Mel Ford's art caught my eye two weeks ago as I was browsing around the internet checking out chat forums and etc. I really like Mel's work. I'm having trouble coining the term here, but I feel his art would fit somewhere along the lines of 'abstract art' - mainly because he's using lines and shapes to capture the essence of the subject rather than visual realistic details. Additionally, Mel seems to like all of the same characters I grew up reading. I managed to track down Mr Ford and chat with him about his work and influences.
DC80s: Do you have an art background? How long have you been illustrating for?
Mel Ford: I've worked off & on in Graphic Design over the years. I've taken the usual array of basic drawing classes as well. Really though I think my illustration style didn't take off until last year when I started trying to figure out how to create art on my IPad. That's how I do all my art now. So I've been doing it as long as I can remember, but feel like I haven't made any real progress until recently. I'm hoping to get comfortable enough to create all ages Graphic Novels or children's book illustrations.
I read almost EVERYTHING. I loved team books most of all, though. So Justice League of America, Brave and The Bold, Legion of Superheroes, Teen Titans and most definitely All-Star Squadron! Ordway and then Kubert? Who could resist that? On the Marvel side, again it was mostly the team books: Avengers, Defenders, Fantastic Four, and X-Men. Plus I loved the reprint stuff Marvel did back then, especially Marvel Triple Action and Marvel's Greatest Comics (and let's not forget Treasury Editions!) To this day I have most of my Avengers issues from back then and filled in most of the issues I'd missed.
Were you still reading comics in the 80s? If so, which ones stood out?
The issues I remember most from the 80's may be the Death of Captain Marvel and The New Mutants Graphic Novels. But I read comics all through college, We had a regular ritual of hitting the comic store every week when new stuff came out. I definitely remember when Crisis on Infinite Earths came out and essentially destroyed three of my favorite books (i.e. All Star Squadron, Infinity Inc, and Legion of Superheroes).
Some of your illustrations are making me nostalgic for the DC Animated Universe and the art of the late Darywn Cooke (i.e. DC: The New Frontier, 2004). Were you influenced whatsoever by Bruce Timm's rendition of DC characters?
I was late to discovering Darywn Cooke's artistic style, I wasn't paying attention to comics at all at that time, but it's definitely a huge inspiration to me now. I love the Bruce Timm style as well. My favorites were the Justice League shows he did. It's definitely an influence figuring out how to say what you want to say without getting too fussy with the lines etc. Some of that is down to process though. I only draw digitally these days, but for whatever reason I hate using a stylus. So I'm just using my fingers to draw everything. When I had a smaller screen that limited how detailed I could get, so I had to figure out how to make the figures work with less detail.
So, if someone wanted to order a commission from you, how could they reach you? Do you have any current projects you are working on that you'd like to share?
Really not doing commissions. Trying to concentrate on doing some work with some very cool indie creators I've met just through posting stuff online and still trying to attract some attention to my kid lit illustrations.
We've posted a few of Mel's illustrations in this article, but we're not even scratching the surface. For more of his work (including lots of Marvel stuff), check out Mel's Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Why yes, Mel also does page layouts (click to enlarge)