Andie Tong talks about illustrating a novel

Illustration by Andie Tong for The Zodiac Legacy: Convergence by Stan Lee and Stuart Moore. Published by Disney Press.

Illustration by Andie Tong for The Zodiac Legacy: Convergence by Stan Lee and Stuart Moore. Published by Disney Press.

Here’s a short interview with Andie Tong, illustrator of the recently released The Zodiac Legacy: Convergence by Stan Lee and Stuart Moore. Andie’s comic industry work includes sequentials for the titles Spectacular Spiderman, Batman Strikes, Smallville, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Masters of the Universe, Starship Troopers and Noble Causes, plus pin ups and covers for Blade of the Immortal, Bloodrayne and Twilight Men. 

You’ve done so much interesting work in comics and graphic novels. Why did you want to do an illustrated novel?
I have already been working on various children picture books with HarperCollins prior to taking on Zodiac Legacy. Therefore it wasn’t that big of a leap for me to transition into an illustrated novel. For this particular project, it was the chance to work with with the legendary Stan Lee that got me really inspired to do this. This is the guy that has helped to create some of the most well loved characters of all time in the comic industry.

How was working on The Zodiac Legacy: Convergence different from illustrating a graphic novel?
It’s different in the way the visual story is told. With a graphic novel, there’s more room to set the pace and to use a few panels to set up a scene. With an illustrated novel, the challenge is to interpret a scene and pack that all into one illustration.

Were there any drawbacks (no pun intended) to illustrating a novel as compared to a graphic novel?
For me, there’s no real drawbacks. I love sequential drawing as much as I love narrative illustration. In a sense working on an illustration for a novel is equivalent to doing a pinup for comics. So for Zodiac Legacy, it was essentially me working on 60 or so pinups! They’re just really elaborate pinups. Heh.

Do you think that many novels lend themselves to illustration, or is it something best left to the superhero-oriented story?
I feel any novel can be illustrated if you really want to. Some novels though, are better left to the imagination. It really is up to the individual readers preference. Some will like a bit of visual aid while others would prefer to conjure up the imagery from their head.

More on illustrated novels has been written here and here. I’m sure there is more to come. You can see more of Andie’s work on his blog.

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