Interview: Paul Komoda – The Thing Comes to Life

Over the past year, artist Paul Komoda has been dropping hints of his involvement in a new movie.  Turns out that movie is The Thing, a prequel to the famous Carpenter film that gave me nightmares for the majority of my childhood.  Since its recent release, Paul has finally been able to show to the world the creature creation drawings he did for it as well as some of the sculptures he and the crew worked on.

Paul is most definitely one of my favorite artists today.  His imagination for monsters is hard to describe – they are beautiful creatures, either benign or horrific, that move on the pages on which they were drawn.  It goes without saying that I was excited to find out what The Thing looked like before it hit the big screen where much of Paul’s designs had been animated into CG.  This is really a perfect platform for Paul’s imagination.  I excitedly contacted the artist to find out what goodies he had to offer to the blogosphere.

Samantha Levin: How did this come about?

Paul Komoda: I was called by my friend, the renown creature designer, Jordu Schell (now seen on the Travel Channel show “Making Monsters“) when the studio [Amalgamated Dynamics Inc., founded by Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff] was bidding on the job. He was called in as a creature designer and recommended me to Alec Gillis, who consequently called me about coming up with a few drawings to help create a presentation.  Alec and Tom really responded to the work in my sketchbook, and really wanted me to incorporate the organic translucency I imbue my drawings with, into the concept art for the various shape-shifting apparitions.  The way it goes is that a film will be announced as going into production, and several special effects studios will vie for the job, presenting sculptures and/or illustrations relating to the project in question.  I was in New Jersey visiting my family at the time, with a only a few days until the New Year, so I wound up staying up late nights in the same basement I used to work in when I lived there, kicking out designs.  A week after I’d returned to LA, I got a call from Alec at ADI, telling me that we had the film.  I spent the first few weeks at the studio, doing drawings, and small concept sculptures. Eventually I moved on to sculpt some of the full-scale creatures.  It was an amazing time!

SL: I’m sure!  It seems to have given you a chance to express yourself quite freely for this, at least during the initial concept phase.

PK: I suppose I should say that outside of my personal work, I’m mostly known for being a commercial sculptor, which for better or worse, is more of a technical thing, if anything.  When I was brought on to the film, it was really an opportunity to just do what I do best, which is the more visceral body-horror themed work, and the creatures, the biological/ zoological side of things.

SL: What are you working on now?

PK:  I’m currently doing sculpture and design for Sideshow Collectibles, as well as continuing with my own artwork, the sculptural aspect being made available through Artist Proof Studio.  Also, I’m preparing to do some body-paint designs for a new Android Lust video directed by Dan Ouellette.  Plans are afoot to collaborate with Mother of London on some clothing incorporating my imagery.  Lastly, I’m working on getting my sketchbook into a published form, before it becomes the longest running joke of my life [Paul and supporters have made numerous attempts to get his sketchbook published over the past 10 plus years -ed].

The team of artists who worked with Paul on the monster included ADI founders Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff as well as Jordu Schell, Miyo Nakamura, Casey Love, Mikey Rotella and a small army of people working on props and other creatures.  Paul told me that very little of the work they did shows up in the movie although, “on the brighter side, a few of my designs survived intact.”  No matter; it’s the artwork we want to see on this blog.  I’m agape from all the upcoming projects Paul has listed – some of my favorite artists are listed in that last paragraph.  Can’t wait to hear more!

By the way, Jordu Schell posts a daily “Monster of the Day” on his blog.  It’s pretty cool and kinda silly.  Go check it out.

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