Who Knows What Evil Lurks In The Hearts Of Men? Captain Spectre Knows!
Tell us a little about yourself. You've mentioned you've had a "long and rough" life. Doing what?
I am an ex-soldier, and I have been a demolitions man, roustabout, roughneck, and mechanic on everything from drilling rigs, and generators to bulldozers and trash trucks.
Plus I am not a spring chicken anymore... turning 54 this year. I grew up mostly in the wilds of West Texas and the oilfield. My family lived at a natural gas pumping station about 36 miles from where we shopped or went to school. But, my father died when I was young so we moved to a very small town and I was working in the oilfields at 14. So I had kind of an isolated life, which I loved. What better place for your imagination to run wild?
You have a beautiful portfolio. Who are your artistic influences?
Wow, thanks for the compliment that would take a lot of time to go through all the influences, but I will try to give a short list.
In comics it would be Alex Raymond, Milton Caniff, Noel Sickles, Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Alex Toth and all the classics. In illustration and painting it would be Dean Cornwell, N.C. Wyeth, Greg Manchess, Jack Vetriano, Jeff Jones, and Frank Frazetta to name a few.
Also my high school art teacher, Louis Robertson, was a huge influence on my art and my life.
I know you admire both Robert Howard and Burroughs. Who are your main storytelling influences?
I am a huge fan of Robert Howard. Even if people do say his stories were formula or too pulp, but I wish I could string the words together half as well as he could to tell a story that kept your blood pumping.
I also a big Edgar Rice Burroughs fan since those were the first adventure books I read as a kid. I would save my money all year to buy Burroughs books the old Ace 40 cent ones at a bookstore I only got to go to once a year. I am also heavily influenced by classic movies in my story telling most anything from the 30's 40's and some early 50's stuff. I get a lot from them because of the visuals, lighting, and staging. I love those black and white movies. Also those great two story books Marvel used to put out, like Tales of Suspense. I like that format, and would like to try doing something like that again.
Who are your favorite pulp/old radio heroes? Many of them have already appeared in Captain Spectre, I believe.
Well the Green Hornet has to take the honors, I just love that character and the mythos behind it all. I have a collection of the radio shows I listen to at my day job, along with Superman, the Lone Ranger, and all the adventure-type radio shows.
Doc Savage and his crew for the legacy of heroes and sidekicks.
The Spider for just shear body count. His villains actually made good on some of their promises, before the Spider ended it with his .45's.
Most of those I discovered after early childhood, but during my childhood was the tv show Captain Midnight. That was the greatest show when I was a kid. And actually a lot of the ideas behind that show are in Captain Spectre.
Yea, you are right about some appearing in Captain Spectre. (I hope I don't get sued.) But I put Clark Savage, Britt Reid the Green Hornet, and some others in there to give a bit of back story and mystery to the 'Patch' character. I wanted to suggest 'Patch' had been a masked pulp hero in his younger days, but now is a sidekick to Captain Spectre.
Why do you think there are fewer action-adventure webcomics than humorous webcomics?
Good question, because I really don't have a concrete answer for that, just theories. I think sometimes a quick joke, or a humor strip will draw people in a bit faster. Especially when you figure most people check them out at work.
Also there has been a whole movement away from superhero/adventure type comics as the independent market grows. I actually think the big two are getting away from good comics with decompressed story lines. It seems the writers are only wanting to write these limited story arcs, so they can be collected in a hardcover book or something, then they move on to another book or character. I don't really admire that too much. I consider a good run on a book something more along the lines of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby doing 100 issues of the Fantastic Four. Or someone like Milton Caniff who wrote and illustrated Steve Canyon for over 20 years, now that was a good run!
People tend to think that all the good stories have been used and that the superhero/adventure strips are dead, until someone like Alan Moore comes along and does something no one ever thought of.
The world needs good humor and I am glad there are those strips out there, I just know I couldn't really do a good one. I don't really find too much humor in life sometimes. So I stick with what I think I know.
Also I think there is a connection between the humor and slice of life strips and the reality TV phenomena. There is something there at people like and I acknowledge it, I can't say I understand it. I guess I am too much of a hermit.
What's the best thing about doing this on the web and the most frustrating?
The web is a great place to display your art or writing or whatever. It lets you find information, and people who have similar interests to yourself. There has been a bit of resurgence of pulp and radio shows thanks to pdf files and MP3 files. There are great sites on the web to find info, pulps, and radio shows.
I guess the greatest thing about comics on the web is the control the creator has over his/her material. It is a great feeling I have when I think about the fact I can do anything I want with this character or situation. Also you can choose any format you like on the web. Everything from the three panel daily like in a newspaper to the infinite canvas, and animation too. It is great freedom. And along the way you might even pick up an audience for your stuff.
The most frustrating thing about the web is that it is tough to make a living doing webcomics. No one has come up with a sure way to do it yet. Except maybe some of the super popular strips like PVP or something. Also it is hard to advertise on the web. At least finding the right spots to put advertising. With the freedom of the web, there is no central place that people see. So there could be potential fans out there that only get on the web to read email or shop and never go any further.
I get quite a few readers but not many supporters. I have patches and spinner coins and cafepress tee-shirts available hopefully to pay for just the bandwidth, but it doesn't even do that. So thinking of making a living is out of the question for now. If I didn't have to spend 45-50 hours a week at a day job, I could update more often and do more strips to increase readership, and I would love doing that. Maybe some day something like that will happen.
What, exactly, inspired the creation of Captain Spectre?
As I have told a few people, I was trying to make it in the independent comics field. I was offered scripts to work on, none that really saw much print. One day I was wading through a new script for someone and I thought " Hell, this is a terrible story, plus it will probably never see print." So I decided to quit trying to get jobs with independent companies and just do my own thing.
I have two genres I love. One of course is the action/adventure series like Captain Spectre, and the other is old fashioned Howard type Sword and Sorcery (Not the high-fantasy people think is sword and sorcery).
So I had to choose, sort of. I picked the action/adventure series. But I designed the story so I can take the character to other times and worlds to satisfy my need for sword and sorcery too.
Captain Spectre grew out of a love of the old comic strips like Flash Gordon, and serials like Rocketman and Commando Cody. I actually tried to purchase the Commando Cody character from Republic pictures once. Captain Spectre is also part of the old pulps and old movies I liked.
Would you like to see Captain Spectre in print?
I had thought from the beginning that the current story would be web only and if I got the chance to do Captain Spectre in print it would be a separate story. I thought it would be special that the print and the web storylines would be independent. But also I planned the current story to be like a movie serial with a lot of chapters taking the reader on a wild ride to get to the end.
Then I started thinking that when I finish the web serial it will probably be close to 200 plus pages so that would make a good heavy graphic novel. So it might see print someday if I make it through the whole thing alive.
Who are your heroes?
Man that is another long list. But first and foremost would be my two sons. They have both been through a lot and come out the other side better than a father could hope for.
Also any veteran, since I know what some went through.
Childhood heroes influenced my whole life and they were characters like Captain America (probably my favorite character of all time), Captain Midnight, Commando Cody, Tarzan, the Lone Ranger, and Roy Rogers (who I got to meet once thanks to my Dad).
I had real life heroes such as my Father. There were also guys like Chuck Yeager, and the original astronauts, hey after all it was the first years of the space program and I think every kid I knew tried to learn all they could about it.
What are your future plans both for Captain Spectre, and for any other projects you have in mind?
I have lots of plans, just don't have the time to work on all of them, so I don't know how many will see the light of day.
I plan to put together a pulp type magazine of Captain Spectre stories by other writers, and with Captain Spectre comics and some other characters just like the old pulps.
Also I would like to do a 2-D animated Captain Spectre piece. I have tons of Captain Spectre stories to tell.
Each chapter of the current storyline will hit most of the genres of pulp. The current chapter is a Lost World/Jungle type of adventure, and the next chapter takes Captain Spectre back down to the dirty streets of crime in a film noir type of story. That one will be in black and white like a film noir movie.
Other projects I have in the pipe are some illustrations for Moonstone Comics story collections of the Spider and the Phantom, both prose stories written by Martin Powell. I also have a pending sword and sorcery strip with a character called 'Karn' that is written by Howard Jones.
I just need more hours in the day, or for Captain Spectre to pay the bills so I could do it all. Hell I don't want to get rich, I just want to pay a few bills so I don't have to have a day job and can do comics all day every day.