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Whenever I think that I know about all of the local cartoonists, a surprise awaits me. Last week, I got a tip that Bill McKay had a comic book solicited from Moonstone, and judging from his website, was in the D.C. area. A quick e-mail confirmed that he is in the greater metro area, and he’s answered our usual questions for us.
Bill McKay: I think I’ve developed my own style. It’s definitely cartoonish and clean. I’m obsessive about super clean lines. The stuff I’ve done recently is over the top and violent. I think of it as more fun and campy than gory.
WCP: How do you do it? Pen and ink, computers, or a mixture?
BM: I usually do an image in pencil then scan it. I tweak it in Photoshop. I can change any proportions or eyesores. I convert the pencil lines to light blue, then print them on a fresh piece of Bristol board. I then ink the blue lines in black with technical pens. I scan the black inks as a CMYK file and drop all the channels except magenta. That removes all the blue and just shows the black. I adjust the contrast so it’s a crisp b&w image then color that image in Photoshop.
WCP: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?
BM: 1968 in Cheverly.
BM: I was raised in Bowie and Largo. Since then I’ve lived in Hyattsville and La Plata.
BM: Self-taught. I took some non-credit classes but have no formal training. Most of what I learned came from studying other artists work.
WCP: Who are your influences?
WCP: If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?
BM: I wish I was less cocky when I was younger and pursued some formal training. I was working right out of high school as an illustrator and when computers started taking over and making pen and ink illustrators less significant I wasn’t ready.
WCP: What work are you best-known for?
BM: The highest profile things I’ve worked on include many t-shirt designs for the Washington Redskins and and web comics for Snickers candy. What I’m known for the most is the current comic I’m working on called Zombies vs Cheerleaders from Moonstone comics. It’s the thing that put me on the map in the comic world.
The Redskins stuff was from the Doug Williams, Jay Schroeder and Charles Mann era. I never saved any of that stuff. I sold the originals and it never crossed my mind back then to save any production materials, so if I have anything left it’s just the t-shirts. The web comic panels were done individually, and in pieces, and then put together and animated by another person. I’ve worked on every issue of Zombies vs Cheerleaders in some form. #1 – a pin-up, Geektacular – cover, #2 – a pin-up, Rotten / ZvC Flips Out – cover, #3 – sequential art/ interiors.They were released in that order. I’ve also completed work for upcoming issues that haven’t come together yet. #1, 2 and ZvC Geektacular are out now. Rotten / ZvC Flips Out comes out this month and #3 is available for pre-order for an April release.
BM: I’m very proud of my ZvC work but the current project that I’m also working on called Three Palm Apocalypse will be my best.
BM: Three Palms Apocalypse is a comic that I have been developing for years. It features many of my own characters. Nothing would make me happier than finding some success with that.
BM: Drink more coffee and put on some aggressive music.
BM: I think comics in their classic layout and design will continue for a good while but be distributed digitally. I have a good friend who owns a comic store and it’s getting ugly.
BM: Washington Capitals, old 9:30 club.
WCP: What monument or museum do you take most out-of-town guests to?
BM: You can’t go wrong with mummy’s and dinosaurs. The Natural History Museum.
WCP: Do you have a website or blog?
Correction: The article original misspelled Jay Schroeder’s name.