Tom is both more fulfilling and scarier, since it’s all on me.

I was also hoping that DC/Vertigo would do the heavy lifting in regards to marketing and publicity (the major bête noire of independent publishing).

Brad Rader is available for commissions and freelance work in comics and animation.

***

Dale Lazarov is the writer/editor of chic hardcovers of gay comics filth — STICKY, MANLY and NIGHTLIFE — published by Bruno Gmünder Verlag . Visit Swanderful, his tumblog of Curt Swan comics art, and his very NSFW gay erotic art tumblog, Fuck Yeah Dale Lazarov.

(Last Updated September 18, 2010 10:22 am )

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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