Artist Feature: Matt Frank
Best known for his artistic recreations of Godzilla, Matt Frank’s work spans many franchises and genres that can be found in both comic book form as well as his personal pieces and original creations. Most of Matt’s art can be found on his website, MattFrankArt.com, as well as his DeviantArt and Tumblr pages.
How did you discover your passion for art?
It was just one of those things that kids DO when they’re younger, y’know? I liked to draw, like lots of kids, but I just didn’t stop. Drawing dinosaurs was the most fun– because dinosaurs are sweet.
When and how did you discover the tokusatsu genre?
It definitely started with Godzilla flicks when I was very young, and spiraled out from there. Like most kids, it started with Godzilla, then Power Rangers came along, and eventually Gamera and Ultraman, and onwards to proper Super Sentai and Kamen Rider.
Given that it was this gradual thing, there’s no “one moment.” Although I will describe the two major pinpoint discoveries: Super Sentai and Ultraman. Sentai was only hinted at when I was a child through Power Rangers magazines and a TV special around the time Lost Galaxy was being aired, but I discovered a website that had a comprehensive list of all Super Sentai and their vague descriptions between Goranger and Ohranger…and it was like discovering Power Rangers all over again. Ultraman was definitely earlier; I spotted a commercial one day featuring the action figures from Ultraman Towards the Future, and my first thought was “HOLY CRAP, IT’S A KAIJU-SIZED SUPERHERO.”
So, where do you find your inspiration?
Good question. I’m generally just inspired by other cool art and creativity that excites the child/lizard portion of my brain. Cool cartoons, cool comics, monster movies, what have you.
What is your favorite art medium to work with?
Good ol’ pens, pencils, and paper! Though I’m becoming increasingly fond of copic markers.
Can you tell us how you came to work with IDW on Transformers and eventually Godzilla: Rulers of Earth?
Back in 2007, when Transformers was getting big again, I fired off an email to Chris Ryall at IDW, looking for work (as I was a big Transformers fan). Luckily, they needed to fill some slots on the Beast Wars Sourcebook, so I stepped in. Doing that formed a professional relationship with IDW that meant I had an “in” to work on Godzilla once it was announced. After doing covers and a one-shot for them, a third ongoing was planned after History’s Greatest Monster, and Chris Mowry and I were put at the head of it because we were recognized as the mega-fans we are.
How was that process different or similar from working the indie game, Colossal Kaiju Combat?
CKC definitely did come out of a synergistic relationship between myself and Simon Strange. We were introduced by our mutual friend, Chris Mirjahangir, and then started working on the game. The process of game development is reasonably different from comics, though – it involves a lot more back-and-forth and step-by-step development.
Can you walk us through the process when creating a piece?
Depends on the piece! But generally, it all starts with thumbnail sketches to figure out the general concept and composition. Then I move to the bristol board and lay out light pencils, then tighter pencils, then pen-and-ink, finally erasing the pencils. Then scanned and colored!
What advice would you give to aspiring professional artists who want to work in comics and games?
There’s no such thing as “natural talent” – it’s all aggressive, constant, hard work. Be productive, be disciplined, and most importantly, love what you’re doing. And to be honest, art isn’t for everyone. Some folks just like to draw for fun after they get home from work, and that’s fine. But if you really want to be a professional, don’t be afraid to take your licks, the occasional part-time job, and the honest-but-hurtful critiques.
Do you have a specific kaiju or character you like to draw constantly?
….That a trick question? Because I can think of at least one radioactive lizard.
If you could be a tokusatsu hero or kaiju, who would you be?
I find a lot of wish-fulfillment in being Ultraman.
You attend quite a few conventions during the year. What is that experience like and how does it feel to meet fans of your work?
It’s always exhilarating. It means so much that my work is important to people. Conventions are great fun and extremely exciting, but they can be exhausting. Given my current workload, I might be cutting back a bit, sadly. It’s a matter of trying to reduce personal stress and maintaining my bottom line. But I’ll still go to as many as I can, and try a few new ones as well!
Do you have any projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?
The big ones are Godzilla: Rulers of Earth and Colossal Kaiju Combat, although I’ve got something else I’ll be able to announce soon. Plus check Kickstarter for Kaiju Gaiden, and documentary that I contributed a poster design for!
All artwork featured in the Tokusatsu Network Artist Feature are reposted with permission from the original artist. Please do not repost or alter in any way without permission and proper credit.
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