If you had to pick a word to describe Ben Templesmith’s body of work, it would be…
Well, you wouldn’t, actually, because trying to boil it down to a single word would probably do nasty things to your brainmeat. But then again, so does his work. It might be easier to describe the sorts of things this Australian commercial-artist-turned-comics-superstar does, and let you draw your own conclusions.
– Artist and co-creator with Steve Niles of “30 Days of Night” (and many spinoffs), about a vampire gang living in Alaska. Became a movie with Josh Hartnett, Melissa George and Danny Huston. Nominated for an Eisner Award, comics’ highest honor. Won the Spike TV Scream Award for Best Comic.
– Creator of “Wormword: Gentleman Corpse,” about an extra-dimensional sentient maggot that embodies corpses in order to drink Guinness and, occasionally, save the world. Hardback collection made the New York Times Bestseller list.
– Artist for “Fell,” written by Warren Ellis, about an honorable detective in a city gone feral. Nominated for an Eisner Award three years running.
– Creator of “Welcome to Hosford,” where a prison run by Russian werewolves gets a new inmate/hunt victim named Ray Delgado, who turns out to be just the right kind of delusional murderer to fight back.
– Artist for “Groom Lake,” written by Chris Ryall, about the day-to-day job of keeping UFOs secret.
Templesmith will be attending the FX convention in Orlando this weekend, and took a moment to talk to me about it.
Vampires, werewolves, corpses, inexplicable Nixon-mask-wearing nuns… Is the inside of your head a safe place to be?
Absolutely. It’s the guys that draw cutesy crap, the Mickey Mouse guys, who you need to worry about. They internalize everything, until it all boils over. Me? I get it all out onto the page, so I’m honestly a nice guy if you were to meet me face to face. Well, except for my small baby eating habit.
How did you get started in comics?
An art director for
Todd McFarlane Productions ( He’s the guy that created Spawn, etc ) saw
my work online at my website and offered me a job. That’s it in a
Are there any artists that have influenced you? I see a bit of Sienkiewicz in there…
claim to be a huge Sienkiewicz fan. Didn’t grow up looking at his work
at all really. I did however, grow up admiring people who were heavily
influenced by him, so I’m more second generation on that. However, my
real early influences are Ralph Steadman and Victor Ambrus, two non-comic guys.
What attracts you to the comics medium? Do you have plans to do more work with movies?
me, it’s about telling stories. To be able to control the visuals, the
pacing and get your ideas out there in rather pure form. It’s most
definitely my medium of choice but I am, these days, looking at other
media. I get asked about doing things elsewhere all the time now though
I’ll always go back to comics.
What’s your typical work day like?
now, until June, I actually work out of one of my publisher’s offices on actual office hours, which kills me. (I’m a night owl usually) So I
wake up at an ungodly early hour, grab a coffee, head into work around
9 a.m., sit there and draw/paint/twitter etc until 6 p.m., then go home
and collapse or simply do a bit more work. My natural work flow for
years has been to wake up around 12 p.m., chill out, grab some food
then work through til the early morning at my home studio, crash into
bed, then repeat the next day. I’m no good at the standard office
And your con day?
Not as fun an answer.
Wake up, ungodly early (since I was probably out late drinking with pro
friends the previous night), drag myself into the con, sit at my booth
and proceed to draw commissions and meet fans. That’s really about it.
I rarely leave my booth since I get a steady stream of people to meet
and greet, then when the con closes all the pros go out and catch up.
Why do you go to cons? Do you primarily come to sell, to meet fans, or to see colleagues? Or is it a soul-gathering thing?
it’s to meet and greet the kind of people who buy my work which allow me
to pay my rent. Recently I’ve brought stuff to actually sell, which
people seem to like. Meeting fellow pros is also a highlight as
generally comics can be a rather solitary profession, notwithstanding
the internet chats.
Do whimsical horror writer/artists get a different class of fans at cons?
No idea. I get some very friendly and dedicated people. A particular niche demographic I guess. I’m lucky to have anyone!
Has anyone come up to you in a Wormword costume?
and more. About 5 now. Each time, they get better and better, so the
most impressive one was at my last con. No one has yet dressed up as
any of the demonic strippers with living tattoos as yet though. (Hint
What’s your favorite con experience, either as guest or fan?
from Australia, I never grew up going to cons, so my only convention
experience was as a professional basically. As a guest, I don’t have to
pay to get in, I know that!
Will you be at the Drink and Draw event Friday night?
If it’s at a bar, no doubt I will be. I am Australian, I think I lose my citizenship if I *don’t* turn up.
You can find more about Ben Templesmith at his site Templesmith.com, and you can probably find out far more than you ever wanted to know about Ben Templesmith by following his frequently updated Twitter account. And be sure to look for him — and over 170 other artists and writers including Special Guest of Honor Michael Golden (“Batman,” “Vampirella,” “Captain
America,” “Micronauts”), Olivier Coipel (“Thor”), Mark Texeira (“Moon Knight,” “Ghost Rider”), Frank Brunner (“Doctor Strange,” “Conan the Barbarian,” “Red Sonja,” “Vampirella,” “Man-Thing,” “Silver Surfer”) and many more.
Avatar Press will be making its first U.S. convention appearance, with
limited edition comics made especially for this FX con, and editors
from Marvel Comics will be holding panels and making announcements. And
don’t miss Creators Alley filled with more than a hundred artists of
all disciplines displaying their work. — this weekend at FX 2009.
(All images © Ben Templesmith and/or IDW Publishng, used by permission)