Ellis Ray III is a talented St. Louis artist who hits all the Comic Cons in his area as he builds his rep in the comics world by networking and drawing relentlessly. He was front and center at Wizard World Comic Con in St. Louis 2015 repping for his city and holding it down. He has fun at the comic cons and with his artwork, constantly improving and refining his craft and style. He has worked on a couple of books but is looking for a project that will take him to the next level. His work speaks for itself but check it out here and check out what the man has to say in this Gr1nd exclusive-
What made you want to become an artist?
Cartoons. Plain and simple. Everything from Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera to Ghostbusters, GI Joe, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I used to trace the characters out of comics and coloring books and then started drawing them without assistance.
What projects have you worked on?
A few stories for local anthologies like Ink and Drink comics and Stache Publishing. Also some storyboarding with Bruton Stoube. Few years back, I worked with a couple friends to self publish our own comics under the name eSquaredCOMICS with Eddrick Bedford and Tony Baker II. It was a lot of fun but ultimately we all kind of wanted to do something else, so we disbanded.
What comics did you read growing up?
I really didn’t read comics as a little kid like everyone else. I was so stuck on cartoons and movies. I didn’t buy my first comic book until freshman year of high school back in 2000. It was Ultimate Spider-Man #2. I was hooked.
Who are your favorite artists today and why?
Frank Quitely, Chris Samnee, Rafael Albuquerque, Olivier Coipel, Tonci Zonjic, Eduardo Risso, Ronald Wimberly, Sara Pichelli, Annie Wu, David Aja, Stuart Immonen, John Romita Jr and Sr, Cameron Stewart, Ivan Reis, Bryan Hitch, and too many more to list. I’m sure if I sat down and thought about it for a long time, I could go all day. I don’t think I can go through the “why” for everyone, but they are all amazing storytellers and illustrators.
What is the comic con scene like?
Fun. Exciting. It’s a great space for you to be unashamedly enthusiastic about whatever geeky thing you’re in to. You can meet artists and creators of your favorite comics and shows. You see and meet people who are just as passionate about nerd stuff and it’s awesome.
What or who inspires your work?
A lot of artists inspire my work. I’d like to say people like Alex Toth, Hugo Pratt, Jordi Bernet, Joe Kubert, Otomo Katsuhiro, Frank Quitely, and Moebius. These are the artists that I’ll spend time studying. It took me years as an artist to find these guys, excluding Frank Quitely who I dug since I first saw his work on New X-Men back in high school.
Describe your style?
My style has gone through the wringer. But I think today, I’ve embraced the style that I have the most fun with which is a bit cartoony and closer to a Ligne Claire style. I tried emulating amazing artists like Alan Davis, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Lee because its hot artwork, but I wasn’t having fun being trying to emulate their style. I get very bored very quickly and can loose interest easily. Sounds terrible, but I like being able to get my idea out in a clear and straight forward manner without doing a lot of extra stuff.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m trying my hand at creating my own stories. I’ve never been that much of a writer, but with the last few projects I worked on, I got a shot at it. It’s something I’ve always wanted to get better at so I figure there’s not a better time to do it than now.
What is in the future for Ellis Ray?
Hopefully working on a creator owned project that can keep itself afloat.
How did you perfect your trade?
Drawing daily. Even if it’s with a ballpoint pen on a napkin. Reading a lot of comics and watching good movies. It’s important to be able to tell a good story, probably more so than drawing a pretty picture.
Check out his site and follow Ellis on social media- http://ellisray3.com