When local cartoonist, illustrator and webcomic B. Ray Pennington isn’t busy selling his art at his booth at the Palafox Market in downtown Pensacola, he’s likely creating his latest piece while live streaming for subscribers on Twitch or working on illustrations for his webcomic, Brain Matter. Since moving to Pensacola four years ago, Pennington has played an active role in the local arts community. He also participates in numerous local community markets and art-based events throughout the year such as the Pensacola Arts Market, Punk Rock Flea Market, Pensacola Community Market, Gallery Night and more. Check out Pennington’s work online at geekvisionproductions.com, or follow GeekVision Productions on Facebook @GeekVision-Productions and Instagram @geekvisionproductions.
How would you describe or categorize your artistic style?
I feel that my work is distinct in both appearance and execution. I would consider myself a cartoonist as well as an illustrator, but I like to pull inspiration from different aspects of art and sometimes give my pieces a bit of surrealism or expressionism to mix it up. I would say when it comes to the style of my work, it’s about fifty percent mixed media and fifty percent digital. For the mixed media pieces, I draw an image, color it with markers, cut it out with an X-acto knife, paint a separate background (usually with a watercolor or some sort of water-based media) and then I combine everything with layers of foam core and rubber cement to create a sort of 3D or pop-out effect.
How did you first get into creating digital comic books and illustrations, and was there a specific moment when you knew that this was something you wanted to pursue full time?
Digital art didn’t really come naturally to me for a while, I did take some courses in college, but it didn’t quite click. It wasn’t until years later when more accessible and user-friendly software came about and digital drawing tablets started becoming a thing. As a result, I started seeing more and more creators publishing their cartoons and comics online and I thought, “I could do this! I’m kind of funny and good at creating characters.”
How long have you been an artist or been into illustrating and comic books? Have comic books served as an inspiration for your work? If so, which ones specifically were you inspired by?
I tell people the copout answer is my whole life, but it’s true! My earliest memories involved drawing. As a kid I mainly liked to draw my favorite cartoons, and that inspired me to create my own characters, give them personalities and draw little adventures they would go on. Naturally, my main focus was my childhood dog, Tucker and myself as a best buddy duo. So to honor his memory, I still draw him as the main character of my webcomic. As far as comic inspiration, I always enjoyed comic strips, the little jokes in the newspaper and such. Gary Larson, creator of The Far Side, was one of the first comic artists I remember really getting into. In college, I discovered Cyanide & Happiness, which is a webcomic created by three different individuals that was also drawn in this similar comic strip format.
When did you officially launch GeekVision Productions and how did you come up with the name?
GeekVision Productions (GVP) was a concept I’ve been working on for years! I first settled on the name about ten years ago and it was inspired by my much larger “vision,” which was to one day become a large production company working on big projects doing things like movies and animation. The “Geek” part was an obvious choice since geek culture inspires me and is reflected in so much of my work. However, I didn’t officially launch GVP until four years ago, when I first moved to Pensacola. Since then, I’ve taken to calling my fans and followers “Visionaries.”
Do you, or have you produced any commissioned work? If so, can you tell me a little bit about it?
I offer commissions and have created several over the years. They can be a lot of fun sometimes. I try to really work with the client to give them the best experience and keep them updated with my progress. Most people are generally easy to work with. I’ve done a range of things, sometimes someone wants a specific character, animal, theme, etc. in the form of one of my 3D pieces. I’ve also created logos for some small and startup businesses.