Monday, August 29, 2011

5 Questions With Shawn Alleyne

Continuing the Street Team series of interviews, we're coming down the home stretch with a chat with Philly's pride, artist Shawn Alleyne. Shawn's artistic stylings are kinetic and full of energy and life and this interview is in that exact same mold!

1) For people who may not be familiar with you, could you please give us a quick introduction?

Well, Shawn Alleyne..aka M.D Geist, a Barbadian born and raised artist who moved to Philadelphia as a teen, where I've lived ever since. From an early age I knew I wanted to be involved with art in some capacity, ever since my dad first sat me down with a Daredevil comic and made me watch him draw the cover. I'm currently working as a freelance artist, and operate under the "studio" name of PYROGLYPHICS, which roughly translates to "Hot Images", something I try to capture in my art. I've had other people describe my style as "gritty new age urban comic book styling" and that works for me.

2) Could you give us the skinny on Aaron and A Heroes Diary?

Aaron is the creation of a writer by the name of Koran Curtis and myself. Aaron is a smart, caring man who suffered a tragedy early on in his life that left him emotionally and psychologically scarred. He's your "every-man" who wants to make a difference in his environment and who pushed his mind and body to their limits to achieve that. "A Hero's Diary" tells the tale of that journey, through a journal Aaron keeps, and his struggle to do right in the world even though his methods are more extreme than say a Spider-Man type hero. The story of "A Hero's Diary" mirrors some popular comic book mythos, but deconstructed through an urban vantage point. For example, we deal with the "real life" ramifications of having to work a job after a long night of patrolling; of not being a billionaire able to acquire fancy sci-fi gadgets on a whim; of not wearing a trenchcoat in the summer, etc, etc.

3) Could you give us a break down of the creative process behind the Street Team comic? With as many as 6 different creators having a hand in the book, it seems the logistics of putting everything together must have been exhaustive. What was the experience like in general and in particular, how was it inking over Stanley Weaver’s pencils?

To be honest the experience has been pretty smooth due to 4 large factors. 1) Communication- We always stay in contact with each other and discuss what we want to happen. It doesn't hurt that we're all friends anyway so we call each other just to shoot the breeze on a fairly regular basis anyways. 2) A plan. We set up a structure where we know who's doing what and what we expect. 3) open honesty..if someone isn't feeling something we all discuss it and come to a resolution/compromise. 4) No egos.
As far as inking over Stan, it was a bit weird at first since I don't consider myself an inker and have never really inked anyone else's work. But it was smooth once I got settled in since Stan pencils pretty tight lines...pretty much all the hard work was done. lol

4) If you don't mind me saying this, you're kind of like a machine in how you're able to produce a steady flow of amazing art that is so richly detailed. Could you tell us a bit about your artistic background and what helps you to be so consistent in your output?

I don't mind you saying that at all...I don't know how true it is though. lol Primarily I'm self-taught and straight up old school: a simple pencil and paper with some inks are all I use. My artistic background consists of sporadic brushes with art teachings: 2 weeks at a summer course for animation; roughly 8 days in a summer program for comic art in a continuing education program; that type of thing. So right now doing the free-lance thing I have no choice but to try and stay drawing, otherwise I don't eat. Plus, as I mentioned before, growing up I liked to draw but I only made up my mind comics was the specific field I wanted to get into late in my 20's, so I feel I should make up for lost time.

5) On a somewhat related note, you've collaborated with a number of other creators in helping to bring their concepts to life. Could you give some insight into your process in fleshing out someone else's vision? Also, could you tell us a bit about the latest example of this in your work on any new projects?

I start by acquiring as much information about the character/project from the creator as I can. For characters, not just the visual aspects, but personality descriptions as well...that can determine how a character stands, moves, etc. Everything becomes another piece to constructing the look of a character. If everything is spot on I can nail a character pretty easily. If I feel I'm missing something I might suggest some tweaks and I'll do as many sketches as necessary to get it right and from there the creator picks the one he likes best.
Right now I'm working on the chapter artwork and wrap-around for an illustrated fantasy novel called A Crown of Horns by John Cullins. Before I even thought about doing one piece of chapter art I made sure I knew who the characters were and what they looked like. I did 13 different character designs for the main character before we picked the right one, and that was just the beginning...there's about 20 different characters in the series but only a few that will be illustrated, but I still wanted to construct the world as a whole first.

Thank you for your time Shawn, it's been a pleasure. Do you have any final thoughts you would like to leave our readers?

Just thanks to everyone who has supported my artistic efforts..thanks to my friends and family..and thanks to you Will for the interview. Oh, and haters..gotta thank them, whom without I wouldn't be stronger. Feel free to contact me and view more of my art on any of my sites.

I can also be reached at

And since I write a few rhymes here and there I would be remiss not to drop a jewel:

"This is the line in the sand/ Art soldiers with ancient plans/With smoking hands I make these barren art fields fertile lands.." Geist

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