BOYTOONS MAGAZINE #72 – An Interview with Chuck McKinney – Part 2

And now my friends, here is Part 2 of our fabulous interview with Chuck McKinney, the creator of From the Cellar.

BOYTOONS MAGAZINE – Let’s talk a little about your artists.

CHUCK MCKINNEY – Yay!

BTM – Part of what I love about From the Cellar is looking forward to the next episode and wondering who will be illustrating it! It’s so fun the way you make use of so many artists and it adds to the strips’ addictive flavor for me. How do you go about finding your artists, and once you find them, how does the process of working with them go? (of course, I know a little about this having drawn an installment of the strip myself… but I thought the readers would love to hear about it all in your own words. ;)

CMJ.C. was referred to me for the first episode. He only wanted to do one episode, so it became apparent right away that it would be easier to use multiple artists. I’m so glad I did, because that not only adds a hell of a lot of flavor to the strip as a whole, but it also made my voice and vision very dominant despite the fact that I rarely draw it. Many of the artists are my friends, some I met at conventions, and some were referred to me. Some, like you, I found through Prism’s website, and some have approached me. It’s pretty damn amazing and flattering when an artist like Aman, or Moran, or Alfonso Muñoz asks to do an episode. I’m really good at fitting the episode to the artist, and I enjoy that step a lot. Once I have an artist, I send him a full script, plus notes and reference material. Then I sit back and wait for him to miss the deadline, which happens about 70% of the time. [laughs] Once they miss the initial deadline, I try to stay in touch via email until the art comes in. I get most of the art a week or two after its due date. That works out just fine, and most of the artists have been great about communicating through the entire process. Sometimes the artist needs more time, and we work it out. The most exciting part of this whole process for me is the first time I see new art come in. It thrills me to see how each individual artist interprets my stories. By the way Patrick, you are my only FTC artist to show balls. You are a Perv! I usually do the word balloons myself. I like this step, because I usually change the script a bit, based on the individual art.

BTM – Of course, you also have a very convenient source of artistic talent very close to you. By this I mean that Chino, your beautiful boyfriend has started illustrating for you.

CM – Yeah, isn’t that cool?! This is pretty new for him, too. When we got together in Dec. of ’05, he wasn’t an artist. He drew a bit as a child, usually characters from children’s cartoons, but never tried storytelling, never took any art classes, and stopped drawing altogether at a very young age. When he met me and was constantly exposed to the process of From The Cellar, he started drawing again for the fist time since his childhood. I’m no fool, I put him to work right away.

BTM – Is it easier to work with your partner?

CM – For me it’s great. For him it can be a pain in the ass. Imagine drawing with your client standing over your shoulder the whole time. [laughs]

BTM – Do you find he can interpret your scripts better than other artists because of the nature of your relationship? Presumably, he’s lived some of these events with you. Is his interpretation maybe more accurate to your artistic vision in this respect?

CM We work really well together, that’s for sure. Having him in my life has added so much to From The Cellar; I feel very blessed. His art is getting better and better, and it’s a joy to watch him grow.

BTM – Congratulations are in order! LOL! It was quite a coup getting Phil Jimenez to illustrate an installment. Tell us a little about how it felt to work with him. What was the process like?

CM – He was very late! [laughs] There was some Crisis he had to take care of first. Just kidding. Phil was great; very professional and went far above and beyond the call of duty. One of the things that make it easier for me to get busy artists to agree to do FTC is that it’s only a one or two page commitment. That said, Phil’s my friend, so that helped a lot. We met in ’96. I was a young actor and had just gotten back into comics after not reading them for several years. I was working part-time as a waiter and one of my co-workers mentioned he’d recently had a date with a guy who drew comics. At that time, I had met very few comic creators, and didn’t know of any gay ones. I thought it would be really cool to meet a gay guy who drew comics. I got in touch with him through my co-worker, and asked if we could hang out. At the time of our first meeting, I was so obsessed with the super-hero, Ms. Marvel that Phil mistook me for straight. But we hit it off and it didn’t take long to out myself. The GLA had started up around that time and the New York members were getting together to talk comics. Phil invited me to some of those early gatherings and we became pretty chummy. When I started From The Cellar, I wrote “Hair Fetish” specifically for Phil; then I invited him to lunch and read it to him. He thought it was adorable and agreed to do it. Around that time, he started getting tons and tons of premo work offers, so we had to wait a couple years for a break in his
schedule. He did it for free and gave me the original art. I have it framed and hanging in my living room. Thanks Phil!

BTM – What should artists interested in working with you on FTC know?

CM I’m a control freak!

BTM You don’t say! ;) Is it best for them to contact you and send samples of their work, and if so, do you prefer them to send illustrations they’ve created of some of your cast, or do you find it just as easy selecting talent by viewing whatever material they already have?

CM – Anyone can contact me from the website or fromthecellar@earthlink.net, and I can usually tell what artists are right for from samples they already have; although it does help to see their sequentials.

BTM So, we’ve talked a lot about FTC the strip, but what about it’s creator? HA! HA! HA! I know that you are quite an artistic person all around. You were an actor for over 10 years until you finally got frustrated and left the business… this was about the time you started From The Cellar.

CM – Right.

BTM – But recently you’ve decided to return to acting as a Voice Over Artist. There’s even a sample of your commercial demo on your site, and you even voice CHIP in one of the FTC episodes…which is soooooo cool!

CM Thanks. That was really fun to do. I want to voice more episodes of From The Cellar, and more of my characters as well. First, we have to work out the kinks. I voiced the “Outed” episode on a whim when I was producing my commercial voice over demo. The guys who help me with my website are still trying to figure out the best way to play the audio, while viewing the art. Once we can present the audios in a way I’m happy with, I’ll voice more episodes.

BTM – Can you tell us more about your aspirations?

CM – I want to do more voice over stuff. It’s so much different that then other acting jobs, because what you look like does not factor in at all. Most of the v.o. work in New York is commercial, so I’m putting a lot of focus there. I started working with an agent, so hopefully that will continue to go well. I would love to branch out into voicing animation and narration.

BTM – What does the future hold for Chip and FTC? You’ve talked about compiling the strip into a graphic novel once you have 50 to 60 strips or so… and as a fan, I can tell you I am DYING for that to happen.

CM I don’t have an end yet, but it still feels like it will run about 50 to 60 episodes. I still plan to publish all the episodes together once I’m done. Wow, it’s making me sad just thinking about it. From The Cellar has been part of my life for so long, and I’m so proud of it. Life will seem strange without it.

BTM – Are there any other plans in the works though? Seems to me that the strip and its cast would translate quite nicely to the TV screen for example? Any plans to take FTC beyond the strip?

CM – Wouldn’t that be cool?! It certainly seems possible with all the gay cable channels popping up. I would love to do the animated version and voice some of the characters.

BTM – Anything else you’d like to add:

CM – I would like to thank all the artists who have contributed. It is incredible to work with so many talented individuals, and I wish them all huge success. I also owe a huge amount of thanks to Drew R. Moore for doing so much of the coloring. Last, I could not have done this without my Editor, Marshall Callaway. I am deeply grateful to him for sticking with me, and he looks so cute in a Thong!

FROM THE CELLAR © Copyright 2007, Chuck McKinney. All Rights Reserved

The main illustration of Chip on this issue’s cover was created by Theo Bain of BrtiDoodz.

Comments

  1. CARTERDOMAIN says

    GREAT TO HEAR FROM YOU PATRICK, IDON’T BE CONCERNED WITH GETTING BACK WITH ME ON REGULAR BASIS. YOU’RE A BUSY MAN RUNNING A COMPANY…AND I UNDERSTAND. I CAN’T WAIT FOR ZHAN TO COME OUT. YOU’RE WORK ALWAYS ASTOUNDS ME, AND I KNOW A LOT OF MAN HOURS GO INTO YOUR WORK. I’M STILL BUSTING MY BUTT ON COMPLETING CHILL CHAPTER ONE…HOPE TO GET IT OUT SOMETIME THIS YEAR. YES…I’M A CAT LOVER, WE HAVE FRANKY, FLUFFY, AND LUCKY…ALL MALES. I DEFINATELY LOVE YOUR WORK AND WHAT YOU CONTINUE TO DO ON A REGULAR BASIS. MOST OF ALL, THANK YOU FOR KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH YOUR FANS. TAKE CARE. WILL LET YOU KNOW WHEN I POST A NEW MANIPULATION OF ONE OF YOUR BOYTOONS.

  2. Hey Patrick!

    I love this interview, it’s always great to hear about what makes a person tick and how they use real situations and turn them into a story for their work. I have thought about doing that with one of the projects I am working on but to afraid too incase I get found out and locked up in a maximum security nuthouse for the insane!

    But there are some stories that I can into about managing a bar which I did for three years that would make your milk curdle LOL!

    Again, a great posting Oprah LOL

    Manny
    xxx

  3. Hiya Carterdomain…

    Great to hear from you, my friend. It’s nice to know you are excited about the Zahn project. I also can’t wait to get it out there. I must remind myself that half the fun is actually creating the project though! LOL!!! Thanks again so much for your kind words. I look forward to seeing your next photomanip project.

    Hugz + kisses,
    Patrick
    XOXO

  4. Hey Patrick!

    You know, there would be nothing more in the world I would love to do than to get my own characters up and running in my own strip. I guess in a way that I already am by working on the project that I have started but the characters are being developed for film (hopefully)

    But what I have a problem with is that I can see them in my head but I can’t get the look of them onto paper. It’s easy for me to draw a picture of Superman because he is already there but to create my own, well I wouldn’t know where to beging.

    But you’ve given me some food for thought, now that things have clamed down for me and the Summer parties are over with until things kick off again in October, I’ll start doodeling around with my own creations and see what I can come up with. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    Manny
    xx

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