Sunday, May 4, 2014

9 QUESTIONS WITH TIMOTHY TRUMAN - and the eagerly awaited return of SCOUT

I've been on a recent comics kick, because my father gave me a few thousand more of his collection.  In my bliss of swimming through comics (almost literally), I was reminiscing about how much I love the work of Timothy Truman, particularly in Scout and Turok.  I spontaneously decided to try to contact him  for an interview.  To my surprise, he was willing to answer all of my questions with spectacularly thorough responses.  What a cool guy!!  He mentions many artists that I know nothing about.  We all have some research to do!  Read on.    

1)  Who are your inspirations?  Did one particular individual make you desire a career in art?

TT:  Many folks have inspired me over the years. For writing, comics writers Don McGregor, Doug Moensch, Al Feldstein, and Archie Goodwin were early influences. A lot of my writing inspirations were novelists, though: Robert E. Howard (of course!), Samuel Delaney, Lin Cater, Michael Moorcock, my pal George R. R. Martin, Fritz Leiber, John Jakes, and an adventure writer named Robert F. Jones. Lately I've been reading a lot of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Lyricists like Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Lowell George, Robert Hunter and  Darrell Scott have also been big influences on my writing, too, believe it or not.  Artwise, early influences were Sam Galnzman, his brother Lou Glanzman (illustrator), Frank Frazetta, Richard Corben, Paul Neary , Tom Sutton, Pat Boyette, Joe Kubert, Steranko, Paul Gulacy, Michael Golden, Walt Simonson, John Severin, Russ Heath, Frank Thorne, Jim Starlin, Mike Kaluta, Jeff Jones, Bernie Wrightson, Wally Wood, Jack Davis, Mort Drucker, Barry Smith, and Jack Kirby, to name a few of the earliest and most formative. The underground artists had a huge impact on me, mainly Greg Irons, Rick Griffin, Rand Holmes and Spain Rodriguez. Guys I've worked with have been big inspirations-- John Ostrander, Joe R. Lansdale, illustrator Keith Parkinson, Quique Alcatena, Tom Yeates, Steve Bissette, John Totleben and Rick Veitch.  I learned a lot working with them or watching them work. There are also a lot of movie director influences in there-- Walter Hill, Sergio Leone, and Robert Aldrich, especially. A lot of Hammer films and B-movies, too. 

For the past twenty or thirty years my comic art influences have been mostly European: Mobius, Alberto Giolitti, Hermann, and Victor De La Fuente were biggies. My two favorite current  artists are  two European guys, Alfonso Font and Corrado Mastantuono. Their work is absolutely awesome. I pull their stuff out a lot when I need a jolt of inspiration. It's like drinking coffee. They get me going. 

The guys who made me realize that I could make a career of this were my high school art teacher, Glenn Toler, and of course Joe Kubert and instructor John Belfi when I was attending the Kubert School. 

2)  You often work with Native American characters, is there any particular reason for this?  Are you a Native history buff?

TT:  I've always been interested in Native American culture and history. A lot of it might stem from the fact that my great grandmother was full blooded Cherokee. When I was a little boy, I used to hang out a lot with my grandfather and though I didn't realize it at the time he taught me a lot of things that I now know he must have learned from his mother. But when I was young watching cowboy flicks,  the "Indians" were always far more interesting to me than the cowpokes. As I got older, I started do a lot of research into Native cultures. It's just an interest that's always been a part of me, for whatever reason. When I started weaving that interest into my work with Scout, Wilderness and whatever, I just wanted to be sure I did things as accurately as possible. My goal has always been to depict Native peoples and their cultures respectfully but not patronizingly. 

3)  I heard a rumor that you are currently working on new Scout material.  Is there any validity to this?  

My Favorite Issue of
Scout: War Shaman
TT:  Yes, my son Ben and I are currently working on a new Scout arc, Scout: Marauder. It's the story of Scout's two sons, Victorio and Tahzey, who were separated after the death of Scout in Scout: War Shaman. the story occurs about a decade later, after the boys have grown up. It's how they get together and become a family again. A publisher asked us to work up a pitch and it seemed like the right time for new Scout material. I'm really excited about it. We're co-writing the story and Ben is writing the script. I'm doing the art. Ben was the original model for Tahzey, all those years ago, so doing the book with him has sort of brought things full circle. We'll see if the publisher likes it and what sort of deal he can offer.  If it doesn't work out, we'll shop it around.  I really want to do the story. 

4)  Do you enjoy modern comics?  If yes, could you name a few?

TT:  I love Geof Darrow's work, He's an amazing artist and great friend. I love Zach Howard's work, too. Mike Mignola. The FUBAR books. If Mark Schutz puts anything out, I'm there. My pal Tom Yeates just adapted a Louis L'Amour story in graphic novel form and it's amazing. A friend just sent me the Barbarian Lord comics, which are a hoot. However, there's not much that I follow regularly, sad to say. The last things I picked up were a bunch of European Tex graphic novels by Alphonso Font and Corrado Mastantuono, whom I mentioned above. Can't get enough of their work.

5)  You have had a lengthy career in art.  How do you manage to find continuous inspiration for new material?

TT:  Well, the mortgage helps. However, I always try to pick and choose the stuff I do. It has to be something that lights a fire under my ass. As far as staying inspired goes, I've learned you can't call it down when you want to. You can't whistle to it like a dog and expect it to come. Or to use a better metaphor that I coined, "Ideas are like rabbits. The harder you chase them, the father they run." Inspirations or the ideas for stories tend to come to me when I'm least expecting it. Something will hit me and I have to go with it. 

6)  What was your favorite comic that you have worked on and why?  

TT:  My favorite so far has probably been the last thing I did with my son, A Man Named Hawken. It was woefully under-publicized, which is heartbreaking, but I think that issue 1 is the absolute best art I ever did. And working with my son Ben, who scripted it, was really fantastic. I think that the Scout: Marauder project will be even better. We just want to demand from the publisher that they make sure to give it some promo, so that folks know it's out there. 

7)  Do you have any advice for aspiring artists (not necessarily in the field of comics)?

TT:  Just to stay true to your muse. Accept ideas and input, but don't let anyone talk you out of any path you want to take. Another thing I'd advise is to get into using reference-- stuff from the real world. You never know when a thing that you took time to learn something about will end up being a key to a project somewhere along the way. For instance, my studies of desert people and Southwestern Native culture was invaluable when I did the Tusken Raiders stories for Dark Horse's  Star Wars comic. There have been countless times when some point of obscure historical or cultural research that I've done has come into play for some piece of art or some story that I'm doing. So don't be afraid of doing research.  

8)  You also have a strong interest in music.  Is there anything that you wish to say on this subject?

TT:  It's a part of my life, just like drawing, writing, or breathing. I have to do it. Sometimes I'll get busy with a project and  play less guitar or record less music than I'd like to, but I always come back to it. and as I  said above, the music I listen to has always informed my art. 

9)  Any additional random comments/thoughts/concerns/opinions for your fans?

TT:  Just thanks for following my work over the years. You don't know how much it means to me. The best is yet to come. I feel my drawing, especially, has gotten infinitely better over the last 10 years or so. Still so much to learn, though! 

For more information on Timothy Truman you can visit his official website here:
http://www.ttruman.com/

-Orenda