Interview with artist CP Smith

by Nick Devonald on May 02, 2020

Hi CP Smith, thanks for taking the time to talk to CTG about Archangel 8. The first thing that struck me when I opened the debut issue was what an incredible and unique look you’ve created for this comic. I love it. It’s raw and gritty, unique, and immediately made this comic stand out for all the right reasons. How much do you tailor your style to match the tone of the comic?
Every project I’ve ever done has been in a different style. I react to the script and what comes out comes out. It might be a leftover from animation or design. It’s not always the best thing for a career but ultimately, I serve the story. 

There is an element of realism in your work which I absolutely love. What kind of research goes into achieving this level of detail and accuracy?
The people, places and violence should feel very real because well...
From a technical illustration standpoint Everything is physically accurate. The approach was to make a comic with the aesthetic of film boards. The reference is intense. I shot all the reference at the appropriate time and light conditions just like a matte painting. If there are weeds facing the sun on the side of a hill they are the right kind of weeds that grow in those conditions. I acted out almost all the action and filmed it before I drew. For the fight in the hotel room I threw myself into walls and flipped over twin mattresses while falling backwards to figure out very natural shots. 
Gabriel’s face feels very familiar. Where do you get the inspiration for your characters and do you ever base them off real life people?
He could bare a resemblance to Idris Elba. 
AWA studios have made a massive impact with four debut series last month. Between the quality of the content they’re producing, their mission statement, their attitude towards releasing comics for free during the COVID-19 Pandemic, they’ve marked themselves as a publisher to watch. How did you find yourself working for them?
I worked with Axel in my 20’s before I got into other stuff. I was always trying to figure out a way to work with him again. This was the perfect opportunity and project. I feel really lucky. 
Comics are obviously a massive collaboration between the artist and writer. I’m always curious how much freedom a writer gives an artist. Has Michael Moreci been incredibly specific with each panel, or does he give you a brief description and leave you free reign? And continuing the theme of collaboration, once your work is finished it’s passed to Snakebite Cortez to colour. I’m curious about how much involvement you have once it’s passed on? Do you have any input after you’re finished?
The process was a real collaboration. Michael and Axel set me up with a very strong structure. I set up a visual language and a series of symbols that represent the themes, key moments and characters in the story. Visually the story folds into itself in the exact middle and by the end, all of the meanings are reversed. 
As for shots and pacing I had free reign. I wrote my own shot descriptions starting with the end of the dog fight in issue 1. Michael and Axel were super cool. 
Regarding the color Snakebite and I talk almost every day about the story but I don’t provide any input. We just talk about how it should feel. He’s an incredible storyteller. He did as much to write the end of issue 5 as Michael or I. maybe more. 

More and more there is a move towards digital for artists. I’m curious what methods you use and your feelings towards digital?
I don’t make any distinction between digital and traditional. Even AR and VR use a similar production process to modern 2d visualization. 

For readers who are just encountering your work for the first time what would you recommend to readers looking to find some more?
Youtube Channel:

How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting your work?
I don’t have any babysitting?

With Coronavirus keeping the world cooped up at home do you find you have more time than you did before? How are you spending it?
No babysitting?

Are you ever mistaken for the author CP (Christina) Smith?
I do get mistaken for artist Cory Smith. Whenever it happens. I’m really nice and I sign the books and do sketches in his style. Don’t worry Cory. People think you’re really cool. 

You’re a very private person who stays away from Social Media, do you find that is a hindrance in this day and age when everyone and their dog is on social media, or is it freeing to be away from it all?
I’m not that private. It’s that I’ve spent most of my career as a nameless production artist drawing stuff no one will ever see. Only art directors know me. I’m forty now. Most of my public work was done in my twenties and there wasn’t any social media back in the dark ages.

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us at CTG.

A quick reminder that you can read the debut of Archangel 8 right here on CTG.