Illustrator Ryan Lang Makes His Comics Debut in ‘Legends Of The Guard’
Earlier this week we ran an exclusive preview of Legends of the Guard #4, the final installment of the latest collection of short stories told by amazing creators in the world of David Petersen's Mouse Guard. One of the standouts among the many stories told through the three volumes of the anthology is Ryan Lang's "The Watcher's Stone," a moving and inventive ten-page story.
Lang is completely new to comics, but he's an accomplished freelance illustrator and animator whose credits include work on last year's Disney animated movie Big Hero 6. ComicsAlliance spoke briefly to Lang about his artistic process and how he came to Legends of the Guard.
ComicsAlliance: What drew you to the world of David Petersen's Mouse Guard, and how did you decide what sort of story you wanted to tell?
Ryan Lang: I had been following David's work on Twitter for a while, so when he asked me if I'd like to do a 10 page story for Legends of the Guard, it was a no-brainer. I've always loved animation, but it always seems to take place in a world with no stakes. Mouse Guard is beautifully drawn and caricatured, and also has a real sense of peril for the characters. That was probably the biggest draw for me.
CA: Your story is really beautiful and surprisingly powerful for ten short pages. How did you approach this challenge?
RL: I've always been a fan of folklore and the way that people created stories to explain natural phenomena, and the idea that someone would stand watch so long that they turned to stone just felt cool. Since this was my first stab at "writing" and I only had ten pages, I tried to keep it very simple, and a folk tale seemed the way to go.
CA: I'd love to know about your process. How do you work? Do you do everything digitally?
RL: Most of my work is digital, but usually I start with a pen and paper to play with camera angles and compositions until I get something that I feel says what I want it to. I'll scan that in and clean it up as a line drawing digitally.
I'll block in the background and the characters on separate layers.
Then I'll define my light source and begin to render materials.
I'll finish up with lighting effects and a background blur.
CA: What was your role on Big Hero 6?
RL: I was a visual development artist, helping to design environments, effects, and painting key moments of the movie to get a feel for the film.
CA: What was your favorite part of working on that movie?
RL: Being able to work under production designer Paul Felix! I've been a huge fan of his work for a long time. Not only is he an amazing artist, but quite possibly the nicest person I've ever met.
CA: We're seeing a lot of animators making comics now. Given that animation probably pays better, what's the appeal of comics to people in your business?
RL: I think so many people get in to animation to tell stories, but there are only so many movies a studio can make. Comics are a platform to allow for those stories to be told.
CA: So do you have more stories you want to tell?
Check out the first two pages of Ryan Lang's 'The Watcher's Stone' below, from Legends of the Guard vol 3 #4, available in stores now. See more of Lang's work on his Tumblr: