Interview: Andrew Charipar

Glob World is an all ages book from Action Lab. It is however still created by Grown Ups. I interviewed one such grown up, Andrew Charipar where we discussed his work on the book, his artistic influences & sharing his love of comics with his children as well as discovering that he has some very interesting stories of his own when it comes to his own collection of original artwork.

Tell us about Glob World.

Glob World is a Great kid friendly website that is user-generated “edutainment-driven content” for children and parents and strongly promotes anti-bullying (something all parents can get behind).  GLOBWORLD is populated by great characters called “Globs” and the Glob World comic book chronicles some of their adventures.  I had the great privileged to contribute art to 4 of the first five issues (doing the art for issue 0, (available on-line for Free!) the back up stories in issue 1, 2 and 3 and also the main story art for issue 3).

These stories and characters are fabulous for young children, from those who may have just started reading to even younger children who enjoy being read to.  They are comics that any parent would be happy sharing with their children.  My own children are avid readers, but at 16 and 18 they are more interested in their “Twilight’s” and “Harry Potter’s” (he he he), but I have young nieces (ages 5 and 7) that I can’t wait to share these comics with.

The multimedia aspect is a great way to generate reader involvement. How did you come to be involved in the project?

I met Dave Dwonch at several different shows over the years and 2 years ago at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC I met up with him and several other artist attending the show and we all went out to dinner.  I think that was when the seeds of Action Lab Comics started to take shape.  Earlier this year at the CGS Super Show, Dave (who was now going strong with Action Lab) told me about a new licensed property that they were looking into and described it to me as an “all ages comic book based on a great kids website” and thought my art would work great for the subject matter – a few weeks later I got the script for issue zero and we were off to the races.  I had the pleasure of working with Jeremy Whitley as writer and Dave as colorist and letterer for issue zero and the backup stories in issues 1-3 and for the main story in issue 3, writer Kevin Freeman and colorist Leo Garcia.

 It’s certainly a very different book & it makes a nice change to the titles I usually read & write about. What other titles have you worked on before Globworld?

Well, my past experience kind of runs all over the place with different genres.

In the genre of Action/Adventure I Co-Created and Illustrated the first trade for PKD Media’s “Agents of C.O.L.T.” and “Blacks Danger in Space” with Shawn Pryor.  We’ll begin working on volume 2 in 2012.  Check it out here

In the genre of Super Heroes I contributed the art to one of the anthology stories in Drumfish Productions Sentinels Anthology with Ryan McLelland and Rich Bernatovech.  This was my first full color art.  See more here

In the genre of Mature/Supernatural/Horror I created, wrote and illustrated 2 graphic novels from my own series called “Tales From The Cornerstone”.  Cornerstone tells stories of a City where Vampires, Werewolves and Demons from Hell live along side normal people and follows the exploits of a team of Police Detectives who investigate all crimes involving the supernatural.  A team of cops made up of vampires, werewolves and more.  I am currently working on a whole new volume of Cornerstone for 2012 that will re-tell the first main story and delve even deeper into the world of Cornerstone City.  See more here

My favorite part was finding a character I really liked to draw and latch on to them. That character is Professor Floob, he's great!

I also contributed to a anthology charity book from Creative Compassion Studios and you can see more about them here

Glob World is my first venture into the world of kid friendly comics but I am also working on a book, with my children, for 2012 called HERO.  You can see more on that at my site

That’s a fairly broad background to come from. Being that so much of your previous work is based on your own or other people’s creator owned ideas do you find that there are differences when working with a licenced property?

I have a friend who did some work with Cartoon Network, from PowerPuff Girls to Looney Tunes, who told me horror stories about working on Licensed Properties so I kind of went into this project with Glob World prepared for re-works, revisions and headaches.  Fortunately, I did not see a lot of that, at least not the headaches.  Because I understand that this is someone else’s baby, I was prepared.  Whenever Dave came back to me with a correction or a revision, I was ready for it and did it.

I try to bring a little bit of me into every project I do.  Most of the projects I have worked on in the past wanted just that… my vision of their characters.  With Glob World, it was harder to bring a little of myself to the project AND keep their vision of their characters, but I think I did a good job.  My favorite part was finding a character I really liked to draw and latch on to them.  That character is Professor Floob, he’s great!

 My favourite is Unagi, or maybe Goog… With regards to drawing though what techniques do you favour? Are you an all digital all the time kind of guy or do you use pencils & ink?

 Well, that is a great question but I don’t have a great answer for you and the reason is simple… I keep changing my techniques with almost every project.  I’m constantly changing how I do things, finding easier and better ways to make my art.  I’ve experimented with zip tomes and photo references.  I’ve also used digital manipulation on pages and even done pages where each panel was drawn on a separate page and combined in Photoshop.  With Glob World, I started doing rough layouts then moved in to tighter layouts then went right into traditional inks and did the clean up digitally.  After issue 0, the Glob World guys asked for more detailed pencils for approvals so I did the tighter layouts in pencil before moving to ink. This was different for me since I usually don’t do very tight pencils I just jump right into ink.  Glob World is one of the first projects I have done in a long time that the originals were all done on 11×17 comic paper.

I WISH I had the courage to go all digitally.  I know several artists who have and they’ve all been positive about it but I still like to get ink on my fingers.  I like to splatter black ink and white acrylic paint on my originals and I like to create new effects with brushes and pens.  I love to draw and I find the art of comics fascinating.  This is one of the reasons I also collect original art, even more than I do comics.

I remember the first time I saw a piece of original art up close (it was a page from The Filth by Gary Erskine). I found it a fascinating insight into the process. Being able to see all the different layers of pencils & inks along with the borders going around the page edge & the speech bubbles pasted on over the top of it made you realise just how much work had gone into it. That’s something you never get to see with digital - though i think both forms have their advantages. So, are there any particular gems in amongst the original art collection?

Oh, I have a bunch but my favorite original art story actually has a sad ending.

Years ago I was very random in what I requested from artists.  In 1994, the guys and I went to a Charlotte NC Heroes Con and we met Dave Johnson… before he was Dave Johnson.  He had only done a few issues of Super Patriot for Image and was not really well known.  When he asked my friends Avery and Todd what they wanted him to draw, they said anything.  I told him I wanted a “chick with armorment” (not really knowing what that was).  He did a cool sketch for both Avery and Todd but he did not like the sketches so he gave them to Avery and Todd for free.  He liked mine and charged me $20 plus and extra $5.

The reason for the extra charge was because, at the time, Dave was not good drawing ladies so he asked the artist next to him to do the face and the extra $5 was for the other artist.  The sketch was awesome and I was a proud owner of a Dave Johnson/Adam Hughes sketch.  Yup, at the time Dave was part of Gaijin Studios with Adam and a bunch of other Great artists and they just happened to be sitting right next to each other… Wow!

Well, I said this story was sad cause I actually had to sell the pic in order to fund another trip to NC for another convention.  I actually got 4 times what I originally paid for it but if I had to do it all over again, I would have kept the sketch.  I no longer have a scan of it (due to a burglary a few years ago) and have never been able to find another scan of it on-line, no matter how much I look.  Oh, well… at least I have the story to tell, right?

Ok, I know that was a long answer but I love/loath telling that story.  Since then I have focused my collection on original sketches of my characters, artist creator owned characters and my favorite character of all time… Batgirl.  I have several of them from some great artists, most who I call friends and I cherish all the art and would NEVER sell them again, ha ha.

A Dave Johnson & Adam Hughes original?!? I’m a big fan of Dave Johnson through his Vertigo covers & no one draws women quite like Adam Hughes, so I can imagine it was a very pretty picture. Now, you say you’re a fan of Batgirl. There have been a few ladies that have taken on the cowl over the years, did you have a particular favourite? Also what other characters & stories inspire your creativity?

There is only ONE Batgirl and it is Barbara Gordon.  There is NO OTHER Batgirl.  Ha ha ha.

I love the character and I think it’s due to the red hair, but of all the incarnations, my favorite is the animated series version.  I love cartoons and animated movies (and yes, some anime and manga) and that has influenced me greatly over the years.  The main reason for that is my kids.  We love to watch TV and movies together and the animated stuff dominated for many years so it took its toll on what I liked to draw and how I did it.

I have been inspired by a ton of artists and stories and I can even pin point exactly when I decided I wanted to draw comics.  When I was a kid, my dad would drive to the navy base every Saturday morning to do the weekly shopping at the commissary and I would tag along.  While he was shopping, I went to the magazine and comic section and scoped out what was there.  In 1985, I found the comic that changed everything for me… X-Men Giant-Sized Annual #9.  The one where they go to Asgard and the art was all Art Adams, my all time favorite artist ever.  That was it… I wanted to draw comics from that point on.

Over the years, I studied comic art, starting with Art Adams (he really did not have a lot at this point so I had to do a lot of searching) and found several others I liked.  Adams lead me back to Michael Golden (who, if you ask my kids, is “The God of Comics”) then to John Byrne, Frank Miller, Paul Smith and Steve Rude.  Then moving forward to all the guys that formed Image (McFarlane, Lee, Larsen, etc) and even down the independent path with the likes of Jeff Smith and Paul Grist.  I went from pure superhero action of Mark Bagley to the photo-realistic Alex Ross to the dark and angular Mike Mignola and Mike Avon Oeming to the down-right creepy Kelley Jones.  I found Jason Pearson, Dave Johnson and others like Mark Brooks and Sean Murphy at conventions and have followed them.  I’ve also met a lot of great artists who have not made the big splashes yet (and I can’t wait for when they do) like Jamie Faye and Rich Bernatovech, Rey Arzeno and Danielle Alexis St. Pierre (all of whom contribute to a new sketch blog we started called Illustrious Bits, check it out).

My list of influences is long and all over the board when it comes to styles.  I guess you can see why I jump around with different comic genres in my own art, huh?

Completely. I don’t think you can ever have too many influences. Can I take it from the Michael Golden comment that your kids share your enthusiasm for comic books? If so are they looking to follow in your footsteps?

Ha ha, i guess I should have clarified that story a little about Michael Golden.

A few years ago, I set up at a convention for the very first time and it was at Charlotte NC Heroes con and I took both my kids with me.  When I set up our table (in the very back of the convention floor) I pointed out to my kids that the guy sitting at the front of the row just across from us was “A God of Comics”.  Of course, that was Michael Golden.  My kids told me to go over to his table and say “Hi” but I was totally shy… crimey.  On the last day of the show (which just happened to be Father’s Day) my kids went over to Michael Golden, who had drawn the cover image for that years program, and had him sign it and they told him that I was a big fan but to “chicken” to come over and meet him.  Michael told my kids to “go tell your dad to get his ass over here”.  I went over, met the man, gushed over his influence in my life and bought a print from him.  The convention book and the print are treasured items for me… and my kids will tell you, they got off cheap that Father’s Day getting me a signed copy of the program book.

I pointed out to my kids that the guy sitting at the front of the row just across from us was "A God of Comics". Of course, that was Michael Golden.

Both my kids are “kind of” into comics but not nearly like I am.  My son, who is 18, likes manga like Naruto and Yu Gi Oh.  I tried to get him into main stream comics but that’s what he likes.  He likes video games much more than comics.  As for my daughter, who is 16, she is following in my footsteps with art but not so much comics.  She is currently attending the School of the Arts that both my wife and I attended for High School but they still push fine arts and poo poo comics (just like they did when I went there 20 years ago).  She has done some comic art, even had a pin up or two published (by people other than me, he he) but right now, she concentrates on her art for school.  I still try to “force” comics on them… for example, for Christmas, I bought my son the 6th volume of Death Note Black Edition and volume 13, the “how to read the Death Note” volume and got my daughter the Watchmen trade.  She and I love movies and she likes to see the original source when we watch comic related movies.  We just watched Brandon Lee in the original Crow and now she wants to check out that book as well.

I’d love for both kids to be interested in comics but right now they are focusing their time on other things.  The three of us came up with an idea for a graphic novel that as soon as I can, I am going to start on and hope to get it out by the end of the year.  Both kids have been helping me the idea and we talk about the story idea often… maybe one day soon I can focus a lot more energy on it… It’ll be good.

That’s an amazing story. I think your kids did an awesome job for Father’s Day there – even if did start out with them calling you chicken. :) I had an experience very much like you & your daughter’s at my own school when I studied art. The teacher there dismissed comics as “childish & unworthy of evaluation”, but I really hated that teacher so all it actually did was inspire me to seek out more of them. So, as someone who does understand & appreciate the importance of comics, what advice would you give to people starting out in the field?

My advice for someone starting out in comics is the same for anyone who wants to be an artist… draw everyday and never stop.  The hardest lesson all artist are taught in art school is how to take criticism.  I told my daughter yesterday that there are 2 types of criticism when you start out… and your reactions to both are the exact opposite.  The first is criticism that makes you think and inspires you to grow, adapt and try new things, the second is criticism that you have to let just roll off your back and simply ignore.

If, like a lot of artists you take criticism the wrong way, it can slow you down and even stop you from wanting to draw… you have to take the good and the bad and make yourself better… But never stop drawing.

You can read James’ review of Globworld #0 & #1 here