Kenny and E? Good Times.
So remember a few months ago when I went gaga over my friend redoing classic Hip Hop covers with an amazing comic book twist? (if you don’t, click here.) Well, after getting a couple of features across the internet, a major shoutout from Questlove from The Legendary Roots Crew and completing his First Self-Published Comic Book… Kenny Keil and I have finally sat down to merge our awesomes together and give you basic intro and shine some light on Mr. Keil and his amazing talents, uncompromising funny, what he’s been up to and his future plans.
Music Nerdery: Hey Kenny. Thanks for taking time out of your awesome life to spend indulging my Music Nerdery.
Kenny Keil: Thank you for taking time out of your awesome website to spend with me.
Music Nerdery: Hah. Not a problem. Alright Kenny. Lets just go over the basics for the fans and newbies. Tell us a bit about where you’re from, how you got into/background in illustration, and where you’re at now.
KK: I was born and raised in Louisiana and lived there until just recently. It’s hard to say how I got into illustration because it’s one of those things that I feel has always been there. I imagine comics and cartoons had a lot to do with it. You know that quiet kid who always drew in class? That was me. It was a small town so I was pulling double duty as the premature facial hair kid as well. Eventually I learned to shave and went off to college where I majored in graphic design. And that’s what I’ve been doing for a living ever since, though I’m now trying to shift my focus more towards comics and illustration.
Currently I live in Los Angeles. Let the record show that I just threw up a “W” sign while typing that.
Music Nerdery: Hahah. Wow. Note that your throwing up of the Dub will be recorded. So you remember the first thing you drew? Better yet, that point when you knew that illustration was what you wanted to do?
KK: Couldn’t tell you the first thing I drew, but I basically always knew I wanted to do something in the visual arts. How that interest manifested itself changed throughout the years though. When I was 6, I wanted to be a cartoonist. When I was 21, I wanted to be a graphic designer. Now I’m 30 and I want to be a cartoonist again. Either I’m regressing or 6-year-old me really had his shit together.
Music Nerdery: The Children are the future. They didn’t lie. (LoL.) I know you are a master of freehand, but it looks like you use different computer animation programs to help you with your overall amazing. Feel like sharing the programs you use? Hopefully that isn’t classified, lolz.
KK: I don’t know who started that rumor about my freehand skills but it’s hilarious. Maybe it’s my design background, or the fact that I’ve never gotten the hang of using the more traditional tools, but I use computers for pretty much everything. Like, at this point I don’t even remember what pencils smell like. I draw directly into Adobe Illustrator with my Wacom tablet. I’d say 90% of my comic works happens in Illustrator, then I might add a few finishing touches in Photoshop. I don’t know how people did this (or anything) before computers. They are magic.
Music Nerdery: Pencils smell awesome dude. Even tho Wacom is awesome I’ve heard… Get back to the drawing. Alright. So I know this is hard to do as an artist, and you can totally bullsh*t me if you need to… but do you have a favorite drawing or piece you’re particularly proud of? Which and why?
KK: That I’ve done? Oh man. My favorite piece tends to be the last thing I drew. And within 6 months I generally grow to hate that piece. I’m not trying to play the ‘tortured artist’ card here or anything, I see it as a positive. It motivates me to get better.
And yeah, I did just dodge the question. NEXT!
Music Nerdery: Okay. I’ll allow that…. only because you did an awesome collection that made me fall in love with your work… Your comic book versions of Hip Hop Albums (as seen above). Please tell me how that even came about. Please.
KK: I guess the origin story to this one is that I’ve always been a huge nerd for both comic books and hip hop. Big surprise, I know. So in a way I was kind of channeling my 14-year-old self with this series, but I can’t front like I was all that conscious of what I was doing at the time.
Honestly, I just wanted to draw Thor. I was up past my bedtime, had the itch to draw something, and decided that something should be Thor. And it was coming out kinda wack, because… well, have you looked at Thor? I mean really looked at him? I don’t want to offend your Viking readership here, but he looks like what would happen if Dolph Lundgren had been a member of the Soulsonic Force. I couldn’t pull off a traditional ‘pin-up’ style illustration, so I needed an angle. Suddenly, the phrase ‘Straight Outta Asgard’ gets stuck in my head. Like a mantra. Next thing I knew, I’d drawn like 12 of these covers. It’s like I couldn’t stop.
So it was really just an experiment, a love letter to my 2 favorite art forms, and something I never expected to catch on. I tossed the things online thinking *maybe* a dozen people other than me would even get these, much less find them appealing. The reaction has well exceed my expectations, for sure.
Music Nerdery: It could be the best experiment you’ve ever done. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to keep doing that or I will come and find you. LoL. So I know you’ve been in the background of some pretty kickass work in the past. Can you name some awesome projects you’ve been involved with in the past?
KK: Let’s see… in first grade I wrote a book report on a Harlem Globetrotters biography, then – oh wait. You meant comics.
Music Nerdery: Oh LMFAOWTFBBQOMG. Dude.
KK: Well, I’ll leave the ‘awesome’ up to someone else to decide, but over the past few years my work has appeared in several comic anthologies, including one about those Craigslist ‘Missed Connections’ ads that was pretty great. I’ve dabbled around in webcomics a bit. Probably my most successful thing in that realm was a Snakes on a Plane comic. I don’t know how to explain that one, there must have been a gas leak in my apartment that week or something. It got really really popular for a really really brief moment when the internet was all abuzz with SOAP hype. I also did a ’5 Rappers Who Need Their Own Comics’ piece for a French hip hop site after my Superhero Remix series started catching on. Most everything I do finds its way onto my blog eventually. (http://kennykeil.blogspot.com/)
Lots of cool stuff up on the horizon, too! But so far my biggest project would have to be Tales to Suffice.
Music Nerdery: Nice. Blogs are important. Keep that going. Alright Ken. So I know you just completed your first self published project, “Giant Sized Tailes to Suffice: A Reward Extravanganza!” MotherBleepin awesome; congratulations on that. Why don’t you tell us a bit about that whole win and how that got started?
KK: Tales to Suffice came about as the result of a serious comic binge I went on about 5 years ago. I had fallen out of the hobby for nearly a decade, and was just voraciously consuming any and all comics I could get my hands on trying to
catch up. All that input needed some sort of outlet, so I started making comics again to keep my head from exploding.
Eventually that side project became a full-on obsession in itself. Tales to Suffice is basically a humor anthology, but it’s presented as a 50′s-60′s era comic from a failing publisher by the name of Mort Finkleman.
I got lucky and found an indie publisher to put out the first issue, but the economy sucked, the distribution fell through, and I (along with a lot of other indie creators) got left it comic book limbo. So #2 never went to print. But I’m not the type to let a little thing like reality stop me, so I just kept chugging along, cranking out pages, and eventually took matters into my own hands with this whole Kickstarter thing. It’s really an amazing website. Over the course of 90 days I raised a little over $5,000, thanks to the amazing support of my backers. Now I can actually get the book printed and release it out into the world. Which is just mind bogglingly amazing to me. Indie comics are a tough racket. Being able to self-publish this collection is a huge step for me. I can’t thank my supporters enough for that one.
Music Nerdery: Well thank you for all of your awesome. It’s easy to support people when they are actually talented. So, let’s get Music Nerdy. What are you listening to right now?
KK: Right now I’m listening to Kanye’s new stuff along with the rest of planet earth. I’m also digging the latest Madlib Medicine Show, Bun B and Black Milk albums. It’s been a good year for music hasn’t it?
Oh. Did you mean RIGHT NOW right now? ‘O My Soul’ by Big Star. Warm shout out to iTunes shuffle mode.
Music Nerdery: Hahah. Man I hate shuffle sometimes. Okay. So now, give me one of your favorite hip hop lyrics of all time.
KK: Damn. Now you’re pulling out the hardball questions! How about this one:
“I got techniques drippin’ out my buttcheeks/ Sleep on my stomach so I don’t fuck up my sheets”
Only Biggie could take what sounds to me like a pretty severe gastrointestinal condition and make it sound fly. I guess at its essence, that’s what hip hop is all about.
Music Nerdery: I like what you did just there. So Kenny! You just won your first KickStarter Self-Publishing Super Bowl! What are you gonna do next?
Kenny: … I think I’m going to take a nap actually.
Music Nerdery: LOL. You do that. I’ll prolly join you later.
So while Kenny catches up on his sleep, make sure you check out his Flickr page for more of his work. Also, you can run over to his KickStarter page to find out more info on Kenny’s self published win, And make sure you explore all the links you see in this post, at they are filled with some kind of win.
As for me, I gotta fall back for the next few days… Got some deadlines and events I have to handle. As usual, feel free to mull through the back catalog of nerdery I have previously prepared for you… and enjoy.