Yeah, well– somebody had to do it, right? I mean, 90% of these columns are just creators blabbering on about some subject or the other when what they really want to do is introduce themselves and ask you to buy their books… right? So why not just do that, I thought. Why not just introduce myself, smile, and graciously ask that the next time you’re at your local funny book store, you think about picking up one of my monthly titles or one of these keen TPBs that everyone is so taken with these days.
I mean, you wouldn’t blame a guy for doing that would you?
Oh, well, too late for second thoughts now, right? Might as well dive into the first step:
I’m Robert Kirkman. I write the comic books. Y’know the ones: “Invincible,” “The Walking Dead,” “Marvel Team-Up” and “Battle Pope.” I’ve got a few books on the horizon I can’t really talk about just yet, and I’ve done more than a few books in the past. Some of those include “Captain America,” “Jubilee,” “Fantastic Four: Foes,” “Tech Jacket,” “Brit,” “Capes,” “Cloudfall” and “SuperPatriot.” There are others, but you get the picture, right? I’ve written some comics before.
I got my start in June 2000 when I published my first comic book, “Battle Pope,” through my own publishing company Funk-O-Tron (I thought it sounded catchy). Before that I worked in a comic shop and shortly before that I was in high school. I skipped the whole college thing, but you’ve read almost 200 words typed by me so far, so I’m sure you figured that out on your own. Funk-O-Tron was the smallest of all small press. It was basically me and a graphic design program trying to convince people that I was a real publisher. Luckily, I fooled Joe Casey, Charlie Adlard, Andy Kuhn, and Matt Fraction long enough to publish three issues of an anthology book they did called “Double Take” featuring the characters Codeflesh and Rex Mantooth. Mostly though, I just published “Battle Pope.” A book written by me and drawn by a childhood friend, Tony Moore.
“Battle Pope” is currently being reprinted in full color by the fine folks at Image comics. You should give it a look.
Somewhere along the line I befriended Erik Larsen. I was (and still am) a huge fan of his work and had gotten to know him by asking a friend of mine, who ran a website, to let me interview Erik for their site. From there I somehow weaseled my way into Image comics by doing a new “SuperPatriot” mini-series with artist Cory Walker (you’ll hear more about him later).
Around the same time, my good friend and colorist on “Battle Pope” landed the “Masters of the Universe” license (remember back when those ’80s properties were a license to print money?). I did a fair share of work for Val around that time. Some “He-Man,” some “Space Ace,” and an original concept Val and artist Matt Tyree came up with called “Tales of the Realm,” which I consider a forgotten gem of my short career (TPB and Hardcover available now from Image).
After I did the “SuperPatriot” mini for Larsen, I started pitching my own books to Image. Books like “Tech Jacket,” “Brit,” “Cloudfall,” “Capes,” “Invincible” and “Walking Dead.” Lucky for me, Image accepted them and I got the chance to really run wild on my own creations with no editorial restraints whatsoever. This gets us up to 2003.
Now the next part is a little iffy, because I don’t really know both sides of the story. At some point in 2003, Bendis contacted me to tell me he liked my book “Invincible.” To which I quickly replied with “get me a job at Marvel.” The next thing I knew, I was writing the four issues of “Captain America” before that hack Brubaker came on and made you all forget them. From there, I was offered one of those keen exclusive contracts and I’ve been working at Marvel ever since (it was just last year).
There was a “Sleepwalker” book at the short-lived EPIC line at Marvel that happened in-between Image and the “Captain America” stuff, but you know what they say; “If you don’t have anything nice to say…”
That’s pretty much the history of my career. You guys wanted to read that right? You asleep yet? Bear with me– I’m trying to introduce myself. Next week’s column will be better.
Anyway, the reason I’m telling you all this is because I wanted you guys to be in on the joke. People who know me will understand the irony of me being a total shill whoring myself in an effort to sell my books, but other people will think I’m a money hungry bastard… but most of the books I listed above I did for free. That’s right. I didn’t make a dime off most of them.
I got into comics for the love, pure and simple. I wanted to make comics. Making a living at it was, of course, the ultimate goal, but as long as I could scrape by, I was happy just making the comics. When Tony Moore and I did “Battle Pope,” he was in college and I had a day job. We did that book because we wanted to, and it made just enough money to pay for the printing.
When I went to Image, my books weren’t exactly top sellers, so what little money was made went to the artists involved. At the time I was making enough to get by writing “He-Man” books for Val Staples. It seemed only fair to me that what little money “Capes,” “Cloudfall” and “Tech Jacket” made went to the artists.
Even with “Invincible” being as successful as it is now, to this day I still don’t pay myself a page rate for that book. I write that book month in and month out, for free, because I love doing it. Ryan Ottley and Bill Crabtree split the profits on that title.
So don’t write me about this column telling me I’m a greedy shill. I just want you kids to read the book. Now, let’s get on to part 2:
I promise I’m smiling as I type this. Now, let’s go onto part 3:
GRACIOUSLY ASKING YOU TO BUY MY BOOKS
Now, I’m not really just going to come in here every week and say “buy my books.” That would be retarded. What I am going to do is show you what it’s like being me for a week… kinda…
You see, I sit in front of a computer a minimum of 10 hours a day… sometimes more. I write like the dickens, day in and day out, but I’m the luckiest guy in the world because I get to see all kinds of cool art in various stages on my various books before just about anyone else. Penciled pages for Invincible, character designs for Marvel Team-Up, character redesigns for my new XXXXXX book at Marvel, “Walking Dead” covers. I live in jpeg heaven. Rarely does thirty minutes go by without me receiving some new illustrated gem.
So in essence this is going to be an art showcase, but that’s not all, not nearly all. I’m going to explain the process, talk about the reason we’re doing the things were doing. Why a character is getting redesigned, why a page needs to be redrawn, etc. I’ll talk about scheduling and the steps I took to make a comic from start to finish, and stuff like that. So it’ll be, in part, a how to column as well.
Also, from time to time it might be a flat out opinion column as I decide to gripe about whatever bee is in my bonnet on any given week.
And of course, all the while, I’ll be telling you what book a particular piece of art is from and asking you to buy it. There’s no harm in that, right?
I thought not.
Anyway, I hope you bought some good books today. I’ll be back here next week to tell you all about Cory Walker. Of course, if you get bored between now and then… BUY MY BOOKS.
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