‘Colour is the direct feed to the brain’ | Christian Ward

We speak to London-based illustrator Christian Ward ahead of his visit to the Malta Comic Con later this month. Counting The Guardian, Dynamite Entertainment and Marvel Comics among his previous clients, Ward has most recently made a mark for himself thanks to collaborations with celebrated comics writer Matt Fraction, with whom he co-created The Time Ben Fell in Love and the ongoing Image Comics series ODY-C.

Christian Ward will be one of the many participants at Malta Comic Con - happening at the end of November
Christian Ward will be one of the many participants at Malta Comic Con - happening at the end of November
Christian Ward
Christian Ward

What would you say is the fundamental difference between an illustrator of ‘static’ images and a comic book artist? How do you go about taking full advantage of the medium so as to tell the story in as streamlined a way as you can?

Static is the key word. An illustration is showing a single moment frozen in time, comics are attempting to show time. To show movement. Often what is happening between the panels is just as important as what is happening in them.

For me the page structure and panel design is just as integral to the story as the art itself. It can be used to suggest symbolism as well as encourage an emotional or more visceral response. For instance a series of ever-decreasing panels could suggest claustrophobia or characters sinking down into depression. Similarly, they can be used to exaggerate movement.

Do you prefer it when writer give you a detailed script, or do you prefer a looser approach that gives you more carte blanche?

As someone who writes his own scripts I always prefer it when I get a looser style script. Matt [Fraction] and I have got it down though. We’re using a method he uses for Hawkeye with David Aja. He’ll write me up the plot – then I draw up the page and send it back to him and then he writes the script based on my art. It’s a true collaboration.

On a similar note: you’ve collaborated with writer Matt Fraction on a couple of projects. What is he like to work with as a writer, and how would you describe the creative dynamic between the two of you?

As mentioned in the previous answer: working with Matt is a dream and highly dynamic. ODY-C has changed and grown so much since its first conception and that’s partly due to us feeding off each other. Matt sends me idea. I send him back visuals, and then the ideas grow and change. It’s been getting wilder and wilder as we go on. With Matt there is no “no”… rather, we just push each other to take things further and further.

Does your work as a teacher continue to influence your art, or at least your work ethic? How so?

Well no, it doesn’t because I gave up teaching to focus on ODY-C. I could have done a full-time monthly book and carried on with a full time job. I love teaching and it’s definitely something I’ll go back to in some form or other.

Your style is characterised by bright, brash colours. What contributed to you fine-tuning this particular style and making it your own?

Colour is so important to me. I see things in colour. That is to say, when I visualise a page or a cover or any image I’ll see the colour also.

When I taught, colour was a big part of the learning process. Colour is like direct feed to the brain. They so incorporated with emotion. Often you’ll see great colours save a poor drawing and fantastic drawing ruined by poor colour.

It’s always been important to me to push the colours equally (if not more) to the rest of the process.

Are you looking forward to visiting Malta?

Absolutely! It’ll be nice to get sun to recharge the batteries.

Malta Comic Con will be taking place at St James Cavalier, Valletta on November 29 and 30. It is organised by Wicked Comics. For more information log on to http://www.maltacomic-con.com/

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