Rob Guillroy first cam onto my radar when I discovered his work on CHEW, I immediately became a fan of his unique style, which was almost full of energy and a touch of humor.
When it was announced that CHEW would be ending I wondered where he would go next. Luckily we didn't have to wait long.
He launched his new series FARMHAND, which he both writes and illustrates. It's somewhat of a dark comedy and focuses on a family of a farmers that, get this, farm body parts. It's such a weird concept but this book is probably one of the most unique ideas I've ever seen. It quickly became one of my favorites. When I heard it was being adapted as a TV series, I knew I had to talk to Rob. I hope you guys check out the book, if you haven't already, and enjoy the interview.
COMIC LOUNGE: First off can you tell us what your first experience with comics was as a kid?
RG: My uncles used to have a huge stash of comics from the 70s and 80s that they’d let me rifle through when I was only a few years old. I was immediately hooked.
COMIC LOUNGE: You Have one of the most distinct styles in comics. Who were some influences for you as an artist?
RG: That’s always a hard question. Jim Mahfood, Dave Crosland, Steve Ditko, Chuck Jones and Akira Toriyama are a few off the top of my head. I have very diverse influences.
COMIC LOUNGE: You finished up a long run with CHEW that was both a critical hit and beloved by fans. What was that overall experience like for you?
RG: CHEW was a whirlwind. It was my very first experience handling solo art duties on a major book, and the fact that it was so successful made it all the more surreal. It was incredibly intense maintaining consistent output and consistent quality for the book’s eight-year run. I’ll probably never work a schedule that intense ever again, but it was worth every minute.
COMIC LOUNGE: You followed that book up with FARMHAND, which you pull double duty on (writing and drawing). Where did the idea for the book first come from?
RG: Who knows where ideas come from? I think it’s just a meshing of a lot of things I’d been exposed to over the years. From reading Frankenstein as a kid, to watching Jurassic Park in middle school, to watching documentaries about genetically modified food ten years ago, I always gravitated toward stories of mankind trying to become God and the repercussions of those decisions. FARMHAND is sort of the brainchild of that infatuation.
COMIC LOUNGE: Like I said, not only are you illustrating the book but writing as well. Did you have much writing experience prior to this book?
RG: Prior to CHEW, I wrote most of my own projects. Most of those never saw print—thank God—but I always intended to be a writer/artist. I just like doing my own thing.
COMIC LOUNGE: Since you're writing for yourself, how do you approach each issue when working on the book?
RG: I write full scripts, as if I’m writing for a different artist. I think it’s important for my to constantly flex those muscles, in case I do write for other artists down the road. I start with a rough outline, then flesh it out to full script with dialogue, reserving the right to edit the script when I start drawing it, if I think of something better.
COMIC LOUNGE: This book is a mix of horror and comedy. What were some of your influences when cooking up with the concept?
RG: I’ve always been a big Stephen King and Stephen Spielberg guy, and I think it probably shows in FARMHAND. I just love the idea of big, cosmic horror taking root in an unassuming small town.
COMIC LOUNGE: How in the world did you come up with the idea of growing organic body parts for transplants?
RG: It’s really not that out of the question, as crazy as it sounds. Science has been genetically modifying plants for the purpose of growing certain types of medicines for years. At the same time, we’ve cloned animals and learned how to grow human organs with stem cells. FARMHAND basically puts those ideas together. It’s a no-brainer.
COMIC LOUNGE: With Vol.1 hitting stores recently and reaction to the book being so positive. What can we expect with the series moving forward?
RG: Volume 2 hits stands next month, and it’s a good bit darker than the first volume. As the story accelerates, things hit a nice fever pitch that I think readers will enjoy. Still, it’s a family drama at it’s core, so that always grounds the story in a nice way.
COMIC LOUNGE: Do you have any other projects in the works?
RG: I’ve got a few ideas for other books I’m playing with, but other than the FARMHAND comic, I’ve recently started writing a FARMHAND TV pilot for AMC Studios. It’s somehow very different, yet very similar to comic-writing, so that’s been an incredible experience. That’s where my focus is at the moment, just telling the story the best I can, in whatever medium I get to tell it.