• Daniel D. Calvo

Artist Spotlight: Dean Rankine

There is a large tradition of humor in comics, with the medium being born on Sunday newspaper strips for casual readers, developing into the comic book format until it became the massive industry we all know and love today. Jump forward a few decades, and the genre of adult animation popped into our screens, with shows like Family Guy, South Park, the Simpsons and Rick and Morty making us laugh with their insanity. Luckily, those stories also got adapted to comics, and today I have the pleasure of interviewing one of the artists that works in such awesome books.

Dean Rankine is an Australian cartoonist who has worked on comic adaptations of franchises like Rick and Morty, the Simpsons, Invader Zim, Oggy and the Cockroaches and many other titles. His style manages to be unique while adapting to the signature designs of each character, with a versatility that proves the mastery of his craft. His independent work is also widely recognized, being the illustrator for the book “Timmy the Ticked Off Pony” and working on fundraising projects to help relieve the Australian wildfire crisis earlier this year.

I got in touch with Dean to talk about his origins, work, get some advice for young creators and learning about his future projects!

1- Where do you come from and how did that influence you as a creator?

I grew up in a small beach town a couple of hours south of Melbourne, Australia. We didn’t have any comic book stores so I kind-of scrounged what I could get from the newsagents which sold a handful of American and UK titles. I also really dug the comic strips that were in the newspaper. However, my biggest influence was probably Saturday morning cartoons. I’m kind of old so I consumed a steady diet of 60s and 70s animation between cereal commercials.

2- What inspired you to start your career as a cartoonist?

I’ve just always liked drawing and making up stories. I’m also a ‘praise monkey’ and as a kid I quickly realized when I drew I got all this nice feedback!

3- We’ve seen your art for titles like Rick and Morty and The Simpsons. Is it challenging to adapt your art style to each of these well-known franchises, while keeping your own identity as a creator?

Being “on model” is the tricky part for me. All my little artistic idiosyncrasies sneak their way in. I have to say I get this real sense of joy when I look at my work on known properties and I don’t see ‘myself’ represented too much in it.

4- You have worked on a fund-raising project for the Australian wildfire. How did this take place and how can we support it?

I actually worked on a couple of comic art publications that were put together by local creators; ‘Australia Burns’ and ‘The Phantom Phundraiser’. Both have ended now. But I’m sure any of the Australian charities working with people and wildlife would love to receive a donation (no matter how small). It’s been a full on year. We just seemed to have gotten over the worst of fires and then suddenly it’s COVID-19. It’d be nice if the Universe would cut us some slack!

5- Can you tell us a little about your “Shitty tattoo art” challenge on social media? It has been by far the most entertaining thing I’ve seen all quarantine, and that includes Tiger King.

Haha! It was just an idea I had to support tattoo artists affected by COVID-19. The idea is I would draw people’s shitty tattoo ideas but if I did then they would actually have to get it tattooed onto their bodies once the shutdown is over. All I could promise is that the tattoo would, in fact, be shitty.

6- Do you have any advice for young cartoonists who are planning to enter the comic book industry?

It’s a tough gig! It’s hard to get into the industry and it’s hard to stay in! The obvious advice is to get good at your craft. Work hard and don’t miss deadlines. The other thing I think is really important is resilience. You’re going to have A LOT of rejections and setbacks and it’s important to be able to bounce back.

7- So, what’s next for Dean Rankine? Any more projects your fans (me included) can look forward to?

With the whole COVID thing I’ve had a number of projects dry up. My next thing on the horizon is illustrating the third book in the ‘Timmy the Ticked Off Pony’ series published by Scholastic. It’s written by Magda Szubanski who is a well-known comedic actor here in Australia (she was in the movie Babe). So, that’s going to be lots of fun!

You can follow Dean Rankine at @deanrankine on Instagram.

Daniel D. Calvo is a Cuban writer, editor, translator and comics journalist currently based in Pennsylvania, USA. He is a published author in both English and Spanish, having his work appear in anthologies, magazines and literary websites. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Konkret Comics, working on titles such as “Akolyte”, “Absolver” and “Odina”. His translation credits include books, comics and film. He is the head writer of Konkret Spotlight, featuring professional reviews and interviews with several figures from the indie comic world and other mediums. Among other ventures, his first creator-owned comic “Andy Starboy” is set to launch on 2020.


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