This article is reproduced from NIA, with permission from Antony Ez Esmond.
This is the first of another semi regular strand here on NIA, this one looks at an up and coming artist and attempts to examine his influences and style.
Today I am focusing on an English artist who has now settled in the Bronx area of New York. It is fair to say that I have a predisposed fondness of this guy’s work as someone I have collaborated on some UK small press titles like the great Dogbreath (the Strontium Dog / 2000AD fanzine), Zarjaz and Bingo Bonanza.
Today we are looking at the work of Ed Traquino. A long time comics creator of self produced titles like Evil Eyes, Butterball and Terriers. His work always had a distinctively English style to it. The tradition of his style could be found in comics like Victor and Eagle. Anyone who has spent any time with Ed will recognize his frenetic personality within the panels and word balloons of his comics work.
Check out Ed’s comic: Cee & Bee: Run Around, Smash Things Up & Get In Trouble
It was when Ed moved to the states that his style really took a big leap. Ed is now a much sought after storyboard artist and has been Emmy nominated for his work in this field.
I spoke to Ed and asked him a few questions about his craft. I started by asking him a little about his background.
Ed Traquino – ‘I’m a British artist living in New York City. Back in London I was an editorial illustrator but storyboarding has given me an opportunity to flourish. I’m represented by Famous Frames who are one of the United States largest agencies for artists for TV, film and advertising.’
He has recently started publishing a web comic called Cee & Bee (ceeandbee.com) that follows the adventures (and misadventures) of a couple of female private investigators. The first adventure sees the pair traveling to Italy and fumbling about in their quest to investigate a tubby stranger.
It is both written and drawn by Ed under the pen name Feliq. I asked him what prompted him to get into a web comic as a personally produced project.
ET –‘I have contributed to numerous independent comics in the UK and US and self published about seven different titles over the past twelve years. Then at the start of 2009 I hit a brick wall creatively and decided to start from square one. I knew that I wanted to create a graphic novel length comic and the fact that it would take me several years made a site with regular page updates essential unless I wanted to disappear creatively.’
I asked him about the name Feliq as a pen name and Cee & Bee as a continuing series. What is it about? What are its themes and subtexts?
ET – ‘I wanted a non-gender specific penname and I stumbled across the name Faliq (Persian for ‘Little Elephant’ I think) when I was reading Michael Chabon’s, Gentleman of the Road. So I stole it, played around with it a tad and came up with Feliq. Liberating me somewhat from my creative history and its bothersome luggage.
The strongest theme in Cee and Bee is how many of us will embrace destiny’s we are neither prepared or equipped for in spite of common sense telling us otherwise.
For me the subtexts hinge on the fact the protagonist sisters, Cindy and Bianca are not particularly good at anything. With no power comes no responsibility.
Two of the early subtexts that became apparent were that there’s adventure in simply finding out what’s behind the next corner and anybody has the capacity to change anything. Exactly how these determine the development of this comic is not set in stone though. I also hoped to suggest that determination is the single most important thing when confronted with an overwhelming situation, whether you got there by choice or not. I’m only half way through the story with rewrites and alterations up ahead so much of this will change.’
I find that Ed’s style on the new project really differs from his old style. To me it has a taste of Herge’s Tin Tin mixed in with a dollop of The Hernandez Bros’ Love and Rockets. Always a perfectionist his new work deploys a really interesting use of colour that lends itself to a European style. Each page screams out a depth of field. It has a real sense of place that improves on his past work. A personal favourite of mine is on page six where the main protagonists visit their agent and sit at one end of a huge office that even has a plane hanging from the ceiling. They wave across the room to get his attention.
I asked Ed about his change of style to a more European tradition.
ET – ‘I’ve always loved the European clean line style (Ligne claire) and at the start of 2009 I decided to finally embrace it. I wasn’t always a fan of my own art. It could seem uptight and insecure. Like the reader could tell I was desperately trying to constantly prove myself in an artistically adolescent way, “ Oh, look at my art. Don’t I understand drapery and anatomy well?” Also simple clean line, flat colour and simplified panel design make it so much easier to revise and edit. Offering me the creative freedom that prose writing seems to have. ‘
Since his move to New York Ed now has two feet firmly in the storyboarding community. Now that he is an award nominated artist I was curious at how this job has caused his style to grow and influenced how he approaches a subject.
ET – ‘Three years spent trotting about Manhattan drawing for commercials and TV has not so much influenced my comic style as highlighted the liberating aspects of visual simplicity and embracing a style that encourages creative, fluid decision making.’
Being a huge fan of the printed product I was curious to see if Ed had any plans to produce Cee & Bee as a graphic novel collection.
ET –‘Ultimately yes. To a certain point Cee & Bee has replaced the traditional ashcan comic. With the page count hovering around one hundred pages a web comic keeps Cee & Bee out there, visible for all to enjoy and hopefully to stir interest in a publisher, distributor and at the moment, most importantly an editor.
I’m conscious that I need an experienced editor who understands what I am trying to achieve but I’d rather have no editor over the wrong editor. Around page fifty I intend to go through the comic and pull it apart. Redrawing and rewriting as much as is needed but I’m conscious that my ‘meddling” may cut out the quality meat along with the fat and grizzle.’
I thoroughly recommend you looking out anything that Ed has produced in the past. His work is always interesting and he has got a great storytelling style. The UK’s loss is a huge win for the USA comics scene. Mr Traquino is definitely going places and is one to watch.