CBI: Where were you born and raised?
JOE: Born and raised in Athol, MA-- at least the first 18 years.
CBI: Tell CBI about yourself…
JOE: I’ve been drawing for so long that my early influences were Hal Foster, Chic Young, and Mort Walker. Then when I grew older I discovered comic books and Curt Swan, Gil Kane, Wally Wood decided what I was going to do.
My first "submitted" art was a picture I drew of Brainiac 5, (a Curt Swan swipe), to DC comics that resulted in my getting an 8×10 photo of TV's Batman and Robin, and no job offer for eight years old me.
After that, I decided to finish school and try again. Along the way I discovered I was colorblind, and there were no schools for drawing comics. So I continued to practice drawing while in the Air Force for 10 years, and through a variety of occupations; security guard, cook/restaurant owner, art studio and others. In the 80s I got into doing art for a Fanzine in Colorado and then moved back to MA.
CBI: How long have you been drawing comics?
JOE: Hmm, the first comic I drew was in the second grade and it was sent around the four room school house for all the classes to see. Since then, I've done comics for advertising in print, and as storyboards for local TV advertising and independent film projects. So about 58 years.
CBI: How did you break into the industry drawing comic books?
JOE: About 6 years ago I became friends on Facebook with Lou Mougin, a wonderful writer and he asked if I would be interested in drawing a series he was developing called FoxForce for Lucky Comics. I said yes, naturally, and with Lucky’s publisher John Michael Helmer's approval I did the initial arc. Since then, I've been doing covers and interior pencils and occasional inks for various books.
CBI: Do you have any formal art training?
JOE: Aside from K-12, I'm self taught.
CBI: Who are your artistic influences?
JOE: Everyone. I started drawing from newspaper comic strips of Popeye when I was 4. Serious influences would be Hal Foster, Curt Swan, Gil Kane, Neal Adams, Steve Ditto, and Jack Kirby, from comics. Rockwell, Frazetta, Remington are also artists I admire.
CBI: How do you focus when drawing?
JOE: I try focus by shutting out everything around me and having some background noise like TV or 50s-70s folk/soft rock going.
CBI: What types of technology do you use to create your product?
JOE: I'm stubbornly tech ignorant. I can't draw unless I can feel the paper, so my basic tools are 4H-6B wooden pencils and MICRON pens/brushes.
CBI: What was the first comic book you ever read?
JOE: My first comic book... probably a Disney comic in 1959. I really don't recall, though by '62 I was into Superman.
CBI: Do you read any of the new comic books that are being published today? If so, which ones?
JOE: I actually don't read much of the current books, except for the occasional issue here and there.
CBI: Print vs. Digital. Your thoughts…
JOE: Print definitely for me. I have nothing against Digital, it's just:
a) I don't own a computer, laptop or kindle, and
b) I prefer the feel of holding the book in my hands.
CBI: What sources do you use for a cover image?
JOE: What I'm trying to get across determines what I will use for a source. I draw inspiration for a cover design from movies, photos, books, just seeing something interesting, and my imagination. Generally I'll do a rough thumbnail about 3×5, and then if I need to research something specific, like a vehicle, uniform I do.
CBI: What other mediums or genres have you drawn for?
JOE: Acrylic, oil, watercolor, sculpture, charcoal...I've dabbled in most everything that will put a line down including coffee. I've done humor, horror, and book illustration, along with portraits and caricature.
CBI: What project are you currently working on at now?
JOE: Right now I'm working on a Crom the Barbarian cover for Lucky Comics—pencils and inks, and breakdowns for an 8 page story.(DISCLAIMER: I broke my wrist about two and a half years ago and can't do full stories yet, without surgery.)
CBI: What future projects do you have in the works?
JOE: THE project I'm planning to do is one I started 40 years ago. I'll be plotting, pencilling and inking.
CBI: Do you have any words for aspiring artists?
JOE: To aspiring artists of all ages my advice is: Practice drawing everything you can. Be yourself and not the "next" anybody. Listen to any critique, good or bad, and then apply what you learn. Most of all never give up on yourself or your dreams. One comic book centric suggestion; learn storytelling. This medium isn't only about pretty art, it's about moving the reader's eye. A reader should be able to understand what is happening from panel to panel with little to no dialogue.
CBI: How can fans and publishers get a hold of you?
JOE: Signal watch, big light in the sky, Trouble-Alert don't seem to work anymore so I'd say if people are interested in contacting me my email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org, or keep your eyes open for my upcoming FB covering my art old and new.
CBI: Joe, CBI appreciates your time. All the best.
JOE: Thanks CBI for an enjoyable opportunity to chat.
To anyone reading this please check out Lucky Comics, Markosa and all the independent publishers, online or in print. Besides there being an amazing wealth of genres, there are fantastic talents doing impressive work. To paraphrase what we used to say, "See you in the comics posts!"
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