Back again with another great interview. This time, it is Lonnie Lowe Jr., Indie comic book writer/publisher. I enjoyed his view and his story. Check it out.
Lonnie Lowe Jr.
As it relates to your earliest memory as an artist, did Art choose you or did you choose Art? The Art of writing that is, explain. I think it was a mutual choosing. Where I’m from, my only access to comic books was an old, raggedy carousel in the back of the 7/11 across from my apartments. The restocking was inconsistent as well as the issues. I was lucky to get 2 concurrent issues. What I would do is, write down and imagine what I thought happened, in the issues I missed.
Who or What were your earliest inspirations and present influences that that inspire your art/comics/writing? Milestone Comics!!! I can’t scream it enough. Those folks are damn near, solely responsible, for me even thinking this was possible. You’ve got to understand. There were no heroes who grew up in my conditions and looked like the folks I grew up around until they (Milestone) showed up. Sure, we had a few black heroes but I didn’t know them. I knew Static, shit..I lived two buildings over from The Blood Syndicate. I could relate to those characters! With Icon, I didn’t need Superman and with Hardware, I didn’t need Batman or Iron Man. I still read Batman though, he’s awesome. I also loved Shadow Hawk (prior to me even knowing he was black), Mr. T’s short lived book, X-men (back then), Justice League and some Spiderman from time to time. The new(er) guys I look at and follow are Geoffrey Thorne, Brandon Easton, Ray A. Height, Joe Robinson Currie to name a few. There’s a bunch of new talent though, well new to me anyways.
How important is it to study your art and how do you approach keeping your skills sharp? I think it is just as important, as anything you want to be successful in. I write comics so I read comics. I study comics. I listen to comic related podcasts. I go to conventions and sit in workshops for hours. I email and instant message anyone who’ll answer me. I’m apart of indie groups and websites that I feel can help me progress as a writer and expand my network and brand as a whole.
What are some books that are on your personal shelf? Maaan.. A ton, I can’t think right now because I can’t see them but a few off hand. Death in the Family (newest fav 🙂 ). I have the entire run of Blood Syndicate. I have Icon in graphic novel form. The Killing Joke, The Victories…
Are there any titles that you are currently reading? Midnight Tiger, Prodigal, Blaze Brothers, Route 3, Cronus when I can. E.P.I.C, Quantum and Woody, Justice League, Batgirl (My favorite), Batwing, Nightwing, Teen Titans, Ultimate Spiderman (Miles Morales) and Batman. Now that Lobdells back on Red Hood, I’ll be back. There some transformers but they get a little too political for me. I miss Danger Club and My second favorite title Ever Dynamo 5.
Give us a description of your Creative Lab or Studio where you work and how is the environment a co-creator or partner in ultimately what you create? I live in my head. As a writer, brain space, an idea and motivation is all I’ve ever needed. I have a PC and an 8ft banner of E.P.I.C and that’s all that’s around me. Oh yeah, a bunch of invoices and shirts so just Dark City specific paraphernalia.
If Art can save the world, then that makes the Artist a Superhero; and every Hero needs theme music. Name the song or songs that you listen to for inspiration as you create? I don’t like to be distracted so whatever it is I’m listening to its really low. Almost like elevator music. There’s enough chaos going on inside of my head to keep me amped up.
What techniques & tools do you employ to bring ideas to life? Pen, pad, phone, tablet, PC a nearby napkin. Anything I can get plot going on.
How would you describe your writing style or artistic technique? I just freestyle it. I have a loose plot or an idea of where I think I wanna go and then I just go. Eventually, I get where I’m going so I just sit back and enjoy the ride.
In terms of personal projects, what is the Flagship creative project for your company and how did you come up with the idea for the concept? My Flagship character is E.P.I.C. I came up with it in ’08 maybe earlier. I used to do music (rap) and I just woke up one day and was tired of it so I left it alone. I still felt the need to create though, it’s more therapy for me than anything else. I had written a story called “The Generals” loosely based on me and my friends. Then I wrote a little fake Batman spinoff called Krusade and folks loved it, so I started brainstorming on a character and came up with Epic. I still had no idea about how to pull this off and one day I’m in old town Glendale Az and I stumble into Drawn to Comics. Coincidentally, they were having a convention or workshop or something. Being there and seeing all of those comics and those people put me in a zone. I’ve been at it since.
What are some of the most immediate/follow-up projects? Well, if I had the budget, I could easily do three a month E.P.I.C, Lotto and Alpha Bloc. However, right now we’re (BBX Media) working on a Web series starring the “Street Level” characters in the Dark City Comics Universe. Lottos trailer: Under Siege is being filmed now and then we’ll roll out Alpha Bloc in the winter. It’ll be a series of shorts surrounding the birth of the Alpha Human population in New Phoenix.
Talk about the difficulties of being an independent artist and the hurdles you’ve overcome to produce and publish your own works. It’s just finding people who stick to their word. I think everyone thinks they are superstars and wants Marvel/DC deals with absolutely no legwork involved. Add that to overly inflated egos and just folks are all talk and BS. You’ll be lucky if your project ever sees the light of day. Its sucky as a writer because you have to trust your vision with an artist who really doesn’t know or care; about whatever sacrifices you’ve made to get to the point where you’re confident enough to seek out an artist. A lot of cats just want a check, which is cool but they can rarely bring your characters to life verses the batmans, superman etc they’ve been drawing since they were kids themselves. A good friend of mine and business partner said something to me that has resonated constantly he said: “Lo, Motherf@#kers wanna do this sh!t ‘til they realize they GOTTA do this Sh!t.” Sorry, but it’s the only way I can explain it. It’s the honest truth! No one really looks into what it takes to put out tangible product. All you see is the end result. It’s taken me close to 5 years and 4 separate artists to bring one 24 page book to life that was finished in ‘09!
What is your preferred medium for your stories; comic book, graphic novel, animation or movie? As an indie, the digital medium is more cost effective. To have a site that is a one stop shop for your brand is ideal. I’m a purest like most comic folks, so I love the relationship with the paper as well. I have options for people who want physical copies but in this new age I have 400 comic books on my tablet. It makes more since to me.
Here’s a fun question. Name a mainstream project/character or an independent project and/or character that you’d love to work on or revamp and what would you do to put your twist on it? I’d love a shot at Shadow Hawk or to revive the Mr. T book but my dream project would be to revamp The Brown Hornet. If I ever get a chance to meet Mr. Cosby, I’d love to talk my idea with him.
For the independent artist, how has technology affected the way you are able to do business or make progress on your art? For example, but not limited to: Finding Clients? Artistic Collaboration? Getting work done? For me it’s excellent. My team is scattered all across the globe. I couldn’t get my project done with local folks around me, so I had to search the planet for folks who were; about their business, took their craft seriously and was reasonably priced, for what I had in mind. Plus the networking opportunities and brand building potential is limitless.
What are the conferences that are on your yearly schedule to attend? Since I’m on the west, my main ones are: The Phoenix Comicon, Vegas Comicon, ECBACC, Baltimore Comicon, Vegas Licensing Expo and SDCC. Really anywhere I can get to in less than 6 hours I’m trying to hit it up.
What advice do you give to aspiring artists of all mediums about the importance of events and how do you prepare to maximize your potential at these fairs? Don’t half ass it. You have to be prepared know your limits and don’t be out there with cheap looking material. A little research goes a long way.
On the idea of Art Imitates Life or Life Imitates Art, is the role of Art in human existence a catalyst for behavior and community building or is Art a mirror to reflect the world of what was and what is? I use art as an escape. I’m living in reality, this is my break from it. Most folks draw and write about everyday life. I don’t, I’m living it. I use it to go somewhere else. I’ve created an entire universe for me and my supporters to go to whenever they need a break from the real world.
Due to budget cuts for schools, classes and after-school programs, primarily in black and Latino communities, the youth are not getting exposed or are exposed to very little physical education and the arts. How important do you feel the arts are to the lives of the youth? It’s just as important as every other subject taught in school. Kids need creative, as well as physical outlets to help express themselves.
Whether it’s the concept of Six Degrees of Separation or Its A Small World, the culture to are smaller than outsiders know. To bridge the gap between yourself and your peers, do you belong to any artist groups or forums, if so which ones? Most FB groups for Indies of color plus writer groups for Indies in general. I like to keep up with my peers but I’m not so one-sided as to only be interested in what one group of creators are doing. If it’s a group that interest me, I usually check it out for a while.
Now to bridge the gap between your art and the public at large, give the name and address of your sites and forums where people can see your creativity and how people can get in contact with you for commissions and/or to follow your work?
What impact would you like your art to make on the world? I just want to tell great stories, that people can enjoy no matter what.
What are your favorite quotes or philosophies of life that help you improve as a person or artist? My own personal quote: Don’t do it in life if you won’t do it to death. For me that means don’t waste your time on anything that isn’t worth giving your all.
Is there anything else that you want the readers to know, feel free to elaborate? Yes. Support Indies. Stop complaining about the lack of quality heroes of color or gender or preference. There’s an amazing crop of writers and artists from all walks of life with new takes and fresh ideas waiting for you to explore. Don’t be lazy, just do a little digging. We don’t have the marketing dollars as the Big Wigs but we have the talent. Come see us. God Bless everyone.
Thank you Lonnie! I appreciate your time and continued success.
That’s it for now!
Remember Support INDIE Artists and their projects! Until next time!
– Ced Pharaoh
Lonnie Lowe Jr.