And this is something of a biography of my life as an artist, the last 20 years or so, especially.
Gaming was not my first love, that was comic books. I was convinced I was going to waltz right out of high school and into a job on mainstream comics. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I didn’t have the breadth of skill needed to draw professionally and I didn’t work on the boring and tedious technical aspects of the work.
But, I kept drawing. I kept creating. I read voraciously, and ideas formed that became stories and characters and I started building worlds and I liked it. I tried, off and on over the years, to break into comics, but I wasn’t ready. I had, however, developed pretty well as a character designer and spot illustrator.
I did a column for the online magazine, The Collector Times called Artistic License, where I would take existing comic characters and try my hand a redesigning them. Sometimes, the column would involve what amounted to a story pitch for characters whose books had been cancelled. And, I did a bit of fan art. I did a couple of characters from David Van Domelen’s Academy of Super Heroes stories that brought me to his attention when they were looking for artists for his Modern Knight game. I was, at the time, one of three artists in line to finish the book. Not being a greedy, I picked 1/3 of the remaining pieces of art and finished them up as fast as I could. I made good time. After delivering the art, I was contacted again. The other two artists weren’t answering emails, would I be interested in doing the rest of the art? I jumped at the chance.
I handed the art in and the put the book together and there’s still a matter of some money owed, but this was 2001/02, and I have all but written it off.
It was about this time that I started selling art on eBay. I did develop a few regulars and some of the art was fun. Some of it was not, but it taught me things.
I had realized, by this time, that I wanted to do something of my own, but I didn’t think I could keep up with the pace of a regular comic. So, Heroblog was born. With the help of a couple of friends to help set up the original web site and bounce ideas back and forth, it launched in the spring of 2005. Heroblog was something of a hybrid comic project. I was definitely building a comic book style superhero world, but it was told through irregular blog posts by the new hero Amp. In Heroblog, I built a world that kept my interest to this day, even while I’ve lost the drive to tell the stories I was telling. Amp’s saga lasted until September 2009.
In the midst of all that, I decided to dust off and rework and old concept, and Ad Astra hit the web in the fall or late summer of 2007. Ad Astra was truly a labor of love. I have been a fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes as long as I’ve been a comic fan, over 40 years, now and Ad Astra was my way to do my own Legion, with no strings attached. Ad Astra was an offshoot of the world I’d built in Heroblog, the future of that world, that universe, in fact.
I never had much success with either of them, but I’m told that some people still ask if I’m going to start them up again. Hmmm…. Five Years Later… Maybe!
My web comic made me take notice of things happening online, and I became more active on Deviant Art. This led to a good deal of exposure and led to my first game work, on a more or less regular basis. It started with characters. That led to the Villains and Vigilantes Card Game, I had forgotten about that. And my art got wider exposure. What was once a trickle, has become a fairly steady stream. I mostly work on things that interest me in some way, and play to my strengths, super heroes, science fiction, and maybe a little pulp.
I’m sure I’ve left a few things out. I can’t recall the name of the fantasy project I worked on a few years ago, but there are a couple of those pieces that I really enjoyed.
I’ve bounced around a bit, but now I am one of Fantasy Games Unlimited’s go-to guys, for their super-hero stuff. I like that. I’m not getting enough work to make my living, but it helps out. I don’t play games, myself, but if you saw my collection of game manuals, you’d be sure to think I do.
I think my favorite project, due to the subject matter and the extraordinarily smooth working relationship, was Supers! Revised Edition. I think an individual piece of work that I am most proud of, would be my cover for World War II Super Soldiers. It and two or three other pieces -in my entire lifetime- come closest to the vision I had, when I started the piece.
If I was to pick a favorite game, it would have to be Villains & Vigilantes. It was the first I played and I think it captured something of the feel of the comics by which it was inspired.
Right now, I’m working my way through Peril in Panama, about to being an eight-page comic story starring the Golden Age (and public domain) Blue Beetle for Lucky Comics and I have several world/source books in progress.