The Kubert School Spotlight recognizes a chosen Kubert School instructor or alumni, showcasing their work and journey as a comic book professional.

    Talent from The Kubert School


    Garry Brown


    Interview by Michael Kraiger

    Garry Brown is a 2010 graduate of The Kubert School. Just a few months out of school and he’s already making a name for himself in the world of comics, doing work for both Marvel and DC Comics and by providing eye-catching covers for BOOM! Studios, IDW Publishing and 2000AD.

    The Kubert School: You're originally from Scotland; I imagine coming to the school had to be a big decision for you, what originally prompted you to attend The Kubert School?

    Garry Brown: I found out about The Kubert School from a friend of mine. I checked it out online and was pretty excited about it. To my knowledge there weren't any other schools like it, with that caliber of instructors. When I studied illustration in Scotland, I was told by my instructors that there was no chance of getting work doing comics and that I should just become a Graphic Designer if I wanted to make a living. I really didn't want to do that. Plus, I wanted to get out of Scotland for a while and grow artistically.

    TKS: Did you consider any other career before deciding on art?

    Garry Brown: Not really. I've been drawing since I was a kid. I remember telling my dad that I wanted to be an inker when I was seven, I don't think he knew what that meant. I've had little crappy jobs here and there. I worked in a carpet factory for a while, convenience store, etc. but that was mainly because I had no idea how to get work in comics. Plus, at that time I wasn't very good. I always wanted to work artistically, I just didn't know how.

    TKS: Who are some of the artists that inspired you early on?

    Garry Brown: Definitely Frank Miller and Alex Ross. They were the first two artists whose work really made me want to draw comics. Through Alex Ross I found out about Andrew Loomis and his anatomy books, which made me a better artist.

    TKS: Were you able to visit the school before starting here?

    Garry Brown: No. The only contact I had was via the phone. Everyone was real nice, so I didn't feel like there was anything to worry about. I still don't think it was necessary for me to see the place. I was going for the knowledge and the experience, not the location. I was pretty set on going.

    TKS: Did you experience any type of culture shock once you arrived in the states?

    Garry Brown: A small amount I guess. I had to tone down my accent so people could understand me. Plus, the food just isn't as good as the food back home in Scotland. But other than that, I adapted pretty well. I had to learn a few terms here and there to add to my vocabulary.

    TKS: How would you characterize your daily life while at the school?

    Garry Brown:  Pretty much working all day every day to meet the deadlines. Then, when I wasn't actually working on a project, I'd be thinking about it. I also liked hanging out with other artists. I liked the intensity of the experience.

    TKS: Was there any particular experience or class that stands out in your memory?

    Garry Brown:  Probably the first time I had classes with Adam, Andy and Joe. That was pretty surreal and intimidating. But then you find out they're just regular, ultra-talented guys who enjoy a laugh just like everyone else. Another great experience was meeting my future wife Emi, at the school.

    TKS: Is there any one aspect of attending the school that best prepared you for your current career?

    Garry Brown: Definitely, the workload and deadlines instilled a solid work ethic. Due to the tight deadlines we were given on a daily basis, I've managed to keep to a fast pace without a drop in quality, so far.

    TKS: You started doing professional freelance jobs while still in school, how did those come about?

    Garry Brown:  The first job I got was when I was in my first year. It was for a company called Kunoichi. I was asked to do two narrative pages of Splinter Cell (a video game series) for a pitch. They were trying to acquire the rights to the property. I was hired late on Friday and had to have it to the editor by Monday morning. It was pretty tight, two pages penciled and inks, but I got it in and they liked them. Incidentally, they found my work on (I've had a good percentage of my freelance work come from there). I was in my third year when DC editor Mike Marts hired me to do a ten page Batman story. That was pretty crazy.

    TKS: Was that when Mike came out to the school to review portfolios?

    Garry Brown: Yeah, Mike visits every 3rd year class at the school. It's a pretty fantastic opportunity to get a one-on-one interview with the senior Batman editor. That was my first proper meeting with an editor, I was very nervous. I didn't really know what to expect, but he’s really a nice friendly guy.

    TKS: For the past several years Marvel Comics has been sending a couple of editors out every spring to review the third years students portfolios, did anything come of that?

    Garry Brown: Yeah, Nick Lowe and CB Cebulski were kind enough to come down and take a look at our work. I met with Nick Lowe and he seemed to really like my work. He asked me how long it took me to do a page, what my process was, etc. I left both him and CB a sample packet and didn't really think anything more of it. Then about two weeks out of school I got a call from CB asking if I wanted to do an eight page Spider-Man story. That was pretty crazy, I said yes, obviously. I got hired to do the Batman story first, but the Marvel job started before the Batman job. Then around November I got an email from Nick Lowe asking me to do an eight page Colossus/Iron Man story for X-Men: To Serve And Protect. That went really well.

    I also met some great editors at DC Comics, when the third year class took the trip to New York City and DC Comics’ offices, and I’m hoping that something will develop from those relationships.

    TKS: Has there been a moment when you felt like you had achieved what you’d set out to do by coming to the school?

    Garry Brown:  I think so. My goal was to come to the school, learn as much as possible and get hired by either of the two big comic book companies. I've done work for both Marvel and DC Comics so I got what I wanted. My goals have now shifted accordingly.

    TKS: Your recent work on comic book covers is a mix of traditional media and digital, how integral to your vision is the use of digital media?

    Garry Brown: It wouldn't look the same without it. I mess around in Photoshop quite a bit with my covers. I could do it with gouache or oils or something but I get more control digitally. I do however, love working with paints. It's just more practical to work digitally, what with the edits and available manipulations it saves a lot of time.

    TKS: Your cover work is rather striking the images really pop, what's your process for creating a cover image?

    Garry Brown: My process is pretty fluid. Some times I have an idea about a color scheme, but most of the time I just make it up as I go. I've been lucky enough to have a lot of freedom working for BOOM! Studios, 2000AD and IDW Publishing. They pretty much want me to do my thing.

    I'll send the editor maybe 3 - 4 layout ideas for a cover in just black and white (sometimes a color rough if I have an idea). Then I'll do the pencils and inks, then scan it and complete the colors in Photoshop®. Sometimes there are edits, sometimes not. It depends on the editor. You get a feel for what the editor likes and doesn't like and adapt accordingly.

    TKS: Do you have a preference as to doing covers or narrative pages?

    Garry Brown: When I was in my third year I got hooked on cover work. I hadn't really bothered about it earlier; I had no concept of color theory, design or anything like that.

    I love doing narrative pages and covers. Ultimately, I'd like to continue doing both. I think covers are easier for me, I get to do the whole process (control freak), it pays more, more people see the work because it's right in front of them on the stands and I get a good sense of completion with a cover. With a narrative project, it's like a marathon; a cover is more like a sprint.

    I also treat a cover differently than a narrative page; I work more as an illustrator when doing a cover. I try to color the covers in a way that doesn't look digital, hopefully that makes them stand out a bit.

    TKS: What are you working on now?

    Garry Brown: I just finished four covers for IDW Publishing, so right now I'm working on covers for 2000AD and Boom! Studios.

    Narrative wise I've been approached about three projects that I can't comment on (mostly because they haven't told me a whole lot) and I'm also working on pitching a few creator owned things.

    I'm still very much at the bottom of the food chain. Hopefully I can keep oozing my way into bigger projects in the future.


    Marvel, DC Comics, IDW, BOOM! Studios, 2000 AD