Exclusive: Larime Taylor Talks About Rare Congenital Disorder & Writing/Drawing "A Voice In The Dark"
Coming in November from Top Cow is an utterly unique reading experience, not only the product but its creator as well.
A Voice in the Dark is a new ongoing by Larime Taylor, who was born with a condition that renders his limbs useless.
After an SDCC interview with Taylor, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer knew he had to have a more in-depth interview with this one-of-a-kind comics creator. Also be sure to check out the trailer for A Voice in the Dark featuring Mr. Taylor following the interview.
Cosmic Book News: Larime, I marvel at your talent. But I am sure there has been a price in growing up and being born with Arthrogrysposis. Tell us about the disease and that challenges of your life as a child.
Larime Taylor: Arthrogryposis is a birth defect that basically stunts development of the arms and legs in utero. My arms and legs are contracted in fixed positions, so I have little use of them. I've used a power wheelchair and drawn with my mouth since age 4 or 5. Things were pretty normal for me through the 5th grade because I grew up with the kids in my classes, they knew me since Kindergarten, but moved to a different town before 6th grade and the adjustment was rough. I never really fit in very well after that. I wasn't constantly teased or bullied, but I just never felt much of a connection. I only had a handful of friends.
Cosmic Book News: It takes a special person to not only cope but overcome the physical situation. Tell us about these life challenges, then and now.
Larime Taylor: I've lived with it all my life, so it's all I know. I don't have any other point of reference. For me, this is normal. Basically, it just takes me longer to do some things, or I have to find different ways of doing them. I've always had to think around corners.
Cosmic Book News: How ever did art enter your life?
Larime Taylor: Like most kids, I just drew a lot. I was lucky in that my mom is a very talented artist, so she started teaching me and really encouraged me.
Cosmic Book News: What types of art have you worked with and how did you develop your mouth technique, for lack of a better term?
Larime Taylor: I've mostly been a caricature and portrait artist, which is why I can draw faces and emotions so well but struggle with pretty much everything else! People have been my bread and butter for years. Learning to draw backgrounds and buildings and cars, that's been the challenge.
Cosmic Book News: Do you still have trouble functioning in everyday society, or has that become second nature now?
Larime Taylor: I get by. I definitely see things and experience things most people don't, but I'm used to it by now for the most part.
Cosmic Book News: How did you become interested in comics?
Larime Taylor: I grew up with spinner racks in 7-11 and such, so comics were still a daily part of pop culture. I read comics, like most kids. I liked X-Men, Wolverine, all the usual suspects. I was never a huge fan or collector, though. It wasn't until college when I started reading The Crow, Strangers in Paradise, and Sandman that I really became a fan of the medium.
Cosmic Book News: Do you have any favorite comic books or comic strips?
Larime Taylor: Past favorites are the three I mentioned above, plus things like 100 Bullets, Love and Rockets, etc. Stuff I read and like now? Rachel Rising, Think Tank, Saga, Fell, The Walking Dead, Scott Pilgrim...
Cosmic Book News: How did you and Top Cow get together?
Larime Taylor: They were one of the six or so publishers I submitted to, and Matt Hawkins was really positive about the book. I'm thrilled to be at Top Cow and a part of the Image family.
Cosmic Book News: Tell us a little about the complex path as a project of A Voice in the Dark, what has been and what will be in November.
Larime Taylor: It started as a Kickstarter last October to fund a complete single issue to use as a submission package, rather than the standard 5 pages and a pitch. I wanted to show that I was serious, professional, and motivated. The Kickstarter raised 600% of the goal, so I turned it into a 3-issue mini and printed a trade for the backers. That trade got me the deal as an ongoing series with Top Cow. Issue #1 comes out in November, and contains 2/3 of that Kickstarter story. #2 is the last third, and everything going forward from #3 is new content I'm doing now.
Cosmic Book News: Going back a moment, you have been a caricature artist since the age of 14. How did that help you in your art and how did it help you in life?
Larime Taylor: It's made me pretty good with drawing faces, consistent characters, and expressions. It also taught me to draw fast, since caricature artists get paid by the drawing, not by the hour. It's made me a pretty fast artist - I can do 1-2 completed comics pages a day, so about an issue and a half to two issues a month.
Cosmic Book News: Your drawings are so simple and yet capture such personality and mood. Do you think your unique drawing method lends itself to that?
Larime Taylor: I think it comes from being a caricature artist, which is all about capturing the person's likeness and personality as quickly and cleanly as possible.
Cosmic Book News: You do everything in you works. How do you plot your stories? Drawings first and plotting along, or plot and then the art/script?
Larime Taylor: I plot in arcs, as outlines, then write the scripts. I shoot the entire issue as photographs from the script for reference, do the layouts, and often will even letter based on the photo pages, then draw the art and drop it into the finished pages.
Cosmic Book News: I noticed you are not much for coloring. Is there a reason?
Larime Taylor: I'm horrible at it! I'm a line artist. Shading and toning is about the extent of my abilities, hence the book being black and white.
Cosmic Book News: Could you achieve what you do if we did not have the technology that is available today?
Larime Taylor: No. I really couldn't. Being able to draw sitting upright, on the screen, where I can zoom in and out and rotate the art easily has made me much better than when I drew flat on a table, hunched over. I can do horizontal lines easier than vertical, so spinning the page and changing angles is huge for me. I can draw freely, now. Before, I'd be all cramped and hunched and restricted.
Cosmic Book News: Explain a little about the tech you utilize.
Larime Taylor: I draw with a Wacom Cintiq, a tablet-screen that Wacom donated to me. It's really changed my life. My computer is a 6-core with 16GB of RAM. It's an art monster.
Cosmic Book News: What does it mean to have "Voice" coming out from a top indie publisher?
Larime Taylor: It's great. It's awesome to be at Top Cow and to be a part of Image.
Cosmic Book News: Since becoming associated with Top Cow, have you met any fellow creators you had been hoping to meet?
Larime Taylor: Honestly? I'm a terrible geek, and don't recognize most creators on sight. At conventions I'm always trying to read name badges! I have met a few of my online creator friends, like Terry Moore, Jimmie Robinson, and Gail Simone. Meeting them in person was great. I also got to meet Humberto Ramos, who is probably my favorite penciller in comics, and he was a really nice guy. I've met Erik Larsen, who is incredibly kind, and Marc Silvestri, obviously, who is a total rockstar.
Cosmic Book News: As an obvious role model, what would you say to others suffering from physical handicaps who are trying to develop some talent or other?
Larime Taylor: I really don't see myself that way. I'm just a guy doing the only thing he really can, trying to make a living. I guess I'd say, figure out what you're good at and do it and never let anyone tell you that you can't.
Cosmic Book News: Anything on the horizon for your creative juices aside from "Voice?"
Larime Taylor: I'm pretty much focused on this right now. I have other ideas on the back burner, mostly as a writer since my artistic skills are limited, but my main priority is making this book as successful as I can.
Cosmic Book News: Is there any ritual you go through before beginning your fabulous works?
Larime Taylor: Not really? I always have music or podcasts or movies going on in the background. I don't work well in silence. I need a distraction so I can auto-pilot the art. It sounds strange, but I do best when I don't think too much and just trust my instincts. I'm OCD and end up hyper-focussing, otherwise.
“A Voice in the Dark” #1 from Top Cow hits in November!