Comic Creators Anonymous – Elliot Balson

Artist Elliot Balson co-created Untethered that made it’s Kickstarter target back in May and it looks like the kind of book that can really show-off his work.

What was the first title you worked on?

My first published work was for a Millarworld Forum Anthology called A Fistful of Comics, about a superhero called The Rockette.

I was still in high school back in 2010 when it was made, and I remember doing it around exams and worrying about getting it done in time – 3 pages seemed a lot back then!

How has your work changed since then?

Well I’m not drawing on A5 anymore, for a start! I also ink my own work now, while this was done by Stephen Paki. During my time studying animation I moved to working digitally, so that’s allowed some freedom to employ some new techniques. I’ve been trying to go back to traditional though, or at least find a happy medium between the two. Hopefully a decade or so’s worth of improvement is visible too! I’ve been aiming to try and do something a little different style-wise with each project, while keeping a look that’s ‘me’.

Who are your main influences?

That’s a tough one; there’s always going to be someone that’s left out, or someone who pops up after you write it down. The big ones for me would be David Mazzucchelli (from ‘Batman: Year One’ to ‘Asterios Polyp’), Sean Gordon Murphy, Bruce Timm, Darwyn Cooke, Declan Shalvey, and both John Romita Sr. & Jr. I’m always finding new people to be inspired by, though I tend to lean more towards the stylised end of the spectrum. I used to be really into Shonen manga as a teenager too, so I can still see some Noriaki ‘Tite’ Kubo in my work now and again.

What comics are you reading just now?

Woefully few! Been catching up on a lot of stuff, but recent stand-outs have to be Aja and Fraction’s Hawkeye; SAGA; Ellis, Shalvey, Lemire, and Smallwood’s Moonknight; anything by Tom King; and a whole host of other books I have on my To Read list. While drawing I tend to stop reading new stuff and refer to old favourites for tips and tricks, which I want to break from so I can absorb some new stuff. If I’m in a creative slump the best thing to get me out of it is reading a new comic by people who really know what they’re doing.’

What’s the best thing about creating comics?

‘The storytelling, and the problem solving. I sometimes find my favourite bit is the layouts stage, just figuring out how to tell the story in a way that’s interesting and creative, ideally without being too self-indulgent. The creative team can be any size you want, so mixing that up with each project and collaborating with equally creative people is great. Comics are the perfect meld of story-telling mediums I enjoy; prose that can also utilise art, or a film where the budget is only what you can put on the page. Coupled with how reactionary they can be, comics are a great medium to get ideas out there.

What are you working on just now?

Likely too much – I find it hard to say no! I’ve recently wrapped up a Kickstarted comic with my writer pal Umar Ditta called ‘Untethered’ (pictured) about a man who accidentally drinks a genie, and literally just started work on a 4-page sci-fi story through Comichaus with writer Gary Chudleigh called A Taste of Freedom. Got a couple things on the back-burner too; such as a short, silent 1950s-based bank heist comic for a friend’s anthology and a big character-study set in Svaalsbard, where the sun doesn’t properly set for 6 months of the year. No doubt by the time people read this I’ll have started work on something else too – I can’t help myself.

Where can we see you next?

I’ll be continuing my work with Ink Pot Studios which is part of the Dundee Comics Creative Space.

You can catch-up with more of Elliot’s work over on his Facebook & Instagram pages as well as over on Art Station too.  You can also check out the Untethered Facebook page for more info too.


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