I get by with a little help from Ben Templesmith

Like many artists I am frequently “borrowing” ideas and inspiration from other artists. Depending on how my creativity is flowing – I may just see a flash of something and be inspired for weeks – or I can spend hours digging through and researching everything that I can get my hands on hoping that it will spawn ideas for me. When time is against me, I usually prefer the first option – but I often end up with the second option.

Bear with me – this is going somewhere.

Recently my creative juices have been almost completely tapped out. I think this is a direct consequence of the fact that I have currently taken on too much work. But this isn’t a pity party. I’ve made my bed – now I’m going to talk about it… or something like that.

For one of my big projects right now I have turned to the comic genre for my inspiration. This is not the first time I have done this, nor will it be the last. I know I’m preaching to the choir, so I’ll reserve all my comments about the “importance” and “influence” comics can have on society and art. However, I do want to talk about the artist that has inspired me most recently.

Ben Templesmith and specifically his work for Fell, Vol. One: Feral City. If you haven’t yet read this book, I strongly recommend it. It falls under the “crime” genre of comics. It is the story of Detective Fell. He has been relocated to Snowtown – a place where police have no authority. Not even no authority – they have no meaning. Detective Fell, like all good protagonists, is going to turn the town around, one case at a time. Just to make sure I get the credits in – it is written by Warren Ellis and lettered by Chris Eliopoulos.

But I’m here to talk about the art. Mr. Templesmith has visually articulated the idea of Snowtown perfectly to me. Truthfully, I have no idea how his version relates to the actual Snowtown located in Southern Australia – but in terms of what it needs to tell the story – it’s spot on.

For my money, at least currently, the images that are most striking to me are the large panels that are showing some type of landscape. There is something so atmospheric to them. It’s a weird sensation to explain, but I feel like I am there – or rather – if I were there I would know what it feels like. It’s chilly, but not cold, it’s damp – the annoying damp that makes you wish it would just rain and soak you – and it’s dark. It’s the kind of dark that makes you keep looking over your shoulder – but you have to keep looking ahead for the same reason… something’s lurking around you.

There is a certain simplicity to the art – a simplicity that makes everything so clear.  I can just look at each panel and understand it. It just feels real. This is the type of art that I crave when reading comics – and, apparently, the art I needed most recently for my own personal inspiration.

So, Mr. Templesmith – I thank you for the inspiration. I’d be in a world of hurt right now without you – especially with my deadline next week. For the rest of you, if you haven’t read this book, hopefully these images piqued your interest. It is absolutely worth checking out.


  1. wierd, i just bought feral city today (i have all the isuses already). Fell is easily one of the best comics I have ever read, and the art is simply fantastic.. atmospheric is definitely the right way to describe it. my only complaint is that i wish it would come out more often.

  2. Couldn’t agree more, Templesmith’s art in this title is staggering. The grimy look really suits the gritty nature of the Snowtown stories, in a way that reminds me a bit of Se7en.

    If only the book came out a bit more often…

  3. Holly crap! mr Templesmith is now one of my fav artests. i think he should do some batman work.

  4. The guys here at iFanboy hooked me into this. I got the trade on the day of release and picked up issue #9 when it came out. That was many months ago. I hope we see more of Snowtown soon. 🙁

  5. I love Templesmith’s art.  I got the Feral City hard cover, even though I already had the issue.  I only wish it had been oversized.  His Hatter M mini series from Image was also great art to stare at for hours on end.

  6. The first trade is definitely on my to-buy list.

  7. I would recommend the individual issues over the trade if you can find them for the simple reason that the letters page in the back of each issue gives great insight not only into the origin of each story but the creative process and influence on fans as well. Either way this is an amazing series.

  8. For Australians hoping to break into the industry, Ben Templesmith has to be one of the most important figures in the industry today. Kinda like the Statue of Liberty, only for thematic purposes, you have to imagine "flip flops" and a hat with corks on it.

    Great to see great talent coming from all corners of the globe!

  9. great tribute gordon. i agree, feral city is an exceptional collection of stories. can’t imagine it without ben templesmith. 

  10. You will be pleased to know Ben has linked directly to this page as, quote

    "Quite possibly the nicest things ever said about my work. Thankyou sir."