What first got you into comics?
Bullies! Bullies got me into comics because it kept me inside the house, which meant I had plenty of time to read. As a kid, the 7-11 was the closest thing to a newsstand so I would buy all my comics there and just dive into them. Then I came across Batman #255 which was the “Moon of the Wolf” story. I was instantly captivated by Neil Adams’s artwork. I read it over and over again and I just loved it. It made me a fan. The best was when he signed a copy for me.
Is there any character you HATE to draw?
Batman. Love him as character, hate drawing him. Too many shadows because of that cape of his and that fact that he’s a creature of the night doesn’t help. (Laughs)
Who is your favorite character of all time?
Shazam. Always loved reading him and drawing him is SO much fun. I just love the concept behind him. The idea of a boy becoming a hero. He’s the idealized version of heroic innocence and he is the personification of it. He wasn’t born out of tragedy, he wasn’t a science experiment. His powers are purely magic and he has a clear idea of who he is. I like that he was a street urchin that becomes a superhero and just has FUN!
Do you think Shazam should be a member of the JLA again?
No, I feel that they haven’t developed him enough as a character yet. Writers need to focus more on that so he can stand on his own and THEN incorporate him. I feel that his battle should be more within himself, which is something they haven’t tapped into yet. He was born out of humor and embodies nostalgia from the ‘40s at a time when it’s no longer relevant. He fights that now because we live in a world that’s much less innocent than from when he was created. I feel the spirit of it is good, the ideal is sound and whatever we do with him now will create nostalgia for future generations.
Did you hear that Zachary Levi has been as Shazam for the movie that debuts in 2019?
That’s interesting. No, I didn’t know that and I have yet to see him in interviews and such, but I’m looking forward to it. I think he’s spot-on.
What’s the toughest thing about being in comics today?
The infusion of cheaper talent from overseas and that everything is corporate-tized right now. Money does the talking. Whatever works, works. I feel the industry is doing the same thing over and over again. You kill off characters, resurrect them, do another cross-over event. It’s been circling for years. The guys from Image and Valiant—they did their own thing! I liked that they were bold and did something that was against the grain. It’s time to start rethinking. There’s plenty of independents. You just gotta open your eyes and try new stuff.
Another bleak question…(Rags laughs) what’s the hardest thing about the creation process? How do you come up with something new in an industry where it has “all been done before.”
Don’t worry so much about “what’s new”, just think about making the BEST story you can from the concepts you have and do THAT! Just think about story adaptation and writing from the writer’s POV with the artist in mind. Think about the characters and their supporting cast. Play opposites. Make them three dimensional characters that live and breathe the same air we do. Who they are. How they got there. Where they are going. Write so the artist can push themselves and literally draw INTO the dialogue.
What do you love about comics overall?
I like odd characters. The Creeper. The Demon. Canterbury Cricket. Beta Ray Bill. Bug from the Micronauts. Strange but fun. Anything that gets me to draw outside of the standard superhero.
What’s the BEST advice you have for young artists today?
Don’t come into this with style! Learn how to draw first. Style should come naturally and drawing is a mastery of a culmination of things. Just keep drawing and learning every day and the rest will settle unto itself. Joe Kubert once said, “If someone looks at your work and tells you to quit, and you do, they are probably right.” Make sure this is what you want, and if you don’t love it, don’t do it.