Wed, 15 May 2013
Willaim Wray is a trip. Let me say that up front. He's a former comic book artist, former animator, former cartoonist, and present-day fine artist; but turns out his real superpower is that of storyteller. And his stories will trip you out.
If his name sounds familiar, it's because Wray went by "Bill Wray" back in his commercial art days. As Bill, he worked for animation houses like Spumco and Filmation, drew comics for companies like Marvel and Dark Horse, and was the one-man creative force behind Monroe, a strip he did for MAD magazine. Monroe ran in over 100 issues of MAD before a frustrated BIll finally hit the ejector button.
He also co-created Hellboy Junior in 1997 with his friend, writer-artist Mike Mignola. The series was a one-shot, but is fondly remembered by fans of the Anung un Rama universe.
During our conversation, Wray dropped a few names, but not at all in the douchey way. When one has had as varied a career path as him, one is bound to have run into everybody: Dave Stevens, Doug Wildey, Howard Chaykin, John Kricfaluci, Roy Thomas, Al Williamson, Tony Dezuniga, Alfredo Alcala, Jack Kirby, Ashley Wood, etc. Exhausting, right?
We jumped on board the Bill Train and held on for dear life as he regaled us with tales that will curl your hair. And he also shared some insights into his life now as a fine artist; a pusuit he finds richly satisfying, but replete with its own unique challenges.
Oh, and please pick up a copy of Wray's new art book from Brandstudio Press called Monolith. It's his second book with Brandstudio and looks to be 48 pages of full-color, full-bleed, urban landscape awesomeness!
Thanks for checking out the interview. William Wray was a hoot. And a trip.
Mon, 6 May 2013
I think we got us a series, y'all. Welcome to our third Bookshelf Babble-On!
If you haven't listened to our previous installments, the premise of this series is this: We go to our respective bookshelves, pick a book we like, and try not to bore everybody for the next hour. It's that simple.
Dwight's choice for this episode was an old favorite in terms of the artist: Luis Royo's "Third Millennium". One part art book, one part narrative, and all parts apocalyptic; Royo's hauntingly beautiful art details the story of a physically deteriorating man who replaces his dead body parts with mechanical ones. It also explores the untraditional romance he has with the woman he pines for with the ultimate of contrasts: flesh against metal.
Dwight has mentioned Royo's name fondly on this podcast and in person, so it was fun hearing him officially wax poetic on the pathos within one of Luis' stories.
My pick was "Sharaz-de: Tales from the Arabian Nights" by the late Sergio Toppi. As most know, Toppi passed away last year. And being a relatively new fan, I was determined to get one of his books on my bookshelf sooner rather than later. So, when Archaia Entertainment announced that they were putting out an English language edition of "Sharaz-de", let's just say that like Marcellus Wallace: "I was on the motherf*cker, Jules".
The story is a classic tale of evil spirits, despotic kings and supernatural intrigue, and it is gorgeous to behold. If you don't know Toppi's work, you ought to be ashamed — ashamed, I say!
Adrian's book was a curve ball, folks. You do a podcast with a guy for a few years and you think you know him. Not so much. "The Adventures of Jodelle" by Guy Peellaert and Pierre Bartier is as pop art as pop art can be. And who knew Adrian really dug that stuff?! (Not us.)
Though "Jodelle" has been a sensation in Europe for decades, Peellaert wasn't even a comic book artist when he created it. He was a Belgium advertising dropout who wanted to try comics as another medium of expression. Rumor has it, Peellaert often made up the story page-by-page as he drew it.
"The Adventures of Jodelle" is an sexy, anachronistic romp filled with the juicy visuals and aesthetic of the emerging counter-culture of the mid-1960s. And to be even more subversive, Peellaert appropriated the visage of real-life French teen idol Sylvie Vartan as his heroine, Jodelle.
Also, 'Jodelle' was first run in the French magazine Hara-Kiri, which was also home to several early efforts of Moebius (Jean Giraud)!
Thanks for checking out another Babble-On, 'Nation. We appreciate the ears. More interviews and roundtables a-coming!
Sun, 14 April 2013
Two names existing as a monolith of singular vision. A vision that can conjure tales of gunfighters riding the arid trails of the Old West, to alternate worlds with towering mega-cities, to the farthest expanse of the imagination.
When Jean Giraud aka Moebius died a year ago, social media amongst his fans went nuts! It is not hyperbole to say that Giraud was one of the few living artists whose work was universally admired and loved by everyone.
He is missed.
To mark the anniversary of his passing (March 10, 2012), we took an hour to remember Moebius. Words could hardly encapsulate the breadth of this career, though we do try. Thanks for stopping by and taking a listen.
**In honor of Blueberry, we threw an Easter egg at the end of this one discussing our favorite westerns. Stay til the end credits roll, 'Nation!
Mon, 1 April 2013
With a career spanning over three decades, John Romita, Jr. has come to be known as "Mr. Marvel" or simply "JRJR". Like his father, John Romita, Sr., his name is practically synomynous with Marvel Comics as he has depicted nearly every character in the company's universe.
With a style typified by solid storytelling and powerful visuals, JRJR puts the 'super' in super-heroes. He is as adept at illustrating tales of street-level crimes as he is with capturing the majesty of galaxy-spanning demigods.
Romita, Jr. has been a personal favorite of mine since my first issue of his Iron Man run (#258, to be exact). I got it as part of a 3-for-$2 grab bag when I was a young teen. Shortly thereafter, I started collecting anything I could find of his: Uncanny X-Men, Daredevil, Punisher War Zone, Daredevil: Man Without Fear, and of course, Amazing Spider-Man.
But JRJR's success and longevity have not come without joys and pains as we discover in our conversation. He details his early career wrought with accusations of nepotism, and his mission to establish his own artistic identity apart from that of his legendary dad.
John also regales us with hilarious stories of the 1980s-era Marvel bullpen and him being the first (and only) Marvel "Hunk of the Month". And he speaks warmly of his collaborations with writers Frank Miller, Ann Nocenti and Mark Millar, as well as inkers Al Williamson and Klaus Janson.
* Special thanks to our friend Warren Drummond for helping make this interview possible.
Fri, 22 March 2013
In a marketplace where digital is increasingly becoming the production standard for book covers and sci-fi/fantasy art, there are artists still dedicated to bringing fantastical visions to life with oil-to-canvas.
One of those artists is Dan Dos Santos!
In our conversation, we discuss working within the ever-changing field of sci-fi/fantasy art, his mentorship with illustrator Steven Stroud, love of comics, and the virtues of hard work instilled in him by his parents. Dan also relates his founding of the Muddy Colors blog and what the future may hold for it.
Dos Santos has worked for clients such as Disney, Universal Studios, Scholastic Books and Wizards of the Coast, and can be found online at dandossantos.com. He posts regularly on the aforementioned Muddy Colors blog as well, along with his fellow contributors.
Tue, 19 March 2013
In this latest edition of our 'Shine On' series, we focus on artist Tony Salmons. In the circles of comic book art, Salmons has been lauded for his energetic, avant-garde approach on titles such as Dakota North, Vigilante, The Mark and Doctor Strange.
A thinking man and an "artist's artist", Salmons is hailed by his peers as one of the brightest of their generation. However, many of those same peers will also relate that Tony seems plagued by misfortune, chronic lateness and the ruination of relationships in his professional and personal life.
Swain and I discuss these aspects of Salmons' career as well as his influences and his influence on other cartoonists.
**Special thanks to friend of the show Michel Fiffe for his excellent three-part interview with Salmons at The Factual Opinion. Many of the points from our conversation were culled from Fiffe's interview.
Wed, 27 February 2013
Despite our slightly misleading title, the conversation on the show today is pretty sober. And we were joined in it by a special guest, Wilfredo Torres — friend of the show and artist on The Shadow: Year One mini-series available right now from Dynamite Entertainment. It seemed apropos to ask Wilfredo on. Not only is he a stellar artist himself, but one look at his work will easily tell you what his influences are.
Or will it..?
Hence, the crux of today's roundtable. We chop up the nature of influence in comics and art. Why some artists transcend their influences while others do not. How far should said influences go? And can one be influenced in ways other than visually?
Check out the discussion and see what you think. Our goal with the talk was to take a conversation we have all had privately with our buddies, and bring it to the fore. Hell, you'll even learn to appreciate the greatness that is Curt Swan if you don't already. (Shame on you if you don't!)
Fri, 22 February 2013
Today's conversation is with visual development artist/instructor Nathan Fowkes. Fowkes' career in animation of nearly two decades has included work with clients such as DreamWorks, Disney and Digital Domain, and spans feature films like The Road To El Dorado, The Prince of Egypt and Shrek Forever After. He shares some enlightening and funny anecdotes about working in the field of "entertainment arts".
Nathan also details his experience as an instructor; teaching classes in charcoal portraiture and use of color and light. And as Fowkes reveals, he once had a famous artist in his class and didn't even know it. (It's great, too!). Allow us to say that you owe it to yourself to discover Fowkes' masterful charcoal drawings and vibrant watercolors.
He can be found online at nathanfowkes.blogspot.com. Tell him SiDEBAR sent you!
Fri, 1 February 2013
Belated Happy New Year, 'Nation!
The Tres Amigos are recovered and ready to bring you the art funky like none other. First, we have some unfinished business from last year as we present Dwight with his belated Christmas gift (it's good, too!). Then, Swain and I give thanks for bundles of amazing books that we received from friends of the show (Thanks, Derek and Colby!).
Then it's our Feature Presentation of the roundtable segment we like to call 'Run For Your Life'. For the uninitiated, this is the segment where Dwight, Swain and myself each choose a run of comics that impacted us personally and chop it up. Dwight chose Fantastic Four issues 279-281, Swain chose Amazing Spider-Man issues #18-22 and I chose The Invaders issues #1-28, plus the Giant-Size Annual PLUS the What If? issue #4. (It all fits together, trust me.)
Hope you enjoy the talk and here's to an awesome 2013!
Mon, 31 December 2012
Of course, on this last episode of 2012, we reflect a little and celebrate a lot. Plenty of great interviews were had this year, tons of fulfilling conversations, some big belly laughs, and even a few cries. It's been a good one, 'Nation.
Thank you sincerely for hanging out with us over the last twelve months. We couldn’t have done it without you all.
Thank you to each and every guest who made the time to come on the show and chat. You are appreciated! *Tupac voice*
Thank you to Graham Crackers Comics for continuing to be the best sponsor around. John, you and the guys are the best!
And my personal thanks to Dwight and Adrian for having my back on these here mics. The three of us form a unit like Voltron, yo!