I pray all is well. The first interview I was fortunate enough to lock down was with Mel Todd, artist, and creator of the comic company WeaponPress. He lives in Maryland, DC, and has been creating comics since he was a child. Two comics that stood out as a child were (1) The Lazer Acrobat, which was his first superhero comic, and Lit-Ton the Bounty Hunter, which was his favorite comic. Since you now know a little bit about him, on with the interview…
When did you first get into comics as a reader/fan? As a writer/artist/creator?
All of the above. My first comic book I drew was Godzilla since I enjoyed watching Godzilla movies back in elementary school. Then my older brother turned me on to Marvel comics (Spider-man & X-Men) and we used to create our own comics. He would write and I would draw.
Why comics? What do you like most about this medium?
Comics in my opinion is the hardest art form and the most fun. You can create anything you want, no budget restrictions. However, you also have to know how to draw everything, as well as how to design and tell a story. It’s a lot of work, but rewarding.
Besides the twenty Godzilla books I did as a kid and the superhero books I did with my brother, I have worked on a dark, poetic series called the GRID (back in my darker, depressed days before I knew Jesus).
What project(s) are you currently working on?
Allegories of the Way: Angels and Souls. It’s A Christian, spiritual warfare comic about Angels and their relation to God and to people’s lives.
What format(s) do you prefer for telling your stories (e.g., on-going series, mini-series, one-shot, graphic novel, etc.) and why?
Right now graphic novels and one-shots. Allegories began as a series of one-shots so I could have a sense of accomplishment, because I knew I couldn’t work on an epic and finish it years ago. But now working on the last two volumes (5 volumes total), Allegories has become an epic. I feel it’s better to be realistic about time restraint when you’re not making a whole load of money from your art. Better to have a short, finished story that someone can finish reading, than a story they never finished because it was too long.
What sources of information and inspiration have helped you along the way?
The Bible, comic books of course, and movies. “How to” books have also helped me on the journey to becoming a better artist and writer.
I’ve been able to show my faith through the stories I tell and characters I create. Sometimes it’s easier to convey what you know through a story than just plainly writing it out. The process is just making sure that I’m being true to how I feel and believe, and to what the bible says. The evolution comes from me growing with God and understanding him more. I can look at an old story and think I was wrong about that theology or belief or not as enlightened, but I don’t change it because it’s a process with Christ. You learn and grow on the way and it’s good to know where you came from.
What advice would you give to other Christians who are considering making comics?
Don’t give up. Plain and simple. Stick to your guns and finish the project you want to do. Once people see your stuff, you have to remember you just became an influence and inspiration to others. So stick around and finish your work. You may have to go solo, but remember you’re not alone. God is there helping and encouraging you.
Right now I just finished this children’s book called The Jesus Adventures: Cara and her Forever Friend. I plan to make it a short series with each book being a self-contained story. And there is a superhero story I’ve been developing for some years now. I may do a one-shot for that first, though I already have a rough story for a mini-series. But I’m still working on finishing Allegories. I may work on both in the future. It’s been a while since I made my own superhero stories, and I’m excited about the characters I’m making up.
What is your take on the current state of Christian or Christian-themed comics? What, if anything, would you like to see more of in the future? What, if anything, would you like to see done differently?
I don’t really know what the state is except that I don’t see us in the mainstream as much as I’d like to. I’ve been seeing a lot of Bible-based comics that are doing well, and Jesus story comics. I would like to see major publishers step out more like Zondervan did and do different Christian-themed comics. I would like us to just influence the masses more. It’s coming though.
What is the best way for people to contact you, and to read/purchase your work?
My website that has links to my products is WeaponPress, and my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just that I pray a blessing on everyone who goes after creating comic books. Always study the craft to get better and don’t let people or Satan discourage you.
And that’s a wrap! The first C-3 interview is done. I hope you enjoyed it. Please spread the word, and check out the next interview, which should post later this week.
Until next time, peace and blessings…
© Justin Martin and www.rsquaredcomicz.com, 2011. All rights reserved.