First Comics News: Why did you decide to go to the Kubert School?
J. Briscoe Allison: If you ask my mother, I’ve been drawing since age two. I’ve always loved drawing and telling stories, so I gravitated toward comics at a young age. I guess I was about twelve when I decided that I wanted to work in comics, so when I graduated high school, it was really the only option I was considering. My folks weren’t entirely on board at first, but eventually came around, and have become huge supporters over the years.
1st: What was the most important thing you learned at the Kubert School?
Briscoe: Storytelling, hands down. When I first began attending classes, I had a chip on my shoulder. I thought that, because I could draw reasonably well, I could draw comics. I learned quickly that there is a world of difference between a great artist and a great storyteller. The instructors at the Kubert School are all working comic artists, and to be able to tap that wealth of knowledge about pacing and directing a story was invaluable!
1st: Why will people love “Sweet Lullaby”?
Briscoe: On the surface, it’s easy to give an answer like: “She’s a beautiful assassin; what’s not to love?” But, I think readers will be pleasantly surprised by the relationships between the characters and, ultimately, Lullaby’s deeper motivations. AJ gave me a fantastic story to bring to life! All of the pieces fit together so nicely, and Lullaby’s arc in this first series is startlingly deep. I think the readers will actually fall in love with Lullaby a little, just like I have. She’s smart and strong, but she has all of these conflicting emotions she has to deal with. She’s never a ‘damsel in distress,’ but she’s also not a superhero. When she fights, she feels it. She gets hurt.
1st: What genre is this comic and how does your art bring that out?
Briscoe: “Sweet Lullaby” straddles a few genres, but if I had to boil it down, I’d call it a spy/thriller. I’ve been illustrating professionally for almost twenty years now, so I’ve developed several styles over that time. I went with a more cartoonish style in this story because I wanted each reader to be able to put themselves in Lullaby’s shoes. I find that if you go too realistic in comics, you run the risk of alienating some of your audience, and it was important to me that the characters be relatable. I try to provide a template for the readers so that they can fill in the blanks using their own imagination… That, and I love drawing in this style because it’s so damned fun!
1st: What type of look do you try to give Lullaby?
Briscoe: For me, she’s the girl next door. She has to be beautiful and sexy, but remain approachable. Sometimes, it’s a tight wire act. But, I felt it was important for her character to maintain a ‘sweetness’ (no pun intended), at least on the outside.
1st: You do draw a lovely… um… form, how do you achieve that?
Briscoe: Practice and research. 🙂
1st: Do you like to draw fight scenes and why?
Briscoe: Yes! Honestly, I love drawing just about anything, but action and/or fight scenes are always the most exciting part for me because of the challenges those scenes present. Drawing two people talking in an elevator is pretty easy. Drawing a knock down, drag out fight in an elevator is a whole other can of worms, as you have to have at least some understanding of fight choreography, martial arts, and also how two bodies will interact with one another. Going in, AJ was very specific about the fight scenes. He wasn’t interested in just showing Lullaby throwing hay-makers. He wanted to see choke holds and specific close-quarters combat. It’s been a real challenge, but I’ve loved every second of it.
1st: What do you have the most trouble drawing?
Briscoe: Well, I’m from the school of thought that, if you can draw ‘one’ thing, you can draw anything. That being said, in my work, I sometimes have a harder time with the slower scenes. Action is easy because it’s big and dynamic. Slower scenes that are more about character or exposition can be tough because you have to find a way to maintain visual interest.
Briscoe: “Botched” was a means to an end for me. I wrote “Botched” because I had all but given up on working in comics. I’d been told it was too hard to break into, so I spent about fifteen years as an Illustrator and Graphic Designer. I thought comics were out of my system, but I started feeling that itch again, so I started writing, and out came “Botched.” It’s a crime story based loosely on a short film that my brother and I made with a group of friends in the early 2000’s.
1st: Which artists do you admire?
Briscoe: I was coming up in the 90’s, so you’ll see a lot of influence from that era in my work. I love Humberto Ramos, J. Scott Campbell, Joe Madureira, Joe Quesada, Todd McFarlane, Greg Capullo to name a few. They were my heroes then, and still today! They’re all still going strong twenty years later, so they must be doing something right!
Briscoe: Absolutely! They both offer such a rich gallery of characters and I’d be happy to take on any one of them, but I must say, I’ve got a special place in my heart for Daredevil. He’s been my favorite from day one. I’ve always wanted to get my hands on ‘ol horn head.
1st: Do you think you have any skills like Lullaby?
Briscoe: Hahaha! Not even remotely. I love drawing this stuff, but I’m a big softy at heart. I’m the guy that catches spiders and takes them outside instead of squashing them.
1st: What is next for you in your comics career?
Briscoe: Time will tell. I have high hopes, but it really just depends on what comes down the pipe. I’d jump at the chance to work with AJ again! We’ve become close friends during this process and we have a lot of similarities when it comes to the stories that interest us. In that regard, we’re basically the same person, only he writes and I draw.
1st: What would you like to say to fans of your art?
Briscoe: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Drawing comics is my full-time job now, but it’s never really about the money for folks in this industry, I suspect. We do this stuff because we love doing it, and we want to entertain you! When you let us know that our work is noticed and, hopefully, appreciated, it means more than all the money in the world!