To say that we were stoked to land NICE variant covers from artist Tula Lotay would be an understatement. In addition to providing interiors for flagship series like ALL-STAR BATMAN, Lotay has painted covers for just about everything in the comics world, from ARCHIE and RED SONJA to POWER RANGERS and BLACK WIDOW. She also runs the Thought Bubble Festival every year in the UK, which always sports an impressive roster of artists and writers, and has several solo fine art shows under her belt. Though she often lets her art speak for itself, Lotay was lovely enough to answer a few of our burning questions regarding her cover process.
American Gothic Press. We first discovered you on Warren Ellis’s SUPREME: BLUE ROSE. Since then, you’ve done some interiors (and recently did a gorgeous Heavy Metal story with Grant Morrison), but you tend to stick to covers. Do you prefer portraits and fine art to sequential art? Why or why not?
Tula Lotay. I actually love both. My heart has always been in comic book storytelling, but it’s hard and really time consuming. Covers are much easier to do — but I’ll be back with sequentials soon. I love drawing comics.
AGP. How much coaching do you usually receive on your covers? Do you ever read an entire script first?
TL. My favourite covers to draw are the ones where I get issues sent. I get to read through them and jam some ideas, then the editor lets me just run with it. I never do my best work when stories are vague, or the brief is a really ridged image with no room to breathe. The amount of interaction between editor/writer and artist varies from project to project. My favourites are the ones where I have a lot of freedom.
AGP. Do you find that publishers and/or writers approach you for any kind of genre in particular? NICE, for example, is hipster neo-noir, but you’re also known for surreal science fiction. Likewise, is there any genre or subject matter that you avoid full-stop?
TL. I do get a lot of sci-fi and horror, which is great because my favourite genres are sci-fi and horror. I think the work you put out informs jobs you get, so it creates this nice feedback loop of projects that interest you. Or that’s the way it works for me. I feel very lucky I get to draw what I love. Genres I’m not too interested in are melodrama and romance. But, saying that, my favourite parts of a lot of the sci-fi and horror I love are the sexy moments or the romance. I like my romance dark. Like BLADE RUNNER romance.
AGP. Do you find that your preferred medium or technique changes depending on subject matter, or do you always create art the same way?
TL. Yeah, it definitely changes depending on what I’m drawing, but the deadline I have on a project dictates that too. I’d love to do more watercolor work, but I need a good amount of time to play with that.
AGP. What are some influences on you that led to the development of your unique and instantly recognizable style?
TL. Thank you! I loved a lot of the traditional painterly comics growing up, stuff like Bill Sienkiewicz’s ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN, Frank Miller’s DAREDEVIL YEAR ONE and BORN AGAIN, Dave McKean’s CAGES and ARKHAM ASYLUM, and Kent Williams and John J. Muth’s MELTDOWN.
AGP. What is your dream project?
TL. I have a story I started working on about 7 years ago. I’d love to team up with one of my favourite writers to complete it. It’s something I’ll probably do in the next year or so.