Last updateSun, 16 Jun 2024 6pm

The Comic World of Tony Metoyer: Screen Staffer Illustrates Booth Graphics for Labelexpo Americas 2014

Tony MetoyerBy day, Tony Metoyer manages the Screen USA warehouse, where he oversees shipping and receiving at the Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based supplier of print-on-demand and digital imaging systems. Incoming and outgoing crates are far removed from the heroic characters that find life in Metoyer's edgy illustrations when he is off the clock with pencil in hand.

Screen USA tapped Metoyer, 34, to create a series of visually striking artwork to promote the company's participation at Labelexpo Americas 2014. The dramatic scenes, inspired by American comic books with strong influences from Japanese anime and manga, are being used online and in print materials to amplify the "Quest" theme Screen selected for its Labelexpo exhibit. They feature wild hair colors, prominent eyes, stylized backdrops and muscular physicality in gestures typically seen in anime and manga.

Anime (pronounced "ah-NIH-may") is an abbreviation of the word animation. It refers to Japanese animation on television and in movies. Manga (pronounced "MAHN-gah") means Japanese comics, in particular a style of comics populated by big-eyed characters and steeped in heightened action. Many anime are centered on manga titles and vice versa. Pokémon did a lot to spawn a generation of anime aficionados in the United States.

Metoyer's characters and objects begin as light pencil lines. Metoyer works with a 4H drawing pencil, he said, because "it's not as heavy or greasy as a regular pencil on paper." Once the artist is satisfied with his initial pencil sketches, the line art is scanned and imported into a computer. Then this imaginary world is digitally rendered into a finished state using Adobe Photoshop.

Mainly self-taught, Metoyer took some art classes in high school and studied traditional animation at Columbia College Chicago, from which he earned an undergraduate degree in 2004. During his college years, he crafted animated shorts as part of the curriculum, but his passion lay in drawing. He caught the bug at a young age watching an older brother drawing Spiderman, X-Men and other comic superheroes.

"My brother actually bought me my first comic — an issue of Wolverine," Metoyer recalled. "I started doing cartoons at age 7 based on popular characters from that time, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, He-Man and ThunderCats."

These were the earliest expressions of Metoyer's fan art — artworks created by fans of comics, movies, television shows or video games, and derived from a character of that work.

Eventually, Metoyer's drawings acquired a more realistic appearance. His technique further evolved as he adapted color schemes, character traits and facial expressions common in anime to his own work. He credits noted comic book artist and writer Joe Madureira for helping broaden his artistic reach. Madureira (often called "Joe Mad") gained a loyal following in the late 1990s as a Marvel Comics penciller on the Uncanny X-Men series.

"Madureira was one of my favorite artists when I was in high school," Metoyer said. "His blending of American and Japanese comic book styles had a powerful impact."

Metoyer still enjoys producing fan art, putting his own stamp on the pieces he creates. For his original artwork, such as on display in the Screen booth at Labelexpo Americas 2014, he draws inspiration from various places. (You can view examples created for Labelexpo at www.screenusa.com/questanime.) And his love of the comics genre is as deep as ever.

"My favorite cartoon at the moment is The Legend of Korra television series for the beautiful animation, story and fight scenes," Metoyer said. "As for comic characters, Batman and X-Men continue to interest me after all these years."


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