Behind Masks: The Art and Story of Aaron Rintoul
A bold experimental work, Masks is a new story from writer/artist Aaron Rintoul and published by Septagon Studios. The story follows a woman named Sara, who captures glimpses of people’s past lives and other jarring events. Meanwhile, she tracks a killer in a tale that is both haunting and jarring. But even more affecting is the stunning artwork, a mixture of digital photography and painting. We talked to Rintoul about how he made it all work.
What were you doing before you started working in comics?
Before I created Masks, I mainly worked in photography. I also did some painting work for local galleries. I began to become interested in digital photo manipulation, and Masks came out of experimenting in that medium.
How would you describe the story of Masks?
Masks is really about not knowing who you are, identity, and the human mind. The main character, Sara, struggles with these things throughout the book. The surface story on top of that is a mystery thriller about a deranged killer who seems to have a psychic connection with Sara.
What was your inspiration for this story?
I had a decent amount of manipulated photo work I wanted to present in a way that it would tell a story. At first, I thought maybe an art show with a theme or maybe a photo book. When I began to panel the photos, I really hadn't thought, "This is going to be a graphic novel." My wife—who actually posed for most of the photos of Sara—was into comics and suggested it might be a good way to use the art.
Tell us about the illustrative process. You’ve combined artwork and photos throughout—does that make every page a painstaking process to create?
I use models for the photographs, usually just my friends. For Sara, I used my wife, Erica. I shoot all the backgrounds and images I want to use, then I composite them using Photoshop, and then I edit, paint, and manipulate them in Photoshop.
How long did you spend working on this series?
I think the entire series took me just under a year to finish.
Was it difficult to get it published?
I was lucky to have received a publishing deal from the first company I submitted it to, Septagon Studios. They have done a great job of getting it out there and into people’s hands.
Who are some of your artistic influences?
I like a lot of photographers and filmmakers, but I am mainly influenced by my experiences and things in my own life. I find when I don't draw from myself, I tend to rely on reinventing other people’s works I’ve enjoyed. This was the case with most of the short comics I made for Asylum Press because I was creating for a very specific horror genre anthology. Unfortunately I don't like those works as much because of that.
What’s next for you after Masks?
I just finished the first issue of a new comic called Vacancy with the author and artist of the Septagon series Archaeologists of Shadows. I am also just beginning to write and create artwork for a new graphic novel that is going to again be very different from anything that is out there but also from the art style I used in Masks.