Ken best is the artist of three adventures through the Gold Coast, ‘The Book of the Sun’, ‘The Chapel of Unlove’ and ‘The Hokey Pokey’, available free on the the Story City app. Learn about Ken, the inspiration for the artworks, and a bit about the artistic challenges below. Then if you’re in Gold Coast, grab your phone and take this adventure through the Sanctuary Cove, Southport, or Coolangatta streets!
*DISCLAIMER- includes dinosaur references. Sorry (not sorry).*
First, the important questions. Considering the sort of day you’ve had, what dinosaur would you be?
T-Rex, definitely T-Rex.
What was your process with each of the stories you illustrated/scored? What effect were you trying to achieve?
My process is similar to when I get a comic book script. I read the whole thing first, jotting down ideas for images that spring into my mind as I read. I might even draw a quick sketch in the margin if it is a particularly powerful or funny image. From there I draw a basic pencil sketch of the characters and get the writers/editors feedback.
Then it’s time to draw rough pencils of each image. Once again I get the writers/editors feedback and make any necessary changes before going to final artwork. If I’ve been asked to provide pencils only (some images suit just pencils anyway) I’ll clean up the rough image as best I can. Otherwise I ink over the pencils by hand and scan it into the computer and colour digitally using a tablet and digital pen.
The Book of the Sun story suits a black and white composition – it gives the story a crime noir/horror feel with lots of black areas. The splash of colour adds to the Sun theme. The Chapel of Unlove story is a dark comedy piece so I went with a more cartoony look with bright, contrasting colours. The Hokey Pokey story is a history piece so I went with lighter, washed out colours to capture the old photograph feel.
Do you have a favourite Story City story?
The Book of the Sun story was my favourite to work on. It read like a traditional comic book story and it suited my noir style the most. I like to draw action stories with lots of beasts and fantasy elements and this story has that in spades!
I didn’t know much about the geography of Coolangatta before the Hokey Pokey story. The stories of the porpoise pool and the other activities that used to happen there fascinated me.
How did you find working in this interactive medium?
Great! Like I said it is very much like working on a comic because of the collaborative approach to producing a final product. With comics, the artist is usually one member of a production line involving editor, writer, letterer and publisher. Sometimes a number of artists (penciller, inker and colourist) are involved. I’ve produced artwork for digital distribution before and although I don’t understand much of the technology involved (I’m and old dog), I’m comfortable with the artwork side of the equation.
Did you get more satisfaction out of creating work for the ‘you fail’ endings? Or the ‘you win’ endings?
The ‘you fail’ endings are more fun. They usually involve someone disappearing into the ether or transforming into another being so it’s kind of a grander conclusion. The violent explosive endings are especially fun to draw!
(Spoiler alert!) Following on from the previous answer, the image of the dragon coming to life in the Southport alleyway and destroying the story players is my favourite.
What was the hardest thing about the project? Do you have any advice for others?
The hardest thing for me was the deadline. I had to produce 47 images in six weeks in my spare time (I’m not a full-time artist) so I had to ramp up production during lunch breaks and on weekends. But I have a very supportive family and I had a lot of creative freedom and support from the Story City team so it was challenging but very rewarding.
Artists tend to be a sensitive bunch and easily stifled by deadlines and project limits but when you’re producing work for hire you just get in and get it done. The end product may not be the best or most creative expression of your talents but you’re part of a bigger wheel and others are relying on your end result to get their product/service out there.
Where can people find out more about you?
I have a DeviantArt site which is an online portfolio of my pencil and ink work. It is under the title ‘kdavidbest’. I can usually be found at the Gold Coast and Brisbane comic conventions (Supanova and Oz Comic Con) where I sell my own comic stuff in Artists Alley. I sell my comic titled ‘X-tinct’ through Kaboom Comics in Toowoomba, Queensland.
I’m currently working with two emergency services to produce educational comics for young people. Educational comics are something I’m getting more involved with at the moment so when they’re published I’ll be promoting them via my DA site and FB.
These adventures were made possible thanks to the Regional Arts Development Fund, an initiative of the Queensland Government and City of Gold Coast to support local arts and culture.