I got “Balked” at C2E2 this year by talking to color artist Jeff Balke! He has exhibited at C2E2 since it first started. We originally met each other at New York Comic Con 2012 while I browsing Artist Alley and bought some of his colored work. His Jean Grey Phoenix, Rogue and Gambit coloring was gorgeous and I had to get it!
Balke has felt love for the arts since he was really young. “I came out with a pencil” in my hand,” he says jokingly. His decision to become an artist was cemented around 6th grade looking at his friends’ comic books. “I didn’t read any comic books as a kid. I collected them for the art.” he confesses.” I’m like I can do this kind of stuff….so here I am.” Yes he is here, nominated twice for one of the oldest awards out there which is the Stan Lee Eagle Award, originally named just the Eagle Awards. Balke made it to the top five in his category as a colorist. In 2011 he did win the Shel Dorf Award as best colorist. Trivia; according to Balke, Shel Dorf helped start San Diego Comic Con. The 2013 awards occured at Detroit FanFare Comic Con.
In between the different conventions he attends, Balke is an instructor in comic book coloring at the University of Texas Arlington (UTA). “It’s a three hour course just one day when I go out there. We are hoping to do online [courses] soon.” He also visits at various schools from junior high, high school, and colleges across the country talking about what his career. Surprisingly he did not go to school to hone his craft. “I picked up my favorite comic books, and taught myself that way.”
While Harley Quinn is Balke’s most requested commission, his favorite characters to color right now are Gremlins. “It just came out of nowhere. The action figures are just really really cool! ” Balke collects said action figures which include Spider Gremilns and puts them in various places in his studio. He was even in a comic book issue that came out in May as the Balkinator fighting the Gremlins.
Balke has colored for comics like Grimm Fairy Tales, Charmed, and Tales from Neverland. He now has his own comic, called Urban Legends which can be purchased on his website http://www.jbalkesart.com/ as well as at his booth at the conventions he exhibits. His first issue, which debuted at MegaCon in March tackles the creepy scneario or “legend” where there is a killer in the backseat of the car. As if I don’t get paranoia already about that. However, I am looking forward to reading it.
You will be able to find Jeff Balke at several conventions this year, including Wizard World Philaldelphia as well as San Diego Comic Con. Balke’s convention schedule is available on his website and you can also find him on Twitter @Jbalke08.
Here is the full audio interview: