Rust & Water will be available for pre-order on May 8, 2021, and is part of the online event, So You Want to Make a Graphic Novel: 5 Comic Creators Discuss Launching Their Books. Attend the event for a Q&A with Justin Currie, GMB Chomichuk, and several other comic creators. There will also be some awesome giveaways of their graphic novels and art prints!
Rust and Water, coming soon from Mythos & Ink, is a science fantasy graphic novel that follows a curious mermaid and a newly-awakened, ancient robot on a mysterious mission into the depths of the ocean.
The robot, Tune, embarks on a treacherous journey across the ocean floor in order to fulfill his mission. On his way through this alien environment, Tune meets Nara, a curious mermaid, who becomes his guide through this unfamiliar world. Tune comes to recognize the beauty and wonder within Nara’s ocean home. Nara learns, perhaps too late, that her new robotic friend may mean to end her world as she knows it.
Today we’re having a chat with the artist, Justin Currie, and author, GMB (Gregory) Chomichuk.
1. What inspired Rust and Water?
Justin: [I love] this idea of robots becoming more than just automotons, having souls and becoming their own lifeforms, evolving alongside humans (and mermaids and dragons)… they have their own free will and their own hopes and dreams. We get to explore that along with their counterparts.
Rust and Water © Chasing Artwork
2. Were you influenced by any other graphic novels or stories?
Justin: “The concept art from Finding Nemo and Finding Dory—the concept art from those films is absolutely amazing. I always wanted to tell a story set in the ocean, and those concept art books opened my mind to the awesome world you can build on the bottom of the ocean.”
Gregory: “I was in this privileged position where I was being influenced by Justin’s work. He would build a landscape under the ocean, then I would wander off to a coffee shop and think about what [the scene] meant. It was like being given a box full of toys and then I tried to put the pieces together.”
3. What is your collaborative process? Do you brainstorm together? Is it writing first, art second, or the reverse?
Justin: “With Rust and Water, I approached Gregory with the idea when we had just started sharing a studio. We had a rough version of the story, in which the robot drains the oceans with a huge plug. I remember being on book tours and convention tours together, at airports sitting at tables, and we just started bouncing ideas on how to make the story better.
“I went back and story boarded again the newer, better version we brainstormed from these discussions. Once I started to have some final artwork, I would start feeding it to Gregory. He started to write and make notes as I was slowly feeding him pieces at a time.”
Gregory: “One interesting part of our collaboration is that we would travel close together on a three-hour car ride or plane ride, but then we would be separated in different locations at a convention. So we’d brainstorm intensely, then go away and think about it. Then we’d come together and fit pieces together.”
Rust and Water © Chasing Artwork
4. What was the most difficult part about creating this book?
Justin: “When my part of the book is done, I have to sit back helpless as Gregory finishes the words. Usually by that point I’ve been putting like 12, 16, 18 hour days into getting the book ready on time for the printer, then at a certain point I can’t do any more and it’s up to Gregory to finish his part. I feel a little helpless. I’m geared up to be working these long hours and suddenly it’s done. There’s this nervousness and anxiety that’s been building. Luckily, he does a great job, but yeah, it’s a stressful time.”
Gregory: “One of my favourite notes from Justin on an old draft of Rust and Water, that he’d written in a text box as placeholder text, read: “Add something profound.” That’s a pretty robust note!
“The hardest part, for me, is that I’m a bit of a control freak. With books that I’m collaborating with someone else, it’s a struggle to keep my mouth shut, to get out of the way of the person I’m collaborating with.”
5. How have you developed your art style?
Justin: “It’s all about practice and mileage. Your style is something that evolves from ten thousand hours of drawing. It’s something that eventually shows up. Mine showed up right when I started wondering if I would ever get one.
“Working in Adobe Illustrator is a result of my graphic design training and having a boring job. I could put illustrations in one end of the canvas and work on logos on the other end, and my bosses never knew I was doing both, Eventually, a style developed from that, from thousands of hours working in that program.
“It’s all about practice. Keep chasing that artwork.”
Rust and Water © Chasing Artwork
6. What advice would you give to an aspiring graphic novel author?
Gregory: “Trust your artists. They’re better at drawing than you are at writing.”
7. What advice would you give to an aspiring graphic novel artist?
Justin: “As an artist, I’ve found you just need to dive in. You really don’t know what you’re going to have until you start making pages. When you’re making a book, you just need to start making panels, characters, and scenes. A lot of the first ones get scrapped.
“Because I usually have a lot of control about what’s going on in my books, the stories are open to change. Nothing is set in stone until we go to print. I think that saves so many of my stories. I cringe to think if I had been handed a script and never got to deviate for any of my books. Keep things more malleable and you are able to make those changes.”
Justin Currie is an illustrator who combines techniques from graphic design training and traditional painting in the coined style, “shattered vector painting.” He is an internationally recognized artist who has worked with Blizzard, Warhammer, Nickelodeon, Disney, Marvel, and Netflix, and he is a regular guest at comic conventions across Canada and the United States. His first creator-owned project, Cassie and Tonk, won the Manitoba Book Award for graphic novels. The mission statement of Justin's studio, Chasing Artwork, is: “As long as you're practicing, you’ll always be improving. Your best piece will always be the next one. Keep chasing the artwork.”
GMB Chomichuk is an award-winning writer and illustrator whose work has appeared in film, television, books, comics and graphic novels. His most recent work with HighWater Press, Will I See?, was a collaboration with writer David A. Robertson and singer/songwriter Iskwē. He writes and/or illustrates occult suspense stories like Midnight City, science fiction works like Red Earth, or inspirational all-ages adventure stories like Cassie and Tonk. He is the host of Super Pulp Science, a podcast about how genre gets made. His newest full length graphic novel, Apocrypha: The Legend of Babymetal, was featured on The Hollywood Reporter, The Nerdist, and Billboard Magazine.