Some of Wimberly's highly-regarded works include: "Sentences: The Life of MF Grimm" which won many awards, including Time Magazine's Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2007, "Something Wicked This Way Comes" a unique adaptation of the work by noted science-fiction luminary, Ray Bradbury, and his current work: "Prince of Cats" which puts a "Brooklyn, hip-hop" spin on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
Putting his pen down for a moment, Wimberly's interview is a unique mix of subversive humor and seriousness, all blended together. A lot like his illustrations.
A. My mother tells a story of when she believes I solidified my resolve to draw/paint.
I was in preschool, or rather my mother would instruct me in the basics of math and language via educational books when I was preschool age (4, I think).
I asked my mom to draw a dinosaur for me; she did. I was unsatisfied with the results and told her so. I drew it again on my own. The rest is my story.
My mother has always supported me.
My father has been mostly absent my entire life.
My stepfather has never understood me. Despite my wishes to be put in art school, he insisted that I do basketball camp. That said, as an adult, more than once, he has risked his own neck to save mine from the pitfalls of my artistic career.
Q2. Why comic book illustration? What is it about this art form that speaks to you?
A. I do not hold comics above any other medium in particular. The reason why, up to now, I've chosen to work in this medium is because I could use the skills I had at the time to both make art and support myself. It is an economical means of expression.
What speaks to me is the economy and the intimacy of the medium. It's like a "novel off rails." Where canned drawings we call "words" will no longer do, when they aren't nuanced or vague enough, the artist can use unique custom "words" to reach out to the reader.
Q3. What college did you attend and why?
A. Pratt. I saw the campus and the neighborhood and was sold.
A. If "success" is "struggling to survive" then I have been very successful. I don't believe there has been any progress in America as far as race or equality for labor is concerned. While occasionally someone like myself will be allowed to create a work, the institutions that hinder the progression of marginalized groups change little.
The challenges I face regularly can be split into two categories. The category I will address first relates to class and the exploitation of labor. Often groups exploit the passion and eagerness of those who wish to make comics. Often people who wish to make comics are paid very little, if anything at all. It has been said that this common. I want this to change...
Q5. What specific advice can you give to parents who have kids that might want to explore the field of comic book illustration?
A. I am not a parent so... Maybe give your child many books and plenty of food. Make them feel safe and listen to them carefully.
Q6. How important is artistic technique? Should young people be familiar with various styles? Why?
A. Voice is important. Some technique is important. I think being a student of "culture" is helpful but being sensitive and compassionate is most important. If you are serious about your craft, you will hone it so that you may communicate properly.
A. Storytelling IS comics. This is my way. Comics is advanced writing. It's writing words and then making marks that express things beyond words.
Practically, sure...If you want to draw the Incredible Hulk, learn conventional trending
illustration, anatomy (even though the greatest American superhero artist, Jack Kirby, moved beyond anatomy and convention), but if you want to use comics to change the world, you must learn all of the components (storytelling and mark making.)
Q8. What work(s) are you most proud of and why?
A. AFRICA? and Prince of Cats because they are honest expressions of who I am. They are both poems and contain a bit of my soul.
A. Kriegstein: his line, his pacing, his ethics and layout.
Moebius: his spirituality, the mass in his line, his playfulness.
Munoz: how he looked at light and humanity. His presentation of Black skin.
Hokusai: line and mark making.
Basquiat: his seamless blend of mark making in language and picture. His genius in the use of cultural shorthand and antiquity.
Q10. Is there anything else that you would like to share?
A. More stories...but I have to write or draw them first.
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