Travis Charest (born 1969) is a Canadian comic book penciller, inker and painter, known for his work on such books as Darkstars, WildC.A.T.s, Grifter/Shi, WildC.A.T.s/X-Men: The Golden Age and The Metabarons. He is known for his detailed line work and muted color palette, and is a much sought-after cover artist, having done extensive cover work for many other books, such as various Star Wars series from Dark Horse Comics.
Charest was born in 1969. He began drawing at as a child, attributing his artistic interest his mother, who he says, like he and his sister, also has artistic talent. Charest grew up on farm in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Charest cites Mike Mignola, Adam Hughes and Brian Bolland among his artistic influences, as well as many artists from the early 20th century.
Because he grew up on a farm, Charest was isolated from the comics industry, and says the main reason he eventually turned to comics as a profession was because he could draw, having been through a number of dead-end jobs because deciding that comics was his calling. After sending samples to DC Comics, he was offered his first comics job, a Flash story in Showcase '93 #3 (March 1993). He followed that with another Flash story in Flash Annual #5 (August 1992), which he calls "my first real thing", and then a story focusing on an arm wrestling match between the Hulk and the Thing written by Peter David in Incredible Hulk Annual #18.
He later became the regular artist on Darkstars for issues 4 - 7. He also produced cover work for other DC titles such as The Outsiders, Batman, and Detective Comics.
Charest was then contacted by publisher Jim Lee, who offered him work for Wildstorm Productions. Charest's first work for that studio was a pinup that appeared in WildC.A.T.s #0 (June 1993). Later that same year, he illustrated WildC.A.T.s Special #1 (November 1993). He subsequently illustrated back-up stories featuring Voodoo and Warblade in issues 8 and 9 of the regular series (February and March, 1994). He became the regular artist of the series with issue #15, illustrating the title during the runs of writers James Robinson and Alan Moore. His last regular issue was #31 (September 1996), though he later returned to illustrate the title's 50th issue (June 1998).
In 1999, Charest joined writer Scott Lobdell on a second series of Wildcats, illustrating five of the first six issues. He subsequently moved to Paris to illustrate a Metabarons graphic novel for French bande dessinee publisher Humanoïdes Associés. With plans to paint the entire graphic novel, the progress on the book went much more slowly than Charest had anticipated, and he illustrated only the first 29 pages of the book. Humanoid Publishing selected Serbian artist Zoran Janjetov, who previously worked in the same Alejandro Jodorowsky Incal universe on John Defaul and Technopriests, to complete the art chores for the project.
By 2007 Charest had moved back to the United States, settling in California. Among his works are cover art for David Morrell's Captain America: The Chosen mini-series. He has also been running the free webcomic strip Spacegirl on his MSN group. In 2008, a limited edition printed volume hardcover of Spacegirl was self-published by Charest and Big Wow Art, collecting the first 56 strips of the series.
Technique and materials
Charest usually prefers not to employ preliminary sketching practices, such as layouts, thumbnails or lightboxing, in part due to impatience, and in part because he enjoys the serendipitous nature in which artwork develops when produced with greater spontaneity. He also prefers to use reference only when rendering objects that require a degree of real-life accuracy, such as guns, vehicles or characters of licensed properties that must resemble actors with whom they are closely identified, as when he illustrated the cover to Star Trek: The Next Generation: Embrace the Wolf in 2000.
Charest previously illustrated on regular illustration board provided by publishers, though he disliked the non-photo blue lines printed on them. By 2000, he switched to Crescent board for all his work, because it does not warp when wet, produces sharper illustrations, and is more suitable for framing because it lacks the non-photo blue lines.
Charest uses mainly 2H lead to avoid smearing, and sometimes HB lead. For ink wash, he uses Rapidograph ink, and waters it down to three hues in order to achieve light gray, medium and charcoal tones, in addition to straight black. He applies the wash with watercolor brushes of various sizes. To ink linework he uses Rapidographs of all sizes. For color work, Charest uses Aquarelle watercolor pencils and acrylic paint for airbrush work. He also uses white Pelikan ink for additional effects such as highlights, fades and blends. Charest stated in 2000 that while he did not use a computer for his artwork, he would be using one soon, and anticipated they would be a necessity for professional artists.
According to Charest, the time he needs to finish a given page varies, depending on how fast his editor needs it, and what he is being paid, though because he came to prefer producing artwork that takes longer than the norm to complete by the time he left Wildstorm, he no longer finds it feasible to be the regular artist on a monthly series. He points to WildC.A.T.s/X-Men: The Golden Age as an example of a book that took him considerable time (under a year), though he stresses that he finished it on time.
Charest's work has influenced artists such as Chrissie Zullo and Shelby Robertson.
As of 1995, Charest was living in San Diego, California.