Kyle Pumyea Huston has been drawing since he was a child.
“My favorite character to draw was Sonic the Hedgehog. I would draw him over and over again in different poses. I taught myself to draw freehand that way,” Huston said.
Huston’s parents immediately took notice of his interest in drawing and enrolled him in art classes throughout his childhood. “My high school art teacher was a big booster. My mother passed away in my senior year and (the teacher) … really helped me push through with my final year project: a big 4x4 black and white family portrait of a mother and her two sons,” Huston said.
He was given a classical art education but his focus is comic art or “sequential art.”
“Any art with a narrative focus really interests me: comics, illustrations, storyboards, et cetera,” he said. “If you look at my art these days you will notice a strong influence from Mike Mignola, the creator of ‘Hellboy.’ I believe in being true to your medium, and I think Mignola’s accomplishes that with his graphic/stylized art and storytelling. It is incredibly effective and simple,” Huston said.
“Comics don’t have a lot of time or space to make their point, so I value directness in my comic art. In addition to Mignola, I like Frank Miller’s work from ‘Sin City,’ and I’m a huge fan of Dan Mora and any artist who can effectively use their spot blacks and negative space,” he said.
Manga, Japanese comics, have also been a big influence in his art.
“Manga artists convey a lot emotion and information with just a little line art, and I love that,” he said. “Even the panel layout, with tons of bleeds, really effectively leads the eye.”
Originally from the small coastal town of Hull, Massachusetts, Huston, 31, has for the past eight years been living in Crescent City, which proves difficult in his line of work but also brings opportunities.
“Being an artist in Crescent City, especially one that moved here from elsewhere, isn’t easy,” Huston said. “It’s a small market, so thank god for the Internet. I get most of my work online. So far all of my biggest and best jobs have come from my online portfolios.
But recently, my wife and I bought a house in Crescent City, and I have redoubled my efforts to reach out to the local art scene.”
“I try to be a full-time artist,” he said. “But sometimes you need a day job so you can make art. I have been told by some to work just enough for food and roof so you can devote everything else to artwork — just making product, and if you are lucky someone will like it and buy. It is not necessarily a recipe for success, but it is a recipe for happiness.”
As for other jobs, Huston has done it all: dishwasher, busboy, server, cook, laborer, ship hand, workshop hand, landscaper, tour guide, painter, graphic designer, in the medical field “and it looks like teaching is going to be the next one,” he said.
As of now, he has been volunteering with the California Redwoods Art Association and their gallery on 2nd Street.
“We teach art classes every week for a few weeks during the summer, some painting and crafting. Naturally I’m teaching kids about comic art and illustration. The California Redwoods Art Association also helped me a lot on July 4. They helped me get a table/booth for the day, and I was able to set up shop, promote and even sold copies of my latest comic project, Caliber Comics’ “The Shepherd,” Huston said.
The Internet and working with other artists have opened many doors for Huston.
“I have worked with a lot of people because of all the commission work. But I am also a freelance with Caliber Comics,” he said. “I’ve created comic covers for them, but most of my work has been with Andrea Molinari and his son Roberto Molinari. They are the authors of ‘The Shepherd.’ They saw my work online and hired me to help with their second volume of Shepherd comics. That was a great project because I was one of several artists involved in that comic. A lot of my best work has been collaborative.
“The story is essentially an allegory for PTSD, focusing on soldiers and warriors in the afterlife,” HUston said. “They are effectively trapped by their own trauma in limbo, what we in the story call ‘The Seam.’ The Shepherd and his family relive their trauma and try to sort through it so they move on. We had four veterans from different places and eras, each inside their own head. To represent this, each character was given a different artist and style to reflect their own point of view and experience. It was quite a feat.”
In Huston’s words, “art is as vital to an education as reading or mathematics. Art comes as naturally as speech and is vital to communicate to those around you.”