Hello out there, welcome to first interview on The Gravy Age for
Rocktober October, hope you guys are ready as I get to talk with Brian Du Pont from Colring Book Press. It’s super fun stuff for comics fans of all ages, follow me.
Wait for it…
And, let’s go!
Brian was cool enough to send me a stack of comics to check out, and as I mention in the interview, my kids totally loved them. It’s always cool to find stuff I can share with my little monsters. His stuff is fun, and he is a super nice guy, so without further ado lets strap on our jet packs and blast into the interview.
The Gravy Age: I’ve had to struggle to get your books back from my kids, is there an extra element of satisfaction in creating comic books that connect with younger readers?
Brian Du Pont: I wanted my comics to be read by everyone, and this mainly stems from me being a father and being a teacher of young children. I’ve always felt that comics as a media attracts children regardless of the comic’s subject matter. So, I wanted to be careful about what my comic was about. Pecos Bill was not necessarily created with children in mind. It started as a project that I wanted to work on my own just for me. In matter of fact, I had one of the cowboys swear once or twice because, you know, he was a rough tough cowboy. But, after I created a couple more pages after that, I went back and rewrote it and cleaned it up. It wasn’t even a really bad word…I think it was “Damn”. Anyway, I know that as a teacher, I’m always in the public eye and I thought that at some point, my students would get my comic. That’s when I thought, “I would really like it if my students got ahold of my comic.” So, I began to gear my comics towards children, well everyone, really. I was careful with the language and discovered that using cowboy lingo is far funnier than a grizzled cuss phrase.
TGA: People often talk about superheroes as a modern mythology, with Pecos Bill you connect perhaps the first American superheroes, characters from Tall Tales (Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan etc..) with pop sci-fi and modern comics. When did this connection start taking place for you?
BDP:I think the idea came to me while driving my car. I get most of my ideas there, and with Pecos Bill, I started with the question, “What would Pecos Bill be like now?” I wanted to see what he would be doing, what he be like, and where he is today. I knew that I didn’t want to start over with Pecos Bill, but instead I wanted all of those Tall Tale events and the Wild West history to still be a part of him. This Pecos Bill is more of a retelling of his past Tall Tales while introducing newer Tall Tale stories. However, when you think about it, comic books are like those American Tall Tales. Modern comics have stories about heroes climbing walls and flinging webs onto the villains, or a man who changes into a huge, indestructible monster with untold of strength. It’s the heart of a Tall Tale to tell about an ordinary person able to perform unbelievable feats.
TGA: Most stories can be improved with jet-packs, yes or no?
BDP: I completely agree! Pecos Bill is a strange mix of a Western juxtaposed with some modern/future ideas. The jet-pack is one of them. With Pecos being in the present, he can no longer ride a horse into his adventures, and sorry for all of those animal fans out there, but Pecos Bill’s original horse Widowmaker has long passed away. Anyway, to get around, Pecos Bill uses an experimental jet-pack created by Nikola Tesla, which is also named “Widowmaker.” The current story I’m creating illustrates the origin of the Widowmaker jetpack and Pecos Bill and Tesla’s alliance. And, there’s a quick origin of S’Mores.
TGA: On your site I saw matchbook comics, how did this come about?
BDP: This was made as a side joke for the podcast Two-Headed Nerd. At the end of every show, they ask their audience to send in any self-published comic, “digital, print, or…” and they create some far-fetched idea to make a comic on. At one time, they mentioned “drawn on a napkin” in which I thought I could probably do that. And so I did. It was a quick story of a old man beach combing and finding Iron Man’s helmet. Well, they loved it and on their next episode they mentioned a comic on a matchbook. So, I created a comic on 15 matchbooks starring Marvel’s Hawkeye, DC’s Vigilante, and Dark Horse’s Hellboy at a shooting competition. You can check that comic out over on my website.
TGA: What can you tell me about Adventures In Super Childhood?
BDP: Super Childhood is about my 2 boys and their imaginations. During a day, they will team up and pretend to be superheroes or have superpowers. So, I wanted to do a comic about them. The idea is that they really do have superpowers, but when parents show up, all that is noticed is the aftermath like broken toys or someone crying because they were hurt. I try to use their power preferences when I write them. One of the boys loves Green Lantern, so he uses his imagination to make all that he needs to fight evil much like the Green Lantern. The other boy loves running, jumping, and just about anything that is a physical feat to perform. He also reacts quickly to emotion, and whatever emotion he’s feeling, he carries that emotion completely. He’s like a little Hulk, just a lot funnier. I really enjoyed this book and I for a while I postponed its creation. But, then I realized they’re growing up and it won’t be long before they grow out of these adventures. So, when I played with them, I would focus on how each one used their imaginations. When one of the boys would say, “I just found a new superpower,” I knew that had to be in the first issue. The great thing about this book was the reaction of my boys to it. They love seeing them in the story. They would sit with me and draw, or put the 11×17 comic boards on their laps and read them. When the book was all finished, the oldest’s teacher bought issues for each of his classmates. He walked around and signed each of their covers! I’m thinking of changing the format to include several short stories rather than just a single story per issue.
TGA: How about Food Fight Wars?
BDP: A lot of people compare Food Fight Wars with Adventure Time, but I’ve never seen Adventure Time, so don’t take my word for it. FFW is written by 13 year old nephew and it all started with this opening line, “If this war continues, unicorns will be more popular than humans.” And from there, he went on discussing how humans accidentally mutated gummi bears into an evil empire bent on conquering the planet. However, to build their army, the gummies tried to mutate other foods. This resulted in mutated pizzas. Now, the two factions are battling it out and humans are caught in the middle. Oh, did I mention that there’s a rocketship being built to go the planet of the exiled unicorns? This is a fun collaboration project. I usually work in black and white, but for this book I watercolor painted it, which was an interesting way to expand my skills.
TGA: What is your creative process like? Do you have a schedule?
BDP: I feel my process is the wrong way. Maybe not wrong, but unconventional. Normally, a writer writes the script, then the artist works on layouts and then all the page art. Then, it’s finished up with the lettering. Right? Well, I skip past the script. I know what my story is and I’ll jot down a synopsis, but all of my story happens at the layout stage. I really don’t like writing, and when I do need to write, I think, “How come I’m not drawing right now?” So, that’s why I don’t spend time writing. Page by page, I’m thinking about the dialogue, making notes, and draw what is happening in my panels. I usually think of the ending of an issue first, then I figure out how to get there as I sketch out the pages. Of course, there are times when my sketches run away on me. That’s when I do stop drawing and jot down dialogue and answer problems that need to be solved so the story progresses. As far as a schedule goes, I work at my own speed and when the book is finished, it’s finished. I probably finish about 1 page a week. But that’s including layout, line work, shading, and lettering. To get there, I wake up at 5 every morning, grab my art tools, and turn on Netflix. Oh, and don’t forget the coffee. I work for about 2 hours before I get up and go to work. If it works out in the evening, I’ll sit down and draw near my children. They usually join in.
TGA: Are there any artists or writers that were an inspiration to you?
Aaron Kuder is an artist that I aspire to be like. I once heard an interview by him and how he broke into the comics industry with no formal training. It was inspiring to hear him talk about drawing comics and loving what he’s doing. However, I don’t know if my style mimics anyone else’s work. I try to stay unique, so I guess I can describe it as drawing the way I like to draw. My wife keeps telling me to be just me. Draw like me, write like me, and just be me when I do my comics. My comics are mainly for myself, but I love sharing them with other people. When I look at art that I like, I notice that I’m pulled to artwork that shows texture. So, in my art, whether it’s digital or drawn on comic board, I like to include a lot of pencil strokes and hatching. I’m curious to know if anyone thinks my art style is reminiscent of another artist.
TGA: What’s next for Colring Book Press?
BDP: I’m working through Pecos Bill issue 4 currently. It’s the 2nd issue in a 3-part story arc, but with the school year started up, my progress on books tends to slow down. Plus, I’ve been working on other projects lately. I finished the art for a story called The Mask of Dr. Sueno in Carl Smith’s anthology, Horror of Loon Lake. I really enjoyed working from another person’s script. It’s quite a challenging script. I’m setting a goal of finishing a longer issue of Adventures in Super Childhood by May, but, wow, I really need to get on it! If you follow my blog at colringbookpress.com, you’ll see weekly progress on my comics or other art that I’m doing. And, visit the General Store if you want to pick up any books, shirts, or art.
TGA: Any advice out for anyone out there, young or young at heart that would like to create comics?
BDP: I would say just create. Get working on your project and make it your passion. It takes time and money, but the end result is worth all those struggles. Plus, connect with other creators. I find Twitter to be the best tool for that, but whatever social media you reach through best, go with it. When it comes to the finish, you can hold your comic and say, “Look what I created.”
So much great stuff in there! The best part about doing these is the huge inspiration I get from talking to people like Brian. He is a nice guy and if you have some little ones, they might just get a big kick out of the books from Colring Book Press, my kiddo’s certainly did.
As always, if you are a creator and you would like to be interviewed her on The Gravy Age, don’t hesitate to get in touch.