Drawn to the classics

Gareth Hinds’ graphic novels a new take on great works


Watertown author/illustrator Gareth Hinds stands before one of his artistic creations.

“We live in a world of art,” said Gareth Hinds, a Watertown artist and illustrator, who makes this statement come to life. From drawing in blank books at age 5, to rewriting classic stories as huge graphic novels as a grown adult, Hinds has accomplished a lot.

Hinds was born in 1971and went to school in Vermont. Hinds always knew he wanted to be an artist because he is an individual who has always loved drawing and started expressing his artwork “as soon as I could pick up a pencil.”

Hinds drew comic strips in middle school for fun and in high school he wrote and drew comic strips for the weekly school newspaper for two years. He also did editorial illustrations for the paper.

When he graduated high school, he decided to attend Parsons School of Design in New York. For his school assignments he designed comics and book covers, and while he was there, he began the 80-page journey of the graphic novel, “Bearskin.” This graphic novel was based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale.

Hinds finished “Bearskin” soon after college ended, but could not find anyone to publish his wonderful story. So he ended up self-publishing.

Next Hinds started to make adaptations of famous works, starting with “Beowulf.” It took him 18 months to finish and was also self-published. “Beowulf” was three sections long and each section was done differently. The first section had detailed drawings, the second section was paintings on wood, and the third section was made to look like stone.

He draws and writes everyday for hours and loves it because he feels free, but, he says, he tries to stay loose and relaxed with his drawings because that brings out his best work.

“I love all aspects of drawing and I like to draw from life,” said Hinds.

In his adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play, “The Merchant of Venice,’ Hinds added his own twist to this graphic novel by setting it in modern-day Venice. The book’s text begins in the form of the English language that we use now, but eventually it leads back to Shakespeare’s time.

Hinds decided to make the pictures in “The Merchant of Venice” drawn from life so it took many months of research. In order to capture the drawings, he went to Venice to experience the surroundings.

“I actually ended up basing some of the people I drew in the book on real people that I know [from the Boston area],” he said.

Drawing doesn’t happen overnight; it takes a lot of imagination and time. The average time it takes him to illustrate and publish a book is one year.

Another great piece of work he adapted was Shakespeare’s “King Lear” and that took 4-5 years to finish.

There are four of his books out now: “Beowulf,” “Bearskin,” “King Lear,” and “The Merchant of Venice.” “Beowulf” has been the most successful by far with 45,000 copies sold.

Not only has he made comic books out of great works, but he also worked for 12 years on PC and video games. “Cars,” “The Incredibles,” and “Ratatouille” were just some of the Nintendo DS titles that he has worked on.

Hinds lives and works right here in Watertown. He is now busy researching and publishing his latest project. He recently finished an adaption of “The Odyssey,” which will be published by Candlewick Press next fall. It is the book that he is so far most proud of because he loves the drawings and thinks it is going to be enjoyable for others.

“The Odyssey.” Perfect for Gareth Hinds; a new adventurous journey.

(For information on Gareth Hinds or to purchase any of his titles, go to www.garethhinds.com.)

— Dec. 16, 2009–