Hey welcome to the very first Blazedent pro interview. This week we were very fortunate to interview a veteran of the comic book field, artist, John Beatty.
Blazedent(BE): John, I'd just like to get the ball rolling by having you state your full (or partial) name, when and where you were born, and how many yr.'s you have been working in the industry?
John Beatty(JB): John Beatty, Born in Whitesburg, Kentucky on May 06, 1961. I've been working in comics since July of 1980. 20+ yr.'s
BE: The first time I can remember seeing your work was on some issues of Batman. You've done a lot of work with that character. Is he one you like to work with?
JB: Yes...Batman is a classic comic book character. One that all artists I know want to work on one day. I was very fortunate to have a 3-year run on the monthly Batman book with writer, Doug Moench and Penciler, Kelley Jones. We also did 3 else world Batman graphic novels. Batman is one of the characters I always wanted, and would work on.
BE: What other characters are you fond of?
JB: I've got to work on my three favorite characters; Captain America, the Punisher, and Batman!
BE: Got any plans for some characters of your own?
JB: Oh...I think everyone does. Whether or not they will ever see the page in print is another story.
BE: The most recent work of yours that I personally have picked up, were the issues of Spider-man that you Inked and Erik Larsen penciled. Our webmaster is a huge Spidey fan if I don't work in at least one Spidey question per interview, I'll hear about it. Do you think with the upcoming movie, and the new Ultimate line that Marvel has created, that Spidey could once again be the top selling comic title on the market?
JB: First, it was very fun working with Erik...he's very energetic about the work and he made it fun! As for the movie and the Ultimate line of Spidey books...I don't think they can hurt. I know that my local comic shop has had an increase in Spider-man sales....they were marking up back issues as the books have become more popular and harder to find.
BE: You both pencil and ink. Which do you like more? Or do you like them both for different reasons?
JB: Well...I've made my bones in this business as an Inker. If I had a say-so in the matter, I would really enjoy penciling and inking my own work. They each have very different disciplines and rules. I enjoy both. Right now if I had to choose one, I would love to do more penciling.
BE: When you ink, do you have a favorite penciler to embellish, and vice versa?
JB: My favorites that I've worked on are; Mike Zeck, Michael Golden, Kelley Jones, and Erik Larsen. There are some other's I'd like to try...some older artists and some of the newer guys too!
BE: How did you get started in comics, and art in general? Any schooling?
JB: I started assisting Bob McLeod on backgrounds and black areas. Mike Zeck sent me pencil copies to practice over and I would show them to both Mike and Bob and get their comments. They were hard on me...but I learned a lot. Good advice is tough in this business...everyone can get so sensitive. You need thick skin and a willing to learn what you are told by the pro's who know what they are doing (attitude). Michael Golden was another person who helped me a lot...he showed me things I would have never thought about. Some of it didn't even sink in until a year later...but when I finally realized what he was telling me, it made total sense!
BE: What other types of fields do you work in besides comics?
JB: I've been doing some Digital Illustration, some work for Disney, some Web Design...I'm looking for new challenges. Comics aren't the only options these days and I want to expand my knowledge of different areas of work.
BE: Wow! Sounds like your plate is full. What sort of things did you do for the "House of Mouse?"
JB: I've done a lot of inking, some color work, some design projects and various other works for Disney. The Freelancers' plate is usually either too full of not full enough! Feast or Famine!
BE: Are there any characters you really want to work on in some manner in the upcoming years?
JB: No. I've really worked on all the characters that I've wanted. I've been lucky that way. Hellboy would be fun...but I think Mike Mignola should do that...perhaps it would be interesting to see a book of Hellboy drawn by other artists for fun. I could dig that!
BE: What are you currently working on?
JB: Nothing on a monthly basis. I don't think that I can do that anymore. I've been sorta out of comics for the past year and doing some other stuff. I have started doing some cartoon network book inking, and found that to be very fun for a change. I never intended to do superhero art...I always considered myself more of a "big-foot" cartoonist, and now I'm getting to do some of that. It's a nice change!
BE: What exactly is a "big-foot" cartoonist?
JB: A cartoonist that is closer to real cartooning and not more illustrative cartooning! My earliest influence on my work were Hank Ketcham and Charles Shultz. I always drew real "cartoony" stuff...I didn't get into superhero art until I was 14. So basically I would say I consider myself a better "cartoonist" and just got sucked into the more realistic side of Cartoons by the nature of what comics were when I was breaking in.
BE: If you were going to give an aspiring artist, penciller or inker any kind of advice, what would that be?
JB: Don't count on comics for a life long career. Work hard in all areas of art...keep yourself marketable to more than just one area of work. This is something that I'm just beginning to learn for myself. I wish I had this advice given to me earlier in my career.
BE: What has been your best Comic Con experience, and what has been your worse?
JB: Mike Zeck and I went to SDCC back in 1984, Marvel sent us out there for 10 days...that was fun. I did a one-day show in Seattle, which was great. The bad...heh...I'll just skip that.
BE: Who and what are your biggest influences in you art?
JB: Oh gosh...way too many to go into. I guess the "what" would be that I always drew as a kid and just kept at it.
BE: What's your opinion of Wizard Magazine? Good or Bad? Cutting edge or a substance to wipe with if you find yourself out of toilet paper?
JB: Wizard is a propaganda machine. If you can do something for them, they will help your book or do an article on you, etc. I find it useless myself. I think they still sell it to kids who don't know any better or who can't think for themselves. It's sad really.
BE: And here is one to end on. What do you remember being your biggest challenge when starting your first monthly book?
JB: Wanting to make sure I did a good job so I could continue getting work! I would spend 14-16 hours on a page and really sweat over every line. When I look back at what I've put myself through, I wonder why? The days without sleep, the fear of not pleasing everyone...it was a nightmare. I've learned to do the work and do it well...If it's not good enough, I'll get it right the next time. Pleasing Penciller's is the hardest thing to do. I've been lucky to get to work with pencillers over periods of time where we can let out styles develop into "one" style and be happy with the work!
- Zac Dozier