I love Patrick’s work and feel so pleased to be able to share this interview with you. He was not put off by my waffly questions or strange inquiries about shoes and clothing! (my sneaker fetish, eep! LOL!)
I really do enjoy his work. Not only because of the uninhibited and erotic nature of his images, and oh what a turn on they are! But, I find it sensual, kinda liberating and beautiful. I hope you enjoy reading his wonderful replies as much as I did.
Would you like to share a little bit about yourself? Shoe size, favorite t-shirt? Anything you like!
Sure! I was born in Quebec but my family moved to British Columbia when I was 6. I didn’t speak a word of English at the time, but learned quickly through reading Uncanny X-Men comics! LOL! I had never seen comics before moving to BC, and when I discovered the X-Men, specifically Storm and Nightcrawler, I immediately fell in love with the characters and wanted to know what they were saying. Of course that meant learning to read and understand English — so that was really good motivation! And they say comics are trash reading! For me, they were more educational than any text book I ever had to read at school.
I lived in a small, conservative town in British Columbia until I was 19, at which point I happily left to move to Vancouver. I really got in touch with my true self then, finally able to accept that I was gay and learn more about my community. It was sort of at that point also that I began to explore the erotic overtones of my work. I grew more and more comfortable with erotica and soon, I was happy to immerse myself in the genre.
I have 2 favorite T-Shirts that I love it and wear them as often as I can. The first is this khaki green T-shirt with a Japanese Koi and symbols on it. It’s very stylish and has held up nicely despite the numerous wash and wears! Then I have a Mister Fantastic T-Shirt that I bought at Zellers (the Canadian equivalent of Target)! It was the coolest thing because I just stumbled upon it quite by accident but I have loved it ever since.
I am a SHOE WHORE and I wear size 10 shoes. Any excuse to get a new pair of shoes is a good excuse in my book, much to Fraser’s dismay! LOL!
I am fascinated by sharks, dinosaurs and exotic wildlife. I love reading non-fiction reference books and feeding my brain all the knowledge I can on these topics. I get completely engrossed in it!
Yes, I am a big geek and I love comics and science fiction stuff too! LOL! I’m a big Star Wars, Star Trek, X-Files and Space:1999 fan, and of course, I collect all the action figures you can possibly imagine! LOL!
What do you love most about being an artist?
The thing I love most about being an artist is being able to bring my characters to life and depicting their adventures! It’s pretty wicked. I get to see my fantasies on paper and explore every aspect of them. It’s really exhilarating in some ways because I get to travel and explore anything I want. I guess there’s a bit of control-freakiness to the whole thing. I suppose that I get to make these characters do anything I like, but I do have a great deal of respect for characters and try to follow their natural evolution.
My female fans are fantastic and have always been so good to me. They are very respectful of the work and characters and I appreciate them very much. I think that it is absolutely wonderful that women read my stuff, and I value their opinion very much. I think that a lot of my characters have a very sweet side to them, and that their overabundance of testosterone is tempered by perhaps a feminine quality. My female readers seem to appreciate that my guys aren’t just these big dunder-heads with huge penises who run around and have sex with everything that moves. They are very sexual characters, certainly, but they also think and have heart — at least, I’d like to think so! HA! HA! HA! I think female readers appreciate the well-rounded male protagonist in every sense.
I read in an interview, from a couple of years ago, that you love sensuality and you try and incorporate that with sexuality in what your do. Why is that important? (The interview, smokin shirt in the pic BTW!)
Sensuality is art. It is far more than pornography, which is so often NOT sensual but plainly sexual. When you blend sensuality and sexuality you get a very potent mixture that is hard to ignore. I really believe that sensuality is one of the first things to grab your attention in adult comics. I feel it denotes a certain attention to the craft that can make one comic stand out above another. One will seem artful, the other mostly just smutty.
I love that you used to take your comics to class at school but how did you actually get started and published? Was there a particular moment or was it a gradual process?
It was actually a gradual process. I started “publishing” my comics when I was still in high school. Of course back then, I used a photocopier to reproduce them all, but I remember a local newsstand encouraging me to do it, and to even sell copies in their store. That was very cool, and it really gave me my first taste of what publishing could be like.
Several years later, I went to an actual press and printed my first professionally printed book – Cube #1, volume 1. I was so excited, and to make things even better, it was distributed by Diamond! The book was in black and white with a color cover, and looked so slick! It was a proud moment. I’ve loved going to press and publishing my own works ever since then – it’s like an addiction! There’s just something so wonderful about seeing your work in print, the culmination of so much effort in one beautiful, glossy little package! LOL!
What was it like to start your own label and what made you take that step? What are you particularly proud of and is there anything you’re aiming for in the future for Class Comics?
In the beginning, around 1995 when Cube #1 came out, Class Comics was actually called “Class Enterprises”. That was mostly because I wanted a label under which I could also do freelance illustration. I didn’t care for that too much in the end though, and when Fraser and I met and eventually became business as well as life partners, we re-launched the company as “Class Comics”!
But officially, the reason I even wanted to start up my own publishing company was because it was almost impossible to get any other publisher interested in gay male erotica. I approached several publishers known for their adult books, and most were very polite, but definite in their “No thank you’s!” I believed very strongly that there was an audience for all-male adult comics, and I was determined to get my work out there. So I got my shit together and brought my stuff to press myself.
Even though Cube #1 wasn’t strictly all-male or even erotic at the time, it was to be my stepping stone. I planned to put out a series to get noticed with at first, and then to get to the juicy stuff.
The first “juicy stuff” I put out was Camili-Cat: Felinoids #1. This was a dream come true for me because I’d been drawing Cam since I was 12, and evolving his story for many years. To finally have the opportunity to see him in “real” print was absolutely amazing. The reaction to the book was really mind-blowing for me. People were so receptive and so enthusiastic about it. It really fuelled me to forge on after that!
That was really the beginning of Class Comics. As for the future, both Fraser and I feel very strongly that we want to continue to publish the very best material we can, and that we want to continue working with new artists who are great at what they do and just need a chance to get their work out there. It’s sort of our way of giving back to the gay erotic art community. And of course, we want the company to continue to grow, so that we can release more books more frequently – comics, as well as trade paperbacks, digest and art books.
Singing and art? Did you ever consider doing anything else interesting as a career?
Well, for a while in high school I was being encouraged to choose a vocation that was considered less “flighty” than art by a lot of my more narrow-minded teachers. Thing is I genuinely had an interest in psychiatry… but in the end, I am so glad that art won out. People are complex things, and figuring out how they work is not always an easy thing. I think that being a therapist might have come with a lot of headaches – not that running Class is always free of those – LOL! — but you know what I mean. I have a lot of respect for people in that field, but ultimately, I am really glad I followed my muse and went into the arts!
As for my singing, well, it feels like that was eons ago! LOL! But I do have an album available through my PF Gear shop over at my website. It’s the last album I recorded before devoting all my time to drawing and giving up performing. You can even sample some of the songs to get an idea of what I sound like. It’s all a bit dated by today’s standards, but it was a very fun part of my life that I look back on with fondness. I still love to sing and not a day goes by that I don’t do it – I’m like a walking radio around the house! LOL! (OK, check it out, he sounds srsly good!)
Do you see anything of yourself in your characters?
I actually see a lot of myself in some of my characters, both physically (I suppose) and psychologically, although some of that is honestly not by choice! HA! HA! HA!
Ironically, the character that is most like me on an intellectual level is female – Jeanne Darque. I have very little (if any) patience for stupidity and human silliness (also perhaps another reason why it was good I NOT become a shrink!) LOL! I think that humanity is capable of so much and yet so many people just drift through their life completely asleep and unaware of their surroundings. It makes me crazy – it makes Jeanne Darque crazy! I really voice a lot of my impressions and feelings through that character, and though it’s not always in a direct manner, the basic impressions do tend to come out. She’s a great way for me to vent! LOL!
I also see a lot of myself, at least myself when I was in my 20s, in Camili-Cat. I felt so lost back then, like I desperately needed to fit in somewhere and just couldn’t seem to find my place. Cam is like that – he’s actually all about that. He’s on this hugely important quest to find more of his kind, more Felinoids. It consumes him to the point where he can’t even see that there are people currently in his life who love him already. He takes them and the present for granted because he thinks he needs so much more – I have to say, I had a tendency to do that back then! I think I’ve outgrown that sort of behavior and learned a lot since then, but when writing Cam, I love to channel all of that sort of stuff because it makes for great angst – and as readers, we all love angst in our heroes! LOL!
There is one other trait that Cam and I share in common, but that one I will leave a secret! 😉 (Hmmm, is it nice toes perhaps Patrick? Now you know you want to share…!)
One of my current favorite books has a character who is an asshat and so very flawed and I just adored him. What is it about the flaws in a character that gives you that gut reaction?
I think flaws make characters seem more human. I mean, no one is perfect! We can relate to flaws, and even if they aren’t directly traits we share in common with the characters we adore, I think we can appreciate the flaws they have as vulnerabilities that can be very endearing.
Characters that are perfect are hard to come by, but those that are written as perfect are usually less interesting than the ones who have baggage and shit to deal with. Flaws motivate great character development, and that is always exciting for the reader!
When you’re working on something new, how does it start and what sort of steps do you go through?
New projects can get started in many ways. Sometimes I have an idea for a character or a story and I start to doodle. What usually comes next is a flood of other ideas on what this character could be like and the sort of adventures and situations he (or she) could go through.
Then there are times that I’ll start a project, thinking it’ll be one thing in particular, but then as I work on it, it evolves in a completely different direction. With Zahn for example, I initially thought that he would be a simple 10-page story that I would publish in an issue of Rapture. But as I wrote and drew more and more of the story, it became pretty clear that this was a character that had so much more potential.
His story really developed into more of an epic adventure, and so my vision of him had to change as well. I then figured I’d do a one-shot book, but he grew beyond even that. Now I figure I’ll write and draw his adventure series so long as it makes sense story-wise.
Some characters have minds of their own and really force you to think out of your comfort zone. Zahn is like that. I don’t like to tie myself into projects that will potentially last for several issues, but with him I kind of welcomed the idea. I guess it’s a reflection on him as a character and how much I love writing and drawing him.
On some projects, I’ll script everything out before I start to draw, and then there are times where I have the script in my head and just start drawing. Usually this happens when I am really familiar with a project and know pretty much exactly where it is going and how it will get there. It’s like this with Camili-Cat usually, and that’s probably because I know him inside out!
Is there a particular piece of work, image or character you feel most proud of or have an emotional attachment to?
I am VERY emotionally attached to Camili-Cat, and that is because I’ve been drawing him for so long now – over 22 years! I grew up with him, and he really helped me out when I was first realizing that I was gay. Through him and his adventures I was really able to explore my own sexuality and get a better understanding of it. That was extremely helpful to me growing up. As I became more comfortable with my own sexuality, so did Cam and he evolved into the more sexual version of the character we know today.
I absolutely love this character. He is something I am very proud to have created and hope to keep drawing for a very long time to come.
Meanwhile, I think the book I am the most proud of is Zahn #1. Mostly that’s because sooooooo much effort and sweat went into creating it – from the concepts to the art to the final product – and I was so very proud to hold it in my hands when I got it back from the press.
I think that Zahn is one of the first books I’ve done with Class that really reads like a traditional comic, despite the sexual aspects of the story. A lot of thought and consideration went into the final script. It’s also homage to some of my favorite comic book creators, such as John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala, and I’m very proud of how it all turned out.
Zahn as a character is fascinating to me, and he really is a close second to Cam in my heart… but because he is so new, I still have a lot to learn about him. I look forward to that!
What other artists work do you enjoy or admire?
There are several artists I really admire currently working in the mainstream comics industry. I’d say my big three are Alan David, Michael Golden and Dærick Gröss, Sr. I really think they are masters of their trade! I also really appreciate artists such as Terry and Rachel Dodson, Adam Hughes, Frank Cho, Olivier Coipel and Kevin Maguire. They all really rock in my opinion.
As for artists who do male erotica, there are a TON I really adore and admire – Mike, Logan, Max‘, Eric Mars, Ismael Alvarez, Jacob Mott, Ivan Garcia, Sean Z, JC Etheredge, G-Man, and HvH – all close friends and amazing talents that I have had the amazing opportunity to work with over the years. These guys really are absolute masters and just the nicest guys you could ever meet!
But honestly, I am such an art-whore! LOL! There are just so many wonderful talents out there that I love and admire… it’s tough to name them all! 😉
How goes the next Camili installment?
The next Camili-Cat book is coming along nicely, and I think will be really wicked when completed. There’s a lot of stuff that happens in it that fans have wanted to see for a very long, LONG time now – some good, and some not so good. Let’s just say that Cam has a tough road ahead of him in this book.
It’s also one of them most sex-drenched books I’ve done to date I think! HA! HA! HA! Cam is so sexual, and his story is so erotic – he just lends himself so well to all of that! The book’s pretty hot so far, and I’ve had the opportunity to create a TON of new Felinoids for the title. That’s been loads of fun. Felinoids are such pretty things! LOL!
What are you reading at the moment and have you read any ebooks? I think My Fair Captain by JL Langley is a must but that’s just me!
This is a great question!!! LOL! I’m currently reading 3 books at the moment. The first is “Why aren’t they here? The question of life on other worlds” by Surendra Verma. The book is really fascinating and completely fun. It’s described as “A calm, intelligent and witty survey of the history of mankind’s search for extraterrestrial life” by the Daily Mail. Very fun!
The second is a reference book called “Sharks and Rays” published by Fog City Press. It’s a gorgeous book visually with amazing photography and tons and tons of facts… Oy! I guess I am turning into a science geek as I get older! HA! HA! HA!
And the third is an Indiana Jones novel called “The Secret of the Sphinx“. That one is for when I feel like some good, fun light reading! 😉
Unfortunately, I haven’t read any ebooks of late… but I’m always on the look out for cool stuff!
Finally what is in your current playlist for when you’re working? And, I also love Annie Lennox BTW!
Another totally fun question!!! 😉 Music is very important to me and I am always listening to music in my headphones when working! I guess my current top 10 goes a little something like this (in no particular order):
1- Rocking chair – Cyndi Lauper
2- Love is Blind – Annie Lennox
3- Miles Away – Madonna
4- 31 today – Aimee Mann
5- Schweine – Glukoza
6- Underneath – Alanis Morissette
7- Black and Gold – Sam Sparro
8- Rain – Madness
9- No more rain – Kylie Minogue
10- These Dreams – Bonnie Ste-Croix (a VERY cool and talented Vancouver-based singer/songwriter)
Patrick, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. It was a huge interview during a very busy time and I really appreciate you taking the time to answer all of my squillions of questions. (There are no more Patrick, I promise! )
I am also grateful for your candid replies and willingness to share about your work which I do so enjoy. It’s been wonderful to get a small glimpse into where it all comes from, an absolute pleasure to ‘yak’ and… a total dent in my credit card. 🙂
Hugs and kisses. Sarah
Check out all links in blue throughout the interview, there is some fab art and stuff to nosey through. For further information you can also purchase Patrick’s work at Class Comics. His blog is here and his website is here. AND a wicked cool review of Zahn at the top of the sidebar and the delightful pic of Patrick by Mike on your right. Classy indeed! Enjoy!
All artwork (c) Copyright and TM 2008 Patrick Fillion / Class Comics
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