Kyle Charles is a writer/illustrator living in Edmonton, Alberta. He has drawn for several series including Roche Limit: Clandestiny and Her Infernal Descent. He has also written and illustrated short stories for publishers like Heavy Metal and OnSpec Magazine. When not busy at the drawing table, Kyle spends much of his time teaching comics to local students. He is a member of Whitefish Lake First Nation.
The story appears in the forthcoming graphic novel anthology, This Place: 150 Years Retold.
In “Tilted Ground,” Kyle’s illustrations depict Chief Billy Assu as he becomes one of the most well-known Ligwilda’xw potlatch chiefs in history, as well as the potlatch ban.
HWP: The style of your art is unique in that all of the work is done by hand—many other artists prefer to ink their work digitally. Why did you decide to work in this style, and what do you like about drawing by hand?
KC: I’ve always worked traditionally. It slows the process down, but I feel like my best work is done when it’s pencils and inks applied directly onto paper. I have nothing against working digitally, though. If I had the necessary tools, I would likely split my workload between the two, as working with digital pencils and inks lets you discover things, speeds up the process, and allows artists to be a little more bold.
HWP: What does your creative process look like?
KC: My creative process is pretty straight forward. If you put my work under a microscope, you’d see I adhere to a few visual rules for storytelling (which some could argue limits the work), but I never want to give up substance for style. I read the materials or script and try to get to the marrow of what the story is and what the characters need. Then thumbnails (small drawings), pencils, and if I like the composition and direction, I finish it with inks.
HWP: Your past work in series such as Roche Limit: Clandestiny feature illustrations that are reflective of the sci-fi genre, whereas “Tilted Ground” is historical fiction. Is there anything particularly interesting or challenging about illustrating either genre?
KC: Sure, I’ve worked on multiple period pieces set in the 19th century, and the biggest difference is the amount of reference I need to use. Sci-fi exercises a separate part of the brain; I love pulling on the thread of where tech is going or could go and what that does to human nature. Period work puts you in a box, but that’s not a bad place to be. You are forced to start thinking of various approaches to make it interesting while adhering to the strict guidelines that are required.
HWP: “Tilted Ground” is written by Sonny Assu and coloured by Scott A. Ford. What was it like to work with them on this story?
KC: It was a good experience. We weren’t in contact very much, but it’s exciting to work on a historical piece with a direct member of the family. I’ve never done that before. Scott brought a really intriguing dimension to the story, too—his colours are bananas.
HWP: What has been your most memorable experience as a writer and illustrator?
KC: Probably getting the opportunity to work on Heavy Metal #282. It was the first of Grant Morrisson’s takeover as E-I-C (he’s my favourite writer) and arguably the most important issue of Heavy Metal since the legendary days of their run in the 70s with artists like Moebius and Enki Balal. Those are artists I respect and admire, so to share pages with one of them under Grant’s watchful eye was rewarding.
HWP: What are you currently working on? Where can readers find your work next?
KC: Right now, I’m working on a book called War Path and a short story for Moonshot with Richard Van Camp. I also have an upcoming graphic novel that I can’t talk about yet, and I’ve been involved with TV and Film lately.
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Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are a wild ride through Indigenous wonderworks, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.
Featuring Stories By: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, and Chelsea Vowel
Illustrated By: Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, and Jen Storm
Colour By: Scott A. Ford and Donovan Yaciuk
This is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.