Timothy Truman is one of the creators who emerged from independent comics in the 1980s. One of the early students at the Joe Kubert School, Truman worked as an illustrator at TSR before he began drawing Grimjack, written by John Ostrander. Truman has collaborated many times over the years with Ostrander and Joe R. Lansdale, he’s worked for Marvel and DC on different projects (Hawkworld, Guns of the Dragon), but Truman has spent much of his career writing and drawing his own work. His books including Wilderness, The Black Lamb, Dragon Chiang, Tecumseh!, and others. In recent years, Truman has drawn new Grimjack stories, co-wrote and illustrated A Man Named Hawken, but he has mostly focused on illustration work and written Conan for more than a decade.
Truman announced that he is launching a kickstarter to return to one of his very first projects in comics, Scout. Truman previously told the story of Emmanuel Santana, an Apache traditionalist in the Southwest after the United States has largely collapsed, in two series, Scout and Scout: War Shaman, which ended with Santana’s death. The new series, co-written by Truman and his son and drawn by Truman, picks up the story fifteen years later with the story of Santana’s two sons.
I make no claim to journalistic objectivity when it comes to Truman. Since I was a teen, he has been one of my favorite comics creators, and time has not shifted that opinion. We sat down to talk about his work and career, his memories of Bernie Wrightson and Gardner Fox, and our shared love of the Eddas and Norse mythology. - Alex Dueben
I’ve been wanting to do it for years, but I was waiting for the right time. My son and I have been working on it for four years now, just kicking around the story, fine tuning things and coming up with a storyline that we could both be really excited about. I’m more excited about this than I was about the original Scout, I think. We’ve been plugging away on it and we’re launching a Kickstarter for it. It’s planned as two 100-page graphic novels. This campaign is for the first volume. We’ll do a launch for book 2 as soon as this one goes to the printer.
For people who don’t know or have forgotten, what was Scout? Who was Emmanuel Santana?
I did the original Scout comics for Eclipse Comics in the 1980s and early ‘90s. It was consistently their best selling title. Scout and it’s follow-up series, Scout: War Shaman were set in a dystopian, almost post-apocalyptic world in what at the time was the far, far future of 1999. [laughs] One of the most notable things about the title is that its lead character, Emanuel Santana, was Native American – an Apache who had served in a paramilitary program called the Schoolboys but had gone AWOL. After having visions that the Four Monsters who figure into the Apache Creation story had returned to our plane of existence, incarnated as four politicians and corporate oligarchs. Scout’s was on a mission to get to them and take them out, along with the man who had summoned them back into existence, a former pro wrestler who had become president of the country, Jerry Grail.
At the time, the book was my response to a lot of things that were going on politically and environmentally. We were in the middle of the Cold War and everyone seemed to be afraid of atomic bombs falling any minute and I just came up with the idea that there were other things to worry about beyond atomic bombs. Scout’s world is an America that’s fallen into a state of collapse, not due to outside forces but due to inside forces. I’ve always been a fan of Native American culture and history and I’d been reading a lot about traditional Apache religion and lifestyle and the more I started thinking about it, it seemed to me the only one that would be equipped to survive in this world that I was concocting would be an Apache traditionalist. Not just a Native American traditionalist, but an Apache traditionalist. Anyway, that was the genesis of the story.
Now in 2018 the idea of an environmentally ruined America that’s collapsed in on itself doesn’t seem quite so outlandish and crazy. [laughs]
How far we’ve come since the 1980s! [laughs] That’s what I mean. It was the time to resurrect the concept. In the follow-up series Scout: War Shaman, which was set fifteen years after the events chronicled in Scout, Santana gained two companions, his two young sons Victorio and Tahzey. That presented a new spin on the story. Scout didn’t have just himself to worry about. He had to do what he could to protect his two boys and be a good father to them as they roamed across this barren, ravaged landscape. At the end of War Shaman, Scout was ambushed and killed by government troops. However, Victorio and Tahzey were left alive. The oldest, Tahzey is rescued by one of Scout’s allies, a militant fundamentalist minister. However, when we last see the youngest, Victorio, he’s all alone beneath a rock in the desert. No one can find him.
The new series deals with Vic and Tahzey. and what’s happened to them. Another fifteen years have passed. Victorio and Tahzey have now grown up. Tahzey has been living by his wits as a wanderer, going from city to city, town to town, seeking his roots and his purpose. His entire heritage was stolen from him so he’s seeking his roots and purpose. He’d always assumed his younger brother was dead. However, he discovers that Vic is very much alive, and has somehow survived alone in the desert since the age of five. The new series deals with them getting back together again. They’ve lived very different lives, to say the least, so they have to learn how to become brothers again.
The scenario doesn’t seem quite so outlandish and I think that’s true of a few of your books. From the beginning of your career, you’ve told stories about class and justice and inequality. Your work has always been about this very charged political idea of how the world works.
I guess I’ve always tried to keep track of the news and stay politically aware. Things that are going on in the world always inform my stories. I think of myself primarily as an entertainer but I like to make sure there’s some sort of backbone to the stories. Something that I can get into. Hopefully if I can get into it, then the reader will be able to pick up on these things, too. I don’t want to preach to anybody but I put forth my responses to whatever sort of social input that I’m being fed at the time. The way I see it, that’s how storytelling is done.
As I was saying that, it’s strange to think about Hawkworld or Black Lamb or Scout primarily in that way. That’s not the first thing I think about when I read them or when I think about now. Those background ideas are part of the world, but they’re not necessarily the story.
That’s the way it should be. You shouldn’t think of any of those social aspects first, but I like to have an underpinning for the story and I think that makes the worlds more believable and interesting to the reader. Whether I’m portraying the Old West or a dystopian America or Thanagar, it’s a way to give the reader a little more meat to the story than two guys bashing each other in the face and car chases and gunplay. I just like to make a reason for the story in the first place. Novelists have the opportunity to do that, so I always treat my stories as if I’m writing a novel. Scout was one of the first heavily continuity-based comics in this modern era. It was a miniseries before miniseries became vogue. I treated each issue of the book as if it were the chapter of a novel. My biggest influences were science fiction and adventure authors, perhaps even more than comic book writers.
You mentioned that you’ve been working on Scout for a few years now. It has been a while since the last issue came out, why has the character stuck with you?
I started Scout when I was just in my late twenties. There was something really basic and seminal about the character. All of my interests at the time are wrapped up in that character. It was my first attempt at doing a full-fledged creator owned work where I would not only draw the series – as I’d done with Grimjack – but write it too. I created the story from whole cloth. It was the first time that I gave voice to myself fully as a creative person. I’d had almost thirty years to sit back and dream about creating a story and how to deploy all of my influences into one tale so Scout is really at the core of anything that ever inspired me to want to be an artist and writer in the first place.
In recent years especially, I’ve talked to a lot of Native American artists and writers – particularly at Indigenous Comic Con in Albuquerque, where I’m one of the few non-Indigenous people that’s been invited to every one of those conventions. When I got to sit around and talk to Native American creators, their response to the book was just so positive. Jon Proudstar paid me the highest compliment. He said that he was really surprised to find out that I was non-Native.
I talked with Lee Francis last year who runs the Indigenous Comic Con and he mentioned that you were one of the first people he invited to the first one, and how Scout meant a lot to a lot of people.
It’s a humbling thing. The sum of everything I wanted for the book. That response within the Native American community is the highest compliment I could receive. It’s always a pleasure to go there and talk to people. Not just to get accolades about Scout; the Indigenous Con is just such a wonderful experience on its own. If I wasn’t a comic book creator, I would still enjoy the convention because the people are so wonderful and atmosphere is so laid back. It’s a celebration of everything creative in the Native American community—comics, film, comedy, gaming, music, fine art, everything. It’s just really a positive experience in every way.
The landscape is so important in Scout. Have you spent a lot of time in the Southwest?
As much as I can. We make at least one trip a year out there. But when I was first doing Scout I’d never been to Southwest. It wasn’t until a year or two after doing the book that I finally got a chance to be out there. It really impacted my whole life. I was amazed. Especially once we got out into the Sonora Desert. I got to feel 110 degree heat and was really struck by the notion that the Apaches could run sixty miles in that sort of heat. It really impacted me. Now when I go out there I just luxuriate in the scenery and the feel of it. I feel really at home in the desert. If I was younger my wife and I probably would have relocated to New Mexico or Arizona but we have so many roots here in the East, that it would be hard to pull up stakes. Ben, our son, lives in Tucson so we go out and visit every chance we get.
But when started out you were working off the imagery of westerns and photos.
Yes, but I was also aware that a lot of that the scenery that we were seeing in classic westerns was false. Like the stuff that was being shot in Monument Valley and the directors were telling us it was Texas. [laughs] I was fully aware that the Southwest environment has its own unique characteristics. Every time I go out there I write it off as a research trip because I’m absorbing that much more. One of the main things when we go hiking in the desert I realize, oh my god, everything around me wants to kill me and take my water. [laughs] When you’re out there, you realize that everything is in survival mode. I was born in West Virginia, right in the heart of the Appalachians, which is like the rainforest of the East, so I was used to humidity and trees and rivers. When I go to the Southwest it’s this wonderful alien environment that is just unimaginable no matter how much research I did.
One reason I wanted to talk, besides the fact that honestly you are and since I was a teenager, have been one of my favorite comics creator, is that you’ve been working steadily but in the past ten to fifteen years you haven’t written and drawn many comics. You wrote Conan, drew a comic here and there, but not many.
I spent almost eleven years writing Conan – the longest I’ve ever stuck with one character. However I was getting my artistic jollies doing straight illustration work on a lot of things that comic folks are less aware of. I do a lot of covers for limited edition hardcovers from Subterranean Press, as well as CD covers and various illustrated projects for the Grateful Dead. For Sony Music, I illustrated a hardboiled detective story written by crime novelist Ian Rankin for a special box set of music by the late Irish guitarist, Rory Gallagher. I did a bunch of full color illustrations for Modiphius Publishing’s official Conan role playing game, as well as some paintings for a couple of children’s books – one about Beowulf and another about monsters of Greek mythology. I also worked with a film production company helping develop some special effects stuff for a new platform they were working on. As far as comics goes, I drew two Grimjack graphic novels as well. There was a smattering of mainstream comics stuff here and there – a Thor story and a couple of issues of Hawkman. But as far as comics goes, the biggest project was Hawken, the horror-western that I did with my son Ben. So I’ve been doing a ton of drawing, but most of it wasn’t for the comics medium. It feels good to jump back into it with Scout: Marauder.
I wanted to ask about the Grateful Dead because I know you’ve been drawing comics and album covers and other work for quite a while. How did that start?
Back in 1991, I think, on the back page of CBG, Kitchen Sink Comics put out a call for artists and writers. They were going to be doing Grateful Dead comics, an official licensed product. I’d worked with Denis on a couple smaller projects and so I called him up and I said I was interested in doing something for this. Either Denis or his art director told me, we’ll get back to you in a few days and let you know where to send your portfolio. I got off the phone and maybe ten minutes later the phone rang. They said, there’s no need to send a portfolio, Jerry Garcia knows your work. As it turned out, Garcia was a huge comic book fan and collector. When I got to know Robert Hunter, the lyricist of the Grateful Dead, he told me that the first thing that Garcia did when he got his signing check from Warner Brothers for their first album, Garcia went down to this bookstore in San Francisco and bought every copy of every issue of EC Comics that he could get his hands on. Hunter remembers sitting on the floor in Garcia’s room and they were arranging the comics in chronological order and putting them into boxes. [laughs] A true comics fan. Just that vision of Garcia and Hunter sitting on the floor sorting through Jerry’s comics and putting them in boxes is this amazing visual. [laughs]
Yes, and we did a lot of things in Grateful Dead Almanac, too. Grateful Dead Almanac had been in existence in the seventies as a sort of newsletter that would go out to Grateful Dead fans. That’s one way they built their fan base. They revived the Grateful Dead Almanac and they wanted a comic to go in it and everybody in the band liked my artwork so they had me do these one-page comics. At the time they were tabloid sized, 11” by 17” pages. When I first started doing them, for a year or so I did them with Robert Hunter. Hunter would write original poetry and I would read those and turn them into a comic. It was a really interesting way to work because Hunter wouldn’t write a script. He did Dog Moon the same way. He just sent me a long poem and let me visualize it any way I wanted. That’s the way we worked with the Almanac. I would get these words and I would let these pictures go off in my head and I would end up drawing whatever those first images were I would put them down on paper. It was a wonderful way to work. It was almost like putting music to his lyrics, just a very visceral response to the words. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to my real dream, which was to become an underground cartoonist in San Francisco in the sixties. [laughs] Some of the stuff I did for The Grateful Dead I’m as proud of it as I am of anything I’ve ever done, whether those CD covers or a lot of those Almanac pages. I feel really good about them. I’m my own worst critic so whenever I feel good about something, it’s a good feeling.
For this new Scout project, when did you chose to Kickstart it?
I guess last year. It seemed like the best track to take for a creator owned project, in relation to changes the market has gone through. I’d hit a couple of publishers with the idea and the page rates for creator owned work just aren’t what they were in the nineties. Another drawback was the fact that I would be constricted to this six-issue format – if we were lucky. You tell a publisher these days that you want to do six issues and they’ll try to talk you into doing four. Ben and I really wanted to stretch out with how we wanted to tell the story and visualize certain scenes. So frankly, it was the only way that I could recapture that creative feeling I had when I was working with Eclipse back in the day. Cat Yronwode was a wonderful editor. She would provide wonderful feedback but she just let me take the book anywhere I wanted to. Visually I had certain sequences in the book which had this cinematic influence. I could stretch out scenes where I wanted to stretch them out. Even though I can’t stand to look at the artwork in the old Scouts, I would let the narrative flow take me where I wanted it to. I think I’ve always been a really strong storyteller, even though I’m really picky about my actual drawing technique. I wanted to recapture that feeling of being able to stretch it out where I wanted to. Give some scenes a little extra visual kick like I did back when I was doing the original book. People seemed to like that. I got a lot of comments when I was starting out at conventions there was always someone who would walk up to my table and say, when I look at your books, I feel like I’m watching a movie. I always thought that was a big compliment so I wanted to be able to re-inject that into my work. I haven’t been able to work like that in a long time.
You’re writing this with your son Ben. You two wrote Hawken, which you drew. What do you like about working with him? What have your collaborations been like?
Ben is one of my favorite collaborators. There are lots of people that I would like to work with, but given my druthers there are three guys I can work with and know that we’re going to do something that I feel good about – that’s John Ostrander, Joe R. Lansdale, and Benjamin. Whenever Ben and I are working together, there’s no feeling of nepotism because we approach story in really amazingly different fashions. Ben is more analytical where I go from the gut, so when we work together there’s this really nice melding of ideas. It surprised me. Ben and I might have heated discussions about things – like I would with Ostrander or Lansdale – but we never argue. That was a big surprise because we often locked horns when Ben was in grade school or in high school but it’s never the case now that he’s an adult. There’s a feeling of collaboration and that we’re both adding something of value. I never get the feeling that I’m working with somebody younger than me or somebody who doesn’t have as much experience as me or somebody that I want to be patronizing towards because he’s my son. It’s as much of a rewarding collaborative experience as it working with John Ostrander or Joe Lansdale.
I think about your career and you’ve worked at DC and Marvel, but you never wanted that to be your career. You like collaboration but you primarily like doing your own thing. I think that’s a model for a lot of younger creators who want to be primarily storytellers.
I’m just pig-headed. As soon as editor told me I couldn’t do something it always made me want to do it more. When Ostrander and I started Grimjack, science fiction wasn’t in vogue and fantasy wasn’t in vogue and also you couldn’t have a lead character who over 35 years old. We broke the mold with that. They said you could never do a non-white lead character in comics and I did Scout. There had been few successful historical series so when I did Wilderness. I think a lot of that comes from being influenced by novels and movies as much as comics. Comics were my chosen medium, but my influences were outside of comics. I wanted to have that sort of liberty to create my own stories.
Another a big influence on me was the European comics I was picking up at the time. When I got into the Kubert School, Joe had been to a lot of European comic book conventions and he was bringing all these European graphic novels home with him. It was all creator owned, and in most cases the artists were writing and drawing their own material. That just appealed to me. The work represented the singular visions of the creators. When I was really young my comic book influences were the Warren magazines, Creepy and Eerie, and underground comics. There was this thread of people doing whatever the heck they wanted to do but choosing comics as their vehicle for telling these stories. Drawing Spider-Man wasn’t my goal; telling stories with comics was my goal.
You’ve promoted others and published others. It was because of you that I discovered Sam Glanzman and Alcatena.
When I become a fan of somebody I like everybody to know about them. [laughs] I get very enthusiastic about things I like. When I have the chance to meet people like Tomas Giorello, who I worked with on Conan, it’s a great feeling that I like the people as much as I like their artwork. Sam and I became great friends, and I was really sad when he passed away last year. I’m an artist fanboy. I’m not so much of a character fanboy. When I find artists who work I like I become a total fanboy for their stuff.
Speaking of being a fanboy, though, I have this big regret now because there were all these years I was at conventions with Bernie Wrightson. He was one of my hugest influences – so much so that I became very timid around him. I sat right beside Bernie at a con and I talked to him, but I never had a big open conversation with him. I just felt like I was 12 years old again in his presence. [laughs] It’s my big regret I didn’t have a really meaty discussion with him about stuff. I don’t know what it was. Bernie was the kindest, most gentle person in the world, but as soon as I would start having a conversation my hands would start shaking. [laughs] There’s a lot of people I could talk to very easily, but his impact on me was just so great that I could never get past it. I’ve met and hung out with Pulitzer Prize winners and rock and roll stars but there was something about Bernie. I could never quit quivering and feeling like a twelve-year-old kid around him.
So, you didn’t make Hawkworld because you’re a big Hawkman fan, but because you were a fan of Joe Kubert’s Hawkman, or whoever’s. That kind of thing.
That kind of thing, exactly. Murphy Anderson really influenced me. Another big influence, as fan as Hawkman goes, was Gardner Fox. I got to meet Gardner at a GenCon, a gaming con when I was still working with TSR Hobbies. I noticed this older fellow and his wife sitting out in the hall sitting all by themselves and I went and said hey and they were very friendly. We started talking and I found out he was Gardner Fox. He was a guest at GenCon and nobody really knew who he was. He was one of the most wonderful people I’d ever met and so we exchanged a lot of mail and a few phone calls and I got to know him pretty well. I talked him out of retirement to do a comic book story for me. I met him before I signed on with First or Eclipse so the independent movement was starting up and I told him about the creators rights movement and independent comics. I asked Gar, if you got back into comics what story would you like to do? He said, I’ll think about it. A couple weeks later he said, I’d like to do a Hawkman but have it be really John Carter of Mars influenced and have this heavy Edgar Rice Burroughs influence and set it on Thanagar. I thought that sounded like a great idea but I was too busy at the time, but finally I got a hole in my schedule. My family was visiting my parents in West Virginia and I was writing a letter to Gar saying I have a hole in my schedule, let’s hit DC and see if they’d be interested in the Hawkman story. I finished the letter and put it in my suitcase and I was going to mail it when I got home and when I got home I found out that Gar had passed away that night that I was writing the letter at the hour I finished the letter. Gar’s wife had called and let me know that he had passed away. A year or so passed and Mike Gold called me up – he was an editor at DC at the time – and asked me if I would like to do a Hawkman story. I said yeah and as a matter of fact, here’s the way I’d like to do it. I don’t know exactly what Gar had in mind for Hawkman but my version was very much a tribute to Gar but with all these Trumanisms – my own interests – thrown in.
You have a project on your website that was really interesting, Odin the Wanderer.
The concept intrigues a lot of people. I was walking my dog in the snow and usually when I’m on walks like that, ideas come to me. I was watching my dog Tucker and thinking about stories I’d like to do and the notion crossed my mind that I would really like to do something based on the Norse myths – but I’d like to do it with animals. Just watching the way Tucker moved around in the snow for some reason kicked off this idea of doing the Norse myths with animals. I was on fire with the idea and did all these sketches and painted pieces. I’ve always been a really bad painter but around this time I developed a painting technique that I’ve used a lot since then and that finally gave me the ability to do paintings. I would lay down these really complex graphite drawings with all these blended tones to establish my values and I could never get any water based medium to lay on top of the graphite. I had discovered these watercolors that were designed for photographers called Peerless Watercolors, which will adhere to the graphite. I started messing around with that technique and I was heavily involved with it around the time I got the idea to do Odin so those two concepts came together in my mind. I wanted to sell it as a coffee table sized illustrated book with text and every page flanked by some kind of illustration. I pitched it to a couple of companies but nobody went for it. It’s something I’d really like to return to. Ben and I were talking a couple weeks ago about all these animal adventures appearing on Kickstarter. That sort of story seems to be very popular now where eight-ten years ago it was a hard sell.
I can see that format being a hard sell. I know Brom has made some books like that.
That’s sort of what I had in mind with Odin. I collect a lot of books by Alan Lee and Brian Froud and people who did a lot of similar things back in the seventies and eighties. Alan Lee did these wonderful books that Rosemary Sutcliff wrote and those were a big influence on the idea. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to develop it. I certainly collected a lot of research and reference for it. I dove right into the Eddas, the songs that the Norse myths are based on. I did a lot of picking apart of various characters and trying to come up with a chronology for how the story would flow. I got really intrigued by Loki and thinking he’s not such a bad guy after all and how he always had this father-son relationship with Odin. The core of the Eddas are really Loki and Odin.
The thing about Loki is that he’s doing all this stuff for the people of Asgard and they’re just pissing on him. He pulls their fat out of the fire in so many stories, but he’s an outsider. He’s a frost giant and was adopted and because of that there’s this racism that goes on within the Eddas where the Asgardians will not accept him no matter what he does for them. On a basic reading of the Norse myths he’s a handy antagonist, but when you get down into the old texts you really see he’s very multidimensional and tragic. The Asgardians are more flawed than Loki is. My approach is that they make him become what he becomes through mistreatment.
I did this interview last year and we were talking about Homer and this idea that modern stories are much more inventive and complicated than older ones, but if you get into The Odyssey, you see that’s not true at all.
Absolutely. They’ve been simplified by postmodern retellings of those tales. In the '20s and '30s, they had to simplify those tales for the Little Golden Books and the like that were being published for kids. There’s a reason why Homer has lasted through the ages. The actual tales are really dense and not at all what you expected if you’ve only read the “safe”, edited versions.
In a similar Loki way, is a villain and a victim of circumstance and invaluable to other characters who hate him. That’s a much more complicated story and character than say, Batman or Superman.
Yeah, it’s really interesting. Yet both Superman and Batman are influenced by old myths. That sort of thinking had a lot of influence on Hawkworld. Katar Hol has grown up with these legendary stories of Kamoran, the Thanagarian hero. However, his hero worship gets shattered the more he finds out about how Thanagar was built. My generation idolized George Armstrong Custer and the “heroes” of the Alamo. Then you find out that Travis and Bowie and all those cats at the Alamo were fighting to set up a slave state in Texas. The more you dig into actual history the more these ready-made, easy to understand stories get shattered. We’re shaped by all this mythology. To take actual history and deep legends and turn them into these easily digestible object lessons in patriotism and heroism I think does a lot of disservice to the original stories. There are deeper things to be taken away from those stories.
I’m sure almost every aspect of your life has changed since 1985 when you started Scout, but has your process and how you work changed a lot? How do you work today?
My work method for drawing the Scout: Marauder pages has changed a lot since the early days, to say the least. The biggest change has been simply one of time. In the 1980s and '90s, you have to realize that I was writing, penciling, inking and doing covers for an entire issue every month to six weeks. By the time I was doing Scout: War Shaman I was also honcho-ing my 4Winds line for Eclipse – packaging and editing two to four books, coming up with concepts, sometimes writing or co-writing stories, penciling or inking occasional filler stories or covers for Airboy and the other books. We never, ever missed a deadline but it was a grueling pace for a massive amount of work. I don't know how I did it. It's hard for me to look back at my old work because it was produced in such a frenzy. The storytelling chops are there, but there's also a lot of rushed, sloppy drawing and some really bizarre figures in there. It took me several years to wean myself off that 1,000 mile per hour pace and calm down, to be more careful with my artwork and bring my drawing skills closer to the level where I wanted them to be.
Another big thing has been the advent of digital technology. I love it. I still do my final drawing and inking at the drawing desk. After forty years of doing it, trying to perfect my inking technique, there's just nothing that can replace the feel of paper beneath your hands and way the bristol board is responding to your pen nib or brush tip. It's a very tactile experience. You focus your mind on your work, aware of every little millimeter of the board and ink stroke that's going down. Since I'm terminally ADHD, it's about as close as I can get to, like, some sort of zen state, once I get going.
That said, I do a lot of my preliminary work and initial “pencils” on the computer. I read through a script and do really rough panel breakdowns on 8.5” x 11” sheets of paper, working out page composition, pacing the story out and planning the panels. However, once that's done, I take things to the computer. I have a program that allows me to create and pose 3D models of characters that I'll be using in the story. Utilizing my 8.5” x 11” roughs, I pull together any of the customized figures that each scene requires and position them where I want them to be within the panel, putting my “camera” where I want it, trying out different angles, optimizing the shot until I have things looking like I want them to. Once I'm satisfied with something I take screen shots to refer to for the final drawing. So it's a lot like having your own cast of live models on-call 24 hours a day, except you don't have to pay them or feed them lunch.
I do the initial pencils digitally on a 21-inch Yiynova drawing monitor, turn everything into a blue line, and print out the blueline pages on 11” x 17” bristol with a large format printer/scanner. Then it's to the drawing board, where I tighten up the pencils, establish the final lighting for each panel and finish everything up in ink. Once inked, I scan the finished pages into the computer, save the files and then spend some time cleaning up the art. If I'm also doing the coloring, these days I do my painting digitally with the Clip Studio Paint program. I love painting digitally. It's really a blast and I learn something new every day.
You mentioned that the books are written, that you’ve started drawing them. Is the first book going to be out this year?
We’ve been wrangling with different printing quotes. I wanted to print it in the United States and so finding a printer has been a tough task. Ideally, I want to have the first issues on hand for the Indigenous Comic Con in early November. I’ve got my timetable laid out for doing the artwork; I’ve got a lot of the artwork done already. We’re thinking about some pretty unique approaches to whenever people sign on to actually be able to release eight or twelve-page pdf chapters as we go. We’d email them a link as we go along. We’ll also be offering pdf’s of the entire Eclipse Scout run as one of the rewards. The way Ben and I are constructing this graphic novel is people the knowledge of the past Scout stories is not needed. This will stand on its own as a story of two really interesting young adventurers. If you have the knowledge of the old Scout stories then it will deepen the experience, but it’s not necessary to enjoy the story. That was one of the toughest things to figure out. We knew early on we would have to do that. It’s been quite a few years since the last Scout issue came out and I wanted something that young readers who didn’t know Scout from Adam would be able to sit down and enjoy this tale.