Logan Kaufman: Pinup art seems like a very niche
market nowadays, whereas in the past you'd find
sexy pinup type women in pulps, Outdoors Magazine
and everything in between. Do you ever get that
"born too late" feeling?
Joe Pekar: Not at all. I'm a big fan of
the older pinups, but I like being able to put
a modern spin on the subject. Attractive women
still show up in all kinds of ads to sell all
kinds of products. It just happens that photography
has become the popular choice for that as opposed
to the painted look from forty years ago. I guess
I could always take up photography if I wanted
to do that kind of work, but I'm quite content
drawing my subjects. Niche market or not, I just
enjoy the process and challenge of drawing and
Logan: Were you aware of other pinup artists
when you first got started, or was it a case of
enjoying drawing the female form, and then finding
out later that people have made a career of doing
Joe Pekar: Actually when I first started
to focus on drawing girls I wasn't particularly
aware of too many pinup artists. Of course I had
heard of Vargas and Petty and couple other names,
but just on a cursory level. At the time I was
working full time making video games and the girl
art was just a way to do something different from
my daily work. Then one day I found a book called
The Great American Pinup and was amazed
by the art and artists in the book. From there
I started looking at more and more pinup work
of various artists and styles and finally realized
"this is what I want to do!" After losing
interest in working in video games (for a variety
of reasons) I decided I wanted to focus my work
on drawing women and I've been enjoying my art
more than ever.
Logan: What kind of work on video games
were you doing? Character design or programming?
Joe Pekar: I was a 3D animator that eventually
also became a character modeler and texture artist
(and sometime concept artist).
Logan: Did you come into that job from
the tech side of it, or were you always looking
for some sort of field where you could be artistic?
Joe Pekar: I was at a point where when
I was growing up all I wanted to do was draw comics.
Eventually I started to realize maybe there was
something else I wanted do - so I decided to go
to art school to learn computer animation (having
never used a computer before that, I figured I
should jump on that bandwagon!). It was in school
when I got interested in creating art for video
games, and thought that might be an interesting
career. And it was...for a little while at least...
Logan: What eventually killed your interest
in doing video games?
Joe Pekar: Too many people involved in
the projects, too many restrictions, too many
personalities to deal with...as an artist, I like
having the freedom to create whatever it is I
want to. Working in a studio environment, working
on a game designed by others kind of killed that
freedom. Plus at the time my children were pretty
young, and coming home late all the time and working
weekends just wasn't where I wanted my family
life to be. So I figured I'd try and make the
move then before it got too late.
Logan: What kind of comics were you into
when you were growing up?
Joe Pekar: When I was younger I was into
pretty much everything. Though I tended to always
prefer Batman over Superman and Dare Devil over
Spider-Man. The less "super powers"
the better. As I got older I just ended up buying
anything if I liked the art. Once I started working
in a comic store in the early 90's, I looked beyond
just the DC/Marvel superhero stuff. I remember
being a big fan of Dark Horse comics. Of course
I remember buying all the Image stuff when
they started. Ugh. I pretty much stopped picking
up comics by the mid 90's though, with just the
odd purchase here or there (once again, depending
on the artist involved).
Logan: Any particular artists that stood
out to you?
Joe Pekar: I had a million "favorite"
artists when I was growing up. Blame it on a short
attention span I guess... My favorite artist line
up used to change regularly. And still on any
given day I could come up with five favorite artists,
and then come up with a completely new set tomorrow.
But for pinup art, I think my biggest influence
has been Gil Elvgren. Not so much in his drawing
style, but the amount of fun and charm he put
into his pinups. I've always been a fan of pinup
art that told a little bit of a story, as opposed
to just a girl posing for the "camera".
Logan: Were you into emulating styles
from artists you liked, or were you doing your
Joe Pekar: No, I never really tried to
emulate anyone else's style. I never understood
where the point of doing that helped you as an
artist. Why copy someone else's mistakes, when
you can have more fun making your own?
Logan: How did you work on developing
the craft of your art? Did you work from photos,
models or just memory?
Joe Pekar: Well, for me, pinup art should
be fun. So I'm always trying to come up with a
fun concept first. Unfortunately once I come up
with an idea, it's hard finding good photo references
for the poses I might need. I really don't have
the time to find models, grab a camera and take
some pictures...But if I can find a photo in the
right pose, then that's great, and I'll use what
I can from it. But usually I have to work it out
a bit. There are other times where I may find
a photo somewhere and I may not be interested
in the pose, but something about the lighting
will strike me and I'll file it away for reference.
One thing I don't like doing is just drawing
a girl to make her look "sexy". Most
photos you'll find of girls are just "look
at the camera and be sexy" or they just look
too posed and not natural for what I want. So
those aren't too helpful. For me, there has to
be a story element to it, even if it's a small
one. I want people to see my pinups and think
about them a little bit. "What's she doing?
How did she get there? Why is she wearing that?
What's going to happen next?" Things like
that. I want people to use their imaginations
and have fun.
When I was younger I was drawing from figure
drawing books all the time to try and learn anatomy,
and I'll still go back to them if something's
giving me trouble.
Logan: Was digital coloring something
you picked up from working on video games?
Joe Pekar: I first learned digital coloring
in college. One of the classes I took was an Introduction
to Photoshop class. I learned the basics of the
program and whatnot. But most of the work I did
with Photoshop (and later Painter) in the beginning
was for making texture maps for video game models.
I then eventually used what I learned in making
texture maps, in the coloring of my pinups.
Logan: Before you had learned digital
coloring, were you mostly doing pen and ink, or...?
Joe Pekar: I was mostly just doing pencil
work with some painting now and then, just for
Logan: Growing up looking at a lot of
sequential art in comics and being interested
in a story, have you done much sequential-type
Joe Pekar: Actually, I'm currently working
on my first sequential art in years. Silent Devil
comics will be publishing a comic of mine called
Brandi Bare in the summer of '07. I haven't
really had the urge to do standard comic sequentials
for a long time, since I have a really
short attention span and I'm not looking to do
standard superhero type stuff (at least for now).
Plus if I was doing sequential work, I wouldn't
want somebody else inking or coloring my work,
I'd want to do it all (which I'm doing on Brandi
Bare) so it takes me a little longer to do
a full page.
I've done some coloring of sequential art these
past couple years with mixed results. Some jobs
have been a lot of fun, others...not so much...
But that has gotten to a point where I only want
to color comic work if I like the artist I'm working
with and am allowed the freedom I want.
Logan: I take it you had at least toyed
with doing sequential art earlier, then?
Joe Pekar: Oh, when I was growing up all
I wanted to do was draw comics. I remember drawing
all kinds of sequential pages. Most of them were
pretty bad - I still have some. Then when I was
in my early twenties I realized I was reading
less and less comics and slowly lost interest
in it, and then eventually found my way into digital
art and video games. And now I'm heading back
towards comics...ah well...
Logan: What is the story on the Brandi
Bare comic? Just from the title, it sounds
like it would be similar content wise to your
Joe Pekar: Brandi Bare is pretty
much a comic based on a few pinups in my Naughty
Girls artbook published by SQP. At least that's
where the characters started off. Basically it's
a story about a girl (Brandi) going off to college
with her friends and Bear, her trusted stuffed
animal. She'll deal with being away from home,
dorm life, and roommate troubles. She'll also
find herself in a few interesting situations.
Some of the pinups in Naughty Girls will
give a few hints as to what might be in store
for Brandi and her friends...
Logan: Is this going to be something you'll
be doing from time to time, or just a once and
Joe Pekar: For now it's just gonna be
this one book, but we'll see how it goes. I've
got a few more ideas I'd like to try out someday
Logan: How did you get to working with
Silent Devil? Since SQP published Naughty Girls,
it seems like they would have been interested.
Joe Pekar: Actually I met their (Silent
Devil's) editor at a few shows and she finally
asked me if I'd be interested in doing a comic
through them. I had a few ideas and they were
giving me carte blanche to do whatever I wanted,
so I said "sure".
Logan: Were your "few ideas"
of similar themes to Brandi? Silent Devil publishes
some darker looking stuff, and another of your
interests is zombies...
Joe Pekar: Actually I don't think any
of my ideas came close to anything Silent Devil
does. I had told Lauren (Lauren Perry, their Executive
Editor) that I was only interested in doing a
book if I could work some girls into it... And
she was cool with that, so away we went.
While drawing a zombie book would be fun, there's
probably already too many zombie books on the
market. Of course my attention span is so short,
who knows, maybe some zombies will show up in
Brandi Bare (but don't hold your breath!).
Logan: Now there's a plot twist:. Right
in the middle of a sexy pillow fight...zombies!
Only people who read this interview would see
How different of an experience was working on
the comic after doing so many straight pinup images?
You probably had to draw a lot more scenery and
backgrounds than you've been used to...
Joe Pekar: [Laughs] There's a thought...
Oh, it's a big difference doing a comic vs. straight
pinups. I hate doing backgrounds. But I'm trying
to make the backgrounds fun and colorful, so we'll
see how it works out.
Logan: Did you have enough experience
with that kind of thing, or were you breaking
out the Perspective 101 books?
Joe Pekar: Years ago I used to enjoy doing
backgrounds, so I learned about perspective and
how to use it...I've just spent the past few years
Logan: How are you collaborating with
Joe Pekar: Jeff and I have known each
other for years. We went to art school together,
and worked at a few places together. So he knows
what I like to draw. We start hashing out the
ideas over Instant Messenger, then he writes down
a synopsis and emails it over to me. I edit it
here and there, putting in things I know I want
to draw (and edit out things I don't want to!).
We'll go back and forth on different ideas, until
we're both happy with it. He's also there to pester
me to keep moving along on it.
Logan: So he is doing a lot of the general
plot, and you're contributing dialogue - or is
it a fairly true mix on the writing?
Joe Pekar: I think it's a pretty true
mix of the writing. One of us will throw an idea
out there and then we'll just go back and forth
until it works, including plot and dialogue. Then
he'll organize it all into a coherent story. If
it wasn't for him, there'd be no comic, because
there's no way I'd be able to keep my attention
span on it by myself.
Logan: Other than graphic novels, have
you thought about other outlets for your art?
Illustrated novels and such?
Joe Pekar: I treat my art as a continuing
work in progress, I like to let it take me where
it wants to go. Some years ago I thought I'd be
doing animation/video games for my career...so
we'll see where this path ends up.