Ten Questions with Comic Book Artist Neil Vokes
In October, just in time for Halloween, Monsterverse will be releasing Volume One of its new graphic novel series Flesh and Blood written by Robert Tinnell and illustrated by Neil D. Vokes. Sam Park, West Coast Editor of Monsterverse's Bela Lugosi's Tales from the Grave anthology comics, recently interviewed Vokes and has graciously shared his ten Q&A's with Dread Central.
Well known comic book writer Kurt Busiek describes Neil Vokes as "a true original -- creative, cantankerous, enthusiastic and an all-around great guy." After reading his conversation with Sam, we tend to agree. Check it out below, and let us know what you think!
Q1. Who are you, and how can people learn more about you and your work?
Q2. What brought you to this moment as a creator? (For example, the first comic that blew your mind or artist or writer. Or a film or TV show or book, magazine, etc.)
NV: I can't recall the exact thing that set off this crazy career of mine, but I suspect it was a combination of the very early DCs, Marvels and Warren mags (I was also a big horror fan) that I read as a kid (in the late 1950s through the 60s). Artists like Ditko and Kirby and Heath and Kubert and Kane and Sekowsky were my heroes. I wanted to do what they did.
Q3. What was your first published work?
NV: Technically, my first published work was an illustration of Christopher Lee as Dracula in CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT #3; the letter section. Considering how I ended up drawing horror related comics for the last 8 years or so, it was probably a sign. But my first published comic book work was in COMICO PRIMER - a talent showcase. It was a short story I did with my friend, Rich Rankin, on inks as a sample.
Q4. What stands out for you concerning work that you've done over the years, and why? Is it available? How can our readers find it?
NV: Several projects I've done through the years stand out, maybe too many to mention. EAGLE, a creator-owned, self-published black & white action series I did in the 80s meant an awful lot to me and my career. It helped me establish my identity as a storyteller and gave me the beginnings of a fanbase that is still with me to this day (a new reprint of the first six issues came out this past May; click here to order).
An UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN (starring Spidey and Dr. Strange) special I did with Kurt Busiek, Roger Stern, Jay Geldhof and Matt Hollingsworth not only gave me a chance to draw some of my favorite childhood characters created by Steve Ditko, but it also surrounded me with just about the best team one could want on a comic book of this type (I'm happy to say that I've had the pleasure of working with several great teams through the years). It's probably still available through back issue sources.
PARLIAMENT OF JUSTICE became the standard for where my career was headed. I was given the chance to draw the story in an inkwash style that I had toyed with a few times before. I was very influenced by the old Warren horror mags artists such as Gene Colan, Ditko, Frazetta and the rest of those masters' wash work therein. And if not for writer (and good buddy) Mike Oeming offering me the plot to this dark tale, I may still be treading the waters of the “work for hire” ocean. Image Comics would be the place to track that down.
And recently I've done several horror graphic novels with my friend Robert Tinnell (who is also a screenwriter/director) such as THE BLACK FOREST (for which we won two Rondo Awards) and THE WICKED WEST (also available through Image), leading us to the most recent epic FLESH AND BLOOD, due later this year (Halloween 2011).
Q5. What work have you done for Monsterverse and the Lugosi Tales from the Grave books?
NV: I've done a short story with my EAGLE writing pal, Jack Herman, called WALPURGIS KNIGHT for the 2nd issue of BELA LUGOSI’S TALES FROM THE GRAVE anthology at Monsterverse. It will be, we hope, the first in a series of stories about our masked hero. I also have the aforementioned FLESH AND BLOOD coming out around Halloween of 2011. [Check out some Flesh and Blood artwork below, and visit the Flesh and Blood Facebook page for more.]
Q6. Future plans? In comics? Beyond comics? Conventions or events to look for you at?
NV: Beyond FLESH AND BLOOD, I plan to return to EAGLE with Jack and another horror graphic novel with Bob called THE VOICE. I'll be at the annual Pittsburgh and Baltimore cons this year (amongst other, smaller shows).
Q7. Your influences?
NV: Other than those talented men above, I'd add Mike Mignola. His work not only inspires me, it sometimes feels like we were both influenced by exactly the same films and comics. Mainly he's just a damn fine artist.
Q8. Wish list? What characters or stories would you like to tackle?
NV: I've done most of what I set out to do in the work for hire world (though Batman and the Creeper still cry out to me from time to time) so I just hope I have the time left in my life to finish all the other original projects I have lined up and those that I don't even know about yet.
Q9. Who comprises your support group? Who means a great deal to you as you continue to be a creator in comics? (Family, friends, peers, etc.)
NV: Of my peers Bob Tinnell, Jack Herman, David Zuzelo (and the rest of the ETP gang) and a slew of others whom I love, admire and respect in and around this crazy biz. My fans of the last 27 years and, of course, my brother, Kevin (whom I "lost" for 40 years but now have back in my life). But mostly my lovely wife, Siri, and beautiful daughter, Erin. Quite honestly, without them the rest wouldn't be worth it.
Q10. Any thoughts on Monsterverse, its staff or ideas? If you were running MV, what kind of horror story or series would you like to explore?
NV: I love the 'Verse and its staff to death! I wouldn't try to change anything they're up to. Why spoil a good thing? As long as they continue to publish the material they obviously love (and all my future books, ahem), then more power to them!
-That's All, Vokes!
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