Interview with Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz – US Comics Creator
Last week I caught up with comic book creator Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz to talk about his science fiction thrillers, Marvel Comics, the British Invasion, and the serial killer drink: Dr Pepper.
An massive fan of the comic book scribblings of Alan Moore, let’s dive deep into the world of Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz.
Hi Trevor, how are you going right now? How is this chaotic world treating you?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: I’m doing pretty well, thanks! Grinding away on the last issue of my first comic book series, sipping some espresso, and peering through the looking glass to some convention appearances for next year.
Where in the world are you from?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: I’m from New London, Connecticut in the U.S., a small city in southeastern Connecticut nestled just far enough from New York City to make me stare out into the ether to look longingly toward, and fantasize about it.
What projects are you currently working on?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: Currently, I’m editing the art on the sixth and final issue of my first comic book series, Area 51: The Helix Project. It’s a Sci-Fi Thriller through the lens of a human-extraterrestrial hybrid who is forced to excavate the ghosts of his past to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the most tragic moment of his life: the murder of his father.
Everything he knows about himself and what it means to be human is subverted as the mystery drops him into the jaw of a Cold War genetics conspiracy that plunges a dagger into how he reconciles his identity, memory, and mental health.
How did you first get started?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: I actually got my start in comics media sometime during college. I didn’t have too many friends interested in comics, so I started doing reviews and creator interviews that progressively became more and more analytical. The next thing I know, I’m at a Marvel Fanfare panel during NYCC 2019 and Marvel’s EIC hands me his business card, telling me to apply for a job that would then get butchered by the pandemic.
Being so close to what would’ve been a fanboy’s pipe dream, I studied the craft, learned about production, and decided that I wasn’t going to ask for anyone’s permission to create things that matter to me anymore.
What’s your favourite era of creative work by other artists?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: Easily the British Invasion of comics in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The body of work and talent that came out of DC Vertigo redefined the global understanding of western comics in numerous ways, explicit and otherwise. I’d even venture to say that the current indie comics market would not exist as it does without the minds that were brought to us by folks like Karen Berger during the aforementioned invasion of our tea-sipping neighbors from across the pond. In all seriousness, we were gifted with some of the greatest creative minds EVER all within the span of half a decade or so.
Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Jamie Delano, Dave McKean, Alan Davis, Mark Millar, Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison, Alan Grant, Paul Jenkins, Warren Ellis, Frank Quitely, Alan Davis, Bryan Hitch, Steve Dillon, John Bolton, Barry Windsor-Smith, Mark Buckingham, Brian Bolland, David Lloyd, and if I haven’t bored you to death, there are probably more that I can’t quite find bouncing around my brain.
Either way, you look at this list, and almost every single one of these people have irrevocably changed our understanding of the entire medium and what it’s capable of. Their works inspire me to try and reach for that level of craft & impact.
Are you more of a horror or sci-fi nerd? What are your go to films to check out?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: I’d probably say Sci-Fi, but the older I get, the more I realize how much I love existential horror. Not much for the jump scare type. Regarding film, I’d probably recommend the Final Cut of Blade Runner, Arrival, and Children of Men for bonafide Sci-Fi with expert storytelling to match.
Who are your main creative influences and what aspects of your creative work can we find them in?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: That’s tough, because my body of work extends to a modest six issues of comics, of which only five have been read by other people. Artists function rather osmotically, so I’d be remiss not to admit that there are probably more influences than I could name, but I’d start by reiterating a few that were included in my answer for the fifth question.
Alan Moore is arguably the most deliberate linguist we’ve ever had, bar no medium. He exacts it as an all-immersive storytelling tool that weaves story, theme, and character into a cohesive, multi-layered package. Neil Gaiman’s inventiveness and use of poetry in his narrative voice are constantly floating around in my head, and a standard by which I’ll always consider when writing.
While I could probably go on and on about the masterminds that’ve already gotten their flowers, I’d love to share a little spotlight on a pair of gentlemen still working in comics that have enriched my understanding of story and character in big ways. First is Bryan Hill. There’s a deeply thoughtful, almost cerebral execution to his use of character that manages to unfailingly tug at the most human parts of anyone lucky enough to read/engage with his work. His American Carnage is a masterclass in how to understand complex characters and how they can interact/contribute to their equally complex ecosystem.
Another is Ram V. Admittedly, he’s probably every bit the writer I’ve ever wanted to be. Pensive, melancholy, poetic, and dripping in existentialism. Despite that, I fear that I have some pivoting to do because no one will do Ram V like Ram V. His work consistently makes me reevaluate my understanding of executing theme through story and, let’s not forget how I actively think about the context of myself in the world around me. Blue In Green shook me to my core, and has become a perennial reread of mine for the last two years.
Who are your go to musical jams to put on while you’re working?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: My writing music is almost always instrumental and geared toward the specific project. For most of Area 51: The Helix Project, I caught myself listening to a lot of Hans Zimmer scores: Inception, Batman V Superman(despite not loving the actual film), Interstellar. A couple other classics find their way through too, like Bernard Hermann’s Taxi Driver score, or Jonny Greenwood’s work on The Phantom Thread.
What strengths in previous jobs have helped strengthen your creativity?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: Weirdly enough, I studied Molecular & Cellular Biology for my undergrad, and I think that the mode of thinking I’d developed from that family of coursework has been part of what makes me stand out in this more creative space. I think the procedural nature of scientific research and experimentation trained me to really dissect creative works and break them down into their constituent pieces.
From there, I sort of meditate on what of those things worked and didn’t, how context or sequence of those pieces affect my understanding of them, etc… While writing is still very personal and emotional for me, I tend to not get overcome by those things as a lot of other folks seem to. I think I tend to take all that and fire those electrical signals through the more scientific modes of thought to get the final product.
What weaknesses have you identified in your current project that you’re going to work on in the future?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: With each issue, I’ve been able to reflect on the mistakes that I made prior, although I feel like answering that would sell myself out before whoever reads this article reads the series… Maybe it’d be prudent to answer this question once I’ve got a few projects under my belt, that way I’m not sending people looking for my mistakes with the only project I’ve produced thus far before they give it a chance.
Let’s talk about some memories that you had when you first started getting creative? How has this changed from childhood to adolescence to creating as an adult?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: I’m not quite sure when I started “getting creative”, as I’m sure that it happens the moment we’re equipped with thought. Largely, I could probably say that my creativity was fairly unstructured up until I was a teenager. My mom was the super frugal type, paired with the fact that I was easily distractible—still am—, so I didn’t have much access to film or television growing up with a whopping 20 channels of basic cable.
Plus, said frugal mother did not believe in paying to go to the movies or rent, so I went largely unexposed to narrative media. Because of that, my first artistic love became music. After a few years it became my primary creative outlet. At that stage, I was really interested in being a chauvinist solo guitar player, and relished in improv. Compared to my time writing comics, my creative process is quite different.
The pursuit of my undergraduate degree in Molecular & Cellular Biology fostered a more analytical way of thinking, which totally changed the way I approach creative endeavors. Now, I tend to piece together stories part by part, as opposed to being the improvisational soloist. Who knows though, maybe I’ll go back to my roots and try improvising with story.
What’s the worst nightmare you’ve ever had?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: No idea. Probably something during one of the summers waiting tables in the middle of several doubles. I’d wake up in a cold sweat thinking that I was in the middle of a shift, totally in the weeds, having forgotten to put someone’s order in. I swear, anyone who’s worked in a fast paced food service environment will know exactly what I mean.
Do you have a favourite soft drink?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: Water? Never grew up much on soda or sugary drinks, I was the kid whose mom sent him to school with cucumbers as a snack. I do, however, enjoy Dr. Pepper with a burger.
Who’s your favourite telepath or gifted character in pop culture?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: Gifted, as in powered? Matt Murdock. Incredibly complex. Capable, but limited in the grand scope of the world he lives in. Yeah, that’s my guy.
Which creative work would you most like to be remembered for?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: Well, I only have one series so far, so I guess Area 51: The Helix Project.
Where can my readers find you online?
Trevor Fernandes-Lenkiewicz: You can find a conglomerate of my links at https://linktr.ee/pocketwatchpress. Most social media is @PocketWatchPress; or @PWatchPress because Twitter likes to keep things a bit too short.
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