The Q&A: Benjamin Marra

By Peggy Roalf   Monday September 19, 2016

Q: Originally from outside New York City what are some of your favorite things about living and working in Toronto?

A: The pace of life is much nicer and agreeable in Toronto. I lived in Brooklyn for eight years and there are a lot of small sources of stress you become accustomed to, but that in total take their toll.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between art you create on paper [or other analog medium] versus in the computer?

A: I keep a sketchbook, but all my art ends up in the computer at some point. For color work I use Photoshop. But a lot of the black-and-white comic book work I do is essentially just the traditional drawings.

Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: Either my sketchbooks or Pilot Jetstream pens.

Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: When all the visual problems I can see have been resolved.

Q: What elements of daily life exert the most influence on your work practice?

A: Coffee, staying up late, good TV shows.

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: Mr. Benn: Red Knight, by David McKee

What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: 61 Hours by Lee Child

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: Pen and ink, probably could narrow that down to black ballpoint pen.

Q: If you could spend an entire day away from work and deadlines, what would you do and where?

A: Probably play role-playing games with friends at the gaming café, See-Scape, here in Toronto.

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art?

A: Probably the giallo film Your Vice is a Locked Door and Only I Have the Key.

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: Two single-patty Shack Burgers, fries, and chocolate shake from Shake Shack.

Benjamin Marra is the notorious and influential creator of the successful underground comic books, Night Business, Gangsta Rap Posse, The Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd, Lincoln Washington: Free Man!, Ripper and Friends, Blades & Lasers, and Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror). Marra's comic book work has drawn comparison to mainstream masters Paul Gulacy and Jim Steranko along with underground comix legends, like Robert Crumb and Spain Rodriguez. Marra's illustration work has been recognized by The Society of Illustrators, The Society of Publication Designers, 3x3, American Illustration and in 2006 he was named one of the Art Directors Club's Young Guns.

Upcoming events:
American Blood, a collection of many of my out-of-print comic books is out from Fantagraphics, to be released September 28th.