Showing posts with label Baltimore Comic-Con. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baltimore Comic-Con. Show all posts

Monday, September 28, 2020

Flashback - John Gallagher interviewed 10 years ago

Ten years ago, give or take a few months, I did an interview with John Gallagher about his career to date. The City Paper may be doing something to its archives due to its current covid-19 financial trouble, but I'm interviewing John this week about Max Meow his new children's graphic novel from Random House, and I couldn't find the original talk we had, so I'm republishing it here so I can refer people to it. 

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Buzzboy’s John Gallagher

Posted by Mike Rhode on Mar. 29, 2010 formerly online at


With his character Buzzboy, John Gallagher has been a mainstay of the local independent comics scene for years now—for a decade it turns out. John’s a regular exhibitor at Baltimore Comic Con’s section for children’s comics, and is a nominee for the 2010 Harvey Award, which will be given out at the convention. Although he’s got a full-time job, he tells us that he’s also about to launch a new Web comic.

Washington City Paper: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

John Gallagher: I am primarily a creator of kids comics, but in the same sense Calvin and Hobbes was a “Kid’s Comic.” I have self-published Buzzboy, a fun and funny super hero comic, for 10 years through my own Sky-Dog Press. I am getting ready to launch a web comic and simultaneous graphic novel called Zoey & Ketchup, about an imaginative little girl and her golden retriever. I also speak at schools across the country, talking about the magic and educational values of comics.

WCP: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

JG: December 28, 1967—same birthday as Stan Lee, just 40 years later, and with none of the fame!

WCP: Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

JG: I moved from rural PA to the area after college, for no other reason than my best friends from high school lived here, and that’s all that really mattered, having someone to hang with on weekends. Now, most of them have moved away, but I have stayed in the area, and maintained a high level of immaturity, living in Falls Church VA.

WCP: What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

JG: Mostly self taught—I went to a year of art school as part of Temple University in Philly—but it was just too small—when I transferred to Penn State, I was happy to be part of a very prestigious graphic design program, but was shocked to find no illustration classes. Most likely I would have gone to SVA or Kubert School, if I only knew they existed (no Internet back then!), but it turned out to be a godsend—I now do a combination of comics and grahic design, combining many of these skills for animation and comics for corporations, and pro sports teams like the Washington Capitals, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Islanders.

WCP: Who are your influences?

JG: The first art I drew was duplicating the Alex Toth-designed DC Comics’ Super Friends characters, and it was the foreword to Jules Feiffer’s The Great Comic Book Heroes that gave me the idea that I could create my own comics. As the years went on, Chuck Jones, Jack Kirby, Kyle Baker, Walt Kelly—they have all had a great influence on me. Currently, Richard Thompson, Steven Pastis, and Raina Telgemeier are my faves.

WCP: If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

JG: I am right where I like to be—on the  verge of mediocrity. Kidding—I am lucky enough to be drawing comics and cartoons, and making a living at it—every few years my goals change, so now I have my sights set.

WCP: What work are you best-known for?

JG: Buzzboy, the adventures of the world’s coolest super-sidekick.

WCP: What work are you most proud of?

JG: I am really proud of the upcoming Zoey & Ketchup comic, which is being co-written with my daughter Katie, a comics virtuoso at age 8! It’s the first time I have really stepped away from super heroes, and embraced the kids side of what I do—it will really be a hybrid of sorts, part comic strip, part graphic novel, part diary-type, prose sections, when the story calls for it. Zoey keeps a sketchbook, like I did as a kid, and it chronicles her strange thoughts, like a diagram of the inner workings of her brother’s brain, consisting of one part drool, and the other part pickle obsession.

WCP: What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

JG: I am intrigued about the connection between the cartoonist and the audience that takes place in a Web-based comics blog—so that’s why Zoey & Ketchup will be a fun change.If I could take over anybody’s character, I would love to draw DC Comic’s Shazam/Captain Marvel, because he was the star of the first comic I ever read— the little boy in a big hero’s body is every kid’s dream.

WCP: What do you do when you’re in a rut or have writer’s block?

JG: I do one of two things—one is to reread my favorite comic strips (Peanuts, Pogo, Get Fuzzy, and Calvin & Hobbes), and let my mind start to get in the fun comics mode—the danger here is I often get so caught up in the story, I forget why I started reading, and don’t get back to the drawing board.

The other thing I do is do the opposite of comics, I goof off, I watch TV, I play with my kids—it’s living life that gives me ideas for stories, so walking through the real world allows me to see things and think, “What if this happened?”

WCP: What do you think will be the future of your field?

JG: For comics—a mix of Web, digital e-readers, and books and graphic novels only. Comics shops will become more like book stores, and floppy comics, at least by indy artists, will disappear, due to a combination of high print costs and poor distribution options.

Comic strips, the same, except I feel they may become even more important to the struggling newspapers—and could see a resurgence, if they are found to help circulation as much as I think they do.

I think the idea of giving away the short form comics on the Web or in the newspaper, will lead to better sales of the books and graphic novels.

WCP: What’s your favorite thing about D.C.?

JG: Well, Batman is pretty coo—oh, you mean Washington, DC! For one, I found my wonderful wife, Beth there—and she thought I wouldn’t find her wearing that fake mustache. C’mon, we’re the capital of the coolest freaking country in the world, everybody loves us!…

WCP: Least favorite?

JG: …except those who don’t love us.

WCP: What monument or museum do you take most out-of-town guests to?

JG: Air and Space at Dulles—they have a space shuttle! that blows just about everything else away. Natural History is cool, and the Smithsonian’s pop culture exhibits are truly inspiring, like last year’s Jim Henson exhibit.

WCP: Do you have a Web site or blog?

JG: Wow, a plug? I wouldn’t think to benefit from… oh, OK. I’ve already mentioned and, but there’s also stuff for sports teams at

WCP: One last note—on the Starbridge Media site is a link to NASCAR Heroes comic books.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Baltimore Comic Con Friday photos

Elfquest's Richard and Wendy Pini (photo by Steve Artley)

Michael Golden

Mark Morales and Snagglepuss page

Barry Kitson

Mark Buckingham and Sara Duke

Mark Waid

Michael Golden and Jim Dougan

Kevin Maguire and Sara Duke

David Pepose

Rafer Roberts

Jim Steranko

Mike Rhode and Karl Kesel

Ghost Rider

Tom King (white dot on t-shirt) meeting Neal Adams

Jamar Nicholas

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thom Zahler – An Interview with a BCC mainstay

Zahler at BCC in 2014

by Mike Rhode

Thom Zahler has been one of my favorites working long-term in a  ‘cartoony’ style in comic books. His Love and Capes series in particular used a series of Justice League analogues to tell a long romance story. He’s a regular at Baltimore Comic Con (BCC) and recently answered our usual interview questions.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I write and draw comics. I letter and color most of my own work, too. Basically, I do it all. (I did have a colorist on my recent Time and Vine series, though.)

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

These days, I’m mostly digital, in Clip Studio Paint, coloring in Photoshop and lettering in Illustrator. I still draw by hand when I can, especially commissions at conventions. And when I work on the right project, like My Little Pony, I do work traditionally so I have art for the resale market.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born? 

Early Seventies.

 What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I took all the drawing classes I could in high school, as well as creative writing and working on the newspaper comic strip. After that, I went to and graduated from the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, New Jersey.

Who are your influences?

Curt Swan was the first artist I ever recognized. I wanted to be George PĂ©rez like most people reading in the eighties. But Kurt Schaffenberger and Ty Templeton were big influences as I started finding my wheelhouse. And these days, it’s the late Darwyn Cooke.

You've got a very 'cartoony' style (which I love), but has it worked for or against you in getting jobs? Do you have a more "realistic" style?

I used my realistic style on my Raider book, which went nowhere. I think I can pull it off, but it’s like going uphill. And my realistic style isn’t as magnetic as my cartoon style. I’m a decent serviceable realistic artist but a good cartoon artist. So I’m going with my strengths.

The cartoony stuff has worked fine, but I’m also pitching it where I think it works. I’ve drawn Strawberry Shortcake covers, pitched on other cartoony stuff. I know I’m not the artist to draw monthly Superman books, so I’m not aiming for those.

The only difference it really makes is in the stories I choose to tell. I have a spy book I’d love to do, but I’m not the artist for it. But Warning Label, Love and Capes and even Time and Vine, I’m good for. I mentioned Darwyn Cooke before, and he’s who I follow. His stuff works on almost everything, but he also told very Darwyn Cooke stories.

Warning Label is partly about a woman board game designer - are you a gamer?

I play games, and wish I had the time and opportunity to play more, but I’m not hard core. Also, I don’t really play console games at all. It’s how I get things done.

 If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I would take some art history classes. I wish that I had the opportunity to learn more about classic artists. I might have tried moving out to LA to pursue more writing opportunities.

 What work are you best-known for?

It's a toss-up. Love and Capes is what most comic readers know me from, but my work on My Little Pony is by far the biggest title I’ve had the privilege to work on.

Which came first, the Capes webcomic or the comic book?

The LNC print comic always came first. The four-panel beat thing was done for two reasons. One, back then everyone thought half-pages were the secret to webcomics, so being able to have a format that embraced that meant I could repurpose as a web strip if I liked doing the book but couldn’t afford to publish print editions. And two, four-panel beats is a natural comedic metronome to a guy like me who learned so much of his comedy from Bloom County.
How did you get involved with My Little Pony?

I was trying to impress my girlfriend at the time. She was a fan, and IDW was already publishing Love and Capes. So I asked if I could do a cover, because I knew they’d do a few. Bobby, the editor, knew my work and asked if I wanted to pitch the book. Not being an idiot, I said “Absolutely” and went home and mainlined the show to research it.

 What work are you most proud of?

I'm still very proud of the last arc of Love and Capes. It’s heartfelt and really sticks the landing, and part of why I haven’t ever come back to that. But, I feel like every new project is stretching my artistic muscles in new ways. I’m very happy with Warning Label.

Your new book, Time and Vine, is currently being published by IDW. What's it about? How long is it planned to run? 

It’s about a magical time traveling winery, where when you go into the right tasting room and you drink the right bottle of wine from 1912, you go back to 1912 until you sober up. It’s a four issue miniseries, each issue double-sized so it’s like eight issues total, and the last issue just came out. It’s built to do more when I’m ready, and when I have time.

My copies of #2 and 3 from my comics store had the same cover - I assume there was a mix-up in production?

Yeah, pretty much. Mistakes were made, they won’t happen again. The alternate covers, the 1980’s cover on #2 and the 1860’s cover on #3 did print correctly. So only half the issues of #3 are misprinted.

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

I'd like to write more animation. I’d like to work on some mainstream superhero book at some point. But past that, I am very happy with my personal, creator-owned work.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

I take a lot of walks get over story points. And I’ll try to draw something fun to clear out the cobwebs as well.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

I think that I’m in a good place, but it should never be comfortable. Things have changed so much just in my short time in the field. There’s no way that I could have done Love and Capes ten years earlier. Computer coloring made things possible that I wouldn’t have been able to afford. And now, webcomics are getting my stories known in ways that I never expected.

My feeling is that the game is always changing. The only constant is that I have to learn to adapt to it.

How was your BCC experience? How often have you attended it?

I’ve been going to BCC for over ten years. It’s one of my favorite shows. I just adore it, and I love the fans and the pros and everything about it. My favorite thing about the show is that it’s still a comic book show. They’re surgical about bringing in media guests, and keep the focus on comics.
What's your favorite thing about Baltimore? Least favorite?

As far as Baltimore itself, I do love the inner harbor. The humidity.

What monument or museum do you like?

The Cleveland Art Museum and the Jefferson Memorial.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

My favorite place here in town, Taco Local, just closed. Right now it’s a place called Brim. And when I’m in Baltimore, Miss Shirley’s.

Where is "here in town?"

I live just outside of Cleveland, Ohio, birthplace of Superman.

 Do you have a website or blog?

Warning Label webcomic
 My website is I’m also on Twitter and Instagram @thomzahler

updated 10/24/2017 with gaming question

Monday, October 02, 2017

Ramona Fradon, a Baltimore Comic Con interview

by Mike Rhode

Ramona Fradon is a noted Silver Age artist who worked for DC Comics for years. Her Amazon description reads: Ramona Fradon is a legendary comic book illustrator known for her work on Aquaman, Metamorpho, Plastic Man and Super Friends. She also drew the newspaper comic strip, Brenda Starr and is noted for the humor in her drawings. In her serious moments, she wrote a book about the Faust legend in relationship to Gnostic mythology. In 2006 she received the prestigious Eisner Lifetime Achievement award. She lives in upstate New York in a very old house with a very old dog. She's been at the Baltimore Comic Con for the past few years, and we conducted this interview via e-mail.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do? 

I worked in comic books, mostly for DC, drawing Aquaman, Plastic Man, Super Friends and stories in House of Mystery and House of Secrets, I co-created Aqualad and Metamorpho and also illustrated the syndicated newspaper strip, Brenda Starr.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination? 

I never worked with a computer and for most of my career, I inked with a #7 brush. Lately I have been using Micron felt pens.

When working in comic books, you probably didn't get to do your own inks very often. Would you have preferred to? Did you have a favorite inker?

I inked Aquaman and the mysteries and Brenda Starr, which was quite enough for me. I do a tight penciling and have always felt that inking  was redundant. I don't really have a favorite inker although I admire many of them.
When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in Chicago in 1926.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning? 

I studied design at Parsons School of Design and fine art at the Art Students' League in NY. I never studied cartooning specifically, although I was influenced by the great newspaper comics I read when I was growing up.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change? 

I would have written and drawn children's' books or done book illustrations.

What work are you best-known for?   

Probably Aquaman and Metamorpho.

What work are you most proud of?

Besides  the children's book I wrote (THE DINOSAUR THAT GOT TIRED OF BEING EXTINCT which is on Amazon)  I would say Metamorpho.

What would you like to do or work on in the future? 

That's a funny question for someone who is ninety-one (as of today, October 1st).

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

I clean the house or take a vacation or catch up on reading until I feel like working again.

What do you think will be the future of your field? 

It seems as if Hollywood is determining it right now, but I expect it will have a lot to do with the internet in ways I can't imagine.

Do you have a website or blog?
No. But you can see my work on Catskill Comics website.

How was your BCC experience this year? How often have you attended it?

I think I have been there about five times. It's getting bigger, but thankfully, not overwhelmed by TV and Hollywood. Brad Tree and his staff do a great job and make being there a pleasure. They gave me the biggest table (actually two tables) I have ever had.

What's your favorite thing about Baltimore? 

I liked walking around the harbor and eating at a seafood restaurant that overlooks the water.

Least favorite?

Not-so-good crab cakes sometimes.