PERSONAL: Male. Education: Art Institute of Pittsburgh, associate's degree (high honors), 1990; studied at Northwest Artist School, 1998; at 911 Media Arts Center, 1999, 2000; and with artist Henry Stinson, 2003. Hobbies and other interests: Acting, traveling, painting.
ADDRESSES: Home and office—4232 2nd Ave., NW, Seattle, WA 98107. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Digital artist and graphic novelist. Freelance illustrator, 1988–. Carson Industries, Freeport, PA, art director, 1993–94; Take 2 Entertainment, Latrobe, PA, digital artist, 1994–98; BOSS Game Studios, Redmond, WA, concept design lead, 1998–2002; Cinemachine, Los Angeles, CA, creative consultant, 1999–2003; SURREAL Software, Seattle, WA, art lead, 2002; Suckerpunch Productions, Bellevue, WA, contract artist, 2004. Freelance concept and digital artist for video games and film, 2004–. Worked as a storyboard artist, animation inker and painter, comic-book illustrator, sculpting director, and three-dimensional modeler for video game industry.
North Country (graphic novel), NBM ComicsLit (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: In his graphic novel North Country, digital artist Shane White explores the tumults of his upstate New York childhood. White uses a nine-panel grid format and bright colors to illustrate his memories. At the book's opening, an adult White is traveling to his parents' home to see his sister's new baby. On the airplane, he begins to evoke some of the dismal facets of his childhood: the repeated rage of his abusive, philandering father; the harsh words of his confused and angry mother; the absence of emotional fulfillment that led White and his sister to become childhood rivals for an imaginary prize; the isolation of long, cold northern winters; and the difficulties surrounding being different in the social setting of school. At the end of the novel, after running through these reflections during his journey, White is able to greet his parents without anger or resentment. "It's a rare look inside, warts and all, about the effects of the choices we make and what it takes to correct them. So one can get on with life and not be weighed down by emotional discourse," White told Chris Burnham in an interview published on Comicon.com.
Writing for Booklist, reviewer Ray Olson termed North Country "a far from uncommon life story beautifully rendered." Similarly, Jason Sacks, writing for the Silver Bullet Comics Web site, described the book as "an amazing … graphic novel that is a triumph of craft and intelligence, passion and insight, subtlety and complexity." Sacks went on to acknowledge that "White is tremendously effective at using tricks of the comics trade to intensify mood" and described the artist's coloring work as "gorgeous." In a review for School Library Journal, Andrea Lipinski commented on the "deeply textured story" that "can be read again and again," allowing readers to discover "different nuances in the writing and artwork" each time.
"I've picked up some autobiographies from other authors and, frankly, didn't feel compelled to keep reading," White revealed to Burnham. "I wanted teeth, I wanted something raw. I wanted to make a book that would make people think, and ask themselves the hard questions. I think this book does that." When asked about his aspirations as an artist, White responded: "I'm hoping to have all of my comic book dreams meted out by the time I'm forty so I can pursue more film work, and painting!"
White told CA: "Santa got me this cool typewriter when I was six or seven. I immediately went to work writing my own newspaper articles for A.C.M.E., the fictional company in the Road Runner cartoons. I'd make up stories and then sit there and laugh at them. Of course my mother didn't get it at the time, but she was just glad I enjoyed it. When the ribbon was finished and dried up that was the end of that. And by that time I was interested in Mad magazine. I started writing and drawing my own magazines and stapling them together. I'd bring them to school and swap them with friends.
"In high school I had a creative-writing teacher named Mrs. Thibeault. She encouraged me from the get-go. I remember the last assignment I handed in was a seven-page comic. She told me after the class was done, 'Never give up writing. You're very talented and it could take you far.' That bit of encouragement went a long way with me. She was a stranger and she had no reason to be so nice, unless she was speaking the truth.
"My writing process at this early stage of the game is not set in stone. I start with the 'What if?' question that puts a character in a situation in a world during a particular time. From there I usually will have a clear beginning, middle, or end, or any combination of the three. I'll start by writing a bullet list of the biggest plot points and then write the subplot points in between, adding characters that support the story. That's technically what I do; artistically, I agonize for hours over the relevance of each and every item. If it doesn't move the story, it can't be used."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 2005, Ray Olson, review of North Country, p. 45.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2005, review of North Country, p. 943.
Publishers Weekly, September 26, 2005, review of North Country, p. 68.
School Library Journal, November, 2005, Andrea Lipinski, review of North Country, p. 180.
Bookslut Web site, http://www.bookslut.com/ (February 4, 2006), Carrie Jones, review of North Country.
Cinemachine Web site, http://www.cinemachine.net/ (January 24, 2006), "Profiles: Shane White."
Comicon.com, http://www.comicon.com/ (January 24, 2006), Chris Burnham, "Voyaging to North Country with Shane White" (interview).
Shane White Home Page, http://www.shanewhite.com (January 24, 2006).
Silver Bullet Comics Web site, http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/ (January 24, 2006), Jason Sacks, review of North Country.
Studiowhite, http://www.studiowhite.com/ (January 24, 2006), professional site of Shane White.
Time Online, http://www.time.com/ (October 6, 2005), Andrew Arnold, review of North Country.