Art of The Shepherd: An Interview with Chris Williams
Chris “etchnman” Williams and I met at the South Carolina Comic Con in Greenville, South Carolina, back in March of 2017. Chris had the booth next to me and, over the course of the weekend, we got to know each other. Since that time, we have shared booths in Miami, Charlotte, Pensacola, Raleigh, and Savannah (among other places). We have shared hotel rooms and Chris has stayed with my family, commuting back and forth to Miami for a convention back in July 2019. Together we have celebrated some of our most successful conventions and comforted each other after some of our least profitable ones. As you might imagine, in the course of our adventures, Chris and I have had many conversations about comics, art, and, most importantly, life.
Over the three years that I have known Chris I have watched an evolution in his art. Originally, Chris’s art at the conventions was grounded in his previous work as a caricature artist. Believe me; he is good at it too! I can tell you that I have watched him do caricature art for eight hours straight, the demand being such that he couldn’t even get away to go to the bathroom (true story!)
In addition, like many artists who offer their wares at conventions, Chris does a lot of fan art focus on well-known characters from across the pop culture fandoms, as well as art that features popular musicians and recording artists.
When we first met and Chris found out that I wrote and edited comics, Chris began to share his story ideas. The thing is, Chris is a very good writer and storyteller. He has already published a title called Reckless is He on Webtoons (https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/reckless-is-he/list?title_no=219696). In addition, has since begun work on a new story called, Epik. This is still in development, but it is my suspicion that it has a bright future. So, stay tuned.
The piece of Chris’ art that I want to focus on today concerns The Shepherd. Not surprisingly, it is a portrait of Dr. Lawrence Miller as The Shepherd. It is, without doubt, my favorite rendition of the Shepherd’s face. I feel that Chris truly captured the tortured condition of Lawrence’s soul. I still use it as the portrait on The Shepherd Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/theshepherdcomic/).
ROBERTO: The first thing I notice about this is that it seems a much physically aged version of The Shepherd. What influenced that choice, or was it even conscious?
CHRIS: It was a conscious decision. At the time, I was inspired to give the character a more weathered look. I had just read the first issue of The Shepherd, and the main character’s pain when his son died heavily influenced that piece.
ROBERTO: There's a specific moment I think of whenever I see The Shepherd's eyes glow. It's at the beginning of chapter three. Ironically this is also one of his least "Shepherd-like" moments. Is there any moment this was tied to in your head?
CHRIS: There isn’t really a specific moment that leads to having the eyes glow. I wanted to illustrate The Shepherd’s connection to The Staff and the light that it emits. It was more if a tribute to the first cover of The Shepherd.
ROBERTO: This question isn't centered on the piece itself, but on you, and it's two parts. Is there any specific artist that you feel has most directly impacted your own artistic journey and what drives a choice between physical or digital mediums for your projects?
CHRIS: Ryan Ottley and Fiona Staples are my favorite artists. Both artist dabble with a variety of mediums including ink and water color, yet have very unique styles. They’re masters of facial expressions and are able to illustrate a lot of emotion with very little dialogue. If anything, I feel that their ability to capture expressions and figures has strongly impacted my own artistic growth.
If you would like to see more of Chris' work or would like to commission him to do a piece for you, I recommend reaching out via Instagram @etchnman