Kevin Rechin is a local cartoonist whose work, frequently for commercial clients, often falls under the radar. A couple of years ago, he did drawings for the D.C. Lottery of the Nationals baseball players; they were blown up to life size and displayed in the Navy Yard Metro station by the ballpark. Last weekend, Rechin appeared very briefly on ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition, where he designed and illustrated a superhero room for two young boys. As he told my ComicsDC blog in an e-mail, “I basically designed and painted a mural of a cityscape with caricatures of each kid as a superhero incorporated into the scene and also designed personal superhero logos for each kid. These were embroidered on capes for customized costumes and used as decals on a cool car bed built for the show. That’s basically it. Keep in mind I had 4 days to come up with the design, get it approved and then had from about 4 p.m. Friday to 2 p.m. the next day to do the whole room with the help of a couple more people. Needless to say it was an all-nighter! Everything done for that show is done for free or as a donation.” Kevin was kind enough to answer our soon-to-be-standard questions this week.
Washington City Paper: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?
Kevin Rechin: The majority of my work is for magazines and advertising. I tend to get work from a lot of children’s publications, toy companies, books, etc.
WCP: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?
WCP: Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?
KR: I grew up in Northern Virginia and after art school landed a job at USA Today after seven years, then I went freelance full-time and never left the area. I now live in Falls Church.
WCP: What is your training and/or education in cartooning?
KR: Well I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to remember. As for formal training. I studied illustration at Virginia Commonwealth University. A lot of my “education” in cartooning came from watching my father, Bill Rechin, who is a syndicated cartoonist. I also learned a lot on the job working in the newspaper business.
WCP: Who are your influences?
KR: Obviously my Dad. Others are Chuck Jones, Walt Disney, Ronald Searle, Arnold Roth, a lot of art from the early the early Mad magazines, Richard Thompson, Al Hirschfeld. That’s the short list.
WCP: If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?
KR: I would have gotten involved in animation. Something I’ve always loved but never seriously pursued.
WCP: What work are you best-known for?
KR: That’s tough to know since my work is fairly scattered and my clients vary. A few clients include Time magazine, Smithsonian, National Geographic, and the Wall Street Journal. Kids would probably know my work from Disney Adventures or packages I’ve done for Hasbro. Of course if it is advertising, you don’t get the name credit. I did design the logo for the updated Barrel of Monkeys game.
WCP: What work are you most proud of?
KR: I am most proud of personal work I am doing now.
WCP: What would you like to do or work on in the future?
KR: Well I would still love to do something in animation. I would also like to do something that is more personal that incorporates all my own weird quirks and neuroses, as well as the people and things that I come in contact with on a daily basis. I know there is a lot of comic potential there. This could take the form of a daily comic strip.
WCP: What do you do when you’re in a rut or have writer’s block?
KR: DRAW!!! When I’m stuck I just grab my sketchbook and draw. Not knowing where I’m going. Eventually something emerges from this.
WCP: What do you think will be the future of your field?
KR: I think since print is becoming less vital the industry is going through a major transformation. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With the internet, blogs, etc. there are just many more outlets now for cartoonists to get their work seen.
WCP: What’s your favorite thing about D.C.?
KR: A lot of great food.
WCP: Least favorite?
KR: It often feels superficial or pretentious.
WCP: What monument or museum do you take most out-of-town guests to?
KR: The National Gallery of Art.
WCP: Do you have a Web site or blog?
WCP: Thanks for the interview, Kevin. On that note, visit Kevin’s site and check out his work.
More photos of Kevin Rechin’s Nationals portraits here.