Friday, October 24, 2014
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Inteview with Comic Artist and Writer Benjamin Glendenning
by Song River
Song: Some of the busiest and most talented people are often those working the hardest in the background doing so much to help others. Benjamin Glendenning is one of the most giving and talented comic illustrators today. His passion began sometime around three years old when he found a pencil placed to paper could create a bat-mobile in his unique signature style! From that point, and with his father's comic book passions, his destiny unfolded... Why SkullJammer?
Is there a feeling of power behind taking a blank sheet, an idea from the mind, and bringing a character to life?
Benjamin: I’m not sure I would classify it as a sense of “power” more like a sense of Freedom, with two older brothers and living in the middle of farmland Michigan, comics and art became my vehicle to escape and have fun on my own terms.
Song: How difficult is creating for you? Do you find it comes easy, and natural? Has it always?
Benjamin: I think I got lucky as a kid, I had people ask the simple questions “have you made your own characters?” and “Are you going to draw a comic book?” believe it or not those simple questions to a kid opens the floodgates of possibilities. For me those simple questions at key moments made me come to the epiphany that I can indeed create my own worlds, and to some degree served as a direct challenge for me to do so. I’ve never had to wait for an idea, in fact it’s just the opposite, I have a stockpile of ideas I hope to one day bring to life.
Song: Some artists only replicate what has already been done, that is their passion. Do you enjoy creating new characters?
Benjamin: I do love creating new characters, but I also love to write and the world of serialized comic book writing is a perfect place to write stories that change and evolve characters, and that can be even more gratifying than creating all new ones.
Song: Do you have a favorite that is an established character to draw?
Benjamin: Hmm… I have a lot of favorites, I guess it depends on my mood. One that I started drawing VERY early on was Etrigan the Demon, My dad had the first issue and Jack Kirby art just blew me away as a kid.
Song: You are also a writer I understand. What comes first usually the character or the writing?
Benjamin: In the early days I had an accidental process, I would doodle on anything and at all times (school detention record to prove it) and through the freedom of visual experimentation I would kind of create stories and ideas about the weird things I doodled and then piece those together into stories. As I matured however I became fascinated with larger concepts and particular styles of storytelling and I would then create characters to fit those styles and concepts.
Song: Your list of projects is extensive, it isn’t something your boast about though. Do you prefer as a writer/artist to stay 'freelance' in your work or would you like to be assigned to a particular comic company and produce?
Benjamin: Ooooh this is a tough one. Let me start by saying I don’t boast because it’s not in my nature and I want my work to speak for itself. For the second part of this question, it’s complicated, I love comics and I love the industry but it’s one of those things where it’s easy to lose yourself to greed/fame and for me it’s all about creating things that are new and different and that I personally want to read, but being all about the art also leads to being very poor and not putting food on the table and so I strive to have a balance without losing my passion for the art. I would LOVE to work for DC or Marvel or draw TMNT for IDW (wink wink) on a contract for a period of time, and hopefully that happens eventually, in the meantime I’m going to continue to create and have fun.
“I guess it’s just the way I was raised, my parents are the most generous people in existence and I strive to be like them. With the HERO Initiative it just makes sense...”- Benjamin Glendenning
Song: List some of the projects you've been involved with or created yourself.
Benjamin: Well I started self-publishing comics back in high school, the first of which was called Skulljammer, other books I self-published over the years are R.I.F.T Rats , Doctor Dedhed, Superworld Presents and Tin Star Tex. Along the way I have contributed on many comics such as Image comics Shadowhawk, Hack/Slash and Dynamo five. And on many comics with my friend Tim Seeley such as the Toxic Avenger and other Tromatic tales, Loaded Bible and Colt Noble. Along with the HERO Initiative I have also contributed many covers to some of my favorite properties like Weapon X: Wolverine, Fantastic Four, the New Avengers, Uncanny X-men and the Walking Dead. In 2007 I fell into doing trading card art on the Marvel Masterpiece series and have since worked on Hundreds of well-known properties like Adventure Time, Lady Death, the Walking Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy, Greatest American Hero, Josie and the pussycats, Voltron and I even participated on the birth of some new properties like Zombies versus Cheerleaders (Which I also drew the comic that spun off from the cards).
Song: Who have been some your writer/artist heroes?
Benjamin: Tom Grummett (Superboy), Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo), Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters), Keith Giffen (Lobo, Legion of Super-heroes), Mike Parobeck (Justice Society of America) and the most influential would have to be Joe Staton (Green Lantern corps), Jack Kirby (Fourth world, Mister Miracle, the Demon) and Dan Jurgens (Booster Gold, Superman)
Song: Do you prefer participating in larger events (comic cons), or smaller events (in stores, etc)?
Benjamin: I kinda dig both, smaller events tend to be celebrating geekdom with fellow fans whereas larger events seem to be the opportunity to introduce our world to potential fans thirsty to discover new things. Both are fun in my book.
Song: Many people aren't aware of all the fund raising projects you're involved with. Wake Up and Draw, and Team Trinity are two recent ones. Why, why get involved using your talents?
Benjamin: I guess it’s just the way I was raised, my parents are the most generous people in existence and I strive to be like them. With the HERO Initiative it just makes sense, I want to grow old making comics but comic Artist/creators even in today’s market see little to nothing for their efforts, I give today so that maybe Karma will bless me with a long career that can be sustainable financially. As for Trinity, well she is a super sweet kid that’s had it rough and is she is just super tough, I want to be half as tough as she is, And since the only thing I’m passably good at is art, well then I’m going to use that to help.
Song: What draws you to helping others?
Benjamin: Ah I see what you did there “draws”… The only thing I’m passably good at is art and I have a blast drawing (it’s not work if you love it) and again I strive to be as generous as my parents.
Song: Jim Valentino is involved with the Hero Initiative, and you just participated in Wake Up and Draw in August. What got you involved in this project?
Benjamin: I had heard of the HERO Initiative from its inception, I thought it sounded great but I do like to thoroughly research the charities I contribute to. In the mid 2000’s I had met Josh Medors through my friend Tim Seeley, Josh had just been diagnosed with Spinal cancer and the HERO Initiative was immediately helping, and then I heard about Gene Colan’s HERO story and I actively looked into the organization and discovered that my friends Brian Pulido (Lady Death creator/writer), Michael Malve (Owner of Atomic Comics at the time, owner of Captured Planet media) and Jim Valentino (shadowhawk, Guardians of the Galaxy) were all board members, I then sought out Mike Malve to see if I could contribute and he immediately put me onto the Project 100 covers and since then I have befriended Jim McLauchlin and all the HI guys. About 3 years ago I heard about the first “Wake up & Draw” from my friend Tim Seeley and I jumped on it.
Song: Why are you a part of it, and what are you looking to do with the Arizona division of this in 2015?
Benjamin: Well the “Wake up & Draw” event is not only a great way to raise funds for the HERO Initiative but with Kirby4Heroes (the Kirby family) involved it’s a great way for industry guys to pay homage to one of the all-time greats, Jack Kirby, as well as spread awareness of Jack Kirby’s contribution to the foundation of the Comic book industry. The HERO Initiative would like to take August 28th (Jack Kirby’s b-day) and turn it into a nationwide event celebrated much like Free Comic Book Day. Arizona has the cream of the crop comic talent, an incredibly generous and supportive community which gives me high hopes that we can be the center of something very special.
Song: What is your favorite music to listen to while creating?
Benjamin: I listen to a lot of different things, but Metal is my preferred choice of tunes \m/
Song: Have any of your kids picked up the drawing/writing bug?
Benjamin: I only have one Daughter, and while she hasn’t expressed an interest in comics, she still is in the arts, she has devoted herself to Special effects make-up and Make-up effects for film… she’s my little Tom Savini.
Song: How has this passion become a joint family gathering?
Benjamin: My wife and Daughter help me very much, especially with conventions (this guy is not much of a multi-tasker) but also all of my colleagues like Jeff Pina, Val Brazier, Joseph Baker, Tony Parker, John Derrick West and all of my con-going, comic-making friends are to me, an extension of family…a big ole’ nerdy family ;)
Song: Finally, where do you want to take what you love to do? Goals for 2015 and beyond?
Benjamin: Like anyone, I would like for my comics and works to get into more people’s hands, I create stuff I would like to read and art I want to see, I just want to entertain and kick-start people’s imaginations. And the same goes for my charitable contributions, I would love to make a larger difference in a positive way.
To find out more and follow Benjamin's work and his charity work:
Interview with MJ Brown of The Delta Fifths
By: Song River
Some of the greatest blues music comes from the heart-felt souls of women. Recently, MJ Brown lead vox, and guitarist of, The Delta Fifths, sat down with me and shared where her passion comes from.
Song River: It's a pleasure to be able to talk to you today, MJ, and get to know another formidable powerhouse- female front of a band. There's something quite involved, and even notably sexy when a strong personality kicks it out in the realm of rock and rhythm.
MJ, I've always been intrigued as to how bands select their names, your band chose, The Delta Fifths. I am sure it isn't this complicated, but I am curious, as I read delta is a Greek word, and it is also used in coding applications.
MJ Brown: This is probably the most interesting take I’ve heard yet on the band’s name. When I came up with the band name I was thinking about music historically. I have a ton of old blues LP’s and “Delta Blues” is written on many of the covers. There's so much musical history from that part of the country – the delta. As we know before TV and the radio, people made their own entertainment. Gathering on the front porch for a musical performance was common. So the word “Delta” is about symbolization. I wanted our name to pay tribute to the heart-felt music played on the front porches of the past.
I’ll probably disappoint you with how I came up with the “Fifths” as it has no deep meaning what-so-ever. A fifth is a measurement for alcohol. We are a rock band and in a rebellious, yet covert way I decided using a drinking reference was a good twist to the name.
Song: Your sound has been described as, “music played and shared on front porch steps across America.” Today that can mean so many different things. As cultures now have rap, metal, pop, and hip-hop blaring from their front stoops... what does, “front porch steps across America,” mean to you?
MJ: The Fifths sound is defiantly influenced by the music played on the front porches of the past; blues, folk, and country. Each of us have our own reasons for being in this band, but for me personally, playing music at the end of the day is what gives me peace. So, whether I’m on my own front porch, the studio, or playing a show, I’m at peace if I have my guitar in hand.
Song: The band is quite a mixture of various genres, many influences coming together, do those assorted determinants ever work their way into the mix of music produced?
MJ: I think what makes us unique is we have gritty blues-tone all the way to an alt-country finesse. Different versions, and mixes of these sounds are the backbone of the fifths.
Song: What brought you into the music scene? Did you just wake up one morning and decide you could sing so you called up a few friends and said, “Hey, lets start a band!”
MJ: I think I have slowly eased my way into the Phoenix music scene. A little secret about me is that I have major stage fright. Due to this, I spent many years on the sidelines. I’d go out and watch bands play, and wish that I was in a band, but I was too afraid to actually start one. When I was twenty-seven I finally decided to jump. My progression didn’t happen over night and there have been struggles. My first lead guitarist was, RJ Naylor. RJ gave me confidence. He pushed me to believe in myself and I’m grateful for that. I look back at those days and I know I’ve come a long way. I’ll always be very honored to be a part of the scene here.
Song: When you sing, MJ, or even write do you ever feel you are channeling a singer you've always admired?
MJ: When I sing, I focus on one thing- and that’s being honest and sincere. When I write a song and then sing it to an audience I try to be vulnerable and genuine. Audiences are smart and can sense when you are being fake. I want those who listen or come to a show to feel a connection, and be apart of what The Delta Fifths are.
Song: As the principal song writer for the band, do you have a favorite time of day you like to write, or a place that helps you let the words flow?
MJ: Ha! Most of my best stuff comes out at night and over a bottle of red wine.
Song: How many songs in the last three years would you say you've written? Are there any that you've set aside, because they were just too hard to finish or the complete thoughts wouldn’t come?
MJ: Honestly, I can’t say how many songs I’ve written in three years. I know I’ve written a lot. Yes, there are some songs that are not finished, but that’s because that magical moment where the music and words become one hasn’t happen yet. The title track off the EP, Let the Record Play I wrote in about three minutes… it just flowed out of me. Adam Klawonn and I wrote Coochie Smith together in a matter of minutes as well. Songs that come effortlessly always seem to be the strongest.
Song: Did you write lyrics growing up? Were there any authors or writers that inspired you to become a song writer? Who were some of your favorites?
MJ: Oh yeah, I have a teenage angst lyric steno-pad. Lets hope no one ever finds it!! As far as authors, I love James Joyce, Hemingway, E.E Cummings, Poe, the classics. I don’t think I can say they inspired me to write songs, but they definitely inspired me to dig deep from within.
Song: Would you consider yourself to be a modern day blues singer?
MJ: Ha no! I just sing and hope it comes out good and this is the truth! I’m not joking!!
Song: How have you seen music progress over the last few years? Are you liking it or still waiting?
MJ: I am a fan of all types of music. I think music is constantly changing. Do I like everything that’s out there?, no, but I respect it and I regard the artists who create it. As musicians and song writers we all have the option to support one another, and that’s what’s so promising about the Phoenix scene here. Not long ago we played the Monte Vista in Flagstaff and a local jazz band, the Phoenician Four made the trip to support us. So overall, yeah I like what I see!
As far as the future, I’ll always be waiting for another song to blow me away.
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/thedeltafifths
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Carol Pacey and the Honey Shakers
CD Review: Yeah Yeah Yeah
“Americana Whip with a splash of beer”
by: Song River
Carol Pacey leads the posse known as, Carol Pacey and the Honey Shakers, an all original Americana, pull your boot straps up roots band, with a smattering of hard rock roped in with sticks of dynamite attached.
This is Carol Pacey and the Honey Shakers first album release, Yeah Yeah Yeah . CPHS are a massive explosion of Americana Whip with a splash of beer, vocally charmed in a duly noted woman driving her own caravan as her band mates strengthen the bolts and boards to carry this four wheeled buckboard up and over every hill. Nothing can stop this energetic led band as they have taken the Phoenix Valley by storm. CPHS is currently being spun around the airwaves all over the Valley and most recently internationally on The Lopsided World of L with well renown radio DJ- Jonathan L.
Their new album opens up and lets the honey begin to shake with their song, Do You Think Someday, which begs that old question... “do you think someday you'll care to know the new me... maybe someday?” Leading us into The Knitting Song as we unchain our hearts, and skip over to feeling our way to the next track knowing what a “good-for-nothing lying Fool” is. Epic Love Fail leaps from the grooves with wisdom, “You never find the love you want if you don't know what kind you're looking for.” CPHS's, Yeah Yeah Yeah, gives us a Happy Little Tune, and tell us that Rock and Roll Saves, and yes we all sing along in unison. Never short on determination and life's outlook their debut album rounds out with Roll My Way, asking even when things go wrong, “I'll try to appease and let some good times roll my way.” Carol Pacey and the Honey Shakers entry album, opens a whole new hive of music in a sweet, and tasty treat for all your musical senses. A throng of sweetness, and energizing droplets of Americana ReCharge!
The original line-up for their first CD release: Carol Pacey Lead Vox and acoustic, Andy Borunda Electric Guitar, Conrad Padilla (former bassist), Ben DeLuca with help from their friends: Jeff Quinonez on keyboards, Danny Torgersen on trumpet, and James Pope with Joseph Asselin on percussion.
CPHS's album, Yeah Yeah Yeah is a culmination that needs to not only slide into your play-list, but is something you must experience live. The explosive capacity of Lead vocalist, Carol Pacey, flirtatious in her jeans, cowgirl boots, and boho country charm, belts out her vocals as she constantly connects with her audience. Carol creates a relationship with each fan letting them know with her wicked smile upon her lips and sparkle in her eyes, that each person dancing and listening is a part of their rock n roll wagon!
Matching her is the powerhouse guitar work of Andy Borunda who brings any room into complete submission with each solo riff, as he transforms himself and his audience into becoming one with his masterful guitar work. Dante Fiorenza thumps his bass, and sets the course of each song as he drives in the mood hard, sweetly, and seductively with each pluck measured forth, and always keeping the beat with a passionate- let's have a good time strike- is their impeccable drummer, Ben DeLuca, who honestly shines in his pure love and enjoyment for what CPHS is creating together. And together they are Americana Power Pop or as I like to call their style Americana Crack an explosion of good times, groovy feelings and great country rock! Ready to set your mood off into the land of friends/family, Friday nights, music, and letting all your cares fall away.
*Carol Pacey and the Honey Shakers will be appearing September 26th on the Local KWSS stage for the Summer Ends Music Festival, at the Tempe Beach Park. For more information and to purchase your tickets visit: http://www.summerendsmusicfestival.info/
“We were honored and really excited when they asked us to play the Summer Ends Music Festival. Truth, I had already bought a three day pass before I knew we were playing; I was going regardless if we were playing or not! But then when we were asked to perform, I just couldn't believe it! Our band sharing such a huge festival with all of the other great local bands, most of whom we haven't played with yet locally, and then all of the national acts...mind blown!- Carol Pacey of Carol Pacey and the Honey Shakers.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Interview with Author and Illustrator:
Travis Hanson creator of the web-comic, The Bean.
By: Song River
“Life is a whole new adventure”- I believe would be Author and Illustrator, Travis Hanson's, mantra. Travis recently began the process of coloring his long time dishwasher's adventure web-comic, The Bean, and I asked him to share with us the process and legacy of this regular 'Joe' turned hero.
Song River: Travis share with us a little background about The Bean, this dishwashers journey to self-discovery...
Travis Hanson: The Bean is the story of a young dishwasher who lives in an inn called the Silver Dagger. The Bean is not happy with his lot in life; as he was abandoned by his father to the owner of the inn, a mean ogre named, Gort.
One day, when he was sent on an errand to find some mushrooms, he was kidnapped by a crazy old troll who needed the boy to find a weapon of incredible power. The weapon, a broken sword, eventually ends up in the hands of Bean, who is given a charge to heal the sword.
It's a story about not always being in control of what happens to you, but learning to be in control of how you react to it. Bean finds out that even a dishwasher has the potential for being the hero.
Song: What were some of the nuances you were thinking of when you created this story?
Travis: My disdain for washing dishes. (laughs)
Actually, I am a strong believer that you might not be able to control a situation - yet you can control your reaction to that situation. Which in the end allows you to control your future.
I also watch my own children as they grow-up and observe how they deal with choices and situations. Sometimes, not everyone you meet can be trusted, while other times you meet people that look scary or intimidating, and they turn out to be your closest allies. That's basically what The Bean is about.
Taking old stereotypes and tossing them out the window.
Song: Did you draw from any personal experiences in its creation?
Travis: I did. I took from my love of day dreaming and eating in dinners, while listening to the conversations around me when I was little.
You learn that the world is a much bigger place than you thought.
I also took the story from other experiences. When I wrote the refugee scene… I spent many hours talking to a friend who was a soldier and Chaplains' Aide. He had served in Africa, and had seen some pretty rough stuff. It helped me add a level of realism to my tale.
When dealing with wounds, I asked my cousin who studied to be a trauma surgeon on how one would deal with taking care of injuries on the battlefield, and also symptoms of fevers etc.. I love doing research.
Song: What year did you begin Bean?
Travis: 2002 really, but I did not put it into the current format that you see today, until 2009.
Song: Why did you originally begin in black and white, and were your intentions to keep it in this format?
Travis: I wanted to keep the story going. The story is an epic and I struggled with balancing a job/family/faith and the comic. To color it was way too taxing in the beginning, so I took the, “Jeff Smith Model”, and went for b/w with the intent to color it later. It allowed the story to continue and keep it going - there are many web-comics that start in color, and quit because they cannot keep up with the demand a comic creates. Plus, there is little money at the moment in web-comics, so most creators need to have other jobs to keep the bills paid.
Travis: Because as much as I love black and white- color is what sells. I found that a lot of doors were closed because it's b/w, so I decided to go back and start the coloring process. I had too. I want this story to be told the way I see and though I am still updating in b/w it has always been my dream to do it in color.
Song: You chose Patreon as your instrument to use to take your passion for this story to its full glory. Why did you choose this particular venue to reach your goals?
Travis: I chose Patreon, because Jason Brubaker, reminded (pause), encouraged me to. I found it to be a nice model that allowed fans to help finance a project. It is allowing me to speed up the process. This is important, because Patreon is making it possible for creators to spend time on their own dreams and projects, with the help of others.
It's like the renaissance where patrons helped artists be what they were good at, and that was being an artist. Also, I like Patreon because you can control how much you choose to donate. Most people donate just a $1 per color update, about $8 per month. That's it, and you can cap it. So you control how much you donate. It's very, very cool.
There's no time limit either, there is a reward system, and for me to color 600 + pages I needed a way to ease the burden of a free web-comic - which will still be free.
Song: How can those who want to support The Bean, get involved, and read how it works find your information?
Travis: Here is my link: http://www.patreon.com/travishanson.
Patreon allows people to donate money to help fund creators projects. Since my project is intense and big (600+ pages and constant b/w updates) Patreon allows people to lift the financial burden that a project like this creates. Especially when it is a labor of love. Some rewards included are; Free art, mentoring, secret blog, etc… The other thing is a patron can control how much they choose to donate. It could be just a $1 each month or it could be more. It is all up to the patron.
The main thing is this opens a way for indy creators to produce some incredible projects, and do some wonderful things, while rewarding fans in a way that they have never done before. It is opening doors.
Travis Hanson is an Eisner nominated fantasy illustrator with a huge imagination. His works include comics, children's art, fantasy and just fun illustrations that encourages the need for people to be creative.
For more information on Trav's works, rates and ideas, just send a note to email@example.com
Setting the Comic Book industry standard's-
An interview with Shelby Robertson owner of American Dischord talk's about the industry, and his latest venture '94.
By: Song River
By: Song River
Song River: Shelby you are the epitome of a road warrior in this gilded age of Comic Illustrator/Writer. Working in an industry on various levels for the last twenty years share a little about your beginnings in the industry.
Shelby Robertson: My beginnings as a comic book illustrator started at the age of 17. I do consider myself to have been a 30 year old mentally by that point due to a straining childhood, so really can't say that my 17 would be an identifiable one with any other teenager per'se. I was already a professional CAD illustrator for a local Blimp company assisting in designs on new era larger than life productions a year prior, so jumping in feet first with Rob Liefeld's Extreme Studios in Southern California wasn't a very difficult transition at all.
Song: How comfortable are you opening up to let your fans into your personal world?
Shelby: I'm probably the closest to an open book as possible, but I also know that filter is needed for certain individuals. Too much information isn't a grey area for me, I see it all in black and white. My most recent years have definitely been the most interesting *understatement*. My moving from California to Arizona, changing from a hands on approach- to digital, and the various faces of the electronic gaming industry that I've been working with; most notably the contrasting working conditions that both comics and games project. Unforgivable missed deadlines headlining the one, and open minded-open schedule deadlines at the forefront of the other most notably.
Song: What drew you into the industry? Was there something else you wanted to be?
Shelby: I was always an avid comic collector always focused on the artwork side of things. I generally found myself disinterested in comics as a whole, being that I've seen comics being kind of the bottom of the barrel where storytelling, and good writing is concerned. So I focused on the dynamic line drawings and exciting characters of the various comic book universe's as inspiration. One thing was for certain, I didn't want to end up like my parents. And another driving factor, was growing up being told that there's no money in comics or the art market as a whole, and I'd have to depend on a 'real' job when I 'woke up'.
Song: Out of high school you began working on the Glen Danzig Verotic line, correct?
Shelby: That was actually a handful of years, post-Image Comics.
Song: How did that opportunity come about?
Shelby: A good friend of mine, who had also departed Extreme Studios in the mid-nineties, contacted me about their need for pencilers, and inkers. That led to a lot more than just my expertise as a traditional artist for Verotik. Which, included a ton of outside-the-box art gigs and digital pre-press design. As well, CD creation for a lot of professionals on various record labels.
Song: You traveled, you were surrounded by so many creative people. Were they good times, turbulent times?
Shelby: A little bit of both.
Song: Talk about some of the stories from those days, are there tales you've always wanted to share?
Shelby: There's not a ton of stories that would be, in my opinion, extremely important or interesting to anyone looking at the comic subculture from the inside out. I'm relatively drama-free and keep my head down, pencil on paper. You know, you always have haters regardless of your caliber of work. 'Haters gonna' hate', and all that. I could really care-less, and I think that's sort of a fuel for them, the ignoring them. So... damned if you do, damned if you don't.
Song: Do you have any regrets from those early days, or along the way?
Shelby: I would say that my biggest regret would have to be turning down jobs. I've had a TON of opportunities following my design stint on Star-Gate’s franchise and watching them wither before my eyes. Well, I'll just say that if there was some sort of time travel device, I'd definitely be memorizing MegaMillions numbers to have alleviated a lot of personal business situations that were dealt to me through the years.
Song: What pen did you begin with? Do you still have the first pen you used on your first commission?
Shelby: I think that I have rulers and a few binders and sketchbooks from my childhood. The products I used to use for my early work is not near close to the items I use to pencil and ink these days. Art supplies are disposable to me. Most are likely to have been used until they break, donated to a budding artist drawing next to me at a show, or collecting dust in storage.
Song: Do you recall your first commissioned drawing, and what was it?
Shelby: Nope. I have a cache of over 25,000 images scanned from commissions to interior pages, to preliminary sketches for magazines and album covers. They all sort of blend, but I have this weird memory where I can be approached by someone that got a commission from me, and their name or face will remind me of the exact piece that I did for them. I'm weird like that.
Song: Is there someone you admired in the industry back then, that influenced your style?
Shelby: Alan Davis is the best in the comic book market. For personal icing and details, I've always loved the works of Todd McFarlane and Marc Silvestri. Inpart because, their books looked and read good in the eighties, but also because their work wasn't cookie cutter- like most DC and the other Marvel books at that time.
Song: Has your style of art changed over the years, if it has how?
Shelby: Yeah, I got better. Plus, I figured out that hands and feet are easier to draw than believed.
Song: How have other facets of arts influenced your work? Does music, politics, personal life?
Shelby: I don't mix anything with my art. Not a whole lot of life or such. I think that if you want real life in art, it should just be a nuance or else it's just a tangible form of photography by hand. Kind of boring in my opinion. I'd rather approach stuff with dynamics, and style. Music is a constant in my life however. I dig some good music while I work. Get tired of whistling while I work.
Song: Do any of your children share in your passion of creation?
Shelby: Of course! Plus, I never told any of them that they couldn't make it in something or that art is a waste of time. Because it isn't, and I'm not down with squashing dreams. I only offer advice when asked too, makes things smoother and keeps that open door policy alive.
Song: You've created the persona, you seem to be comfortable with who you are. Did your childhood days direct you here- to where you are now? Do you believe that everything happens for a reason, or is it all happenstance?
Shelby: Everything does happen for a reason. I've had numerous issues, major life problems, and all that. For myself, personally, they've always worked out; made just enough, and gigs came right when they were needed. I'm pretty comfortable with myself, I'm the only one who has to make sure I come through in the things that measure success for me personally. I found early on that what others think will make you be looked at as 'successful' has never met my own criteria. Around that time is when I think I just sort of said 'f### everybody' and their wants, I got what it takes to fulfill my own. It may come across crass, but it's just a fact of life.
Song: You made the venture out of commissioned works, and began a new approach to your creative side. Giving your diligence over to a project called, '94. First of all, why did you take this venture?
Shelby: I'll always do commissioned work, gladly people still want to own a piece of me. On the '94 comic book project; basically this is my 20th year as a comic book industry pro and I felt I needed to give myself 'homage' for this milestone.
I've worked with plenty of artists who've bailed on the industry a dozen years ago to pursue money, girls, or just something non-art-based in general. That's unacceptable for me personally. I deserve a cake with a candle. '94 is my cake.
It's just me having fun, and haphazardly, almost accidentally... writing something good at the same time. '94 is my most current creator owned series. We launched a preview edition at this years, Amazing Arizona ComicCon, and it sold out during the show. I haven't had a book sell out since 1998, so that's an accomplishment in itself.
Song: Why '94 how does it connect to who you are as an artists/storyteller?
Shelby: '94 started out as a push-up, and turned into a circus. I'm not really sure how it did, but we initially planned on just doing one book for fun. That became three, and three became six. I'm up to twelve plotted out. This might accidentally become an ongoing title. It would be fitting if it became the book that people remembered me for in some respects. Just having a ton of fun with it, I've had this idea that fun has been missing from comics in general, and this is to be the syringe that gives that to my own creativity.
Song: The venture into '94, as been shared on social media, you've created a panel a day- how have you gone about setting this up? Was the back- story already in place or was it done on a whim?
Shelby: It was on a whim. Plus I'm not too good about keeping up with a panel a day for the most part. I tend to post 3 to 6 panels on different social media pages because I knock out so many pages per week on this '94 book*s*. I'll be thinking that hey, that panel I posted wasn't as good as this one. It get's progressively annoying for anyone following me after that.
Song: Are there advantages/disadvantages to creating a panel a day?
Shelby: Well the advantage of posting artwork is that you avoid the whole 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality that a ton of people share.
Song: How are you balancing all of this while selling your art at con's all across America?
Shelby: There is no balance, only controlled chaos. I'm pretty good about staying on task and really the hardest person I know, is me. I push myself harder than I should. I've heard this several times recently, but it's just my work ethic. If I'm not working, I feel like it's just counterproductive to what goals I've set for myself.
Song: When formulating this work, did you have others you bounced ideas off?
Shelby: Well again, the idea is a homage-to-Shelby. For most of my creator owned projects I would generally get somebody impartial to review my idea,, and tell me what they think is the strong-point and the weak-point, and focus on fixing the weakest. This one is literally me taking on a story, page to page, then handling the story as I go.
Song: How has the project been received?
Shelby: So far people have been really excited for the book. The nicest thing about it is I'm getting messages from people that took the time to read '94 and they're super impressed with the story. I'm flattered by this, but also a bit sad, does this mean that most artists can't tell good stories or that my other creations tales were total crap in their eyes? I'm just glad that people dig this project.
Song: What things have you learned from your past projects that you are bringing forward to today?
Shelby: I'm still pushing the dynamics of comics as a whole. Or at least I'd like to think so. There's more bad than good with comics up until around ten years ago, but there's definitely still bad books coming out on a regular basis. I guess I'm just trying to be the best that I can be.
Song: Your future is open, '94 has been well received. Who is Shelby Robertson? What course, path, journey- are you setting forth?
Shelby: The ride for '94 has been a smooth one so far. I don't foresee any path or ideal that I'm going to push on others with my books. I'd rather broadside them with creativity, and an approach that they've not seen in a long time. Possibly even inspire others to follow a particular idea, to see that they can make things happen. Even though '94 is just a comic, again, it's a homage to my journey, so far, but also a new untraveled road.
Song: A young person, fresh out of high school has just entered your independent publishing company as an apprentice...American Dischord. You see they've potential. They are now looking to you Shelby... what do you say?
Shelby: Focus on your strengths, listen to those that are impartial to your workings, because they will lead you to the cracks that need patching, and who's buying lunch today? I've twenty dollars in my pocket.
*Also, congratulations to Shelby and Elizabeth on their first child together.