What got you interested in being an artist?
As a young child I noticed my Father making paintings and sculptures. His paintings included nature, portraits and abstracts. Then I was surrounded at the same time by T.V. cartoons and newspaper comic strips. As I got more interested in classic films I wanted to draw the actors. In later years nature, newer movie personalities, comic book heroes and classical art were discovered. The study towards finer images does go on as long as the artist cares to improve and experiment so who wouldn't be inspired who has the least will and excitement to do so? For those who don't know, it is a one- of- a-kind great sensation to create something and the charm doesn't fade.
What do you find most challenging about being an artist?
There is more than one challenge in drawing, or doing any of the arts. The fact of being sensitive enough to recreate life, emotion, texture or a thousand-word story in a single picture often leaves one too emotionally complex to deal with the often coarse world we live in.
One can feel alien in his own home, school or world as the creative individual tends to behave very differently from most people. One has to acclimate to seeming very unusual in groups and either embrace being unique or, at times, assimilate.
Other difficulties occur in business when styles ,films, galleries and publications change or disappear, and when there is "down time" in between commercial projects. It can be a challenge to survive if one is not under the wing of say; a secure publisher... if one has not a "day job" to fall back on. Some of us who are obsessed about our work and are furiously chasing excellence do not have time or energy for a non-art job so that has to be dealt with if one does not have a friendly ,rich relative. And it is simply unlikely for most truly expressive artists to have a guarantee of fame or even steady work so one must love what they do to get by happily in life.
What are some of your favorite pieces you have done? What makes them special?
I- I liked several drawings that I did for a news letter about Laurel and Hardy. They were two of the funniest comedians in old, short films. The newsletter was aimed at the members of a club that appreciated the films. I got off some pretty spot on caricatures and take offs of them and some of their co stars and went to a good sized convention centered around them. My friend Ed Golick spearheaded the newsletter and wrote jokes and articles.
2- I got together with Ed again and decided to create an (ink wash) montage of Jimmy Stewarts' film roles. We sent it to him as a tribute back when he was in his, I think, late seventies. We expected no reply but he sent us a very kind hand-written note and the drawing ended up in the Jimmy Stewart museum.
3- I worked a number of years ago on a series for Caliber press and later Arrow comics. It was called OZ, then DARK OZ then LAND OF OZ. It's the most extended single comic series I've been involved with. It had the distinction of featuring more of the supporting characters from the original Frank Baum books than any other modern Oz work, comic or otherwise. I was able to use different styles, hone my inking style and did many covers in very different media. The comics are numbered with many other comic book versions of Oz but we had an epic feel and I thought a good soap- operatic factor. Copies of the book reside in the Oz museum in Baum's home town in New York state.
4- I followed on the heels of my old mentor, Neal Adams and created posters and sculptures of the main characters for the Detroit production of Warp, the worlds' first and only science fiction play in serial form. For those who don't know, it really was a funny and dramatic space opera on stage which took three separate performances to see. I was very gratified by the attention I received and had a great time seeing the play, which I had already seen in Chicago.
I really like you mash ups. What is your thought process when you decide what to mash with something else?
These are based on the sketches that artists make at conventions when they get a funny idea or a customer or friend wants to see some kind of crazy new character made out of two or more known ones. It's also from many things found in Mad Magazine or some of the parody books that Marvel and D.C. published. So it's a common idea.
My takes may be different because I sometimes do large, epic group shots and I try to match a super hero up to the power or personality of the humor character. Sometimes one knows just what characters have been mixed and sometimes not because not everyone knows the characters I'm referencing or I've unintentionally hidden one inside the other so there's no way to see him and it turns out to be a strange, new creature that you have to guess at. The other difference from other parody characters is probably found in my personal style, which doesn't merit explanation here. It's just what it is. The thought process, as suggested above, is ,what joins these two different characters... even in a small way? Then there's the question of what will look delightfully silly?
What do you when you have a block in the creative process?
I'm not infamous for having a lot of blocks because of the way I've trained and the fact of the passion that continually fuels me. Also, I can make it to a deadline with a subject that may be uninspiring because I am really interested in form and texture and a subject that is not exciting can become so with just a simple turn of my mind. This is not that it never happens at all. When it does and I can possibly push a deadline back slightly, any kind of break just about always works. The real difficult things that might block work tend to have all to do with unhappy business dealings and not a bottleneck of creative energy for me. Then I deal with it as well as possible or leave the project if there isn't enough cooperation. There's always another project.
Besides art, what other activities do you enjoy?
I've always been a music, film theatre type. I've been involved in morning radio, college and community plays and commercial voice overs. I have done extensive sculptures, puppets and costumes of the super hero and renaissance type.
I've been in bands and performed monologues and impressions at clubs. I like the convention circuit when it occasionally leads to different cities and like to see plays and visit museums. That's all art, though. Didn't you say; "besides art"? I guess there's not much besides art.