The Impressive Art and Passion of Comic Illustrator: Chad Heinrich
The Impressive Art and Passion of Comic Illustrator: Chad Heinrich
Interviewed by Song River
Song River: Chad it would seem by looking at your illustrations, that art is an extension of who you are. Thinking back, was there a favorite character that you drew repeatedly?
Chad Heinrich: A long as I can remember I've drawn Batman. My grandmother recently sent me a bunch of artwork I had done as young as 5 years old, all Batman. But I have to admit I also spent a fair amount of time on Spidey, Spawn, and the X-Men.
Song: I understand you are quite diverse in your artistic expressions, what are some of the other mediums you enjoy?
Chad: I have dabbled in just about every medium I can think of. As for other mediums I enjoy, I find sculpture particularly relaxing, there is something really fascinating about shaping and creating with your hands. You are literally building a 3-dimensional rendering of what you see in your mind, I have the utmost respect for anyone who can sculpt. I also really enjoy digital painting, which I tend to do more for 'fun' no pressure, just experimenting and learning new techniques. It's nice to have an outlet where there's no pressure, one that's just for you.
Song: Did you read, or collect comics growing up?
Chad: I started collecting comics very young, I will never forget how the Batman Story arc Knightfall and the Superman story 'The Death of Superman completely sucked me in as a kid. Those and Jim Lee's X-Men, Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man, and Spawn. I can vividly remember running down to the local convenience store to get my new issues on release day!
Song: Why and when did Batman and the surrounding characters become an integral part of your comic art creations?
Chad: I didn't start drawing Batman on a regular basis until the launch of the new 52 by D.C.
Greg Capullo is and has been my favorite artist for the majority of my life, so when I heard he would be taking over art duties on my favorite hero of all time, I naturally became even more interested in drawing the character. It quickly became what people identify me with as an artist. Brandon James, another fantastic local artist started calling me "the Gotham guy" and I couldn't have been happier with the nickname. I put my heart and soul into whatever I create, and that just told me I was doing something right.
Song: Is there a certain period of time in the past 75 years of Batman that you have found yourself drawn to?
Chad: I LOVE what D.C. has done with Batman for the new '52 relaunch, but what will always be my pinnacle for Batman has to be Knightfall. When Bane actually broke the bat, I was a completely rabid fan, that story was so dark and gritty to me. I'll never forget the impact that it had on my life creatively and artistically. Tied with Knightfall though has to be the animated series, my brother Bryce and I would watch it religiously, all the way through Batman Beyond, those series defined my childhood.
Song: I recall my older brother watching the caped crusader series many years ago. Who has been your favorite actor to portray in art as Batman? Are you more fond of the series, or particular movie?
Chad: I get into a lot of trouble for this one, honestly I don't have a favorite Batman actor, I haven't been a tremendous fan of anyone that's portrayed the Dark Knight with the exception of Kevin Conroy. As far as I am concerned he IS Batman. Whenever I pick up an issue or read a story, graphic novel, script, whatever it may be, I hear Bruce/Batman as Kevin Conroy in my head. Mask of the Phantasm was also the first Batman motion picture I saw in theaters, so it will always hold a very special place in my heart.
Song: If you could, would you don the black mask?
Chad: My gut reaction is to immediately scream ABSOLUTELY!!! But if I'm 100% honest with myself, I don't think I'm mentally strong enough to endure everything they've put Bruce through in his 75 years. It would take a much stronger man than I to live up to that kind of stress, I'm an artist! My hands are too soft for that kind of street justice, criminals aren't going to be intimidated by being punched in the face by baby soft fists! (laughs).
Song: How do you prepare your time, space, mind for creating? Do you have a set schedule? Is there a particular setting that you work in better than another? What mediums do you like to use when illustrating?
Chad: I don't really have any particular schedule. I do tend to do most of my art, and creating at night, my best work comes out at night. I usually hit the drawing board at the earliest around 11pm, and I've caught myself drawing until 7 or 8 in the morning. Between my job, my children, and just life in general I find that I do my best work when the world is asleep and I can completely hone in and focus on what I'm creating.
My favorite medium has to be pencils and inks, in comic style. There's something about bringing these comic book characters to life that is so fulfilling, I'm taking a character with an incredibly rich 75 year history and portraying him through my eyes, the eyes of a fan who's lived with, and drawn inspiration from him for over 30 years, there isn't much that can compare to that.
Song: Do you recall your first comic con, as a fan? How about as an artisan selling your wares?
Chad: My first Comicon ever actually wasn't until 2012, and I went as a fan. I was always terrified that I'd go and see all these incredible artists that were so much better than I am, that I'd be crushed as an artist to see so much incredible work. When I finally walked through the convention hall doors though, I couldn't have been more wrong. The local artistic community has been tremendously supportive of me, so nice, and so friendly. Artists like Mike DeBalfo, Brandon James, Eric Mengel, James Potter and so many more, too many to name. Ever since then I've been attending as an Artisan, and there is nothing like it. I have been so fortunate to meet, work with, and become friends with people I have looked up to and admired for years. People like Thomas Mason, Jonathan Glapion, Joel Gomez, just the most genuine, talented, and upstanding people.
The fans you meet at cons are just mind blowing as well, the support from the local community is overwhelming. You'll find these fans that stick with you through thick and thin, and not only purchase your creations, but promote you to their families and friends, the word of mouth is like wild fire, in just the last six months I've encountered over 1000 people who support me and what I do, there aren't words to thank them appropriately.
Song: How would you like to see the story of Batman progress? We've witnessed 75 years of Batman in multiple scenes in the creators 'current times' through history- do you ever really envision Batman's attire or attitude of heart changing drastically?
Chad: For me, Batman is at his best when he's dark and gritty. Story lines like Frank Miller's, Grant Morrison's, and Scott Snyder's. As long as he stays true to who he is, strong and resilient, I will always love watching him progress.
Song: What are some of the other characters you enjoy creating?
Chad: I love drawing a huge variety of characters, from Spider-Man to Wolverine, Spawn, Invincible, and I actually really love doing portrait work of people who have inspired me in my life, I'm probably most proud of my Heath Ledger and Corey Taylor portraits. I also have a character I created along with the uber talented, J Wade Webb, that we are developing that I absolutely love to draw.
Song: You mentioned how much you admire Greg Capullo's work, do you as well have other artists in the industry and outside the industry you admire? Who would you like to meet, work with?
Chad: I cannot stress Greg Capullo enough. I've gotten to meet him, hang out with him a few times, and there is no other artist I admire or respect more than that man. He's my hero and I've been fortunate enough to spend little bits of time with him, I can't describe how it feels when your hero calls you out by name in a gigantic group of people at a con to just come over and say hello.
There are so many artists I admire and respect, not to mention love to work with, and some I have been fortunate enough to do so. Greg Capullo, Jim Lee, J.H. Williams III, David Finch, Tony Daniel, Jonathan Glapion, Thomas Mason, Ryan Ottley, J Wade Webb, Bryce Heinrich, the list could go on and on, all artists inspire me in some way, I simply can't get enough.
Song: Lastly Chad, Batgirl just called, she said she and Robin were meeting Alfred for pizza in about an hour. They want to know what you, Batman, would like on your pizza?
Chad: (with a half cocked grin throw back his cape over his shoulders, leaning forward he states) "Black olives and Justice..."
Follow Chad Heinrich on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Chadheinrichart