Kody Chamberlain – Award-Winning Writer and Cartoonist Who Loves What he Does

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Kody Chamberlain, writer, cartoonist, and graphic artist, has chosen to remain in Lafayette LA since graduating from USL (now UL – Lafayette) in 1997 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. A successful player in the creative arts industry, most of his peers live in New York City or Los Angeles, or even Portland or Austin, because they’re drawn to “the scene,” a community of other like-minded professionals with whom they can network and bounce ideas off each other. Kody is just fine here in Lafayette and acknowledges that the internet, dropbox, and other tools make this an easier task than when he started out twenty years ago.

Kody is well-known for his ability to pull together original and creative projects using all mediums and in diverse endeavors such as comic book art, board game design, creation of the 2019 Festival International Poster, or writing crime novels. These fetes are amazing given the fact that Kody didn’t grow up thinking he was creative and didn’t start drawing until he was 18 when he took his first beginner art class as a Freshman. Most artists start when they are small children so Kody had a bit of catching up to do.

Having never gotten better than a “C” for any art class he took in college, as he looks back, Kody doesn’t feel he got to be good at drawing until he had worked at it for fifteen years or so! Yet he’s worked on his craft with a loving touch as he always enjoyed it. “Natural ability without joy won’t lead to success.” He counsels people who come to him for advice to think about what they do in their spare time; if they’re not doodling or drawing on a sketch pad, art may not be their forte.

Kody Chamberlain loves what he does and always has a sketch pad out, he’s always doodling. “I think the reason I eventually got good at this is because I enjoyed it. Natural ability without joy won’t lead to success.”

He was first drawn to Lafayette when he visited friends at USL while attending Nichols State University in Thibodaux, and he particularly liked the vibe of Festival International. Midway through his college career, he transferred to USL because it offered a better Arts program and he liked Lafayette. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in advertising design under the direction of Professor Richard “Dutch” Keppler, where he learned to think creatively, write headlines and copy, and understand that quality results can be achieved using any medium. Keppler had no interest in software at that time and Kody feels fortunate that he learned how to express ideas by utilizing any creative technique that could get a quality job done.

While he started out working with advertising agencies using his graphic design background, he wanted to write and tell stories and gradually transitioned into comic book writing and drawing while he free-lanced with local agencies so he could pay the bills. He was first paid for his art in 2008, eleven years after graduating and plugging away at his craft.

In 2011, Kody wrote, drew and published an original crime novel set in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina; Sweets: A New Orleans Crime Story A murder-mystery dealing with a cop who had to solve a crime before the hurricane hits and crucial evidence is washed away. He also published a five-part accompanying comic book series through Image Comics, which garnered the Spinetingler Award. Kody turned to Kickstarter to obtain community support to fund the printing and promotional efforts like posters, flyers, tradeshow displays, trade show travel expenses, shipping, print and web advertising, and preview books (ashcans) that are sent out to the media for review. It is rare for a comic book writer to develop all aspects of a series from the original concept, art, lettering, and promotion yet Kody’s efforts were a huge success.

Kody Chamberlain wrote, drew and published an original crime novel set in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina;: Sweets: A New Orleans Crime Story A murder-mystery dealing with a cop who had to solve a crime before the hurricane hits and crucial evidence is washed away. He also published a five-part accompanying comic book series through Image Comics, which garnered the Spinetingler Award.

Kody has written and illustrated comics and graphic novels for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, and Image Comics. He is also a writer and story artist for film, television, and video games and this year has released Maniacal, a new board game distributed internationally by Eagle-Gryphon. He is also known for his first creator-owned comic series Punks with co-creator Joshua Hale Fialkov, which is an off-beat comedy about four guys (Dog, Skull, Fist and Abraham Lincoln) who live together, beat each other up, and generally humiliate themselves, in a similar vein to the BBC Comedy, “The Young Ones,” or “Adult Swim.”

“Many people assume that work is digital in Punks, but it’s all done with actual photocopies, an X-Acto blade, and various things like tape and glue,” said Kody Chamberlain in an interview with ComicBook.com. “The process is a little clunky at times but that’s where much of the visual aesthetic originates so I don’t try to streamline it. I go with what works.”

This year, Maniacal, a new board game in which Kody designed the board, cards, dice, and icons, is available through Eagle-Gryphon Games. The game involves super villains plotting and scheming to conquer the world by building infamy and reputation. While not quite on the line of Monopoly, Kody says you can play it in about four hours, with 4 to 6 players.

In 2019, he was named the Official Visual Artist for Festival International de Louisiane. While typically the artist will design the Official Poster, with Kody’s background in graphic design, he also was commissioned to design the official pin, cups, badges and all Festival design needs. Kody had previously worked with the Festival team in 2018 to design a tribute piece in honor of the late David Egan and the late Rockin’ Dopsie. The 8-foot by 8-foot aluminum work incorporates piano keys in honor of Egan alongside an accordion as a tribute to Rockin’ Dopsie and is now hanging in the Festival office in downtown Lafayette.

Festival International de Louisiane’s Official 2019 poster was designed by Kody Chamberlain. Kody starts his projects by writing to develop the visual he will eventually draw. This poster is based upon the concept of fusion and incorporates the unifying colors of Festival. He believes most in Lafayette don’t realize how special this worldwide festival for being set in the middle of our unique downtown where people can experience the culture offered in Acadiana.

As our interview was winding down, Kody expressed his fervent hope that he may be instrumental in building a community for like-minded creative arts professionals. While our culture is well-known for its food and music, there isn’t the same organized focus on creative artists such as himself. The fine arts community has the Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Hilliard Art Museum, which is a different discipline from comic book artists and designers. Kody is working to build relationships with local artists so that we can retain our outstanding talent. He has started a “Drink and Draw” social club that meets every Wednesday evening where locals can gather with no structure and learn by watching one another. He also has organized a creative meet-up before each monthly Art Walk downtown at Reve Coffee at 5 p.m. “It is important to have the community aspect for fellow artists. Many creatives move on, so that is why I’ve worked to bring ComicCon here to Lafayette, and I’m very excited about the upcoming Southern Board Game Festival coming up on April 4 and 5, 2020, at UL-Lafayette’s Student Union.

Kody Chamberlain worked to persuade Comic-Con organizers to locate in Lafayette in lieu of Baton Rouge. It is a great way for artists from around the country to network and get to know one another. This year it will be held at the Cajundome on March 14 and 15, 2020.

For more information on Kody Chamberlain or to contact him, please visit
https://www.inkhousecreative.com/.

135 episodes