Archive for April, 2011

Twilight Star Goes Postal!!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2011 by billyg67

Yesterday was the first time in months that I found time to make it to the local post office before they closed on Saturdays. I needed to start mailing out comp copies to several of the creators who have done some incredible work for the studio and are not exactly in the area.

I decided to knock off the first there names on the list….James Hill…the artist on all the Necrotrancer books and who has recently been under the weather. I was hoping that getting his comp package later this week would make him feel a little better.

Lisa Moore….I’m not denying the fact that maybe….just maybe….the reason that so many of our Twilight Star books have been selling so well recently “could be” because Lisa colored the cover on most of the newer releases including The Un-Naturals Source Book, Tales From The ‘Field #3, and Pandemonium Spotlight #2….and she’s colored the covers for the upcoming Necrotrancer: Shades Of Gray book and Jack The Rabbit #2. Wanted to make sure I got her package in the mail.

Last but not least on this list (and I’ll keep working on this list until I take care of everybody…believe me I’ve been on the other side of the fence when the publisher fails to deliver on every promise he makes….it sucks balls…..when you have to buy your own comp copy of a book …I’ll stop right there)…..let’s just say I don’t want any of the talented creators we are fortunate enough to be working with to feel that way….ever.

So….last guy on the list was Stephen Brewington. Quite honestly without this guy there would be no Twilight Star books going to print. He’s that important to us and I wanted to make sure he knew how important he is to us….so I sent his package out Saturday as well.

I was wearing my “spiffy” Comic Related t-shirt and as I headed into the post office and when I handed the man behind the counter the three packages he asked about the shirt.

I explained what Comic Related was all about and made sure here had the website info so he could check it out. I also mentioned I wrote (actually co-write) two weekly web comics for the site, I used to write a regular column for the site, and I co-host a podcast there as well.

He thought all that stuff was really interesting! So you write comics too. I mean real comic books. Not just the web comic stuff. Books you can actually hold in your hands and read?

Hell Yeah! Matter of fact those three packages you just weighed and that are off to Texas, Alabama, and some place called Xenia Ohio all contain comic books that I played a part in creating…I either wrote a story in each of the books going out in the mail…inked art in a story…in some cases drew a story. Or characters I created were in those same books and on the trading cards also in those envelopes…

No shit…..trading cards too!

Yep.

Where can I find out more about the comics you work on….

I went to give him a card….(Fuck Me….I didn’t have any in my wallet….I gave the last one out in the parking lot at Kroger the night before when a guy recoginized me from a recent newspaper)…so embarrassed as I was, I just wrote down the website….www.twilightstarstudios.com  and the e-mail address he could contact me….twilightstarstudios@gmail.com .

He has already contacted me…..got an e-mail from him last night. He checked out the web-site (which is currently just a re-direct to the Hell Yeah forum hosted at Comic Related)….he’s coming by tomorrow night to pick up copies of Tales From The’ Field #1 and Pandemonium Spotlight #1. And he plans to stop by and see us at Main Street Comics And Games for Free Comic Book Day at the shop.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

And in the meantime I restocked my wallet with Twilight Star business cards…

See you in a week.  Hopefully I’ll be posting the second part of the un-edited News-Sun interview with Twilight Star founding members Gary Church, Derron Church and myself….and maybe my thoughts on what a true KISS box set should consist of.

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Thirteen Years Of Elephants

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2011 by billyg67

My wife and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary this past Saturday evening. Although the actual date of the anniversary isn’t until this coming Monday the 25th of April. And we have been together for 17 years…but only married for 13 of those 17 years.

We were a little low on funds this year ….with both of us starting new jobs and it looked like we wouldn’t really be able to celebrate at all, money is that tight. But I couldn’t go for that….so I dipped into the money I have recently made from selling the comics I have been working on. Sales recently have been so good there was “extra” in the Twilight Star cash box…..so we went out for the typical movie and a dinner.

Dinner was at Fazoli’s ….one of our favorite restaurants…we usually like to do something nicer for our anniversary…but it was a good dinner.

And seeing how my wife Ellie has put up with me for 13 years I let her pick the movie. She immediately said she wanted to watch the new Reece Weatherspoon movie. I suddenly felt a little sick….besides Pleasantville and Walk The Line I can’t say I like anything Reece has ever been in. But my wife loves EVERYTHING she has ever starred in.

Who else is in it I asked.

Robert Patttinson….the guy that played Edward in the Twilight movies.

Oh God….I was seriously beginning to think about faking a sudden bout of sickness.

It’s called Water For Elephants, she replied…..things just wasn’t getting any better here. How about the Lincoln Lawyer…..or maybe Source Code. You mentioned you wouldn’t mind seeing either of those films.

True…but she wanted to see the elephant movie the most…and I already said she could pick the movie…so I was stuck.

While checking the local show times about the film I read up about it a bit…..and realized the two of us saw the trailer for this film while watching Red Riding Hood a month or so ago…and I actually mentioned at the time I might like to go see this film with her…despite the fact I wasn’t in love with the cast it looked “half way” decent.

So maybe there was some hope after all.

And I have to admit after watching the film…I really enjoyed it…..there wasn’t an empty seat to be found (which isn’t really saying much when talking about our local theatre) and the crowd actually applauded when the film ended. It was a great movie…I was shocked and I thanked Ellie several times while at dinner for sticking to her guns and making this her first and only choice for the evening.

The last line in the film was dead on…and if actor Hal Holbrook didn’t say it I may have asked for my money back… I thought it was that crucial to the story…..and then he said exactly what I wanted him to say…what everybody wanted him to say.

It was awesome!!!

Great film…I strongly recommend seeing it….especially if you want to take along that special some one.

After dinner the evening was still young and we still had a little cash left so we decided to head to the video store and see if there was at least one more movie the two of us could agree one….and there was. We picked up The Fighter with Mark Walberg and Christian Bale.

I have been hearing great things about this film since December but have been reluctant to watch it thinking it just couldn’t live up to the hype. And to be honest….Bale has been disappointing me a lot lately.

But this film was remarkable!!!! And Bale was one of the best parts of the film, just like I have been hearing….the entire cast was terrific…and based on an incredible true story.

I liked it better than the elephant movie…not to downplay how good that film was….but my wife , while liking the Fighter as well, preferred the glowing vampire guy and the legally blonde girl.

Both films were very good. And it was a very nice night…..off to start the next year together.

A Chemistry Lesson

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2011 by billyg67

Well guess what…again. I missed posting something on the blog….again Nothing for two weeks….again.. And just like the last time I missed posting here. I’m going to post two…or in this case…three….blog entries to make it up to you…and to make it up to me….I like doing this. It’s actually a break from everything else in a weird way..

This one I’m talking about chemistry…..not the acid and base stuff you may think I’m going to be discussing. I’m talking about the chemistry between creative forces….be it in a band or in an art studio. Yep….this entry is definitely linked to my two favorite subjects…..creating music and creating comics.

Chemistry between these creative factors is a must and some cases the right chemical composition is the difference between failing …or succeeding.

And in other cases even when you have the right chemistry involved the whole thing is still just too volatile  It becomes unstable and burns out or explodes long before it’s time. And there are other instances when no matter how hard you try that chemistry just doesn’t seem to ever come together…and nothing even gets off the ground to begin with.

Over the years I have been involved in several different interesting chemical reactions…good ones…bad ones…ones that blew up ….fizzled out…and just never really gelled to start with…but before I go any further—–here’s a quick chemistry pop quiz.

It’s simple really…..I’m going to list 10 different comics and/or bands….you just make note who you think of when you read each. These are examples of creative chemistry working so well that I hope that everybody pretty much comes up with the same answers…and yes I will post my answers to see if we did agree…..there’s no real right or wrong here……just curious so please comment like crazy on this. I realize not everybody will be familiar with all ten of these…and I am going to mix it up evenly between comics and music…so some of you may do well on the comic end…while others may do well on the music end…..and a few of you may do well with both.

And just like my own real life chemistry lessons some of these creative chemical mixes lasted for years…..with slight blow ups here and there…others lasted for shorter periods of time…..and in most cases none of the creative pairings exist today.

Which is a shame……but enough of that. Here we go.

  1. Black Sabbath
  2. The Fantastic Four
  3. KISS
  4. The Teen Titans
  5. Van Halen
  6. The Uncanny X-Men
  7. Metallica
  8. The Micronauts
  9. Judas Priest
  10. The Amazing Spider-Man

There you have it. 10 of the best cases of creative chemistry at it’s finest…despite how long it may have lasted…..and here is who I think of when I think of…

Black Sabbath-No disrespect to Ronnie James Dio…I loved the guy and always will….and yes there were several versions of Sabbath after Dio left….but in all honesty here it just doesn’t sound like Black Sabbath without Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward. The four original members. They don’t make bands like that any more.

The Fantastic Four-Just the mention of the book and there’s only two names that should come to mind….Stan Lee and Jack Kirby….”The Man” and “The King”. Despite all the other pairings to work on this book since (loved the John Byrne era as well) or all the other books Lee and Kirby worked on together this is the best creative team for this book…..ever….so in many ways the book has been going down hill since for decades…and it’s the best stuff Lee and Kirby ever produced together as well. They never worked as well and no where near as long on any other comic.

KISS-A no brainer? Maybe not. After all KISS has had six different lead guitarists (counting Bob Kulik….Bruce Kulik’s older brother who actually recorded some of the studio stuff for Alive II) and four different drummers (counting Anton Fig who did most of the recording on Dynasty and Unmasked)….and despite the fact KISS has been around in some form for over thirty years it still boils down to the four founding members…Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss. I doubt many people out there will even think of a KISS song that these four guys were not involved with when asked ….what is the your favorite KISS song….not a lot of people are saying anything that doesn’t have “grease paint” on it….

The Teen Titans-How many people did not think of Marv Wolfman and George Perez? And maybe Romeo Tanghal….the inker on most but not all of the books these two gentlemen worked on together. Just finished reading through all the Wolfman/Perez stuff and I got admit….not quite as strong as I once thought but still holds pretty good. This was D.C. Comics’ answer to the Claremont/Byrne X-Men and the book actually outsold the X-Men…but Byrne was no longer on the book when that happened. Not as good as the X-Men stuff with Byrne….but BETTER than the stuff without him.

Van Halen-Well…this one should really be just as easy as the KISS question I guess. I mean REAL Van Halen is David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Michael Anthony, and Alex Van Halen…..of course Eddie and Alex has been in every version of the band…and again there have been more versions of the band than you might think…versions without Dave….replaced by Sammy Hagar of course and that “Other Guy” for just one truly train wreck of an album….and Michael Anthony has been replaced by another of the Van Halen clan….but it hasn’t really been Van Halen since 1984 in more ways than one.

The Uncanny X-Men-Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Terry Austin not only defined The Uncanny X-Men during the 80’s ….they defined comics. Period. Claremont, Byrne, and Austin worked perfectly not only on this title but anything else the three of them would work on together. ( various Marvel Team-Up. Starlord)…and the X-Men have never been the same since. True the X-Men would continue to become more and more popular but ….hey not even I can explain that other than just say it is still selling based on the success of the Claremont/Byrne/Austin era…just like Fantastic Four still sold after Kirby and Lee were gone…and just like Daredevil sold after Miller was gone.

Metallica-Maybe just a little bit of a trick question here if you said….James Hatfield, Kirk Hammett, Cliff Burton, and Lars Ulrich….the original members of the band. That would be incorrect because Hammett was not the original lead guitarist for Metallica. That would be Dave Mustaine of Megadeth fame. And like AC/DC and Led Zeppelin before them…death intervened to disrupt the perfect chemistry this band once had. Metallica has not really been Metallica since the Master Of Puppets tour…..during which bassist Cliff Burton was killed. A band called Metallica has went on the become one of the most successful hard rock acts out there…I’ll give you that….but for me Metallica died with Cliff.

The Micronauts-Perhaps the most underrated comic series on this list and more than likely the least known but one of my favorites due largely to the writing of Bill Mantlo and the art of Michael Golden. This team was only on the book for the first 12 issues of the series but I will put those 12 issues up against any other run on any other book and believe me…The Micronauts can hold there own. Right up there with other short term creative teams such as Wein and Wrightson on Swamp Thing and O-Neil and Adams on Green Lantern/Green Arrow.

Judas Priest-To me when I think Judas Priest I always think of the albums Hell-Bent For Leather, Point Of Entry, British Steel, Screaming For Vengeance, and Defenders Of The Faith. And those albums were the collective work of Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K.Downing, Ian Hill, and Dave Holland. This same line up would go on to record a couple more albums together (Turbo and Ram It Down) but they were much weaker than the ones that came before. There were other drummers before Holland…and after his departure he was replaced by a far better drummer by the name of Scott Travers….but it doesn’t sound like “classic” Priest. Something in the “chemistry” was altered. Much like with KISS….Peter Criss was not the best drummer that band ever had….matter of fact every other drummer in the band was probably better than Peter…but it just wasn’t KISS anymore. The same holds true for Priest after Holland leaves.  Eventually even the “voice” of Priest…Rob Halford himself would be replaced for a while by “Ripper” Owens…but although some of that stuff rocks….I would still rather listen to Screaming for Vengeance.

The Amazing Spider-Man-Unlike the Fantastic Four The Amazing Spider-Man has had tons of creative talent attached to the book since the original creative team of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko left the book….and in defense of the FF there were a lot of great creative teams on that book as well…but nothing ever really seemed to stick. Not the case with Spidey. He was always fortunate enough to have a good run of books…followed by a crappy run….then a good run…and then a crappy run…and here lately has become nothing but crap. But when I think of Spidey….I think of Len Wein and Ross Andru….I know I’m in the minority on this one…but that’s the truth…they were working on Amazing Spider-Man when I first started to read the title. This was a hard choice for me…besides Lee and Ditko….there was Lee and Romita Sr., Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard, and Roger Stern and John Romita Jr….all great creative teams that really produced some great work…but for me and Amazing Spider-Man it has always been Wein and Andru.

And that’s my geeky little chemistry pop quiz…..now I want to give credit where credit is due when it does come to my own creative projects…I’m not going to dwell on chemical combinations that didn’t work out…but the ones that have worked really well (for a time at least) and in many cases still working.

Misled-The first “serious” band I was ever in. We recorded what most people consider the best c.d I ever worked on way back in 1996 entitled “Seasons Past”. The band was Brad Shumay on vocals, (my brother) Larry Gladman on guitars, me doing the song writing and playing bass guitar, and Rich Walden on drums. The best band I was ever in. But just six weeks after recording that c.d the band was no more as internal strive within the band tore it apart….as a matter of fact the band barely made it to the recording studio…I had quit the band three months before but was asked to come back before the actual recording. It seems Misled without me wasn’t Misled. And before people start screaming about my ego being out of check…there has been versions of Misled without Brad, without Larry, and without Rich….and cases where there was three out of the four original members in the band at the same time…and other cases where Rich was the only original member of the band….all of them failed. It takes Brad, Larry, Bill, and Rich to have Misled…and unfortunately…despite the fantasizing of every member of that line up…all four of us have not been in the same room at the same time since Feb 1996. A damn shame.

New Comic Day-I write this weekly web comic with fellow co-writer and co-creator Eric Ratcliffe…it’s drawn by Chad Strohl, colored by Lisa Moore, and lettered by Brant Fowler. The chemistry between this team is amazing. The NCD strip has run for almost 2 years now with new postings every week…never missing a week this entire time…and it can be read every Wednesday at www.comicrelated.com and www.newcomicday.net check it out for yourself if you haven’t already!

Violent Whisper-after Misled broke up…and after Rich and I attempted but failed to reform the band without Larry or Brad….I formed this band with drummer Jeff Risner. I was really upset about the fact Misled broke up without playing a single live show. That really sucked! I’m sure to this day if we played just one live show…we would have been together for years and recorded several more albums together. But that piece of the puzzle never fell into place.  With Violent Whisper I got the chance to prove a few things…that I could be in a successful band without those other three guys, that a band could make money and develop a fan following while only playing original music….no covers….I was able to do all that with Violent Whisper and did so for 18 months before the band fell apart after I quit in May 2001. I’m not going to lie here….from the very beginning the band was never as good as Misled….I knew that. The other members in the band knew I felt that way at times…and yes that caused it’s share of problems. And yes we did make money…sometimes….and the fan following while growing with each show was lucky to reach 100 people in the audience. It did work on a certain level. And in a case of serious chemical short term experience….the very best combination of this band….a combination that may have been able to actually rival Misled or even surpass that band included Matt Byanski on vocals, Doug Huff on guitar, me on bass and writing the songs again (we also performed a few songs from my Misled days) and Jeff Risner on drums. The really sad thing about this line up….it lasted for only one day…Matt was already in another musical project closer to home and had to make a decision….he decided to stay with that band. Doug would quit a few weeks later after we found another vocalist and we rotated guitarists every few months …changing the sound of the band with each line up change. There was a time we sounded like the bastard love child of Iron Maiden and .38 Special. I finally put a bullet in Violent Whisper’s head….and only played two live shows since 2001.

Perfect Day-was the feature story for Tales From The “Field #3. “Tales” is one of the anthology books produced by Twilight Star Studios. And I got to tell you something right now….talk about good chemistry….man Twilight Star has some great chemistry. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be a part of this studio….and Tales From The ‘Field #3 is what many of us in the studio consider the strongest book we’ve put out to date. Perfect Day which ran in that issue is an eight page story written by Frank Raynor, penciled by Gary Church, inked by me, and lettered by Brant Fowler. What a creative team. What an amazing story to read…and to look at. I’m very fortunate to be part of the creative team that put that story together. A shout out to the cover art on this book as well…which featured the main character from Perfect Day. A stunning piece of art by Gary Church, Derron Church (who inked the cover…and with his involvement marks the first time that all four founding members of Twilight Star….Gary, Derron, Frank, and I have ever worked on the same story)…and colored by the talented Lisa Moore.

Project X-After Violent Whisper collapsed it seemed that I was going to get the chance to finally get the very best of Violent Whisper and Misled! At long last. This band wanted to record original music…didn’t mind playing tunes from the Misled days or the Violent Whisper days and we wanted to play live. The line up was almost a “dream team” of past Misled and Violent Whisper band members and included Brad Shumay on vocals, Doug Huff on guitars, Rick Lazear on guitars (who has been in the third version of Misled with Rich), me playing bass and writing the lyrics, and Rich Walden on drums. But like all dreams…it ended way too soon. Doug moved. Immediately after losing Doug, Brad left too. The band would never recover. But unlike Violent Whisper….Project X did record a c.d back in 2002 called “Good Intentions”….which included some Violent Whisper tunes mixed in with a few newer ones Doug and I wrote while in a band called Echo Chamber. Two songs (30 Pieces Of Silver and Shades Of Gray were unfinished, missing the vocal track, and didn’t make it unto the disc). Years later….2007….I recorded the vocals to these two songs with female vocalist Grace Deer and they appeared on the All Is Forgiven c.d that featured music I recorded with various versions of Misled and Project X. All Is Forgiven was my fifth c.d….and my last. There are two more c.ds of older material in the works….sessions from Violent Whisper and another version of the best of Misled and Project X….but right now those two recording projects are uncertain to cross the finish line…..at best.

N.I.B.-This was the feature story in Pandemonium Spotlight #1, another ongoing anthology comic book series produced by Twilight Star Studios. I love this story. I wrote it and long time friend and a really great artist Chris Metzger did the art and BJay Johnson did the final lettering. Everything about this just turned out top notch. It’s been very well received and I love looking at Metzger’s face when he reads that story. He’s just as proud of it as I am. If you are in the Springfield area Saturday May 7th stop by Main Street Comics and Games at its new location at 2125 E. Main Street and pick up a FREE copy of Twilight Star Annual #1….both Perfect Day and N.I.B.  are in the same book…along with some really cool stuff (Legacy Parts One-Three) by Derron Church)…..while supplies last!

There are a great number of other incredible comics in production from Twilight Star I’m sure I’ll be equally proud of once they are finished including The Un-Naturals #1

(I’m writing and inking this one, Derron Church is doing the pencils, Cary Kelley is lettering it, and the cover will be done by Derron with inks by Joe Pruitt and it will be colored by Lisa Moore). It’s going to be simply amazing. Necrotrancer: Shades Of Gray written by me and illustrated by James Hill with inks by Joe Pruitt….cover by James and Joe with colors by Lisa….lettered by Cary Kelley. This should be out by June or July.

And the upcoming Prodigy #2 …I’m writing this one and drawing it with Joe Pruitt on inks and lettered by Stephen Brewington.

But as far as finished projects this is the list I am most proud of both comic book wise and music wise where the chemistry between everybody involved was just excellent…while it lasted or in some cases ….still going strong!

Even More Twilight Star At Gem City

Posted in Uncategorized on April 9, 2011 by billyg67

I wanted to add these pictures to last night’s post but by the time I got around to finishing it up I was pushing the 24 hour with no sleep boundary and to be honest I’m lucky I got as far as I did on the things I wanted to get done last night…getting ready for round two of what will be another long day and another long night…including a guest appearance as a co-host on the long running Zone 4 podcast heard every Friday on the Comic Related web-site….I’m been on the show quite a few times and it’s always a blast…I will be filling in for regular show member and fellow comic creator Cary Kelley the next couple of weeks and talking all things good and bad about comics with the likes of fellow show hosts, working partners, great friends, and all around swell guys Brant Fowler, Ron Fortier, and Chuck Kennedy . Check it out!

I will also be working out a rather important business deal later this afternoon, stopping by Main Street Comics And Games to see what Scott Riley has waiting for me in my comic file (Annihilators? Darkwing Duck?) and finally I need to get on the drawing board later this evening and as long as it takes tonight to finish inking two pages of pencil work by Gary Church.

Now for the rest of the photos…..all of which were taken by Comic Related founder and another great friend…Chuck Moore….my third and final post of this weekend….see I told you I would make it up to you.

Twilight Star panel-

Left to right-

Joe Pruitt (writer, penciler, inker, letterer, colorist), Chad Strohl (writer, penciler, inker, letterer, colorist), Raichal Gladman (writer, inker, editor),  Frank Raynor (writer, alcoholic, sex symbol), Bill Gladman (writer, penciler, inker, over worked PR guy),Mike Boruff (panel host), Gary Church (writer, penciler), Derron Church (writer, penciler, inker), Tim Hagans (writer, penciler, inker), and Kevin Adkins (writer, penciler, inker)

Raichal , Frank and the G-Man

Joe is used to moving so fast he can’t even slow down for the panel discussion….

Frank responding to a question…I’m having an out of body experience….have to admit the group looked great from 12 feet in the air….

Mike grilling me about something….maybe he was asking where he could find a copy of Young And Wasted written by me and illustrated by Chris Martin of Studio Akumakaze….the book is still in production… everybody please stop e-mailing me about it. Trust me…I’ll let you know when it’s available.

Tim Hagans listening in and about to comment on a discussion about promoting the comic “business” by wearing images of characters on clothing…something we know nothing about and we would never stoop so low as to use such a cliche marketing tool….hey check out Tim’s shirt….oopss…..disregard everything I just typed….t-shirts are great marketing tools!

Hell Yeah!

And speaking of marketing…the Underground Video Network crew led by “Little” Richard Katterjohn was busy capturing the whole panel discussion on video to be aired on the U.V.N website at a later date.

Gary Church takes over the sales at the Twilight Star table and business starts to take off after a slow start. Only two books sold before 1:00. Thirty books sold between 1:00 and 5:00 when Gem City Comic Con 2011 came to a close….that’s more than seven books an hour.

Kevin Adkins keeps the sales going after Gary’s stint at the table was over. This was Kevin’s first creator experience at a con. I think he liked it.

Gary hanging out at The Gem City charity Auction in which Frank and I hosted and with the help of Brian Carson and all the people who donated auction items raised over $800 for the Hero Initiave.

Here is a link to Brian’s take on the auction and even more photos of the event by Chuck Moore…

http://comicrelated.com/news/11416/gem-city-aftermath

Hey…that’s Tyler Beal sitting in front of Gary…he owns a copy of every Twilight Star book ever produced. Smart guy!

Joe and Tim finish the day at the Twilight Star table…and I’m finished blogging this week. See you next week! I may even have more photos supplied by Gary and Frank

A Twilight Star Weekend!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 9, 2011 by billyg67

As I mentioned earlier in my last post…..things got off to a great start last week with a really nice article in the local paper….followed by a killer party the night after that….an incredible comic convention the day after that….and a truly amazing guest panel at that same comic convention.

And the dust has still to settle from all of that….an entire week later and I’m still busy as last week…maybe even more so!

I’m in the middle of making deals I would have never dreamed of a week ago…and a lot of it is due to the events at Gem City Comic Con and the panel we spoke at during that show…..and that newspaper article.

Looks like we’re going to get a new printer out of this past week-end…and possibly get our books into a new store. A high profile national chain!

Plus a whole lot more I can’t even talk about at the moment….but I do want to mention a number.

62.

That’s how many books we have sold since the newspaper article, the Gem City convention, the Twilight Star guest panel at Gem City show and Comic Related podcast coverage of the panel…which can be heard in it’s entirety right here..just click away.

http://comicrelated.com/news/11434/related-recap-260

The panel was also recorded on video in it’s entirety and will soon be airing on the Underground Video Network website…I’ll share a link to that as well when it goes up

I wonder how many more books will sale after that video coverage airs…and you know what. 45 more books drop into three different stores tomorrow.

Wow!!!

But enough of that…..I want to share some pictures from the whirlwind that was last weekend starting with…

Chuck Moore (left) founder of the Comic Related website and Chad Lambert (Lost Grooves writer) checking out the newspaper article at the infamous Studio Akumakaze party last Saturday night.

Also at the same party….Dustin Carson (left) and Chris Metzger (right)…Dustin is the writer for “Half Breed” a graphic novel in the works…and Chris is the artist for that book. There was a five page preview of Half Breed in Pandemonium Spotlight #2 a new book that was released by Twilight Star at Gem City…and the book was featured in the news article. Pandemonium Spotlight #2 sold 8 copies at the show…11 copies if you count the books that Dustin sold at his table. The book would sell another 2 copies over the course of the last few days. 15 go into local stores tomorrow.

Victor Dandridge-one of the most talented comic creators in the indie comic field and a very entertaining fellow. BUT never ask this man what he would do for $10.000.000 because he WILL tell you…in great detail.

Sunday morning…Gem City Comic Con starts. Chad Strohl and Derron Church are the first guys at the Twilight Star table…they are over joyed.

Frank (Raynor) and I never seem to get table time at our shows…that’s going to have to change some how…because between the two of us I’m sure we could have sold at least two more books.

Speaking of Frank…here he is with Dustin and myself…getting a picture with Dustin Carson at the Gem City show. Dustin is holding his RaynMan Power Hour Hall Of Fame Creator plaque which Frank and I presented him with at the Studio Akumakaze party the night before. And for those of you who didn’t know RaynMan is a podcast that Frank and I host (with Brant Fowler…we missed you Goose!) every other Monday night on the Comic Related web site.

John Wilson and Chuck Moore shaking off the Akumakaze party at the Comic Related table early Sunday morning at Gem City….Jesse Noble announced at this year’s show that that this will be the at one day Gem City show and next year’s Gem City 2012 will be a two day show!

How cool is that!

Also right about the same time I took this picture I ran into a guy named Chris Cantrell from Urbana Ohio. Chris is the creator, writer, and artist for a DAILY webcomic of which I’m a big fan called “The Deadly’s”. Chris also is the guy that did the Twilight Star business cards for us, The Champion City Award trophies, and the RaynMan Hall Of Fame plaques….all this stuff is uber cool….and Chris was a great guy. I ‘m very glad I had the chance to meet him (wish I could have gotten a picture of him. )I’m going to try to record an interview with him for Comic Related if he shows up at Champion City. I left the show with a copy of the first Deadly’s collected trade and Chris left with a copy of New Comic Day: 52 And Then Some….a webcomic exchange. And for those of you who didn’t know….I work of the web comic New Comic Day with Eric Ratcliffe, Chad Strohl, Lisa Moore, and Brant Fowler….what a team! NCD is brand new every Weds. on Comic Related and http://www.newcomicday.net

This young lady is “Lizzie” Hayes. A very lented artist from the Dayton area which I met at the show. Liz is also a loyal customer at Bell Book And Comic and a good friend to the shop owner, Peter Bell. Looks like Liz may be doing some art for Twilight Star and possibly working with my daughter Raichal on a story or two.  Raichal will be doing the writing…Twilight Star new and improved with GIRL POWER……hey it works for podcasts….why not comics.

This is legendary comic book writer Steve Englehart (Dr. Strange, Master Of Kung Fu, The Avengers, Batman) signing a few books for me. I was telling Steve how much I enjoyed his interview on Comic Related with Chuck Moore. Steve asked about my shirt (which featured the “face” of Twilight Star the cosmic being known as The Nectimidar) He said he had noticed the same creature on a poster (over at our table almost directly across from him) and asked more about Twilight Star Studios…I gave him more info….told him I was a writer for the studio…he seemed very interested. I even gave him a business card….(see there it is right there on the table)…and then he asked me if I wanted to purchase a copy of his new novel….and I honestly replied I didn’t have the money to do so.

I’m not going to tell you what happened to that business card…

“Almost” evey member of Twilight Star Studios after our panel concluded.

Left to right-

Joe Pruitt-Brit And Ivy, Bumtastic Four, Prodigy

Chad Strohl-Did Somebody Call For A Hero, Hero Of The Day, other short stories

Mike Boruff the host of the panel -Underground Video Network-Behind The Counter

(ME)-Hero Of The Day, The Un-Naturals, Necrotrancer, Bumtastic Four, Prodigy, Jack The Rabbit, Young and Wasted, Metal Heart…others…

Frank Raynor-Hero Of The Day, WTF?, other short stories

Tim Hagans-(sitting)-Price For The Asking, Hero Of The Day

Gary Church-G-Code, WTF?, other short stories

Derron Church-Legacy, The Un-Naturals, Hero Of The Day, other short stories

Dan Matthews-graphic artist

Kevin Adkins-The Crook, Metal Heart, other short stories.

Frank and I with Main Street Comics And Games owner and Champion City Comic Con organizer Scott Riley. Scott also illustrated a story in Pandemonium Spotlight #2. Mr. Riley was having a great time at the show with his two sons Derrien and Dakota. And enjoyed the day as just a visitor of the show instead of a vendor this year.

 

Frank feeling the magic that was Gem City Comic Con 2011!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twilight Star News-Sun Interview-Director[s Cut

Posted in Uncategorized on April 9, 2011 by billyg67

Okay…I apologize. I really wanted to post a new blog every week but I didn’t get a chance to last week end because things got so crazy…I’m not even sure I had a last weekend…it all blurred together so fast.

I’m going to make an attempt to make up for that by posting two blogs tonight a double dose of Twilight Star…a local art studio in my home town of Springfield Ohio which I am a member of….but bare with me I’m a little punch drunk…

You see…I got beat up….well it feels like I got beat up. So much has happened in the last seven days…and it all started with an article that ran in the Springfield News Sun last Friday…..

Twilight Star/Springfield News Sun Interview:

Director’s Cut:

Part One

Sunday evening, March 27th, Springfield News-Sun Entertainment Editor Andy McGinn sat down with three of the four founding members of Springfield Ohio’s Twilight Star Studios. Those three gentlemen being Derron “Dirt” Church, Gary Church, and Bill Gladman.

The interview ran for about two hours and was printed in the Friday April 1st edition of the Springfield News-Sun in its “official” version, a link to that article is provided below.

http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/entertainment/ohio-theater-arts/four-locals-start-their-own-line-of-comic-books-1123569.html

But during the entire course of the interview, I (that would be me Bill Gladman) was recording everything on an audio recorder I once used when I was part of a paranormal investigation unit here in town…with everybody’s permission of course.

The interview is extremely long and taking even longer for me to type up from the audio…matter of fact finding time to type it is very challenging…I typed the bulk of this a day or so after the interview and have not had the time to go back and type any more as of yet….so I will be posting this a piece at a time of the course of the next few weeks until the whole damn thing gets it’s just due.

Here is Part One of the interview as it occurred.

Dirt: So is that one of the recorders you used to use when you were a ghost hunter?

Bill: Sure is…

Dirt: Cool…you might get some other voices on there besides ours…

Bill: Andy, you know the last time you were at my house…my old house that is…I was still working on the very first issue of Jack The Rabbit…

Andy: Man that was a long time ago. I can’t believe Raichal has already graduated from college. I mean that’s what I had come over for….I was doing a story about Kid Chaos…she was like ten years old and she was playing guitar in her own metal band…

Gary: That’s news to me. I’ve never heard about that.

Bill: I’ve still got the newspaper article.

Andy: As an art studio you guys have been up and running for what….a little over a year now?

Gary: A little over a year…

Bill: It will actually be a year and a half….eighteen months April 26th.

Andy: And in that time you’ve put out how many books?

Bill: We will have twenty books out by April 3rd. (actually we only had 19 books out by that date…our printer shorted us a book  and we are in the process of looking at another printer) Hopefully. Counting Tim Hagans’ The Cowboy, The Kid, and The Samurai ashcan. That makes twenty. We have six in shipment right now coming up from the printer which is in Atlanta. Hopefully they get here in time and such…been a “little” rocky this last week but I think everything is on track now.

Andy: I’m assuming twenty comic books in that amount of time is pretty damn prolific..

Dirt: Yeah…that’ pretty good. There’s other indie comic studios out there that have been together for two or three years…even longer than that… but have only but out one or two books during that whole time…maybe four or five books tops.

Gary: Most people, at the most, might do a book a year….

Bill: That’s true…a book a year by most indie creators is a pretty accepted pace…

Gary: That may be true, but we’re breaking that mold…

Bill: The goal at first was to try to produce a new book every month…something other indie creators would never try and the numbers indicate that’s what we’ve been doing but it’s not always the case. Sometimes a month goes by without a book, but the very next month you get two or three…so everything averages out in the end.

Gary: That’s what happened in January…

Bill: Two years in a row we couldn’t get a book out January. Bad month for us. Got the February book out both years…no March book either year….last April we got one book…this April six. All debuting at Gem City Comic Con a week from today.

Andy: So basically….what lit the fire under your guy’s ass?

Gary: Well…it all started when I met up with Bill. The two of us decided to work on a project together for another company….and that company knuckle headed and failed to put the finished work out, so I told Bill….I’m getting ready to move and when I move into this new house I’m thinking about starting up a local art studio…where people could come over and draw, hang out, whatever….he thought it was a good idea. He wanted to start up a studio too and was thinking about getting a couple of guys together. Then one night he called me up and said he wanted to bring a friend over to meet me…that was Frank…..and I invited Dirt…

Dirt: I’d already met Bill once before…matter of fact we all three was working on that story that Gary was talking about…

Gary: We all hit it off pretty good and we decided let’s work together and let’s get some stuff published. And then it just snowballed….and there was several people we asked to get involved with us…and at first they were….very hesitant.  And politely declined in most cases. Maybe later. That type of deal, you know…but as soon as we came out with our first book it was like…Holy Shit these guys are for real…they got a book out in months after they got together….usually people talk about making a comic a good year before any work gets done…

Bill: Yeah…there was definitely people who wanted to wait but later was ready to jump on board…even more so. A couple of critics that were some what critical of that first book are now producing stuff through the studio or interested in working with us.

Gary: And to me that’s the best thing ever…

Bill: And to be honest one of the reasons we were able to produce so much so fast was because we had a lot of material saved up…sometimes as far back as ten years worth of stuff….that first Jack The Rabbit book is going on eleven years old…Dirt’s got a story he’s working on that started out about eight years ago. We finally get to work on this stuff now and see it through…but we didn’t rely on that stockpile of material. We knew we were going have to produce to keep that early pace. And of course there’s a lot of artistic growth that can be seen in this stuff… There are people who talk about making comics and people who talk about the comics they make and we knew what side of that line we wanted to be on. Luckily we’ve gotten a great bunch of guys together and everybody really has a strong work ethic…

Gary: The thing is…we never limited ourselves in any way. No one is saying…you only get to write…you just draw….you can’t do this, you can’t do that….every creator has complete free reign with his own projects…and thanks to the web Bill has found several great artists and colorists.

Bill: All over the country…Hell the world even…we work with people in Canada….two or three people down in Texas….Great Britain….the Philippines…..

Gary: A couple of people in Nevada…

Bill: That’s right…Victor and Jonny…both from Las Vegas…two creators in Colorado, there’s a guy in Michigan, Seattle , Miami, …Brant’s in Kentucky…James Hill is in Alabama…

Andy: The guy in the Philippines…that a writer or an artist?

Bill: That’s an artist…wait….he’s an inker. Still an artist. Don’t sell inkers short…

Andy: And the guy in Great Britain…that a writer…

Bill: Yeah…he’s a writer. His name is Sam Johnson.

Andy: So how many people did you start with…

Bill: Four.

Andy: You started with four…all local?

Bill: Yes. It was the three of us plus Frank Raynor.

Dirt: That’s the four founding members…

Bill: And  it just grew from there. Now we have a pretty solid group of core members of about nine people who are all locals for the most part except one guy…Kevin Adkins…who drives in every other weekend from northern Indiana. There’s the four of us….Kevin, Tim Hagans, Joe Pruitt, Dan Matthews and Chris Metzger. Plus can’t forget Chad Strohl who was with us since day one but isn’t local…he lives somewhere around Zanesville…I think and Raichal….so that’s a solid nine plus a couple. Oh yeah…Steve Brewington…the guy that now formats all our books…can’t forget about him. He’s incredible. We’re fuckin’ growing all the time…

Gary: Every two weeks we have production meetings over at my place…and every two weeks Kevin actually comes to these meetings.

Bill: Three and half hour drive…

Gary: And he comes down just for that. The guy is hard core. That’s the type of people we have involved with this thing…

Andy: So nine core members and everybody’s pretty much local except the guy that lives in Indiana. So…the artist in the Philippines. So you find him how? On-line?

Bill: Through the Comic Related web site…

Andy: Oh. Okay….you find all the international people through Comic Related?

Bill: Pretty much…people in other states too.

Gary: We have a regular forum Bill updates every week called the Hell Yeah forum. A lot of people check that out…

Dirt: Hell Yeah is our official catch phrase…

Bill: Kind of like Avengers Assemble. but cooler….

Andy: So what about this British guy? Has he ever written any other comic stuff?

Bill: Oh yeah…he’s pretty well known for his Geek Girl stuff which I think he self publishes. And then he has another ongoing series…that he does from time to time which I’m a big fan of called…Voodoo Junkie Hitwoman….love that stuff. And he has some odds and ends type stories which we’ve gotten lucky enough to run…he’s got a story coming up in one of our new books called Gold Town. That’s in Pandemonium Spotlight #2. Which he is already hyping up a great deal over there…

Andy: So he’s an already pretty well known for Geek Girl…

Bill: Yeah…. he’s another creator that got burned by the failed anthology that Gary and I were doing work for. The book may have crumpled but it forged a lot of creative connections…we’re working with another writer…Josh Brown which I met through that project from Hell as well….and we ran a couple of stories that Studio Akumakaze put together  for that book we don’t name….

Andy: So did Twilight Star start out as a vehicle just to get your stuff in print?

Gary: More or less. But it’s gotten much bigger in a short period of time… The actual name Twilight Star came from back in the day when me and my brother used to draw comic books. I had a studio I called Shooting Star and his was called Twilight. But when we would work together on projects we would combine our names it that became Twilight Star. It seemed to fit. Everybody kind of liked it so we just ran with it.

Andy: How far back are we talking…

Gary: Way back…

Dirt: High School days….

Bill: You know a lot of people get the wrong idea and think I have more say in this studio than I really do. A lot of people who think they know how I think…assume I came up with that name and there’s some kind of “Bill Gladman Hidden Meaning” in there which there isn’t. It’s just a simple combination of these two past names. Actually I wanted to call it Evening Star Productions so I could work in the title of a kick ass Judas Priest tune and the catch phrase would have been…”Do You Have E.S.P?” But they both looked at me and said “That Sucks, Bill”….

Dirt: Yeah….that sounds too much like a damn newspaper or something.

Bill: Kind of….I can see that. I’ve grown to love the Twilight Star name though. So I’m glad these guys stuck to their guns.

Gary: I like T.S.P….so you can choose between a teas spoon or a table spoon.

Bill: Hey guys…Andy’s wearing those kick ass rockin’ shows again. Did you see that?

Gary: I noticed that. He was wearing those at Champion City.

Andy: At Champion City I was wearing the Hotter Than Hell pair…

Bill: Yeah…that’s the Rock-n-Roll Over cover art on those. Sweet.

Andy: So have you guys always been creating comics?

Dirt: Ever since I can remember. At least I have.

Gary: Well you did take a hiatus.

Dirt: I did retire if you want to call it that for over ten years. But I got back into it after getting hooked up with theses guys. Bill got me involved with doing the art for an ongoing comic he’s writing called the Un-Naturals and I still working on that first issue which we hope to have out this year.

Bill: I think both of these guys have been drawing comics since they were in high school.

Gary: I’ve been drawing since grade school, dude. Seeing how Dirt is my older brother I was always chasing after him.

Andy: What’s the age difference between you two guys?

Gary: Nine years.

Bill: Dirt is older than dirt and Gary’s not quite as old as dirt….I give Derron Hell about that all the time. Dirt’s actually the oldest member of the studio..

Dirt: You ain’t too far behind Gladman.

Bill: You’re still ahead by a year or two…

Andy: So obviously you got into comics first. How old are you now?

Dirt: 46

Bill: Damn…

Dirt: Whatever.

Andy: So did you start drawing right away , when you were a kid growing up reading comics?

Dirt: Pretty much. I mean ever since I could pick up a pencil. I liked what I was reading back in the day…Batman, Superman, Spider-Man….you know the usual I guess.

Gary: Planet Of The Apes

Dirt: Yeah…that was one of my favorites.

Andy: The magazine.

Dirt: Yeah the big black and white magazine….that thing was awesome. I loved the art in that book.

Andy: I wish they would re-print that stuff.

Gary: Me too…that was good stuff..

Dirt: I used to have a bunch of those. That’s what inspired me to draw.

Gary: And he used to draw on anything. Everything and anything. As long as he could somehow get lead on it he would draw on it.

Bill: What’s really cool is that I’m involved in two different projects with these guys where I’m inking their pencils. And these guys would draw on anything…including really small pieces of paper. Hell they would draw on the back of a postage stamp. And still get all this crazy detail in their pencils. Hurts the Hell out of my hand inking that stuff sometimes. And sometimes…the stuff gets blacked in….I ain’t going to deny that. Time issues…whatever you know.

Dirt: Lazy…

Bill: That too.

Gary: I’ve been trying to get better on that. But I can’t help it when you guys have me drawing nine, ten panels on one page.

Bill: That’s Frank…I rarely go past six.

Gary: Most comic book pages have four to five panels per page. But I’ve gotten pages with eight, nine…sometimes ten panels. And that doesn’t bother me. It’s just to do that it forces you at times to draw small…

Bill: You guys claim to be old school. Old school Marvel guys were doing 12 panel pages forever….the four or five panel page didn’t really get popular until the 90’s…

Gary: Hey I’m all about old school…but drawing small and drawing those many panels slows us down. Can’t have it both ways there, Billy. And Dirt and I both have gotten pretty good at looking at Bill and Frank’s scripts and deciding….well we can combine these two panels….and this has already been shown enough….that type of thing. Or else you’re really doing double the work. Where it’s actually one page we would be doing the art of two pages if we didn’t make this kind of changes. And both of those guys have complete faith in us when we’re drawing. They give us a lot of free reign.

Bill: Hey…they’re story tellers. They know what they’re doing.

Andy: So with him being the older brother you just started doing what he was doing, was that it?

Gary: Pretty much. I used to read his comic books. That’s how I learned how to read, you know, was comic books. They really taught…forced me to increase my vocabulary because there would be words I wouldn’t know….like invincible….the one that got me all the time was omnipotent. I’d go ask what words like that mean and I was always getting told to go look it up in the damn dictionary…so I did. Hell we used to have a stack of old comics in the bathroom to read. Old Werewolf By Night and Morbius…stuff like that. And that’s what I grew up reading. And then I wanted to draw…I mean Dirt was doing it….so he started to give me half finished pictures which I would finish up. I never tried to trace. I wanted to copy elements from him…and the comic book artists I liked but not copy them if you know what I mean. They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery well I wasn’t trying to flatter anybody like that.

Bill: What’s really kind of cool…it’s kinda like the Buscema brothers…..Sal and John at Marvel or later Adam and Andy Kubert….these two guys grew up having an art style all their own. There is a distinct “Brothers Church” look to their art which has become a staple of Twilight Star. To the point that one of the complaints we’ve gotten from our readers…if you want to call it a complaint. It’s actually creative criticism…. is people don’t like it when a story by Derron is followed by a story by Gary. Sometimes people just keep on reading thinking they are reading the same story because the art looks so much the same…and all the sudden they’re like…what the Hell happened?!? This doesn’t make sense anymore. So we’ve started to make sure something goes between their stories…even if it’s just a pin up by another artist…but I try my best not to waste page count on just pin ups but it happens sometimes….. BUT….if you are working on their pencils like Tim Hagans and I have as an inker…you start to notice a lot of differences in the two. Joe Pruitt will be inking some cover art by Dirt in the near future…he’s already inked cover art by Gay…I’m sure he’ll see what I’m talking about as well.

Dirt: One of the differences is that my stuff is better…

Gary: Yeah…right….

Andy: So who were some of the artists that influenced you guys as you were growing up?

Dirt: Like Bill said….I was heavy into both John and Sal Buscema. I was into that old school art…Neal Adams. Loved his stuff. I’m not too much into the newer art out there now…too much of it just looks the same….over and over…same stuff, same poses. Talking heads. Nothing dynamic angle wise, not like what Neal Adams was doing when I was growing up.

Andy: So the same influences for you, Gary?

Gary: Actually I have to say Dirt was the biggest influence on me as an artist as I was growing up. I wanted to draw like him…

Dirt: That’s cool….you never told me that before…

Gary: I ain’t going to lie. As I got older I got into other artists….Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee….Simon Beasley…oh yeah….Frank Frazetta.  Boris…those guys were huge when I was growing up. Berni Wrightson. And Arthur Adams…Tim Vigil…

Bill: Hey , Dirt….did you like Paul Gulacy?

Dirt: Yeah…when he was doing Master Of Kung Fu…he was the shit….

Bill: I see a lot of Paul Gulacy stuff in your work….a little Steranko as well…

Dirt: Damn…you never told me that either…

Bill: Well Andy’s here so I have to be nice…

Dirt: I see how it is…kissing up for the press. Really when I look at my stuff I see a lot of Sal Buscema…from the way I draw the cheek bones and stuff like that.

Gary: What about you , Bill?

Bill: I split almost equal amount of time between writing and drawing and I have always been influenced by creators that do both write and draw. Jim Starlin, Frank Miller, John Byrne…greats like Jim Steranko and Jack Kirby…later on people like David Mack and Phil Hester. I consider myself a much stronger writer than an artist  but I like to do both and my art has gotten much better since my involvement in this studio and working with these two guys…and inking an occasional piece by somebody like Victor Moya or James Hill has really helped me out a lot. No doubt inking strong artists like those guys has helped my pencils a great deal.

Gary: You can see a big difference in that new Jack The Rabbit stuff…and that Prodigy stuff too.

Dirt: But it doesn’t quite have that Craig P. Russell look to it anymore..

Andy: Bill….you’ve been creating comics for a while now too. As you mentioned earlier you first started the Jack the Rabbit comics ten years ago. What was it that made you decide that just reading them wasn’t enough and that you wanted to get involved in the creating process?

Bill: Well…it was the same thing when I was playing music…sometimes I would hear or see something….read something and just be puzzled. I mean with the rich history of this fill in the blank character this is the story you’re going to give me. Are you serious? Sometimes a song or a comic left me feeling that something just got screwed up along they way and that I could do it better somehow. Or I wanted to try to do it better at least…but once again just like doing the music I didn’t want to go out and play tunes other bands had already recorded and all these other bands were playing. I wanted to do my stuff. Same with the comics…I had hundreds of characters dying to have their stories told. And I think these two guys felt pretty much the same way.

Dirt: A little similar I suppose…but I have to admit when I was younger I drew my share of Batman…Spider-Man that type of stuff. I would pretend I was one of the “Big Three” and have my characters teaming up with Superman and the Hulk….whatever…

Bill: When I was a kid I had a straight up rip off character of Spider-Man I called the Brown Spider….his costume was different….he was bulkier and he had a cape….and his secret identity was Hal Jordan.

Gary: Me I never drew a lot of that stuff. I always had my own stories and own characters…plus all the stuff you and Frank throw at me…plus Tim… I’m good and I like it that way. I don’t want to draw Spider-Man.

Bill: When I was in one of my past bands one of the guys…the drummer…wanted me to write a “hit single” so it could be played on the radio.  He didn’t really like the dose of reality I interjected to that suggestion. I don’t want to hear my shit on the radio. I hate radio. If I ever heard one of my songs on the radio I think I’d drive my fuckin’ car into a wall…..now a fan listening to a song off of one of my c’d’s in his car. That’s cool as Hell….or somebody reading I comic I wrote featuring characters I created…that’s what it’s all about.

Andy: How far do you guys think you can take Twilight Star?

Bill: That’s a very good question. I guess it boils down to your motivation. Do you produce comics to get rich and famous….dream of telling the day job to kiss your ass…if so making comics…even if you’re working for people like Marvel and D.C….maybe you’re in it for all the wrong reasons. The age of “Rock Star” creators is long over. If you’re in it because you want to create something of merit while maintaining a day job that pays they bills, one you don’t “hate”….that may be a more realistic goal and that’s what I’m shooting for. Being VERY optimistic I’d like to see everyone currently involved with Twilight Star enjoy the quality of life they enjoy right now…but let Twilight Star pay the bills and put food on the table….instead of punching a clock and being a slave to grind somewhere else…

Dirt: To live comfortably while making comics….that would be nice.

Gary: The REAL optimistic thing would be having somebody pick up one of our books, somebody well known with some clout….and have that person find something that he likes and say….I want this as a movie!

Bill: Wow….a movie deal would be nice. But so would be wining the lottery….I mean nobody with that type of clout goes to the comic shops and shows our books are at…

Gary: Well….I can’t deny I don’t dream about something like that happening. That would be the ultimate goal for me. To live off what we do through the studio. To be completely established to the point where we could just create. You want to draw one day…draw…you want to write go ahead and write…and at the same time know your bills are getting paid due to these efforts .

Bill: Dude…I want to be there too…but I don’t have to be rich. Along as I could make a living and create…I’m happy. If I could take the 40-48 hours a week I spend working at my day job and put that into creating comics…man that would be great. But I’ve borrowed a page from a good friend of mine…..Dustin Carson….make yourself happy first. That includes the day job….and then make comics. Doing it the other way around means you’re gonna wind up beating your head against the wall. A lot. And I think I’m there. I like my job. I feel productive, and appreciated and the days go fast. And I have plenty of time to work on this other stuff…I wish I had more time….true…but right now it works for me.

Gary: Well I’m just saying….I’d like to make a living at this but I’d like to be REALLY successful at it. To have people really like our stuff. To know our name. I want to hear about people going into a store and asking for a Twilight Star book…instead of a Marvel or D.C. book…man that would be great.

Bill: Some of that may not be as far fetched as it might sound. The current state of mainstream comics actually helps independent creators like us. So many people have gotten tired of the non-stop crossovers and the gimmicks that Marvel and D.C have become to be known by these last five…six years. These books used to be great….now they’re watered down…there’s still one or two good ones out there…but I can remember having to make choices when buying comics….now you’re hoping you might find something worth reading. And I don’t think it’s too unrealistic to work towards…within the next 18 months…to get a spinner rack in several of these comic shops that support us…even if we have to buy the racks as long as they can provide the space…and have a spinner rack of nothing but Twilight Star books in each store. So a customer doesn’t have to even try to find the “indie” section of the store to find our books. They can go right to that spinner rack…the Twilight Star section of that store and find any Twilight Star book they’re looking for…who knows maybe down the road our own store front where we can sell other things besides just comics…novels, music, framed art, clothing…whatever…I guess that’s my pipe dream. I don’t need a swimming pool in the shape of our mascot or anything like that. I’m happy where I am…but would still like to grow of course…

Gary: I want to be successful to the point there’s no worries involved with my day to day. I want to live by doing want I want, even if that means doing nothing and telling other people what to do.

Bill: No matter what the long term goal is for each creator in this studio it all starts by getting the customer….that reader into the shops and asking for a Twilight Star book. We have readers at a couple of stores that have our books on their file pull. Because they know with us…which isn’t the case with every indie comic studio…they know they are going to get something new every 30 to 60 days. Not every one or two years…

Gary: Yeah…every couple of months…

Andy: Going back to that comment about the current state of mainstream comics…why do you think that’s beneficial to comic creators like you guys?

Bill: I don’t think that mains stream comic publishers care any more. And the creators sense that. Everybody is just going through the motions making comics for a paycheck. They don’t have the passion or drive that the creators that came before them had. Jack Kirby loved to write and draw comics…that he got paid to do that was just a bonus to him. Today creators don’t realize how lucky they are to be given the opportunity to do what they do every day….they probably complain about their day job….got write another stupid Teen Titans story today… and comic companies don’t really invest in the comics like they used to. They don’t try to find any body beyond the cookie cutter quality creators that they have drawing a check. The big money for these comic companies nowadays are in films. The comics are just flyers for these films…just a way to maintain active copyright and possibly some kind of grass roots interest in the characters. It’s like going into McDonalds….they don’t care how many times you refill your Coke as long as you buy the Big Mac…

Dirt: And that’s why they use the gimmick stuff. To bring attention back to something that has gotten over stale…like the Fantastic Four.

Bill: They invest millions of dollars in one film in hopes of  making 10% to 20% of that back on top of the initial investment in the mean time they grab what they can at the comic shops and continue to hike the prices….while paying as little as they can to their creative staff, and hoping they same guy that buys that Thor comic is going to go see the movie at least twice and later buy it on Blue Ray…so that’s where the money is in comics right now…movies. And the books that fuel those characters….are stagnating. They are going nowhere. People are starting to realize this and looking for something else. Something fresh…created by people how care about the stories and the characters…like independent comics.

Andy: So you guys think there’s just a general lack of care in the story telling and what…the editing of comics on the mainstream level.

Bill: I don’t want to put words in these guys’ mouths but I feel that way. There’s just nothing new or fresh out there anymore. They don’t give the creators the opportunity to create new characters…new ideas…new books…plus creators don’t want to create anything new for these guys any way. Who wants to create the next Wolverine and never get a nickel out of the movies that character is going to be in,…the big guys are going to get all that cash. Disney and Warner Brothers will take all the money created from a character that takes off at Marvel and D.C….while indie creators are out there taking chances…working new ideas and concepts  and they’re not worried about what some suit in an office overlooking Park Avenue thinks about the book…these guys are much more concerned about what a guy…or girl…with four bucks in their pocket thinks of the book. So if you’re looking for something completely new…you’re getting that from an indie book. You’re not getting that from a Marvel or D.C book. You’re going to get a re-vamped Spider-Man of Green Lantern story. No viable characters of any real importance have been created by either of these two companies in over fifteen years…and when you start charging four dollars…five dollars for a book, readers are wanting something new and dynamic for that four dollars. They don’t care if the interior art is black and white. They don’t care if the paper stock is a little bit different. They just want something fun Something that is going to thrill them. Comics don’t thrill anybody anymore. At least don’t thrill me any more.

Gary: When you read a Spider-Man book…you know he’s not going to die. Unless they advertise three months ahead of time…and then you know…okay he might die…it must be his time to be on the get killed off list…but you also know he’ll be back in about six months. Truth is they’re not really going to kill off anybody of real importance in any of those books. You don’t advertise that stuff…it just doesn’t make sense. That’s just a bunch of bullshit to get you to buy the book. To me it would make better sense and make the book more sought out if you didn’t tell anybody that a major character was going to die. I would love to be reading a book and  be like…damn! They killed off so and so…I didn’t expect that!

Bill: Comics don’t take chances like that any more…the days of The Death of Gwen Stacy are long over. Nobody knew Jean Grey was going to die at the end of X-Men #137. Nobody. Everybody thought the X-Men was going to come out of that little scrap on the moon with no problem…just like everything else they have gotten into. Nobody expected anything like what really happened.. She died. It was awesome.

Gary: And then she came back…

Bill: And got killed again…and came back…and got killed again…

Andy: So these stories are just too predictable any more.

Gary: They’re stale. That’s what they are. I still buy a little…I bought The Last Unicorn even though I knew the story…I like the story and wanted the comic version. I buy  Secret Avengers…

Bill: Good book…

Gary: And I bought The Thanos Imperative.

Bill: Another good book. You see that’s what gets me to buy a book now. Good writing. Serious thought provoking writing. Unless Ed Brubaker writes it and that’s the guy writing Secret Avengers and Captain America….or unless Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning…the guys behind the Cosmic Marvel stuff and Heroes For Hire write it…I don’t even bother. I used to spend 40-60 bucks a week on comics…did it for years. I only buy three books now. And it’s not because of the money situation it’s because I just don’t think there’s anything out there worth buying. I rather take the money I would of spent buying those books and use it to produce my own.

Gary: And I buy one….at the most.

Bill: Man I used to get pissed off reading comics. I actually threw a book across the room once. And cussed Bendis out as I stomped on it and then threw it away…I guess that was worth four bucks…

Dirt: We all know how you have a personal hate on for him…

Gary: What about Deadpool?

Bill: Don’t even get me started on that Deadpool shit…

Andy: I’ve been thinking about what you said and it has been a long time since you’ve seen any interesting new characters….worth carrying their own monthly title.

Bill: The last viable character to come out in mainstream comics…if you want to call Image mainstream comics and I do. I consider them one of the Big Five…would be Invincible. Before him…I’d hate to admit would be Deadpool who came out about twenty years ago…

Gary: I’d say Spawn was the last good, new character created by anybody. I know he’s lost his way…even I don’t read his books any more but I think he was the last one as far as I’m concerned. Despite the fact he has lost quite a bit of his mojo and that was in 92 I think…

Andy: Yeah he was huge for a while…

Bill: If you get a brand new book nowadays from Marvel or D.C…with a brand new character or a brand new character….you’re lucky if it last four issues. That’s why they do so many limited series. Even major characters have limited series sometimes instead of an established on-going series. Nobody wants to take a chance anymore…they rather revamp X-Force once again instead investing time and effort into creating something new and different.

Andy: But is that really on the corporate level or is that on the fan level? I mean I’m sure if people bought the book they would continue to produce it, right.

Bill: But nothing sells as good as Batman…so let’s give him nine books a month. Let’s cancel a good book like Nova or the Guardians of the Galaxy so Wolverine, Spider-Man, The X-Men, The Avengers, and Deadpool can sell more books…so I blame the corporate level more so than the fans.  Used to Marvel would give a book a while to find an audience….look at Spider-Woman back in the 80’s that book wasn’t selling but they kept making it…Dazzler…She-Hulk….Hell even Team America ran longer than most new books that Marvel tries to launch now.

Gary: They don’t give it a chance to develop an actual story or the characters….and to me I’m an artist foremost. I can pick up a book and look at the art and it’s got to grab me. I pick up book today and I get pissed…I can do better than that. And it’s just not about the caliber of art. It’s about storytelling. Any artist worth calling an artist can draw a picture and then another …and then another picture… you need to tell a story with your art but a lot of new artists can’t do that. That’s why today’s books are so story driven and word heavy at times….see I’m the opposite of Bill. The art has to come first and then the story…I should be able to look at the pages and figure out most of the story and that should pull me in. The words should just be there to embellish the art…to make the pictures hit harder.

Dirt: I remember reading an article from Jim Shooter back when he was running Marvel…

Bill: Man do I miss Jim Shooter…..

Dirt: And he said when he would look at work from possible artists and never took notice how well they drew details like a brick wall or broken glass…or how dynamic the panels were. It was all about story telling. Can this artist tell a story with just his art…to get hired at Marvel you had to be a story teller first and an artist second.

Gary: And it’s harder than most people realize….to actually get a feel of a story and do it justice. Not just draw pretty pictures from panel to panel.

 

END OF PART ONE OF INTERVIEW: