Graphic Artist Q&A: Michael Giles

So, who are you?

At my most basic, I am an artist. A painter by training and inclination, I also dabble on the web, with video, and with comics. I'd like to say that I am a musician, but that would be an utter lie.

Are there any comic artists who are particularly important to you?

Early on I was a big fan of the big superhero comics, particularly Jim Lee and his work on X-Men. But this kind of work draws much more inspiration from Robert Crumb and Keith Knight. I'm also a big fan of Aaron McGruder's work.

Would you say your comics are autobiographical, or rather based on characters you see around you?

The comic can be autobiographical. Some of the story lines have been taken from things that have happened directly to me. But some of them are observations of things that I see around me. I try to stay attuned to what's happening, as almost anything can be mined for a line or story.

Your main character (is it you?) is sporting the long-beard look that's so popular these days. Why do young men today want to look like turn-of-the-century Appalachian coal miners?

The main character is not me, but a stand-in for me. Perhaps that's the same thing. While I have been known to sport a beard, I don't have the same flowing locks from my head. I've often wondered why so many folks sport that look, and I have been at a loss to explain it. Maybe it's an attempt to capture a macho/manly aura. I'm much too sensitive and artistic to be considered macho, so maybe sporting a beard is a substitute for that? Probably we all just want to look cool.

When composing these, are you trying to evoke stories or moods?

These are about moods. I don't fret too much about coherent story lines or development of character. I think they are about guttural emotions and reactions to a strange, complex, and often misunderstood world. But they're not about pointing out specifics or about finding solutions to any of that.

Do you ever worry whether readers will "understand" them?

I never worry that anyone will or will not understand them. In fact, I go into the entire enterprise assuming no one will understand them. I think that they have merit based on their sense of emotionality. The mood they set coupled with the drawing makes them interesting even if one doesn't understand what is happening. I believe that there are some people that will get them, and those that don't can rest assured that there is a madness to my method.