I wanted to write a post that talked about some of the artists that influence me and my work. This post is not about me, but about my appreciation for these artists and their craft that I enjoy so much.
First and foremost, Bill Watterson blew me away with Calvin and Hobbes. To this day I read and laugh at this great comic strip. I appreciate the way he used Calvin’s wandering imagination to let us into that world. He would take some imaginary situation in Calvin’s head and the punchline would contain Calvin’s interaction with some ordinary situation. His friendship with Hobbes was amazing and the ambiguous nature of Hobbes existence to Calvin left the reader wanting to believe.
The most influential portion of Calvin and Hobbes in my work , if you haven’t guessed, is his adventures as Spaceman Spiff. Calvin’s journey through space in his little red saucer ship persuaded me to make Spark a space explorer. I had originally named Spark, "Spaceman Spectre"…Ultimately I changed his name to Spark and used SPECTRE as his occupation. SPECTRE is an acronym that stands for Space & Planetary Element Collector Tibari Research Explorer.
Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird:
Growing up, I loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not the cartoony and colorful Archie Comics version, but the dark and gritty, black and white Eastman and Laird originals. That was the first time that I realized that Black and White comics even existed. The concept for the TMN Turtles was way out there, but I loved it. The art style of Eastman and Laird’s was very unique as well.
One of my most prized comic possessions is a First Printing of the Original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue #4 in pretty good condition. I wouldn’t call it mint, but its in decent shape. I don’t really even think its worth that much money, but its not about the dollar value for me. I credit Eastman and Laird for getting me interested in Comics in the first place.
Michael Dooney is one of the many artists that "guest-created" several TMNT stories once Eastman and Laird started handing over the Shells to others. In my opinion, Dooney’s Turtle design is probably the best version out there and his stories were always entertaining. However, it was some of his original work that actually influenced me the most.
Michael Dooney created a short series called Gizmo. Gizmo is a robot traveller that goes on adventures with his fuzzy best friend, Fluffy Brockelton using his sentient, talking ship named Soto. I love his art also, which consists of mostly black and white comics. When I was younger, I tried copying a lot of his art techniques. In fact, I still use my Gizmo comic books as a reference. When I get stuck on a drawing something, I flip through my Gizmo comics to see how Michael Dooney might have drawn that.
One of my favorite Comic Books is a two part crossover story called Gizmo and the Fugitoid. This storyline started in some of the early TMNT comics and a one off book from Eastman and Laird called Fugitoid. The world Michael Dooney created for Gizmo and Fluffy is structurally similar to the world I created for the SPECTRE. Because of that, I think Michael Dooney has probably influenced and inspired me the most.
Mark Martin is another artist that contributed to the TMNT storyline. It’s Martin’s creativity in storytelling and humor that attracted me. His original character, Gnatrat, enjoyed a funny parody of the original, Michael Keaton/Tim Burton Batman movie. He also did a great parody of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie called Green-Grey, Sponge Suit Sushi Turtles which was just hilarious. Again, it is his outrageous style of storytelling and humor that influenced me the most.
From a comic layout standpoint, it’s the layers of "stuff" in the backgrounds that add so much to the humor. You can spend a long time just looking at all of the little jokes drawn into the background of his atypical comic panels layouts. The art is clean and solid and always drawn for the laugh.
Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley:
I credit these guys from bringing me back to the comic book store. I had stopped reading comics for a long time until I discovered Ultimate Spiderman. This series was a modern take on the original spiderman series with Aunt May being a hip older woman of the day and Peter being a high school kid with the spider powers.
I always loved Spiderman. He’s probably been my favorite Comic Book Hero since I was a kid. I collected the short lived Todd McFarlane Spiderman series back when I was in high school. But shortly after that I stopped reading and collecting comics. But when I discovered Ultimate Spiderman by Bendis and Bagley (and usually some other artist thrown in the mix) I couldn’t stop reading the series. I started late…they were probably on issue 50 or 60 when I discovered it. I became obsesseed with finding and owning each issue.
The team that created Ultimate Spiderman gave me excellent art and brilliant storytelling. I could never match that myself, but I aspire to do so.