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Even Stranger Things

Even Stranger Things

By Minal Abhange

Mike Feehan has every reason to feel proud these days.

His work has become internationally known over the years, whether it’s holding a crisp new copy of Snaggle Puss (a six-issue comic miniseries based on Hanna-Barbera’s character Snaggle Puss with DC Comics) featuring his name, or watching his art come to life with Stranger Things (a Netflix science fiction horror series set in the 1980s).

Both successes are proof that, with persistence, you can achieve all your dreams, Mike says. 

Growing up all Mike enjoyed was drawing. Even today he spends a lot of his time creating art, but he never imagined he would be bringing his art to life through television shows or comic books.

“I never thought I had any other option – all I could do is create art. I was always inclined towards an artistic career. The last two years of my high school I focused on applying for the Graphic Design program to learn design programs which further shaped my career.”

Mike recalls, “I have been drawing for as long as I can remember, I’m not even entirely sure how I started. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a hobby, it’s just something I’ve always been compelled to do. With that being said, I have loved creating art, and even today it takes a lot of my time.”

Mike graduated from College of North Atlantic’s (CNA) Graphic Design program in 2008. Thinking back on his post-secondary career, he realizes he wouldn’t have achieved what he did without the help of the skillsets he learned at the Prince Philip Drive campus in St. John’s.

Mike Feehan shows his illustration process from his home studio overlooking St. John’s Harbour.

“I had used design programs since I was younger. The knowledge I gained with the Graphic Design program gave me a better understanding and a direction.”

Once he graduated, Mike says he took several diverse paths to apply all the skillsets he learned at school.

He started out as a prepress technician straight away, where he had the chance to oversee a lot of layouts, typesetting and computer-to-plate imaging technology using Quark Xpress, Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. Next, he had the opportunity to work for the Faculty of Business at Memorial University as a graphic designer.

Even as a freelancer, Mike has created illustrations, promos, storyboards for several television networks and brands. One of his most much-admired work were animated illustrations for the Stranger Things Curiosity Stories fan art project. Currently, he is working with DC Comics on a six-issue miniseries based on Hanna-Barbera’s character Snaggle Puss.

“All those diverse job roles I did in the past five years have contributed in influencing a lot of aspects of my career.” 

Talking about transforming his passion for illustration into a career, he says, “Although it’s not a traditional career; it’s very time demanding and strenuous, yet I enjoy everything I do. I have been very fortunate and every project is different yet offers an amazing learning experience.

Mike Feehan shares rough sketches of Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles before the finished pages are inked, coloured and lettered.

“While working on illustrations for Stranger Things, to be honest, I didn’t quite believe it at first. I had no knowledge at the time that my work will be seen by so many people. Prior to working as an illustrator, graphic designer and commercial storyboard artist, it has been my dream to work in comics. Every year I update my portfolio and hit up some conventions, and this year it finally paid off! Working with DC Comics on Snaggle Puss is amazing – nothing like I have done in the past, which makes it more exciting.”

Sharing more about how he creates sketches as a penciler for Snaggle Puss, he says, “Since the comic is full of my art it takes about 30 days to create the art for one issue of the comic. I always have a few issues done ahead of time. Currently, I am working on the third issue, while the first issue just came out. 

“Normally I sketch my ideas for concepts on paper or in a sketchbook before I do a final sketch in Photoshop. Then I forward three concept sketches for feedback, which on approval, are finalized and sent to other teams to add colour, other elements, and returns back to me as my art with a new flavour.”

Describing his home studio where all the magic happens, he says, “Although it’s the upstairs of my home in the west end of St. John’s. I have all the best tools: a digital tablet for drawing, an iMac for editing, and an amazing view of the Narrows.

“I struggle to keep things organized in my studio which is always decorated with coffee cups,” he jokes.  

For anyone who aspired to become a graphic designer, illustrator and storyboard artist, he advises, “Do not hesitate to try new things. Take advantage of online marketing, social media to share your work. It seems non-traditional, but that’s where the industry professionals are looking to hire artists today. Be persistent and passionate eventually things will happen.”

To find out more about CNA’s Graphic Design program visit www.cna.nl.ca

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