Artist Eric Douthitt has crafted interesting characters full of energy and emotion with his pen and pencil. Currently drawing American Sentinels for Heritage Comics HSQ, Eric has forged a unique style that pulls the reader into every page. He recently sat down with comicbookinterviews.com publisher John Michael Helmer about his career in comics and where he’s headed…
JMH: Where were you born and raised?
ERIC: I was Born in Bentonville, Arkansas and Raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas, pretty much in a trailer far out in to the sticks along with my younger brother and sister and 2 dogs, a Chihuahua and a Half Pekinese, Half Dauchsand.
JMH: Tell CBI about yourself…
ERIC: Not much to tell, I am married one child, living in a trailer with my niece, her Boyfriend and 5 cats. I have been drawing since I was in 1st grade, I am 48 now years old. So I have been drawing for about 40 years. Mostly was doing Fantasy Art, Wildlife art and Portraits. I had to work a non-art related job for the last 17 years till I was injured at work and am not able to work for a long while at a regular job.
JMH: How long have you been drawing comics?
ERIC: I have been drawing comics for about 5 years now, so I am pretty new to the business and I am constantly learning new aspects of the business. Since then have had several books published including my own book Horsegod: The Beginning, as well as American Sentinels published by Heritage Comics HSQ. Presently I am working on the 4th issue as we speak, as well as other projects for different things and companies.
JMH: How did you break into the industry drawing comic books?
ERIC: I actually found my first gig at Digital Webbing.com and things just seem to take off from there. Unfortunately I cannot talk about that project cause it was never published, The writers request. Then there was A Time of Heroes my first published gig, I had on issue completed, lettered and colored and did not get to finish the 2nd issue. Then Horsegod and after that was American Sentinels and smaller gigs and projects after that. All the while working a fulltime job again till I was injured on the job.
JMH: Do you have any formal art training?
ERIC: Actually other than a few small college courses, I am primarily self-taught, there are so many books out there on drawing and painting that it was an extremely easy task for me to learn as much as I possibly can without hardly any training at all, I found I had an exceptional understanding of the concepts of drawing and pick up on it really quickly early on.
JMH: Who are your artistic influences?
ERIC: IT’s funny I have had a lot of people tell me that my work resembles that of the famous artist George Perez. Though he is an exceptional artist in his own right and I may have(after reading the avengers when I was younger) picked up a little bit here and there. But my main influences growing up was Frank Frazetta, John Buscema, Neal Adams, Some John Byrne, Boris Vallejo, Marc Silvestri is also a favorite , Of course the popular Jack Kirby, and the list goes on, I try to learn new techniques all the time.
JMH: How do you focus when drawing?
ERIC: There is a variety of ways I focus on a project, I listen to different types of music either rock(classic in particular) Country, sometimes some of the new stuff. Sometimes I don’t listen to anything and have it completely quiet which doesn’t happen as much as I would like. I even on occasion go on a road trip and do sketches and stuff in a roller rink or at a family members house or maybe in a park, especially if I have a block which every artist experience now and again.
JMH: What types of technology do you use to draw?
ERIC: Even though I use a computer for lettering, coloring and pretty handy with a scanner. I don’t really use a lot of complicated programs unless I find a need to upgrade. Right now Adobe Photoshop elements 9 seem to do everything I need to do. I still draw all my pages by hand pencils and inks, takes longer but is a lot more fun to put it all together. One thing I do want to get eventually is a bigger scanner to accommodate the 11×17 pages that I use for my comic work, even though it’s not really work at all, it doesn’t make sense to really call it “comic fun” but to me that is what it is.
JMH: What was the first comic book you ever read?
ERIC: The first comics I ever read was The Superman comics drawn by Curt Swan back in the 70’s along with several Batman and Tarzan comics by Neal Adams and a lot of Jack Kirby’s Thor comics and a variety of other titles by him as well as Walter Simonson’s Thor later on. And of course the Marc Silvestri’s Wolverine with inker Dan Green. One of my favorites was always Conan And Tarzan by Big John Buscema including the black and white Savage Sword of Conan The Barbarian full-sized magazines.
JMH: Do you read any of the new comic books that are being published today? If so, which ones?
ERIC: I have read a few, such as some of the uncanny xmen, Batman and the outsiders, Batman By Jim Lee awesome read extremely dynamic page layouts. I recently read the Secret Invasion: The Infiltration. Eventhough I don’t read comics as much as I use to I try to keep up on what’s going on like DC’s new 52, Jim Lee’s version of The Justice League is absolutely Phenomenal, of course what else can you say about Jim Lee, His work is fantastic, I don’t think there is an artist alive that wouldn’t want his career. I am a lot more particular about the comics I read now than I was before I actually started doing comics myself, kind of like a cook eating other peoples cooking. There are a lot of awesome artists out there and of course there is a lot of artist that aren’t as good, that needs a little work here and there.
JMH: Print vs. Digital. Your thoughts…
ERIC: I like print and always will, in the more complicated storylines I can sometimes read them better than on a computer screen. Digital however, is really good for when you are selective of what stories and artists you want like me and you can get some idea as to the story, if it was written or drawn well or not.
JMH: What sources do you use for a cover image?
ERIC: I use a variety of sources, I use visual reference from photos for buildings, people for poses I have a hard time with or sometimes if there is an animal in the story. I will use the story itself to decide on what the cover should look like, if it’s dark or has a certain mood in the story. I try to picture some of the characters in the story and put them in some sort of action or pose. A lot of times will do preliminaries before I actually decide. Sometimes I let the editor decide as it is his book, other times (with permission) I will put something together as dynamically as possible.
JMH: What other mediums or genres have you drawn for?
ERIC: I have done a variety of artwork; I have done ads for companies such as a tire warehouse, a Chili starter company and Illustrations for a computer software company. I have done work for private collectors for portraits of houses, pets, I have done horses as well as people. Just before I started doing comics I did a couple of RPG covers for a gaming company out of Sweden. I have done Fantasy Art, Wildlife art, Portraits, Western Art and dabbled in sculpture. I have fun doing everything in one way or another, but I have always aspired to be a Comic book artist because I love drawing stories and the research involved is very informative at times.
JMH: What is Horsegod?
ERIC: It was called Horsegod: The Beginning, A person wrote the first few pages (who will remain nameless) and I took over the writing duties after that. IT was about a man from the 16th Century named John Isaacs, who was hit by a Galactic ray out of nowhere and later found he had the power to change his molecular structure into that of any Amalgamation of horses real or imagined. Over 400 years later is still among us along with many more like him (though not as pure a lot of times) some he has had to kill and others he became friends with through the years. His main goal is to find the Alien technology that did this and of course stay alive at the same time so he can stop it from happening again. It didn’t do very well but it was a lot of fun to work on.
JMH: Talk about American Sentinels…
ERIC: American Sentinels is being published by Heritage comics HSQ, the first 3 issues was written by Adam Russo and issue 4 was written by the editor. Basically there are 5 characters, it takes place during WWII. These 5 characters have been endowed with powers with the help from Alien DNA the German’s have discovered and somehow got into American hands. They are heroes of WW2; they help fight alongside American soldiers and fights whatever the German’s throw at them, to them they are soldiers just like anyone else, just a little stronger or faster or more invulnerable to attack.
JMH: What project are you currently working on at now?
ERIC: I have a few projects I am working on; for starters I am working on the 4th issue of American Sentinels. I am doing a few pinups here and there for different companies as well as my own characters, one in particular is a character called The Seer. I am doing some work for Red Leaf Comics, just recently did the pencils for a cover for them between 2 characters; I am also doing Wildlife, and fantasy art to keep myself loose in those areas, they are most definitely disciplines different from comics. And as always working to improve and grow as an artist in whatever I do.
JMH: What future projects do you have in the works?
ERIC: Red Leaf Comics has asked me to do a short comic story written by the great Steve Skeates. I have no idea what it is about yet, but I am sure it will be an absolute blast. I will continue to work on American Sentinels by Heritage Comics HSQ and see where it leads. Getting a script together, with Red Leaf’s help, and doing the first issue of The Seer: Alien Triple Threat. I try to do something in between pages like pinups and a Wildlife piece or a fantasy piece or portrait every now and then, so I don’t get burned out with comics like so many artists I have heard about. I truly love what I do. I have no idea what the future has to hold but it will be a lot of fun then the time comes to find out, I just do one picture or page at a time.
JMH: Do you have any words for aspiring artists?
ERIC: Hmmm, that is a tough one, being an aspiring artist myself. All I can really say is don’t stop drawing just because someone else says you’re no good or you don’t have what it takes. Keep it going and study the masters and if you have the opportunity to get some formal training, do it. There are tons of schools out there that are really good at teaching all the aspects of doing comics or whatever you want to accomplish not only in comics but in all aspects of art.
JMH: How can fans and publishers get a hold of you?
JMH: Eric, CBI appreciates your time. All the best.
ERIC: Thanks, it was a real pleasure to do this interview and hope everyone enjoys my work.
About the interviewer –