James Silvani is cartoonist and illustrator living in Hawaii. He draws comics for various publishers and wrote a book about drawing dinosaurs called DRAW-A-SAURUS. He has illustrated Disney and Muppet comics for BOOM! Studios as well as interiors and covers for IDW and APE Entertainment. He is currently creating Darkwing Duck comics for Joe Books and Disney with writer Aaron Sparrow. James in well known for his mash-Up drawings done as commissions at comic conventions.
How did you get into the business of drawing mash-ups?
After I found some recognition for doing the Darkwing Duck comics, I started appearing in the Artist Alley’s for a few comic conventions. The main business of a table in AA is to take commissions. Most people would come to me for DW sketches but some people had multiple favorite fandoms of other properties I’ve worked on (Star Wars, TMNT) and couldn’t decide which character to pick. To which my answer was “Why not do both?” Since then I think my average weekend of commissions at a con is 20% straight interpretations of characters and 79% mashups. (There’s always that one percent that wants something…weird)
Which characters and properties are your favorite to include in a mash-up?
Easy, Stitch. I live in Hawaii so I have a special fondness for 626, but the ridiculousness of the situations he can be mashed up in also makes him the most fun to draw. I also have any encyclopedic knowledge of anything Star Wars (not bragging/bragging). So I like that when folks ask for a mashup from a galaxy far, far away, I don’t have to look up any reference.
How difficult is it to do a mash-up of a property that you are unfamiliar with?
I kind of make it rule up front not to take commissions of properties I’m unfamiliar with. If I don’t know the characters and the scenarios that they might be in I think it makes for a bad piece of art. In instances like that I usually ask the patron to pick something else. I’m not into anime, My Little Pony or any of the Cartoon Network shows (Adventure Time, Steven Universe). If someone is looking for a mashup featuring those characters, I try to refer them to another artist who knows those characters better and could give them a lot better piece of art than I could.
Which character is the most versatile to feature in a mash-up?
It’s a toss up between the afore-mentioned Stitch and Mickey Mouse. Mickey is portrayed as the all around good guy so you could pretty much put him in any situation where he’s the hero and it works. Stitch is also versatile because you can also put him in most situations and he’s there to throw a monkey wrench into it. Plus I always draw him with Scrump so you have instant sidekick. Two for the price of one.
Which character has given you the most difficulty to feature in a mash-up?
Princesses. Those ferkakta Princesses. One problem is I’m usually seated next to Disney Princess artist Amy Mebberson and she makes drawing them look so easy. The difficulty with doing Princess mash-ups is you have these pure characters usually wearing very floofy dresses and at a comic con, most people want them mashed-up with their favorite super heroine or villain. Let me tell you, trying to figure out how to put Cinderella in Harley Quinn hot pants and keep her “Cinderella-ness" ain’t the easiest thing to do.
What are a few of your favorite mash-ups?
The ones that have context. Artist Alley at a comic convention is filled with walls and walls of mash-up prints with characters that have no relation to each other. One of my favorite commissions for the same customer at a few cons a year is a series of Beauty and the Beast mashed with other famous lovers throughout media. I’ve done everything from Lady Mary and Matthew to Rhett and Scarlett to Jeannie and Major Nelson. I always look forward to seeing what she comes up with for the next con. I also enjoy anything with Darkwing and Negaduck mashed with other eternal enemies. I’ve mashed them up with everything from Jedi vs Sith to Spy vs Spy.
Commissions are available at all convention appearances and occasionally through the mail. All art is on 9x12" art board and starts at $80 per character in grey marker and $100 in full color. Additional characters, props, backgrounds, etc. go up from there.
You can contact James through the following sites:
James is scheduled to appear at the following conventions:
*Denver Comic Con June 30-July 2
*D23 Expo July 14-16
*San Diego Comic Con International July 20-13
Wizard World Chicago August 24-27
Rose City Comic Con September 8-10