has been adding to the complex art system of
this city. He not only brings his art to the
comic page, but also in music; merging the
two together in his new work, “The Hawk of
New York”. Creases had the luck of getting a
killer cover designed by him for this October
issue and took a moment to find out more
about the artist.
Well, it kind of depends. I may not even qualify for that lofty of a title ("Professional Comics Artist") just yet, but I certainly aspire to be that. I do qualify to call myself a professional in the sense that I obtained an art degree and make comic books that I believe to be of professional-grade quality. I would stack them right next to comics put out by publishers like IDW, Bluewater, Dark Horse, etc. I got the degree some time ago- over a decade now- but I kind of mark the beginning of my entry into the "pro" comics market when I completed illustrating a 33-page space noir epic called Privateer about five years ago. I did a ton of amateurish efforts way back in high school though during the dawn of the internet.
The cartoonists from the pages of the daily newspaper the Arkansas Democrat/Gazette kept the spark alive. I used to read that section every morning before (and sometimes after) school. I wasn't too particular about what I read in those days because I was pretty limited to rural pharmacy and grocery store newsstands, antique and junk stores, and garage sales. I do remember Norm Breyfogle being the first artist I really started following because he had this great fluidity and unusual name that helped make it memorable. But I think artists like Jose Garcia Lopez, Jim Aparo, Neil Adams and Bruce Timm were probably more subconsciously influential. In my later years it became Frank Miller, Tim Sale, and Sean Gordon Murphy.
I'm currently relaunching a comic character I conceived when I was about twelve years old. It's called the Hawk of New York and is the first in a planned arc of roughly 35 issues. I am very proud of it, and especially of all the help I've received in making it a reality. It is the very first comic book in the industry to also have its own supporting soundtrack. The launch consists of a two part story that pretty much any fan of outlaw superhero comic books can enjoy. I hail from the South, and growing up I always thought it odd that most superheros were from New York, so this is kind of my commentary on that and on superhero origin stories in general. With this character, I'm influenced a great deal by Ghost Rider, Batman, and the Crow although when I first conceived him I think I must have watched part of an old Streethawk episode between Night Rider and the A-Team shows, though I have no real memory of ever watching that show.
Primarily I'd like to see better distribution of indie comics and zines, better opportunities for indie artists, and a marked reduction in corporate comics made by committees and marketing people instead of artists and other creatives. There is so much innovation and talent out there that the industry doesn't seem to know what to do with it due in large part to the monopolistic control of a certain print distributor who "doesn't believe in second place efforts." I'm sure Action Comics wasn't a bestseller when it first came out, you know the one that is currently bidding for over 2 million dollars on eBay right now? Did "Guardians of the Galaxy" fly off the shelves when it was introduced back in 1969? I know the soundtrack to that is currently the #1 download and it is all older music much like what is on my soundtrack. I can go on and on. Basically, I think this "first place winners only" philosophy is garbage, ultimately self-serving, and destructive to the industry. I'm crazy enough to believe that there is still room for good print distributors of small press if it is done right. Everyone thinks digital is somehow the wave of the future. I'd like to point out that we still have oil paintings despite having color photography. What the oil painting means today is far different than in times past. It's kind of exciting in that we all have a role to play in exactly what meaning print takes on in the future. There is no way it is extinction though- I mean I am typing this on a Qwerty keyboard- something invented well over 100 years ago and still in use despite it being "surpassed" by ergonomic and more orderly designs.
I've done more cons this year than any previous year, about a dozen or so. really hard to pick a favorite. I was pretty thrilled to actually make money at Heroes Con, the biggest con I've ever attempted. The smaller cons are great (Atlanta South Comic Con, Northwest Georgia Collector's Con, etc). I think I prefer smaller scale affairs. People tend to be more receptive to what I am doing at those and I can actually have decent conversations there. Some of the best cons I've been to were SC Comic Con in Greenville, Gnomecon in Savannah, and most recently the River City Comic Expo out in Little Rock. I've yet to have my release party here in Augusta as of this writing and I think it qualifies as a mini-con. I am 100% positive that will be my favorite con of the year.
Hopefully I can include trade paperbacks in this answer! I'm assuming I would be reading these. My standbys plus at least half of good comics I haven't read yet would need to be in that box. I like exploratory reading so I'd be open to some surprises. There are actually only a few that I still refer back to from time to time, because I am a once-and-done kind of reader most of the time. My finished comics would all need to be there, especially all of my Hawk of New York stuff, Watchmen would certainly be there, Best of DC Comics Blue Ribbon DIgest no. 2, featuring all the best Batman stories in one volume up until about 1984, Batman: The Killing Joke, McCloud's Understanding Comics, Essential Ghost Rider vol. 1, The collected Crow, Sean Gordon Murphy's Punk Rock Jesus, a CGI graded copy of Action Comics no. 1 (hey I have be able to buy my way back into society somehow if I ever make it off that island, plus the shiny plexiglass would double as a signalling device.)
Murder, motorcycles, punk rock, and Indian magic abound; set in the 1980's fictional town of Mohawk Springs, NY, The Hawk of New York chronicles the coming of age of orphan Eric Warden. On the verge of being kicked out of a corrupt orphanage and into a boot-camp-like juvenile delinquency program, Eric Warden, a half-Indian, half-white orphan with a mysterious past starts a fight and gets beaten up, but when Howard Olive, the school’s motorcycle-riding shop teacher, intervenes, Eric must learn how to channel his desire for anarchy towards more constructive ends before his entire future becomes as lost as his past.
Another pretty special thing about this series is the great Groovy Gary Friedrich of Ghost Rider acclaim has agreed to use his likeness as one of the characters. The move to use his likeness as one of the characters makes sense since this series is in the outlaw genre and will eventually feature Eric as the protagonist anti-hero motorcycle avenging vigilante.