Monday, November 7, 2016

Creators from the Midwest Comiccon 2016

Creators from the Midwest Comiccon!

 This weekend, the Des Moines Iowa Events Center hosted the 15th annual Midwest ComicCon. I had the pleasure of attending this on both Saturday and Sunday. Dressed in my Walking Dead "Negan" cosplay outfit, I walked around the Comic Book Convention. Many people came from all over the United States to show off their cosplay outfits, display their artwork & literature, or just get some good people watching in! 
 Plentiful content creators came from all over the country to visit. From the industry professionals such as Phil Hester or Eric Gapstur to the independent local artists such as Andrew Southern, a great time was had by all! A few of these wonderful artists and writers were kind enough to sit down with me and talk about the projects that they are promoting here at the Con!

Phil Hester

NCR: Do you have a website? 

Phil: No but, if you google me you'll find all sorts of my artwork everywhere. And I'm on Twitter @philhester and I post some of my artwork there sometimes. 

NCR: Okay, cool. How have you been enjoying the Con so far?

Phil: Oh I love it. I've been a comic book fan for decades and I've been an Iowan for my whole life so it's really gratifying and fun to see a comic convention in Iowa. Especially one that I can, you know, come be a guest at. 

NCR: Absolutely, very cool. Is this your first time at this particular convention? 

Phil: Oh no, I've been every year pretty much.

NCR: Oh wow, 15 years straight huh? 

Phil: No not straight. I've probably missed a few here and there for family stuff. But I'm pretty much a fixture at these things.

NCR: Okay, cool. Other than yourself, have there been any standout creators here this year?

Phil: Oh I love to see the older guys. So when they bring the older creators that were doing books when I was a kid, that's when I'm more excited. So this year, I'm really excited to see John Ostrander. He's great. He was there at the beginning of a lot of stuff. Especially Suicide Squad. 

NCR: Awesome. What are you promoting here today? 

Phil: I'm doing a book with Aftershock Comics called Shipwrecked that I drew, Warren Elllis wrote, and Eric Gapstur inked. 

NCR: Do you have any influences on your work right now? 

Phil: Oh yeah, my biggest influence is probably Jack Kirby. But I love all the great story tellers. Like people that are interested in storytelling. So like, Will Eisner, Frank Miller, you know people like that. 

NCR: I love Frank Miller. 

Phil: Yeah he's sort of my favorite living hero right now. 

NCR: Last question. Do you have a favorite comic book or comic book character of all time? 

Phil: That's impossible for me to answer. (laughs) Comic books are so in my blood that on any given day I have a different favorite comic. I have such special, specific memories about each comic that it's tough for me to pick out an absolute favorite. But I think my favorite character that I would read about when I was a kid, read as an adult, and draw, and I was lucky that I actually did get to work on this character, was Swamp Thing. 

NCR: Awesome. Well thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us today. Enjoy the rest of the Con! 

Eric Gapstur

NCR: How're you enjoying the Con so far? 

Eric: It's good. It's been a lot of fun. Busy, so that's good. 

NCR: Have there been any standout creators for you here? 

Eric: Oh yeah, I'm pals with most of the creators here. So it was good talking with Tony Fleece again. Tyler Walpole. I work with Phil Hester. But it's always good to actually hang out and .. met Don Kramer.

NCR: Very cool. And where are you from? 

Eric: Coralville, Iowa.

NCR: So right around Iowa City? 

Eric: Yep. 

NCR: And then are you promoting anything in particular here or is there any projects that you're working on that you can talk about? 

Eric: Yeah, I'm doing a book called Shipwrecked from Aftershock Comics. I'm inking Phil Hester's pencils and uh, Warren Ellis is writing it. Mark Englert is on colors. It's a great story. We're on issue 2, is gonna come out next week. 

NCR: Awesome. Very cool. And one last question for you. Do you have a favorite comic book or comic book character of all time? 

Eric: Oh yeah. It's superman!

NCR: Nice! I love it. Very cool! So you gotta be pretty happy with the Rebirth stuff that's happening right now.

Eric: Yeah! Oh and I'm a new father. My son is two and a half.

NCR: Congrats! 

Eric: Thank you. Yeah so, seeing Clark in that parental role has really been hitting home for me. And yeah, just loving it.

NCR: Have you enjoyed the new ones, "In the name of the fathers"? It just started last week, but it's about Damian and Jonathan and stuff.

Eric: Yeah, love Damian, love John. Seeing the inner play between those two. 

NCR: Agreed. Well thanks so much for taking the time to meet with us today. 

Eric: Yeah, no problem! 

Andrew Southern

NCR: What's your website? 

Andrew: and you can find me on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram @AndrewSouthern. 

NCR: How're you enjoying the Con so far? 

Andrew: It's awesome! There's a ton of really really talented artists and vendors here. I didn't know there were so many in Iowa. It's really encouraging. I've met a few from Illinois, Chicago, there's even a few from Texas. Just all around the Midwest, it's really cool. This is my first time at the show, but they have a really good history. This is a really great venue and there's plenty of floorspace here. 

NCR: Awesome! Have there been any standout creators for you here? 

Andrew: Oh yeah, there's a ton! I know a couple of Iowa guys. Phil Hester is here. The Vasquez Brothers. I know The Vasquez brothers just started on a project with Marvel that's going to be awesome. 

NCR: And you're from Des Moines, right? 

Andrew: Yep. I live in Ankeny currently. 

NCR: Are there any other artists that really influence your work? 

Andrew: Absolutely. I could go on for hours, but a few are Skottie Young, Creaturebox, Jon Sommariva. I really like the way that they kind of have this graffiti style, like this cartoon style but they mix it in with comics and it just really works for the stories that they tell. That type of art really speaks to me. 

NCR: That's awesome. So last question, do you have a favorite comic book or comic book character of all time? 

Andrew: I've always really loved Wolverine. But I also have a new love for Deadpool. Because I love the comedy and the action, he's probably my favorite right now.

Joshua Howell

NCR: Do you have a website for your work?

Joshua: I do. It's

NCR: Great. How're you enjoying the Con so far?

Joshua: Oh the Con's great! I'm from Omaha, so it's not too far to travel here to Des Moines and it's a smaller Con so you talk to people a little more often. A little more personal approach.

NCR: Have there been any standout creators here for you?

Joshua: Well I know Phil Hester. He's a local. He does some great work, especially his comic The Wretch. I also like meeting new creators all the time. That's what I come to these things for.

NCR: Yeah, it's so great to get to see everyone's work and it's just a lot of fun. Cool. So what are you promoting here today?

Joshua: This is my book, it's called The Fierce or Fading. It's a sci-fi novel that came out in September. And then we had a 200 page graphic novel that came out over the summer. I was having problems finishing the novel, so we worked on the graphic novel first. And that was a year project. I hired a 19 year old girl out of Italy to illustrate it and we raised some money on Kickstarter to pay her. So these are brand new books. They kind of made their debut at New York ComicCon last month and I wanted to bring em here, back to the local scene.

NCR: So how did you find the artist from Italy to work on your book?

Joshua: Well I cant draw for shit, I'm just terrible. I was on a Facebook page that connects artists with authors. And she has her work up there. I gave her a couple pages of the script and we just clicked. She knew what I wanted to see. She didn't over sexualize the characters. And she really liked the story with the strong female characters in it so yeah, it just worked really well.

NCR: So who are some of your influences for your work?

Joshua: Well, I'm a huge fan of all forms of media. I loved X-Files as a kid and while I wasn't writing this to be X-Files, one of my recent fans that bought the book said it was like X-Files without the aliens. So that was like the ultimate compliment. I love all forms of sci-fi and horror. Richard Matheson, you know with I Am Legend?

NCR: Yeah!

Joshua: And even the old HG Wells stuff. They just kind of funneled into me as a kid. I wrote a lot of stuff when I was young but I didn't really have the maturity to do that and so it was nice to kind of learn that maturity and put the work into this book and have it come out.

NCR: Very cool! And one last question for you. Do you have a favorite comic book or favorite comic book character of all time?

Joshua: Sure. I am a huge Batman fan, as cliche as that is to say.

NCR: No man, I'm right there with you.

Joshua: I have horizontal filing cabinets at home where I own over half of all Batman comics. And it's getting to the point where, I own some old ones but if I want anymore I'm going to have to pay like, ridiculous amount an issue for it. So that is my kryptonite. I collect the individuals and I collect the graphic novels and do my own custom binding to bind them together.

Tony Moy

NCR: Do you have a website?

Tony: Mostly through social medial. You can check me on Instagram: Tony_Moy.  Or Twitter and Facebook: TonyMoy88

NCR: Cool, and where are you from? 

Tony: Chicago.

NCR: So how have you been enjoying the convention so far? 

Tony: Convension's good! It's a lot more intimate than some of the larger ones. I get a chance to talk to people. 

NCR: Have there been any standout creators here for you? 

Tony: I really like Tyler Walpole's stuff. I've met him at other conventions and I'm always excited when he's at a Con as well. 

NCR: Do you have any projects you're working on right now that you want to talk about a little bit? 

Tony: Nothing out there yet. I'm working on something that will be out on Zenescope probably next year sometime. Right now it's tenetively called Mainstream but we'll see what happens or if it changes a little bit before then. 

NCR: Awesome. And who are your influences for your work? 

Tony: Just, on a classic level, Jim Lee was a very early on in my drawing career. Mark Sylvestre. Then, sort of in the watercolor vain, David Mack is solid. Lately, though, for a lot of the watercolor inspirations I've actually been going back to a lot more of the classic water colorists. Turner, Sargent,  Winslow and stuff like that. That has been another realm of opening my eyes. 

NCR: That's kind of uncommon to hear at a convention, so that's pretty cool that you go back that far and take influence from those guys. 

Tony: Just trying to learn a lot more. Comics are great, you draw a lot of figures and humans. But at the same time, learning how to do colors and temperature and all that stuff. 

NCR: It makes a big difference on the reading experience. Last question for you, do you have a favorite comic book or comic book character of all time? 

Tony: As far as characters go, I'm kind of bland in terms of just, I like Spiderman. You know, great power comes great responsibility. That part has always helped me through some times. 

NCR: Hey that's not bland! There's a reason that Spidey is so iconic! 

Tony: Yeah. And then as far as (comic book) issues, I like some of the High Cost of Living is one with Gaiman and Death. I've lent that out so many times and never received it back. I've probably bought it like 4 or 5 times. 

NCR: That's how you know it's a good book! 

Tony: Exactly!

Jonathan Sims 

NCR: So first off, what's your website? 


NCR: That's so awesome! So how're you enjoying the Con so far? 

Jonathan: It's a lot of fun. 

NCR: And you're from Iowa City, right? 

Jonathan: Iowa City, yeah. 

NCR: Okay, cool. Have there been any standout creators here at the Con for you? 

Jonathan: Just a lot of people I'm friends with that I really enjoy running into every year at the convention. 

NCR: Cool. How long have you been doing this particular convention? 

Jonathan: This is my fifth year. Back when it was called iCon, that was the first convention I ever did. 

NCR: Are there any other conventions you like to do on a regular basis? 

Jonathan: I started doing the Cedar Rapids Comic Con. And I'll be doing that one again in February. 

NCR: Okay cool. So what are you promoting here at the Con? I know you have a Kick Starter that you're working on. What are your projects right now? 

Jonathan: So, I have a body of cartoon food art called Snack Attack. And right now I've got a Kick Starter going for a coloring book of my Snack Attack art, so it's a lot of 90's inspired, kind of over the top like, dinosaurs on skateboards. And then just a lot of drawings of pizzas and hamburgers and other kind of junk food. 

NCR: It's so cool man, I love your work. It was one of the stand outs for me from the show I saw you in in Iowa City a while back. So if people want to donate to that Kick Starter, what's the web address for that? 

Jonathan: Well, if you go to, there's a really big splash banner. That's the quickest way to get there. 

NCR: Awesome! One last question, what is your favorite comic book or comic book character of all time? 

Jonathan: Of all time? Oh man!

NCR: It's a tough one, I know. 

Jonathan: Well, I'll list one that not a ton of fans are aware of. It's called Skud the Disposable Assassin. From the 90's. It's by a guy named Rob Schrab. He directs TV shows and animation now. Back then he was making comics and writing and drawing it himself. It was like, this yellow robot guy with two guns and he's a robot assassin who's supposed to explode when he kills his target.

NCR: Who was the publisher on that? 

Jonathan: He started his own publishing company. 

NCR: So it was independent. 

Jonathan: Yeah, Firemen press or something. Image collected it all a couple years back and produced like, a 2 inch thick book of the entire run.

Justin "Spanky" Cermak

NCR: Do you have a website?

Justin: I do, it's // or

NCR: Okay, awesome! And where are you from? 

Justin: I'm from Minneapolis.

NCR: How have you been enjoying the convention so far? 

Justin: I have! It's a very nice room, a lotta good people stopping through. 

NCR: Have there been any standout creators here for you?

Justin: Yeah, Sean, across the way here who does Horrorizons. He does really good stuff. 

NCR: So what are you working on or promoting here today?

Justin: My new book is RoboCatz vs Thunder Dogs. And it's cats and dogs and giant robots battling each other. So if you like Pokemon, you like a little bit of Gundam thrown in, it's perfect for that. 

NCR: Awesome. And who are some of your influences on your work? 

Justin: Definitely Geof Darrow, Sergio Aragonés. You know, people who did wild and crazy stuff with lots of tiny little details in it. That was the stuff that I always liked. 

NCR: Do you have a favorite comic book or comic book character of all time?

Justin: I would have to go with Judge Dredd. He's just kind of awesome. And I love the Stalone movie. I know it's a rarity, I love the Stalone one the best. 

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