THE CONVENTION COLLECTIVE: Thank you for joining us in the Spotlight, Reilly! How did you get into art and why did you want to become an artist?
Reilly Brown: Ever since I was a kid, I loved drawing. I used to take whatever art classes I could, and when I went to college, I studied illustration at Virginia Commonwealth University.
TCC: What was the first work you completed, where you stepped back and thought, “Yes, y’know what, I can do this for a living!”?
Reilly: The first comic I drew for Marvel was the 2005 Holiday Special, and page 2 was a picture of Spider-Man swinging over NYC. I remember drawing that and thinking “maybe I really CAN do this!”
TCC: Which artists inspire you? And they don’t have to be in the medium you work in, either…
Reilly: When I was first getting into comics, Jim Lee was drawing X-Men and that was a huge inspiration to me. I still look at his stuff, especially for my recent Batman/Fortnite work, where I always had a copy of Hush on my desk to look to for reference! Other artists that I find myself looking at a lot these days are Art Adams, Olivier Coipel, and the Street Fighter artists, especially Kinu Nishimura.
TCC: Can you tell us your greatest fan moment, interacting with a personal hero of yours where you may have gone a little weak at the knees?
Reilly: I met Stan Lee once at Baltimore Comic Con some years back. He was amazing– exactly like you’d expect him to be. He was in his 90s at the time, and even at that age he was full of energy and had a one-liner for everything– the platonic ideal of a showman. I told him I worked for Marvel, and he said “well, then you can’t be all bad!”
TCC: What is your favorite fandom? Who is your favorite comic book character/movie/tv character?
Reilly: My favorite fandom is probably Masters of the Universe, although I mostly say that because that’s the only one I’m really involved with at all. I find it a little hard to be part of a fandom for any comic book property, since I work in the industry and know the people who make the things, I have a hard time separating the characters from the creators working on them. My favorite comic books characters are the classic X-Men, favorite movie character is Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, and my favorite TV characters are The Gang from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
TCC: Outside of the ones you create for a living, what characters/stories do you like drawing the most in your spare time?
Reilly: Outside of work there isn’t much more time to draw! But I always love drawing the He-Man characters when I can. They have so many crazy character concepts and designs, and always get my imagination running.
TCC: What’s your working routine? Do you work regular set hours and days, keeping certain days free for personal time, or do you find you create any time the muse takes you?
Reilly: Drawing comics is incredibly intense and time consuming, so I pretty much draw every minute that I don’t have some other obligation. Since having kids it’s sometimes hard to find time to draw on the weekend, but I’m afraid there’s not much time off for comic book artists!
TCC: When you’re creating, what do you use for background noise? Some artists use music or podcasts, some use a TV show that they just can listen to in the background. What do you use?
Reilly: I typically listen to podcasts or audio books. Since I spend so many hours at the drawing table, I like long book series like Game of Thrones or Harry Potter. I love podcasts that deep dive into interesting historical topics, like Hardcore History or Unobscured, but then also some lighter stuff as well, like My Brother, My Brother and Me. Over the pandemic, I actually started recording a podcast myself, along with my former art studio mate and NYT bestselling comic creator, George O’Connor. It’s called Hypothetical Island, and we interview a lot of other comics creators and creative people, and do some fun creative thought exercises with them. It’s a lot of fun!
TCC: What was the first comic con that you remember attending? And, indeed, what was the last?
Reilly: The first comic con I attended was Big Apple Con back in 1996. I was just a kid at the time, but I’d never seen anything like it and it blew me away! I remember waiting in line for 45 minutes to meet Michael Turner. I was the last person in line the whole time, so I could have left and come back later, but I didn’t want to risk missing the chance!
The most recent convention I went to was the Garden State Comic Fest this spring– the first convention I’ve been to since getting vaccinated, and the first convention I’ve been to in a year and a half! It felt good to get back to it and see so many of my comics industry friends again.
TCC: What’s your favourite element of a comic convention? And which bits could you easily leave behind?
Reilly: My favorite part is meeting the fans, and getting to interact with the people who have been reading my books. It’s great to get that feedback and see that all those hours in my studio really mean something to people!
The part I could leave behind is all the shaking hands with hundreds of people I don’t know– I think I can do without that from now on!
TCC: At a convention, when you’re not behind your table or doing the things you have to do at a con, which corner of the show would we find you in?
Reilly: Probably looking at foreign comics, most likely stuff from the European or Japanese markets, or things that we can’t easily find in the US. Although honestly if I’m not at my table, I’m probably in some quiet corner trying to finish up some sketches that fans have asked for!
TCC: With the lack of conventions, a lot of artists are taking commissions online and mailing them out to people – is this something you’re doing?
Reilly: Over the quarantine there have been a few very cool fan groups that have popped up specifically to organize sketch opportunities and Zoom calls with artists. I’ve done some of those, and they’re a lot of fun and a great chance to make the money that I’d normally make at conventions. It’s cool because sometimes other creators will be there as well, and we can get into some really interesting conversations. I’m hoping that even as the pandemic ends, these groups stick around!
TCC: A lot of creatives are also taking to crowdfunding – such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo – to generate income from their work. What’re your thoughts on that?
Reilly: I haven’t done that yet, but stay tuned, because I’m working on some plans for some crowdfunding in the near future!
TCC: What projects have you recently finished? What are you working on at the moment, what projects are coming up that you can talk about?
Reilly: I recently wrapped up the Batman/Fortnite series, and I’m currently back to working on Outrage at Webtoon. Other than that, I’ve got a few covers that haven’t been announced yet, but I’m sure you’ll see those as soon as they are!
TCC: How do you stay connected with fans? Do you use a mailing list or newsletters, are you active on social media?
Reilly: I mostly connect with people through social media. You can find me on both Instagram and Twitter at reilly_brown, and I’m also on Facebook.
TCC: Where can people see an example of your art online and find out about your rates?
Reilly: You can see my art on my Instagram page, or you can check out my comic Outrage for free on Webtoon– https://www.webtoons.com/en/super-hero/outrage/chapter-1/viewer?title_no=1450&episode_no=1
And my personal homepage is www.reillybrownart.com
TCC: Thanks, Reilly, for your time!
Reilly: My pleasure!
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