into part two, we chat it up with Scrapyard Detectives
co-creator and Archie Comics artist Bill Galvan. Then we talk
to Supernatural Law artist and The Lily Maid creator,
Trevor Nielson. Instead of putting up another picture of NightFlight,
here’s a drawing Bill did of me if I were a character in the world
…I wonder if Midge is single.
Gavin: Hello Bill. First off, tell us a little about yourself.
Bill: I’ve been comics fan since I was about 8 years old. I remember taking a bunch of Marvel books and taping them together- kind of making my own “graphic novel”! When I got a big Superman book as a gift one year, that’s when I really got into comics.
Gavin: How did you get into drawing comics and what were some of your first breaks?
Bill: Back when I was in college, I drew a superhero comic strip called Thunderbird for the school paper. That eventually led to writing and drawing it in comic book form for a local publisher. After the series was over, I got into graphic design, but then got back into comics with the creation of the Scrapyard Detectives in 2003.
Gavin: For those who don't know, what is The Scrapyard Detectives?
Bill: The Scrapyard Detectives is an all-ages comic book that is published by a non-profit organization that teaches kids about the value of teamwork and multicultural diversity. The single issues are given away free to schools and libraries across the country, and are contributed to by some of the top talents in comic books. We also have a graphic novel, collecting all our issues for sale on SmilesForDiversity.org, with all proceeds going back into the foundation to create more comics.
Gavin: How did the idea come about and eventually make it to publication?
Bill: Dr. Dan Fischer, the president and founder of The Diversity Foundation, wanted to craft a message of acceptance and understanding to kids, so I suggested a comic book. The stories would have mysteries and adventure, but there would also be a moral to the story as well.
Gavin: What do you think of the success it's had so far?
Bill: I’m very proud of what we’ve put together. We are on our fourth issue now, written by DC and Marvel comics writer J.M. DeMatteis.
Gavin: You got Batton Lash to write the origin story of the group. How did that come about?
Bill: Batton came to speak at the SLC library a few years ago, and I was impressed with the way he’s able to blend suspense and humor in his own title, Supernatural Law. I contacted him to write the origin of the Scrapyard Detectives, and he did a great job!
Gavin: You've also worked on Archie Comics. What was that experience like?
Bill: I’ve been drawing and sometimes writing for Archie for almost two years now, and it’s been a great experience. I really like working on characters that are icons like Archie and the gang, and doing stories that are so fun. Especially working on Jughead, he’s my favorite character!
Gavin: Did you find it difficult to keep those kind of iconic characters fresh for this day and age, or is Archie just one of those books that will always keep an audience no matter what?
Bill: The best thing about Archie is that he reflects the times we live in, and there is always an endless stream of things to write and draw about in our society. Teenagers live in a world with constantly changing styles and trends, and so does Archie.
Gavin: What's your take on comics today?
Bill: Artistically, I think that comics have really pushed the envelope with new technology, which allows for more rendered coloring with computer, and also the hand or digitally painted graphic novels as well.
Gavin: Who are some artists you recommend people check out?
Bill: Some of my favorite artists that I look at for inspiration are Curt Swan, Jerry Ordway, Alex Toth, Alex Ross, Ryan Sook and Jaime Hernandez.
Gavin: If you had to make a top 5, what are your most favorite comics to date?
Bill: 1. Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
2. Batman: The Killing Joke
4. Kingdom Come
5. The Jughead series
Gavin: What can we look forward to from you over the next year?
Bill: The biggest project I’m currently working on is called Archie: Freshman Year, and it’s a five-issue story that will run in Archie #587-591. Batton Lash is writing the story, and I am penciling it, with Bob Smith inking. It details Archie’s first year in high school, something that has never really been revealed. It’s also drawn in the classic Archie style as well. It will be in comic stores in June.
Gavin: Anything you'd like to plug?
Bill: Look also for Scrapyard Detectives #4, written by JM DeMatteis, which I also pencil. It should be out by the end of summer. We’ve also got a special book coming out as well called Scrapyard Detectives: Secret Case Files, but that one’s kind of a “chase” comic, with a limited release. And The Scrapyard Detectives Collected Cases, Volume One. This special volume collects all three issues of the Scrapyard Detectives in one 106 page graphic novel. As a bonus, it also includes the secret origin of the Scrapyard Detectives! Only $5.00 for schools and libraries! Order at www.smilesfordiversity.org.
Gavin: Hey Trevor. Tell us a little about yourself.
Trevor: My name is Trevor Nielson, and I come from a mythical place called Oregon. Its full of rainbow forests and fields of candy.
Gavin: How did you get into comics and what were some of your first breaks?
Trevor: I had been kicking around comic-cons for a few years when Mimi introduced me to Batton Lash, and he offered to let me work on his book doing backgrounds. Five years later and I’m still kickin’ around cons.
Gavin: For those who don't know about it, what is The Lily Maid?
Trevor: The title comes from the French "La Pucelle Du Lys" which was a nickname for Joan Of Arc. I wanted to do a book that was a little more than a power fantasy and had a more unlikely heroine. Joan was very small and an unknown in her country. So her rise to fame was very unique.
Gavin: How did the idea come about and eventually into its publication now?
Trevor: I was watching an old silent picture about her when the idea to do a book about her hit me. It kinda steamrolled from there. Right now I’m shopping it around to various publishers trying to find someone to share my vision and help publish the book.
Gavin: What do you think of the success it's had so far with readers?
Trevor: The few that have seen the mock up have been surprised at how interesting history really is if you focus on the stories of the people in the situations.
Gavin: What's it like working with Batton Lash?
Trevor: Batton is a hoot! Plus he’s a true pro. He is all about the story and it is amazing how much I have learned about storytelling and good composition by working on his book.
Gavin: How was your time working on Supernatural Law?
Trevor: I loved it and hopefully we can work it out to put out some more books. I would hate to think of a time I couldn’t lend a hand on the book.
Gavin: What's your opinion on comics these days, both good and bad?
Trevor: The good, there is a ton of variety with the advent of web comics and the access to a world wide audience. The bad, there are too many pros that are cookie cutters of each other. And a ton of fans that won’t try anything outside their comfort zone so a lot of great work goes unnoticed. Experiment people... its just comics!
Gavin: Focusing a little more local, what's your opinion on the comic scene in Utah?
Trevor: There are some great local cartoonists; you get Bill Galvin who does Archie and Scrapyard Detectives, and Derek Hunter who does a ton of stuff like Pirates and Lobster Ladd, and J.J. Cano who does Utah Languish. I’d give any one of them a look if you haven’t already.
Gavin: Who are some artists you recommend people check out?
Trevor: Frank Miller is just too cool to pass up. His whole career has been ahead of the curve. Howard Chaykin is a storyteller extraordinaire. Him slumming is better then most peoples cherry work. Lately, I can only gush over Eduardo Risso. If you haven’t seen this guys stuff, you haven’t seen the best in comics.
Gavin: If you had to make a top 5, what are your most favorite comics ever?
Trevor: American Flagg! by Howard Chaykin. Sin City by Frank Miller. Strangers In Paradise by Terry Moore. Hellboy by Mike Mignola. And Cerebus by Dave Sim.
Gavin: What are some of the current comics people should be checking out?
Trevor: 100 Bullets and Fables are the two best books in comics today.
Gavin: What can we look forward to from you down the road?
Trevor: A Joan Of Arc book on your local shelves. Also I am doing a story with George Gladir which will be in print later this summer.
Gavin: Anything you'd like to plug while we're here?
Trevor: Check out my strip The Body Politik and One Shot Presents.