George E Warner of superggraphics has lettered, inked, and written a variety of comic book characters in the industry. Comicbookinterviews.com reporter Mark F Davis sat down with George to discuss his career in comics and his current and future projects…
MFD: George, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
GW: I was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, which was once known as the lumber capital of the world. Little League Baseball originated there as well. When I was about 4, my family moved across the river to the borough of South Williamsport, which is famous as being the home of the Little League World Series, which you see on ESPN and ABC each year. I was a pop culture junkie growing up in the 60′s and devoured comic books, model kits, monster magazines, horror and sci-fi movies, and music. The hardware store in our town sold toys and comic books, and my father bought me my first comic book (Fantastic Four #1) there at that hardware store. I was instantly hooked and began rabidly collecting every comic book that my allowance and lawn mowing/snow shovelling money would let me get my hands on. I loved the Marvel Comics especially, but bought DC Comics, Gold Key, Tower, Charlton and actually, pretty much everything else. We were lucky as kids collecting comic books because the guy that owned the hardware store actually let us look at and order from the list of comic books he could bring in each month. We never missed an issue! Talk about the birth of the direct sales market! Right before I graduated school, I began to lose interest in all of that stuff, having become a bass player in a rock band and discovering girls, altho there was a publisher called Atlas Comics which I collected with a passion. Got back into collecting full time in the 80′s, and lost everything I had in an arson fire that same decade (including my entire comic book, horror, and music collection that I had hauled around with me since childhood).
I renewed my interest in comic books and began working in comic shops in the late 80′s and continued with that and submitting work as an inker to various comic book companies, but eventually dove back into music and forgot about working in comics, because the market crashed in the early 90’s and no one was hiring, or they were done as a publisher. Marvel Comics loved my inks but they didn’t have anything for me to work on (I still have the letter). A few years back I rediscovered a line of comic book magazines from a now defunct New York publisher called Skywald through an online checklist, and was able to contact the artist on my favorite series they published, ‘The Human Gargoyles’, and asked if he would be interested in finishing the series (the line of mags was cancelled before it was brought to a conclusion). He agreed but wanted to retouch the artwork on some chapters of the original series, along with producing new material. Now I needed a letterer to work on this project and since I wanted to save on some expenses, I decided to teach myself how to do the lettering and production work, and came to love the art of comic book lettering in the process. That’s more than a bit about myself, altho I must add that over the years I’ve come to know and correspond with a veritible who’s who of comic book professionals, starting from the time I began collecting as a child. I saw Artie Simek (famous Marvel Comics letterer) playing spoons on a New York tv show in the 60′s, and got a no-prize and a letter from Stan Lee when I wrote him about it. I met and spent time talking to Stan Lee years later at a convention at the peak of the 90′s speculator craze along with Jim Shooter (my favorite writer), Mike Richardson, Neal Adams, David Lapham, Bob Layton, and too many more to mention. The koolness factor was that it was a retailers’ con, so you got to spend quality one on one time with all of the creators’ there, and I learned a lot about the industry and the people that work in it. I also must mention that I have 3 checklist blogs online, which deal with Pre Unity VALIANT comics (the Shooter ones/the great ones), the Skywald Horror-Mood mags, and a Dark Horse Comics/Gold Key Heroes checklist, which is officially sanctioned by line editor Chris Warner (love that last name!). And lastly, and most importantly, I am married to a stunningly beautiful and wonderful woman, Diane. We have two great boys (Colin and Ian), aged 10 and 13.
MFD: You letter comics, do comic book production work, ink, and design logos. Does that sum up your abilities, or do you work in other capacities on comics as well?
GW: I’d say that pretty much sums up what I do. I also do digital restoration work on comic book covers and interiors, kind of like the work you see on the Marvel Essentials and the DC Archives.
MFD: Who do you list as your creative influences?
GW: Honestly, everyone and everything I’ve ever read or seen, good or bad. Sometimes you can learn just as much if not more from badly produced comics as you can good ones. As far as specific creators, as far as letterers, I’d have to say Ken Bruzenak, Sam Rosen, Artie Simek, Ben Oda, Todd Klein, Tom Orzechowski, and Gaspar Saladino, from the old school of classic letterers. Among the modern letterers and lettering houses that have caught my attention are Richard Starkings, Comicraft, Chris Eliopoulos, Virtual Calligraphy, Jade Moede, Nate Piekos and Rich Emms. For inkers I’d have to say Klaus Janson and Terry Austin.
MFD: What are your all-time favorite comic book stories?
GW: Too many to list, altho Daredevil vol.1 #’s 50-52 (great Barry Smith artwork), Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s entire Daredevil run, Miracleman (the first 3 Alan Moore/Garry Leach Eclipse issues especially), Jack Kirby’s New Gods/Fourth World, and Thriller (the Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eeden issues) stand out, and of course Watchmen from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and Solar #0 from James C Shooter and Barry Windsor-Smith, to name but a few.
MFD: Could you go into details on exactly what your comic book work entails?
GW: Horror stories, mostly, I’m afraid. A lot of the independent publishers/creators don’t understand the mechanics of putting together a comic book properly, so you have to deal with all of that once you take on a project. Writers put too much copy into a panel and Artists a lot of times don’t draw their pages at the proper size (along with a whole other house of horrors you are handed by them, but then, the writers and artists are the stars!). You also encounter problems with color modes, file formats, and resolution. So you spend a lot of time correcting those mistakes, and then once that’s done, I get down to the real fun of lettering and polishing the material for print, so to speak.
MFD: Do you have any comic book projects you’re currently working on?
GW: Besides ‘The Human Gargoyles’ project, I lettered and packaged the first two issues of an indy comic book called ‘Surprising Theater’, for the Surprising Comics Group, which was my first published work, for a fine chap by the name of Mark F Davis. I’d love to work with him again someday, I might add. I took an online VALIANT FANS fan project based on characters from the original VALIANT comics universe called, ‘Playing God’, and turned it into a hardcover and trade paperback for Craig A Partin’s Pinwheel Press. I acquired, restored and saved all of the original art pages from the final three issues of the unfinished Acclaim Comics Unity 2000 comic book series by Jim Shooter and Jim Starlin, which is being colored by legendary industry colorist JayJay Jackson and lettered by myself. I believe some guy named Paul Creddick is helping JayJay dialogue the final chapter. The plan is for it to be finished as a VALIANT COLLECTOR’S SOCIETY (not for profit) board project.
I’ve just completed work on the first two books from Horrorfixx Comics based on Jarrod L Dodson’s Terrorklowns concept (Terrorklowns and Terrorklowns the DARK stories), and will soon begin work on a 70 page Dead Klowns graphic novel set in the same universe. I’ve been hired by Bluewater Comics to work on a big, new, exciting line of mythological superhero books, and I was recently introduced to Ardden Entertainments’ Rich Emms by Atlas Comics’ Jason Goodman to possibly do some lettering work for Atlas Comics. Jason Goodman is a great person who really has been generous with his time and encouragement and Rich Emms is a great letterer, designer, and publisher. His (Jason’s) father and grandfather owned the original Timely/Marvel and Atlas Comics. And of course there are a lot of other things that I can’t talk about yet.
MFD: What can you tell us about that big project you’re working on for Bluewater Productions?
GW: Well, it is basically a new universe of books based on some of the classic mythological heroes (Artemis, Heracles, Orion, and Trident). At this point I’m scheduled as lead letterer on the Primer and two of the other titles (Heracles and Orion), as well as having been asked to design the logos for all 4 individual titles. I’m really excited to be working on this line, and I know everyone will enjoy what’s in store! You can read the official press release here: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31741
MFD: Could you discuss Terrorklowns, and the work you’re doing on that title?
GW: If you’d like to know more about Terrorklowns, I’d suggest checking out Jarrod L Dodson’s interview over at ComicMonsters.com. Here’s the link: http://www.comicmonsters.com/features-1164-TerrorKlowns_interview_with_Jarrod_Dodson.html. As far as to what work I do, I set up the pages, letter the books, and package them for digital and print publication. If you like Horror, you’ll love Jarrod’s Universe. The first two books, Terrorklowns and the DARK stories are available to order here: http://indyplanet.com/store/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=terrorklowns&osCsid=eg9oq5qge58rvv8rcp2480qb42&search.x=10&search.y=10
MFD: Are you reading any new comic books at the moment?
GW: I am rabidly devouring all of the issues of the new Dark Horse Comics/Gold Key Heroes Universe and Jason Goodman’s relaunch of the Atlas Comics Universe. Both feature strong writing and some great artwork. The Walking Dead is another one of my favorites along with Hack Slash.
MFD: As you know, I’m a follower of your various blogs. You do a great job documenting some great comic book work. Could you list the URLs of your blogs?
GW: Sure. As follows:
GW: At some point I’ll probably post up another blog that has to do with my personal thoughts on the comic book business and other things, along with lettering and prepress samples, but for now, those 3 checklist blogs are what I am focused on, along with my comic book work. Thanks for asking me to do this interview Mark and as they used to say in the publishing business, that’s ’30′.
MFD: Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview, George!
George E Warner’s company is superggraphics. If you are interested in having any lettering, prepress or design/production work done on your comic book, he can be reached at email@example.com.
Mark F Davis is a staff reporter for Comic Book Interviews and is also Senior Editor for Red Leaf Comics.
Mark is a contributing writer at Red Leaf Comics and has crafted several tales for The Leaf, Canada’s Greatest Hero at www.redleafcomics.com. His creator-owned properties include: Skyscraper, Depthon –Son of the Ocean, The American Guard, and other heroes from Surprising Comics and can be found at www.surprisingcomics.com.
Mark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.