July 21, 2009


On the eve of the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, Spy Vibe had a chance to ask Kevin Dart a few questions about the exhibit for his new book Seductive Espionage: The World of Yuki 7, his all-time favorite illustrations and films, his projects, and about his plans for this week's convention. Click to see larger images.

Congratulations on your recent exhibition and book signing. From the photos, it looks like it was really fun. Are there other exhibits planned?

Thanks! The show at Nucleus was a blast, and went way beyond my expectations. There’s no concrete plans for future exhibits yet, but we are looking to launch a book of stories and art inspired by Jules Verne around December 2010, with a coinciding gallery show.

Where will you be located during Comic-Con? What will you have for sale or presentation?
We’re going to be in a different place than usual, in Booth 1316. This is our first year with a full booth, which we decided to upgrade to because of all the new products we’re releasing this year! We will of course have the Yuki 7 book for sale, as well as the limited Collector’s Edition. There will also be a bunch of Yuki prints, brand new screenprinted posters, and an awesome shirt featuring the French poster for “A Kiss From Tokyo”. My friend Chris Turnham (the other half of Fleet Street Scandal), is also going to have a great lineup of prints for sale including a new poster he did for The Decemberists and a hot new illustration inspired by “Around the World in 80 Days”.

How did you first become interested in retro spy design? What was your introduction to spy films and soundtracks?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in spy films. My parents were both James Bond fans and I grew up with those movies. Later I discovered the Avengers and mid-century thrillers like North by Northwest and Charade, which had a big influence on me. I think all of those movies molded my tastes so that I began seeking out more inspiration from 50’s and 60’s architecture, fashion, and furniture design, as well as music.

Do you collect old posters and albums?
I can’t say that I do, I’ve never been much of a collector. If I bought every single thing that inspired me I’d probably be broke and buried in a mountain of posters and prints. But I do obsessively catalog cool images and songs on my computer for reference. I also love books – one of my favorites is a book I found at a second hand store several years ago that collects all of the vintage newspaper comic strips from “The Man With the Golden Gun” and “The Living Daylights”. They’re some of the most beautifully drawn comics I’ve ever seen.

Did any specific illustrations or illustrators inspire your pieces?

Definitely the biggest influences were Bob Peak, Robert McGinnis, and John Hench. Their work is so stylish, textured, and experimental while still being completely representational. It embodies everything about that time period that I find so cool.

You list fellow artists/collaborators on your website. Tell us more about the team you work with and about what each of them bring to the projects.

The number one thing my friends bring is support. I don’t know if I could’ve finished this project without all of their encouragement. Beyond that, I have my longtime friend and business partner, Chris Turnham, who always offers advice on my work and helps figure out how we’re going to produce and sell these things. Then there’s my girlfriend Elizabeth Ito, who was the whole inspiration for Yuki and also has lots of great insight. On this project, our friend Ada Cole wrote the whole book in her really charming style, and her husband Dan helped with a lot of the technical aspects of production as well as photography. Stephane Coedel, a friend of mine from London, was of course invaluable as the animator and compositor of the Kiss From Tokyo trailer, and also helped me out with some French translation. Finally, there is the long list of people who were generous enough to contribute some of their own original artwork to the book: Bill Presing, Brigette Barrager, Daniel Arriaga, Don Shank, Horia Dociu, Jon Klassen, Josh Parpan, Justin Parpan, Megan Brain, Scott Morse, Ted Mathot, and Victoria Ying.

Your images are incredibly strong and capture so much of the cool and wit of spy adventure. Do you also create sequential narrative pieces? Or is it similar to my film students who make trailers? Everyone wants to see the movies, but the trailers are the movies.

I have a hard time doing sequential art, but I like telling stories. I try to capture as much story as I can in a single image, which is why the movie poster is a natural outlet. But you can only put so much in there, and I’ve always wanted to delve deeper into those stories, which is kind of the reason this book came about. I wanted to finally take one of my illustrated posters and really get to know the characters I was drawing, their backgrounds, their personalities, and find out what kinds of adventures they went on. I really feel like were able to accomplish that with this book.

How did the short animation come about? Fans are asking for more. Are there plans to try to produce animations in the future?
The trailer began for no other reason than I really wanted to do it. Once the spark hit me I just thought “That would be really cool.” I didn’t know how we would use it, whether it would be profitable, or anything. But the same could be said about the book or my prints or any other project I’ve ever undertaken. I knew that if we made it, and if it turned out anything like what I was imagining, that it could only lead to good things. So we made it and it turned out to be an incredibly effective way of introducing this new character to the world and promoting our book.
I would love to create more, not just to appease all of Yuki’s fans but for myself as well. I see the trailer as a launching pad for a number of things. I think the project could take on a life of its own and translate into any number of mediums, and it already has in a lot of ways. My dream right now is to turn it into a live-action movie.

What are your top five favorite spy movies and why?

Deadlier Than the Male – Impossible to turn away after the opening mid-air assassination sequence. This movie delivers everything you dream of in a spy flick.

You Only Live Twice
– Nancy Sinatra alone sells this movie, but the volcano lair/ninja battle finale just puts it over the top.

Danger: Diabolik
– Favorite things about this one are the colors, sets, and cars.

– Jetpacks, underwater battles, bad guy with an eye patch… this movie is jam-packed!

Temptress of a Thousand Faces
– I haven’t actually seen this film from Hong Kong, but the bits I’ve found are so inspiring that I’m willing to put it in my top 5. Please, if anyone knows where I can see the full film, let me know!

What are your top five favorite movie posters?
The Man With the Golden Gun
You Only Live Twice
My Fair Lady
The Assassination Bureau, Ltd
One Million Years B.C.

If you were a super villain, what would you choose as your evil lair?
I would turn all of Brasilia into my own evil compound.

Spy Vibers should definitely check out Kevin's website for more information about projects, prints and books for sale, and for links to additional interviews. You can talk with Kevin and buy his work directly during Comicon this week at booth 1316. Dart illustrations here on Spy Vibe are copyright Kevin Dart. Around the World in 80 Days illustration by Chris Turnham. Portrait photo by Dan Cole. Thank you to Kevin for his time, inspiring illustrations, and for sharing his thoughts with Spy Vibe readers! Click here for a previous announcement and animation of Kevin's work on the Spy Vibe blog, here for the Kevin Dart page on the Spy Vibe website, here for the fantastic book review of Seductive Espionage on Double O Section, and here for the Seductive Espionage announcement on Bish's Beat.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post. Yuki 7 is one of the coolest things to come down the pike in a while!