Thursday, October 18, 2012

Joshua D. Hoaglund

Joshua D. Hoaglund is a Staff Animator at Rockstar Games where he has worked on Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption. In addition to his position at Rockstar, Joshua has taught the course, Introduction to 3-D Modeling and Animation, at Harvard University Extension School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Joshua is also working on a graphic novel. His other interests include glass, sculpture, illustration, and painting. He spends his spare time with his 5 year old daughter Mayari, wife Rise Riyo, and family cat Chowder.

More of Joshua’s work can be found here:

What inspired “Vengeance”?

The inspirational elements of this story came together when I was on vacation in Vancouver. I was with my 4 year old daughter, Mayari, on a whale watch. The whale watch was the kind where the advertisements guarantee that you will see whales, yet there were no orcas to be seen during our trip. Since we were still excited to see whales, we returned for a complimentary second attempt. As I sat on the shuttle bus on the way to the boat, these images and story line came into my mind. “Vengeance” brings together memories of my childhood and fables from North American Mythology.  The whaling part of the story comes from my childhood growing up in New Bedford, MA where whaling fishery/industry was the main source of income from 1800s. My hometown provided the background for a setting where whales were being harvested. I was also inspired by Native American stories such as The Lord of the Undersea and his wife Talia. The tale is about how the Lord of the Undersea disguised himself as a whale and seduced a woman named Talia away from her family and made Talia his wife.

This is your second story in Hellbound, are you fan of horror?

Yes, I love horror. I am an uncloseted horror fan. I march in horror pride parades on Halloween. In all seriousness, despite being a horror fan, I did not search out the genre. The stories I have done for Hellbound have suited the horror genre pretty well without my ever setting out to tell horror tales. I am glad that there is a venue like Hellbound for stories like mine.

If so, what are some of your favorite horror stories?

I love supernatural stories and stories that involve magick, occult, otherworldly places, and fables. I prefer fables that are not watered down for modern children. I enjoy tales that have macabre elements, like murder and disembowelment. I also like TV series with stories similar to the Twilight Zone, Walking Dead, Discovery Channel‘s Ghosthunters, and A&E’s Hauntings. Some of my favorite authors are Neil Gaiman, Mike Mignola, J. K. Rowling, and Anne Rice.

Explain to Hellbound readers your creative process. Was the story written independently and before the art or did both develop together?

I gestate the story in my mind before I start making drawings. If the idea does not stick around for a while, I forget about it unless it develops. Then I crudely draw it, to get the tale down on paper. I start to tell the story using drawings, symbols and words. I don’t start with thumbnails all the time. Sometimes I just draw directly with a pen in a notebook. Then I scan in my inked drawings into the computer. I lay out the story using a scanner and a computer. The scans are organized in whatever format the final print will be. On the computer I can change my story layout easily. When there are ideas I need to express quickly, I will switch to writing words on the drawing boards or on the layout pages on the computer.  I print out copies of my story and make many rough drafts onto which I edit directly. The printed rough drafts really help me get a sense of how story will translate to print. When drawings do not look right, I edit by redrawing them entirely or using tracing paper to keep only the best parts. I rework panels, add new panels, scan them into the computer then print out another draft to proofread.

What prompted you create a wordless story?

I wanted to write a story that can be read by anyone who speaks any language. For a wordless comic the reader can focus purely on the language of the drawing.

What did you find most challenging about “Vengeance”?

The biggest challenge for “Vengeance” was completing this story. I was moving across country to California when “Vengeance” was due. The deadline for Hellbound III was literally at the same time I was starting my new job at Rockstar San Diego. I really wanted to complete the story, so, I was drawing the pages in hotel rooms at night during the cross-country trip. When we arrived in California, I had a little time before our belongings were delivered to our condo. That was the time I finished inking the last pages. I thought I was finished after that first draft of “Vengeance” was submitted. However, at that stage, being a wordless comic, and a first draft, “Vengeance” was still unclear. The Hellbound editing team and my wife, Rise Riyo, pointed out the areas that were unclear. After a discussion with the Hellbound story editor Jerel Dye, we decided to continue working and refining the story. With additional editing from Rise Riyo, I finalized details and redrew many of the panels, for the second draft. Together we edited 75% of the last three pages of “Vengeance” for the second draft to be complete.

Artistically, was there anything you were hoping to achieve?

I had three goals when I wrote “Vengeance.” I wanted to make a story that surprises the reader. I wanted a tale that expressed rage and anguish about environmental exploitation. I wanted the drawings to be pretty raw like punk rock music. I was thinking about the sounds of the story a lot. If the ideas for the story were music, that music would sound like a fusion of Environmental background music with Death Metal. The punk look I wanted to achieve would have a block cut and rough pen stroke quality.

Are you happy with the results?

I am happy that all the people who have read the story get a bit of a surprise when they get to the end. I feel that it went through a difficult final stage. I feel that going through that made a better story in the end. I am still both pleased and critical of the artwork.

How does that feel to be one of a few creators who have had a story published in multiple issues of Hellbound?

I am very honored to be in Hellbound a second time and am very grateful to the Hellbound crew.

I realize a theme has yet to be decided but have you begun working on your Hellbound IV story?

I have been working on a graphic novel based on a character from a dream. The graphic novel is similar to a “fun book” with mazes and games related to the story. The mazes are on the same pages as the story so they are related. The story includes zombies and monsters; some vampires too. The story is about a skateboarder who becomes a thief for a daemon. Then reader follows the skateboarder as he delves deeper into an underworld of monsters. I am not sure if it will match any upcoming themes for Hellbound IV. If not, I do have other work that may be a fit for Hellbound IV.

Thank you, Joshua.

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