One Foot in the Comic: Rich-McKelvey on 'Footman 15'

Comics can be a hair-raising place to work. Threre's not a lot of job security, and the benefits aren't that great. But, there's a new creator on the block who doesn't mind hairy situations at all...in fact, he's bald. He's Christopher Rich-McKelvey and he's the writer, penciller, inker, letterer, editor, publisher (Do you think he wears enough hats? Maybe it goes back to that bald thing.) of something called "Footman 15" from the appropriately named Bald Guy Studios. After launching his very first published work, "Footman 15: Fairy Fire" a couple of weeks ago, in the process somehow convincing Frank Cho to provide the cover and working diligently on the next issue; Chris had a few moments to sit down and talk with CBR News about self-publishing, Footman 15, and working on established characters.

"I've always wanted to get into the comic book industry since I was a little lad," Rich-McKelvey told CBR News, "but it wasn't until I spent my time running a local comic shop here that I realized how badly I wanted it. So, I sold my stock and became an artist... and when they say starving, they ain't kidding."

Starving or not, his influences include some of the most respected artists working today and consist of Mike Mignola, Adam Hughes, studio-mate and good friend Chad Spilker (whom he lovingly refers to as "The Bastard"), and Frank Cho. Each of these creators has affected Chris's work in some fashion, and it's something he has given quite a bit of thought to. "Mike Mignola is one of the few comic artists that can draw a comic and use absolutely no angle shots in his work. To make up for this he has mastered the use of depth. That...and his monsters rock. Adam Hughes and Frank Cho have a very clean style that actually presents more volume to their characters than most other artists. Chad Spilker, my studio buddy and all around favorite red head, has an uncanny way of bringing out a characters emotion. He can also draw a very seductive babe, or a, wait... I don't think I've seen him draw a guy..."

Taking what he learned not only from the gentlemen listed above, but also his own interests in mythology and folklore, Chris created "Footman 15." He described the premise behind "Footman" 15 as "pretty basic. You have a young woman who was trained at a very early age to exterminate anything that our society might see as being mythological, paranormal, or just not real. The organization that runs the Footman project has kept the social perception of weird things at bay for fourteen generations. Footman 15 is the fifteenth to do the job."

"The most interesting thing about Footman 15 is that she is a product of conditioning. Her training will make her seem like a good guy at times, and definitely a bad guy at times. She's there to do a job, no matter the cost." continued Rich-McKelvey.

And, while "Footman 15: Fairy Fire" is his first publication, he hasn't been idle. "For the last couple of years I've been commissioned for many different things," said Rich-McKelvey. "And, I did win a bunch of Malibu comics when I entered a Wizard Magazine contest eight years ago. I got third place for writing...even though I sent them two pages of art. I don't get it either."

When asked about self-publishing, all Rich-McKelvey responded with was "Wow... It's a lot of work, but well worth it."

Even though the first issue just shipped at the beginning of April, Chris had been testing the waters for a "Footman 15" comic in a slightly smaller format. "I started out with two ashcans that I produced last year that were available at comic conventions I attended. Unfortunately, those two ashcans are out of print. However, in the next issue, hopefully coming out the first week of September, the stories in those two ashcans will be retold as flashbacks within that issue's story." explained Rich-McKelvy. He didn't limit his ashcan production to "Footman 15," though. He continued, "This year, I started producing what I call 'Artcans.' They are a collection of current pin-ups that I've done for myself and others, and I only make them available at conventions. I came up with this idea to make it possible for anyone with $5.00 to get a sampling of my work." explained Rich-McKelvey. "The second Artcan will be available at Chicago's WizardWorld this year. I only print them in quantities of twenty five. Although, the first Artcans went so fast that I may make more."

When the subject of dream projects came up, Rich-McKelvey candidly responded, "I'm such a whore when it comes to this. I'd work on anything. I feel that if I had the chance to be a part of the history of an established comic book character, that it would be thrill enough for me. Of course, a Hellboy gig would be sweet."

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