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Armageddon Sci-Fi Expo

Award-winning American comic artist Rob Guillory is very much an artist of the modern age. With a heavy presence on the internet through both his blog and various social networking sites, Guillory is open and approachable with his fans about his creative process. However, having just announced a month-long break from two of the most prominent of those resources, has Guillory changed his mind about his open approach to creativity? "I'm actually a bit split on the subject," he concedes, "I think it's very important to have an online presence these days, and my blog and my Twitter account are there for those reasons. At the same time, I think it's possible to fall into the trap of being so bombarded with information that you can't hear yourself think." 

While he clearly loves the constant contact with his followers, his ever increasing popularity means that like so many before him, he has fallen victim to the dominating presence that social networking has in modern life. Rather than being a tool at his disposal, it becomes an addiction, one which Guillory has decided to overcome. He explains, "I'm actually in the middle of taking a month off from Facebook and Twitter, just for those reasons. I love being able to promote things in real time, and I love being able to touch base with so many fans and creators. But the down side is that it's very easy to be too connected."

 

Aged just 29, Guillory is viewed by many as a leading light. Not only has he been nominated for two Harvey Awards and two Eagle Awards, he has also won the Eisner Award for Best New Series, however, Guillory is a modest presence who realises that he is still at the morning of his career. While he may be taking baby steps away from his online presence, albeit briefly, he sees the medium as merely an extension of his creative outlet, with the device providing him inspiration, while he inspires and encourages others. "I've gathered a lot of information and experience in my young career, and I love sharing it, if only because I love telling stories. But I know that when I was a young up-and-coming artist, I looked to established creators for words of encouragement. So I try to make it a point to let young creatives know that I've made tons of mistakes along the way, and a lot of their insecurities over their work are just normal."

 

Though he now find himself in what could be termed a privileged position, Guillory did not always know that his hobby would become his career. With CHEW, which he started working on alongside John Layman back 2008, having taken him into the mainstream, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate is still able to pinpoint exactly who got him started on his trail. "I had two uncles that were very big comic fans, and that bled over onto me." With his uncles' joint passion exciting a young Guillory, it was not long before his creative mind kicked into gear. "I did tons of mini-comics just for my personal enjoyment from the age of nine, but didn't even consider a career in comics until my second year of college. That was really the first time I ever thought, 'Maybe I can do this for a living.' I figured obviously someone was making a living doing comics, so maybe I could chase that."

 

"My family, and eventually my wife, were always incredibly supportive of my decision to do comics." With a united force behind him, Guillory was able to throw himself head first into a series of indie projects, notably Teddy Scares, before falling firmly on his feet with the phenomenon that is CHEW. But having finally received his just desserts, has he found himself falling victim to an increasing pressure thus stifling his creative outpourings? Thankfully, it appears not, with his greatest critic remaining his good self. He reveals the secret to his continued upward trajectory and distinct lack of ego thus, "Ever since CHEW first became successful, I keep a Post-it note on my drawing board that says 'There are no fans', and that keeps me focused on doing work that makes me happy, without pandering to an audience. Either way, making each issue better than the last is always my first priority."

 

"Well, CHEW is constantly getting better, and that's going to continue. Writer John Layman and I always try to experiment and push ourselves to do things that haven't been attempted in the industry, and that won't change." With a very sturdy grounding, Guillory clearly revels in his success but is not prepared to let his success own him. While CHEW may be reaching out to a wider audience than he had ever truly contemplated, the resolved artist has clearly learnt lessons along the way which will stand him in good stead. When asked about the key elements that he needs to keep with him on his upwards trajectory, his words are ones of advice that can be applied to any discipline and any ambition. He notes, "I'll never achieve perfection, and that I'll always chase that goal the rest of my life. And that's okay. Also, to trust my instincts."

BY JEREMY WILLIAMS


Rob Guillory will feature at Armageddon Sci-Fi Expo which takes place at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre on Saturday October 22 and Sunday October 23. For more information, visit armageddonexpo.com