STUDIO TOURS: Kody Chamberlain

Wed, December 12th, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
CBR News Team, Editor

Kody Chamberlain is a versatile artist, often inking and coloring his own work and known known to work in a variety of styles and techniques, one of which includes cut and paste photo collage. This can be seen on his current creator-owned project, the hilariously anarchic "Punks: The Comic" with writer Joshua Fialkov for Digital Webbing Press.

Chamberlain's other completed work includes "30 Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales" with Steve Niles (IDW Publishing), "Beowulf" with Stefan Petrucha (HarperCollins), and "TAG" with Keith Giffen (BOOM! Studios). The artist also has numerous projects in various stages of development such as the 52-page "Punks: The Christacular Special;" the gritty three-issue Shadowline/Image Comics miniseries "Pretty, Baby, Machine" with Clark Westerman; and the law firm mystery "Wight and Associates" with Rob Levin for Spacedog.

Chamberlain is also a writer and is currently developing a five0issue New Orleans crime series called "Sweets" to be released in early 2009.

With so much in the pipeline, CBR News is very pleased that Chamberlain had time to give us an exclusive tour of his Lafayette, Louisiana studio.

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Here's the main studio area. I've got two smaller rooms off to the left side ( J ) that are just out of view of the camera.

(A) This is "The Beast." It's a steel drafting table with a built-in light box, power outlets and hydraulic tilt and lift. On the far right of the photo you can see one of the adjustment arms -- just lift up, and the table can easily be tilted to any angle from 0 to about 70. I actually use it quite often, I go steeper for penciling, and lay it flat for inking. It has a large orange logo on the front that says "The Beast" and if you ever want to come by and lift it, you'll know why. This was donated to me by some design studio friends down the hall when they moved out of the building. They simply didn't want to move it. :D

( B ) Here's where I keep all my tools. There's a cigar store down the street and the owner happens to like comic books. So we swap comics for wooden cigar boxes now and then when I have a new book come out. I keep all my markers, pens, brushes, paints, etc. for handy access, and it helps keep things a little more organized around the studio.

( C ) Famous Artists Course set. Three hefty volumes of creative goodness. This particular set is from 1954 and is custom printed for someone named Bob. The lessons are written by talented folks like Norman Rockwell, Stevan Dohanos and Harold von Schmidt. Very rare, but worth the price if you're looking to expand your skills.

( D ) This is my little Moleskine iPod Hack (the blue sketchbook jacket). It's got two moleskine sketchbooks, an assortment of pens, pencils and brushes, and it's also carries my video iPod. Great for traveling, or just taking a break with some tunes and a sketchbook. I use this constantly. I've got more info on the hack here, so you can make your own if you'd like.

( E ) Tool drawers within arms reach of the drawing table and most of the time the top drawer stays open. Loads of everything stuffed in as tight as possible. Also makes for easy cleanup, just close the drawer and the tools are hidden.

( F ) Ah yes, the cork wall. How did I ever live without one? I'm always pinning stuff up and moving things around. It's a great tool for organizing story ideas and keeping pages tacked up. I'm currently working on an outline for a new story, so it's filled with four issues (may end up being five issues) of index note-cards. I've also got a full issue of page thumbnails tacked up within eyes view of my table. The pages on the left are from a Spacedog book called "Wight and Associates" written by Rob Levin.

( G ) Here's my main computer area. I'm currently using a MacBook Pro 17" and have a second 23" display above it. For years I've had my second monitor on the side, but I find this method far easier to look at. I mostly keep the canvas on the top monitor, and my pallets, email and Safari on the bottom monitor. I'm using an Intuos 2 Wacom tablet, measures 6x8. The desk is homemade with plywood and I added a built in light table that's just over full spread size (two sheets of 11x17). I've got a small Epson printer here, and a large format printer in one of the side rooms. I usually keep the tunes going all day, so the laptop is plugged into the stereo at all times.

( H ) Mac Classics bookends. They're heavy, sturdy and both still work perfectly! I think Mac Paint and a very basic word processor is installed on this one. Art books stacked high above the desk.

( I ) Here's where I stash my comics. Most of the books on the left are comps and back stock, the stuff on the right is in the process of being read, or recently read. I'm not much of a collector, so they tend to get banged up pretty good just sitting around, but I don't mind much. The stuff I really love gets repurchased in collected edition. Sometimes on Halloween, I give away free comics to the kids. The rack is actually an old panty hose rack from a department store that closed down. I believe I picked this one up for about 20 bucks. It's got two huge drawers at the bottom where I keep various things like manila folders and an assortment of drawing and watercolor papers.

( J ) Off to the side are my two small rooms. This room holds my 1960s autograph projector (very similar to the model used by movie poster artist Drew Struzan), great for creating a likeness or transfering sketchwork to a finished canvas or art board. This area also holds my painting easel and various wet media like spray fixative and paint. Haven't had much time for painting lately, hopefully I can fire it up again soon. To the far right of the photo you can see all my convention badges hanging on a chain. Probably 30 or 40 so far. Boxes of "Punks" comics stacked up at the bottom right.

( J continued ) Here's the second side room, mostly a production area, scanning, printing, packaging. Lots of storage and supplies. DVDs stacked up at the top of the photo and my large format Epson scanner on the bottom right of the photo.

Just outside the studio, in downtown Lafayette, LA, we've got several great restaurants and two parks. The park right one street over has a nice fountain and lounge area. Apparently it's a great spot for MySpace photos, but it's also a nice place to sketch. The trick is to wear sunglasses so the "models" don't know you're sketching them.

A different view of the park, and in this one you can clearly see Stan's bar and grill (the two story red building). This is the building I use as reference for the apartment in Punks.

I've got quite a few pieces of original art around for inspiration. Three of my favorites are this top piece, a Joker commission by Bill Sienkiewicz and the middle piece is a "Gotham Central" page by Michael Lark. The last picture is a personalized Spirit sketch by Will Eisner on Eisner Studios letterhead. Got this one years ago after writing him a nice letter telling him how awesome he was.

Thanks very much, Kody, for a look at one of the coolest studios we've seen yet!

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