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: