Andrew Stewart’s children’s book (illustrated by Rob) was reviewed by Metroland Media’s Kitchener Record and appeared in a number of publications.
Books for children: There is a Boy on Top of My Bed, by Andrew Stewart
June 8, 2012
There is a Boy on Top of My Bed! by Andrew Stewart; illustrated by Rob Langille (Amazon.com, $12 softcover)
— Usually, it’s monsters under the bed that frighten little children.
But in a clever twist, Waterloo author Andrew Stewart and Kitchener artist Rob Langille combine their creative talents to tell the story of a little monster who is frightened after discovering a boy on top of his bed.
No matter how many times his monster mom tries to dispel his fears — by saying, “there are no such things as little boys or girls” — the little monster isn’t convinced.
When the boy and the little monster actually speak to each other, they get past their differences and head out on an action-packed search for buried treasure that cements their friendship, odd as it may seem.
Stewart and Langille have published a second book, Stanley the Leaf Pile. Stewart will be at Chapters in Waterloo on Saturday, June 16 to present book readings at 1 and 3 p.m.
— Brenda Hoerle, Record staff
Synnister AmbitionsFebruary 1st, 2010
Every artist begins somewhere, and for many it’s usually their parents’ basement. Rob Langille of Synnister Art took that a little bit more literal than most.
“I remember my parents had an unfinished basement with support beams, and for years there were little pen drawings all over them from when I was kid,” says Langille as he sits back with a grin remembering. “My dad was furious at first, but I bet if I went back to that house, they’re probably still there, whether they’re under drywall or whatever.”
A self-educated man in term of artistic skill, Langille began drawing as an extension of his childhood love for comics and Saturday morning cartoons. It was his grandfather, seemingly sensing genuine aptitude, that helped boost Langille by giving the burgeoning young artist one of the Learn to Draw… series of books by Lee Ames. “There was a little bit of discussion in the book about careers and it was only then that I really thought about doing this for a living,” recalls Langille.
“Tons of reference books” and hours learning computer programs solo was Langille’s art school; comic book artists like Art Adams and Todd McFarlane were his teachers. It was about “seeing how they drew and the type of characters,” Langille explains. “When talking strictly about comic and fantasy art, it’s all about style and how they interpret the human figure.”
Langille says that he developed his own style by taking elements he liked from several artists and incorporating them through his own “purely out of the air” inspiration. “I imagine in my head what I want something to look like and that’s always the way it goes,” he adds casually.
As he began to seriously develop his own style, Langille started working on his own comic book creations. First there was a character called The Banisher. “That’s where a lot of my projects started… I did a lot of spoofs,” he says referring to Marvel Comics’ The Punisher as one source of inspiration. “I did a lot of work with it and I did a lot of in school, which is why my high school career wasn’t as special as my grade school career,” Langille adds with a laugh.
The spoofs eventually gave way to original ideas though. While still in high school, Langille cooked up The Boners, a kind of Ghost Rider meets The Trailer Park Boys about a gang teenagers that were half-human and half skeleton as a result of a genetic experiment gone wrong. “It made for a cutting edge and against the grain kind of story… Definitely not for kids,” says Langille. “The whole concept was that they got all the bad parts of human nature, with a bit of racism, sexism and all that stuff mixed in. They came out on the wrong end with violence and drugs.”
After high school there were more practical matters to consider, like getting a job to support himself and later his wife and three children. Still, Langille continued to draw for his own pleasure and to keep in practice. “One of the jobs I had was machine operator and while I was operating the machine I would draw,” he says. “The supervisors didn’t like it, but one of my supervisors actually bought some art off me, and it was really then that I started to pursue it.”
That piece of art, a hand-drawn rendition of the famous photograph of Muhammad Ali standing over a knocked out Sonny Liston from their famous 1964 bout, got Langille thinking once again about the business of making art. Still, as a man with responsibilities, he had to be practical. “Drawing comic books is wonderful, but it’s a hard business to break into and it’s a hard business to be lucrative at,” says Langille.
While on parental leave from work, Langille began to volunteer with the Rogers community cable channel in Guelph. With Rogers, he trained and worked as a cameraman, both in studio and rink side at OHL hockey games. This surprising new acumens in the field of videography got Langille thinking about new opportunities, and he found one: Synn Studios.
The year was 2008 and the Studio was in its infancy. Langille’s wife Kathy knew Synn co-founder Thomas Gofton and made the introductions. Langille came aboard the Synn as a camera operator and production assistant, but it didn’t take long for the need for Langille’s other talents to surface. “What it all really stemmed from was that Tom had a project that he needed art work for,” remembers Langille. Soon after, the artist finally took the plunge and Synnister Art was born.
The definition of “art work” though soon came to encompass new artistic avenues through film work like storyboarding and conceptual designs. “I love drawing characters and taking people’s vision and coming up with the original visual,” Langille says, adding that he’s found the freedom of design work to be as rewarding, if not more so, than creating comics. “When you do a comic book it’s a team effort with the inking and the colouring, but when you do concept art it all starts right there.”
Coming up this year, Langille will be collaborating with the Guelph Society of Comic Creators in creating the first edition of their anthology Spotlight, as well as creating a comic book version of the Synn Studios webseries Mind’s Eye. He’ll also be illustrating his first children’s book and designing a logo for a Toronto-based dance company. Additionally, Langille will be separating his business and personal artistic pursuits by creating RobLangille.com. His main business will still be the Synnister Art label, now an independent company that’s partnered with Synn Studios rather than being a subsidiary of.
As for dreams, Langille says that he’s now looking less to be the next Todd McFarlane, and more like the next Ralph McQuarrie, the conceptual artist that did the initial designs of the Star Wars universe for George Lucas. “I just love the idea that somebody wants my artwork,” says Langille. “That’s what every artist wants, if they’re not just in it for the art or the message aspect of it.”
-Adam A. Donaldson, editor