Today marks a very special day in the history of Effective Nerd. I get to talk to another Aaron. The name Aaron peaked in the mid 1990s. There aren’t a lot of us out there.
Aaron O’Brian is a talented comic book artist. This week I get to talk to him about his work on the comic Return to Snakeland. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as we did!
An Interview With Aaron O’Brian
Aaron Iara: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me this week. Please tell the readers a little bit about yourself.
Aaron O’Brian: My name is Aaron O’Brian. I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to hold a crayon. I’ve never stopped since. I have a degree in Fine Arts and Graphic Design.
Aaron Iara: It is nice to meet you! I had a great time reading your book. Could you please give the readers a quick synopsis of Snakeland?
Aaron O’Brian: Return to Snakeland is a true story but with the names of people and places changed. The writer Jason Gusmann looks back to his life and the events around 1985-86. A classmate was murdered on railroad tracks back by old abandoned grain elevators that were nicknamed “Snakeland”. The murder is still unsolved to this day.
Next, another classmate murdered his entire family and as he fled the murder scene when he killed another man accidentally. And there were multiple student suicides as well. All in a small town where rumors of Satanic worship happened back in Snakeland. All these things actually happened.
Aaron Iara: I thought that this was an excellent concept. Allegations of Satanic worship seemed to be at an all time high in the 1980s. Plus, I am from New York as well. I like stories that take place in my home state.
Your artwork in Snakeland is fantastic. How did you develop this style?
Aaron O’Brian: It hard for me to think how my style developed. It is a wellspring within me. I can’t change my style if I love the picture or if I hate it. It is me at that moment. There have been guiding lights to my style that I work to emulate.
During my childhood my first big influences were John Byrne, Alan Davis & Jim Starlin. As a teenager I turned to Jean Giraud Moebius, Masamune Shirow & Jaime Hernandez. As an adult, I see Charles Burns, Saul Bass & Russian Constructivism huge inspirations.
Aaron Iara: I absolutely love how the story is told in multiple fragmented pieces. I feel that it adds a lot of depth to the horror concept of the book. You never know what it coming next! How did you all come up with this idea?
Aaron O’Brian: The story was written by Jason Gusmann. He used the idea of “fragments” when writing. I view the fragments as diary entries. As an person might look back at his or her diary and relive moments in the past. When I started drawing Jason’s story I first set up each story with the idea that only one fragment would be published at a time.
Aaron O’Brian: Work, work, work… there is no secret. If you are drawing a comic, you have a mountain to climb. You start at the bottom and you slowly make your way up to the summit. Put on a pot of coffee. Turn off any distractions. Go climb your mountain.
Aaron Iara: I completely agree with that sentiment. Research and planning is important. However, you just have to put the time and effort into your work.
We recently discussed Imposter Syndrome on the website. This is the psychological phenomenon where we feel like a fraud when we achieve success. Have you ever had this feeling before? If so, how do you deal with it?
Aaron O’Brian: I do not have Imposter Syndrome. I have had such a long uphill slog that any modicum of success comes my way is appreciated.
Aaron O’Brian: Will Rodriguez who creates “Supernal Event”. Check out their website!
Darius Johnson who creates his book “Rhanes or Terror” and “Hollowed” is making some excellent art.
Aaron Iara: Do you have any advice for those who want to start making their own comics?
Aaron O’Brian: Just start. Don’t wait for permission. Don’t wait until you are “good enough”. Because you only get “good” (whatever that means) by doing your craft. There are pages and panels that I wish I could rework or fix. But I can’t look back. I need to look forward to the next page, book or project.
Aaron Iara: Do you have any upcoming projects or releases you would like to talk about? Will you be attending any events in the near future?
Aaron O’Brian: I will be attending few Comic Cons in the Western New York area for 2019 & 2020.
Aaron Iara: Thank you again for talking to me! Tell the readers where they can find you and your work.
Aaron O’Brian: You can check out our Return to Snakeland website and order our book at our official website.
I have a portfolio site that has some of my work posted.
I also co-host a weekly Star Trek podcast.
Thank you for talking to me!
Check Out Return To Snakeland!
A huge thank you to Aaron O’Brian for taking the time to speak with me this week. Return to Snakeland is both powerful and entertaining. It has a lot of unique qualities that make it an excellent reading experience.