Well, this is awkward. Two interviews back to back from guys with extraordinarily similar names. This is the 3rd part in a series where I interview my friends who are professionals in creative industries – what that might look like, and how it might be different than what you assume.
Kevin Mellon is the talented and unique artist behind the comics American Muscle (written by Steve Niles as part of Creator Owned Heroes), Heart (written by Blair Butler), and LoveStruck (written by Dennis Hopeless) all published by Image Comics. He’s also a storyboard artist for the animated show Archer airing on FX. Kevin is a new transplant to Atlanta from Kansas City – which he’ll continue to regret until we get an Alamo Drafthouse. And after you take a look at his books (and the following interview), you’ll realize why I respect him so much.
At what point did you consider yourself a success? How long did it take you to get there?
These first 2 questions imply a definition of success and an awareness of it as a concept that I am unsure I have.
When you set out to do a thing, you tend to have a list of “goals” / things you want to accomplish in doing said thing, and that might be a definition of success.
The problem with that is, your goals and list of things to accomplish changes as you get farther along the path, and as is often the case, you surpass your earlier goals and “definition of success” without realizing it, because you’ve long since added new/different goals and things to the list. Often times, your whole priority in life and work can change, taking all those goals out of the equation. Making success an unattainable thing that you will never see when you’ve “made it” because you’re often looking and working so far above it to notice.
Success, for me personally, is defined less by goals and some outside-world definition of it, and more-so by “did I do good work today? Did I learn something today? Is this project something I can bring myself into and have it be better for it? Will doing this project make me better at my craft and as a person? Will this be fun?”
Those are some of the things I set out to do in life and with everything I take on. Doesn’t always work out, and doesn’t always end up that way, but by asking those questions I find that I’m less disappointed by a false set of expectations (internal and external) I thought I wanted to accomplish, and more satisfied in knowing that I’ve done the best I can in the time I had with the tools/knowledge at my disposal. If I’m not satisfied, then I do better tomorrow.
I always want to do better tomorrow.
That’s about as successful as I can be.
Who do you look at in the comics industry as someone you respect, that is “doing it right?”
I think everyone has their own path, so you have to look at and inspect people who’s paths you admire. More and more, I find that with twitter and facebook, you can find out so much about another person and their way of doing things as to go from respecting it in an abstract way, to loathing it in a “fuck, I wish I didn’t know this about you” way.
The people I admire currently are excited about what they do and bring the best they can to it and “success/failure” aside, their enthusiasm for throwing everything they can into it never wanes.
What’s the biggest surprise for how you expected life to be at your level vs. how it actually is?
Not sure what level I’m at. I don’t have anything else to reference in order to make any sort of comparison.
Life is good. Shit, life is great. Everything in my life changed this year, and that’s been a sum of the last few years leading up to it and will be a precursor to the years after it.
Can’t really ask for much more, wouldn’t know what more to ask for.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to break in to the comics industry?
There’s nothing to break into anymore.
Do your thing, put it out there in the best way you can, do it all over again the next morning.
Ask yourself if you want an audience or attention. If it’s the former, you’re well on your way. If it’s the latter, nothing anyone can say will help you.
You can find more about Kevin and keep up with his various social media personalities at about.me/kevinmellon.