Greek comic artist Isko Deranged remembers himself drawing since the first day he grabbed a pencil. From that historic day he never stopped expressing himself though sketches and comic stories shaping gradually his own style. Isko talked to Graphic Art News about himself and his work.
1. Hello Yannis. Please, introduce yourself to our readers and also tell us why have you named yourself as “Isko Deranged”?
Hi, my name is Yiannis. I was born in 1978 in Athens and I grew up in Piraeus. I am a Mechanical Engineer by trade and since 2010 I live in Exarchia, Athens. I would like to think of myself as an illustrator, comic artist, animator and probably other stuff too…
As for why I named myself “Isko Deranged”, well… I didn’t really. My actual pseudonym is ISKO, which is a combination of my first name and my surname. The “Deranged” part is an addition I had to make in order to differentiate myself on the internet from a number of companies and people named also ISKO. So, I was looking for an adjective to accompany Isko and deranged seemed kind of appropriate. I guess some of my creations are a bit deranged after all.
2. How did you get started as a comic artist and why?
I believe it all started when I was quite young. I always remember myself having comic books around (Asterix, Lucky luck, Iznogood, Mafalda, etc) and being fascinated both by the stories and the pictures. One of the first clear memories I have, at the age of probably around 3 or 4, is of sketching doodles on the pages of an issue of ” Asterix”. Since then, sketching is a fundamental part of myself and comics the obvious medium to manifest my creativity. Of course, the first attempt to make a proper comic came years later, probably around the age of 20, while studying and living in Patras. The reason being, then as always, the fun of it.
3. Did you draw your own comics as a kid?
I think I made a couple of primitive comics as a kid. I remember one about a bank and a bomb and another one being a wild west kind of story, but nothing more. I remember drawing all the time though, and sometimes making a story to accompany the sketch. So I guess I was making some kind of private pseudo comic.
4. Do you remember what your first piece of artwork was?
No, I don’t really. If by the term artwork you mean something that satisfied me as an artist and also found wide acceptance, then we should go back to the first line I drew, probably around the age of 1 (since my mother was always, and still is, very supportive, I always thought of myself as a very successful artist as a child).
5. You live in Greece but with the internet you can expand your work abroad. Would that be of interest to you and why?
Of course it would be of interest and the reasons are quite obvious. I live and create here, in Athens, but as it happens for the most of our generation, I feel part of a wider, global society. A very significant part of my cultural background is a global one and a lot of my references are too. I address to anybody that will appreciate what I do, so a greater audience is always something to look for.
Moreover, in economic terms, trying to make any profit in Greece is very hard. But even if it was not, turning to a global market is the logical thing to do.
6. What do you believe for the comic art in Greece?
I am following the Greek comic scene for the last 25 years, more or less, mainly through “Babel” magazine during the 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s, later “9” magazine and other publications and nowadays through what I see in the bookstores and web pages. Comic art in Greece is an aspect of its modern culture, expressing the era it was created in and it’s always present. Every now and then beautiful things happen and new artists emerge. For sure it’s not the high point of the Greek comic art scene, not artistically or creatively but because the whole economic crisis affected greatly the book market. Magazines like “Babel” and “Para Pente” where a meeting point for the Greek artists and comic lovers. I kind of miss that. Of course there is the internet, which has a completely different dynamic, but still I miss the smell of paper.
7. Who is your favorite artist and is there any Greek comic artist that you distinguish as the master of ink?
I could not say I have a favorite artist, but I appreciate a lot the work of Leandros and Kostas Kiriakakis. I also like Verikios and I grew up with Arkas, so he is in this list too.
As for the master of ink, from my personal perspective I would say Kiriakakis is the one.
8. Have you exhibited your work?
Yes, I have. I did a couple of poster exhibitions in 2015 and 2016 in Athens, in a place called “Techochoros Fabrika” and I have some of my illustrations on my tumblr page and hit records, if that counts. One of my small comics was published and I have also made some adds, some posters and illustrations for children books and a music band.
9. What tools have you mainly been using?
I draw on paper, using pencil and ink, mainly micron pens . Then I scan and colorize in Photoshop. So its hand for the sketches and Photoshop for color and sometimes parts of the composition.
10. When you start to draw where does your inspiration come from? What is your favorite theme to draw?
I don’t have a clue where inspiration comes from or, as a matter of fact, if what one creates was always there waiting for somebody to reveal it or not.
If I have to choose which is my favorite theme to draw, I would probably say that it’s tentacles . I know tentacles are not a theme by themselves, but every theme surrounded by or having a number of tentacles is a hell of an interesting theme.
11. Describe us a bit about your creative process while creating a comic.
Well, you have to start with the story. That is always the hard part. Then you have the story and you must draw the rest. It is more complicated than it sounds, at least for me it is.
12. If you could hand one of your pieces to any artist in person, who would it be?
Probably somebody I dislike…
13. Where would you like your work to lead you? Do you have any aspirations or plans for the future?
My aspiration is to keep being creative and my most ambitious plan is to have the means to do it still 20 or 30 years from now. It could lead somewhere or nowhere. It does not matter. I need to do what I do, so if I am, I will do it.
14. Which artist, living or dead, would you want to collaborate with?
Tricky question… I don’t believe I can answer that. I mean, Leonardo was great, but was he grumpy or bad mannered? I don’t know…
15. What Isko Deranged is working on now? Please give as a quick description, the process and when should we wait to see the final piece?
During these last few months me and my friend Dimitris have a quite ambitious plan to make a short movie using stop motion animation. The movie is called “Act without words 1” and it is based on a play by Samuel Beckett . It is a complex process. It starts with the storyboard and the creation of the puppets and probes. Then you have the shooting part, lights, animation, direction, photography etc. And finally, post production. Montage, effects, extra animations, you name it. We are now shooting and hopefully the final product will be ready in spring.
See more of Isko Deranged work at his tumblr link.