Thursday, January 31, 2008

Unpublished Projects...so far...;o)



This is a promo piece i did (with colorist Matt Webb) for a-hopefully-upcoming book that I'll be doing with my pal,Robert Tinnell.

We wanted to do a comic that was an adaptation of a Dracula film that was never actually made-our take on the Hammer Films style of storytelling-it will be done in a book along with a companion Frankenstein "adaptation" by Bob and Brit artist Adrian Salmon.

Someday...;o)

Favorite Quotes...about me-part 2

"Neil Vokes is a true original -- creative, cantankerous, enthusiastic and an all-around great guy.

I started working with him on Vampirella, and when he was fired from the book by know-nothing bean counters, I called him up to tell him not to take it personally, it's not as if they had any taste or judgment.

That call led to several collaborations, and a warm friendship. I hope I'll still be coming up with projects Neil and I can do together until I retire, and I hope we're friends for even longer."

Kurt Busiek

The Third Man ['49]

"In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance.

In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce?

The cuckoo clock"

VAN HELSING film trailer...sorta...


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Christmas Comic Shop podcast '07

This last Xmas,my good buddy Mike Oeming and i were interviewed for a podcast at a local Jersey comic shop All Things Fun .

We got to talk about old and new projects and shared opinions about this and that (and u folk know how much i HATE sharing my opinions...;o)

My old pal,Bill Cucinotta showed up and we waxed nostalgic on the the days of yore at Comico Comics,where i started my career (Bill was one of the original founders of the company)



All in all the evening was a lot of fun.

If you have a half hour or so to waste,check it out:

http://www.allthingsfun.libsyn.com/

(It's also at iTunes and Podcast Alley)


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Nuff Said...;o)


Rooster Cogburn: Ned, I mean to kill you in two minutes or take you to Fort Smith to hang at Judge Parker's convenience. Which'll it be?

Lucky Ned Pepper: I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.

Cogburn: Fill your hand you sonafabitch!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heath Ledger...R.I.P.


http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/01/23/1201024937592.html

This morning I was watching the various news reports on the death of actor Heath Ledger-he was found dead under-at this point-mysterious circumstances-possibly an overdose of prescription pills-we don't know yet-but that hasn't stopped the feeding frenzy of the press-everyone has an opinion as to what happened and IF it DID happen the way they THINK it did,well "THIS is what we think about that"...

He hasn't even had an autopsy yet-no official report has been made- yet there are special news reports on his "apparent suicide"...

There are "friends" of his telling reporters about his severe depressions- about his recent separation,his daughter ,his work ...

"Did playing the psychotic villain, the Joker in the new Batman sequel,THE DARK KNIGHT kill Heath Ledger?"

...damn- let's just let the poor man's soul-troubled or not-rest in peace for just a LITTLE while...

OK?
----------
Ledger Death Poses Problems for Warner Bros.

http://imdb.com/news/sb/2008-01-23/#2

What certain people are going to interpret from seeing Ledger as the Joker is out of ANY body's control-it's gonna happen no matter what Warner Bros. does - and i hope they don't consider altering things just because of this tragedy- if anything the film should be considered a legacy-all advance word has stated the great performance the actor gives.

Hell,if it was a G rated Disney family comedy,where he plays a happy go lucky guy,with no problems in life people would find "ironic" elements in the story-no way of avoiding it.





Saturday, January 19, 2008

Robotech Trade Paperback "Forward"

While digging thru my archives (much less difficult nowadays thanks to the computer) trying to compile material for this blog,i stumbled on this forward i was asked to write for a trade digest that came out about 5 years ago.

Robotech was not my favorite book by any means-and certainly not my BEST work by ANY stretch of the imagination-but it WAS important to me for many reasons.



It was at the beginnings of my career- a great time because of the excitement of being a professional comic book artist-a lifelong dream- and i not only got to work on a regular monthly book for the 1st time (in itself a GREAT learning process-not just the obvious plus of refining my craft,but the discipline needed to meet those 3-4 week deadlines,month after month) but i got to work with some wonderful people-many of whom became good friends (always a plus ;o)





Here ya go...

ROBOTECH…

...until recently that name has only been mentioned around me at comic book conventions, and then only rarely, in the last decade or so-the advent of these reprints has brought back many memories, specifically about the couple of years I drew: 19 issues of ROBOTECH MASTERS, two issues of ROBOTECH MACROSS and the ROBOTECH GRAPHIC NOVEL. Those years were significant to me for various reasons, but primarily because that’s when I started drawing comic books professionally.

I had been fortunate in the midst of my samples sending days (early 80s) to have been taken under the admittedly young wings of a new company called COMICO COMICS. (They were a small bunch of Philly art school grads who wanted to make comic books.) They printed a short story I had done (with old friend Rich Rankin on inks) in their COMICO PRIMER book, a new talent showcase. Thus, I earned my 1st official comic artist check in November of ’83. This led to my penciling one of their new color line of books, AZ. Now before all you rabid fans rush out trying to find that rare early work of yours truly, I have to warn you that it doesn’t exist. I did draw three full 30-page issues and Rich inked two of them, I believe. But publisher (and creator of AZ) Phil Lasorda came to his senses and decided against putting his tall, pink, otherworldly private detective on the store racks, (I thank the comic gods for that every single day.) and concentrate on other titles.

This apparent setback in my blossoming career had two major advantages: 1) it gave me 90 pages of storytelling practice (and they paid me!) that I desperately needed and 2) it paved the way for my being offered one of three new comics COMICO was about to publish…I’ll bet you were wondering when I was going to get around to talking about ROBOTECH, weren’t you?

Rich and I were offered any one of the three titles we wanted to draw-ROBOTECH MACROSS, ROBOTECH MASTERS or ROBOTECH THE NEXT GENERATION. Looking at the model sheets and various mounds of material showcasing the three stories, I chose MASTERS (I liked the designs of the armor-thus are world shaking moments made.). It was all ours…if we also drew the next issue of MACROSS within the next two weeks-pencils and inks! Well, just like those legendary tales of young actors who when asked if they could ride a horse for the film say ”Sure-I was BORN on the saddle!” when of course they’ve never been closer to a horse than watching the Duke on TV in STAGECOACH,we bravely (or stupidly depending on your point of view) took on the task and succeeded, with time to spare.

Then we had to do issue 3, also, in about the same time frame. We were typecasting ourselves as quick and (mostly) competent artists and it was killing us. But at the end of this emergency run, we knew we had a book of our very own…and that’s right, we were already late due to having spent a month on MACROSS!

The benefits of this project improved with the addition of writer Mike Baron to the mix. With NEXUS, Baron had proven himself a wonderful writer and I was honored to be working alongside him. You would think with all this going for us, it was all sunshine and lollipops, yes? You see, there was one huge hill I had to get over the moment I started in on that emergency MACROSS job, I had never drawn the anime style before…EVER!

I was familiar with the cartoons like GIGANTOR, ASTRO BOY, 8TH MAN and the others, but this new style of Japanese cartoon was fairly alien to me. I took a crash course on everything I could get my hands on via Harmony Gold’s reference material: the original MACROSS toons and all the books on anime I could find. I hadn’t even developed my own style yet and I was being asked to draw in a totally foreign one. Thinking back on this point, now, I feel that my fresh take on the style gave my book a distinctive look in comparison to the other two.

There are many, many stories I could tell you about working on these comics back then. I wish I had the space to tell you about: all the friends I made during those years (one being Bob Schreck, who is probably lurking around this very book somewhere-love and kisses, Bob.) and the wonderful fans I met during the many conventions (and all those Veritechs I had to draw for them.).

I’d love to talk about my favorite bit of ROBOTECH work (the ROBOTECH GRAPHIC NOVEL-where I got to work with the great Ken Stacey) but then this is not a book about my career (no matter how hard I’ve tried to make it one). No, this book compiles the combined work of a small bunch of dedicated, young American artists and writers who attempted to share their enthusiasm and respect for the Japanese cartoons we know as ROBOTECH.

...and that’s all there is to it.

--Neil Vokes 12.5.02


Favorite Quotes...about me...;o)

As another potential regular feature of this blog,I thought I'd post several of my favorite quotes about myself and my work...

...I know-I know- posting quotes about oneself borders on pure egotism...well,actually it rests somewhere past the metal detector on the border of pure egotism-but these comments by friends,fans and critics are part of what gets me thru the dark side of being a creative personality-they reaffirm-they encourage-they provide that little extra pat on the back for doing a good job that we ALL need in life.

Besides,some are really fun to read (which is more a reflection on the writer than their subject ;o) - and some-like my lil bro Mikey's here-are just hilarious.

so without further ado...

"Neil Vokes is a man. A very white man. A very hairy (except for his head) white man. A very hairy, white horny man. A very hairy, white, horny man with a "Highlander" fixation. A very hairy, white horny man with a "Highlander" fixation who can draw.

He can draw like birds can fly, like the rain tap dances on your roof and like a sunset makes you sigh. In other words, its part of him. Drawing is a natural state for him.


Neil is a big, white, hairy horny guy with a "Highlander" fixation who can draw.

More than that, he's my friend-a mentor in many ways and someone I care about deeply.

So, if you come at him with suntan lotion, scissors, anti-Viagra or a thesis on the implausibility of "Highlander", I will kill you.

Neil is a great guy, and may Brian Blessed sit on anyone who says otherwise."

Neils pal,
Mike Avon Oeming


Friday, January 18, 2008

Aqua Leung pin up

I recently did this for Paul Maybury's upcoming book,AQUA LEUNG (he'll be coloring it) -he's a young,indie artist with a very distinctive style and a passion for what he does-that's good enough for me-the 1st piece is mine,with the pencils below it:






and the following are a couple pages from his book:




Check out his blog here: http://www.deliciousbrains.com/blog

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Who is this Vokes person: the interviews-part 2: Sequential Tart: 13 Questions

This is a very interesting site because it's primarily about-and by-women in comics.
Now why they wanted to interview ME-a man (or so I've been told all these years) -i can't say-you'd have to ask them.

But i thought it might be fun to share (it's from 1999 by the way) -please excuse any repetitious info-invariably certain details are gonna be repeated in each interview...

13 Questions:

Neil Vokes
by Kady Mae
( http://sequentialtart.com )

Neil Vokes has been working in comics since the early 1980's. He has collaborated with Kurt Busiek on several projects and has cultivated a diverse variety of styles from horror to humor. You'll probably find him at some convention wearing his Highlander cap, sketching away in Artist's Alley. After some digging, Sequential Tart staffer Katherine Keller recently caught up with this wonderfully warm hearted yet technophobic (he doesn't even have a fax machine) artist.

1. What’s the first comic you ever remember reading?

Well, I guess it would probably be a Superman comic. In a barber shop... some time in the late '50's. I was born in '54, so they used to have comics all over the barber shops in those days.

2. Well, that segues right into my next question. What superhero did you want to be when you were little and why?

Actually, I probably wanted to be Batman.

I think because even then I realized that he was more attainable. Because Superman, well, he came from another planet. That would have been a little difficult. At least with Batman I could have conceivably trained my body and my mind and someday put on a silly outfit and been Batman [laughs]. So there seemed to be more — a little less fantasy oriented.

3. What was your first professional work — what made you think "Yeah, I want to do this?"

I kind of got into this the wrong way. I had discussed it through the years with friends and family about I wanted to do this, but I don't think I had the actual ambition, the initiative to get into it. It had more to do with necessity at the time.

I'd lost my real job — so called real job — and my wife gave me the option. She said do you want to do this, or do you want to do something you really want to do? And I said, like what? She said comic books, you've always wanted to do them. She helped me get through the kind of "training period" — she paid the bills and such. And I managed to get work and haven't stopped working since.

So, it's not like I went out of my way over the years to attain that goal, so much as it kind of just happened and I seemed to fit right in.

4. So, what was your first professional work that you remember?

My first professional work was at Comico. They were just starting out in those days. All those guys had just gotten out of college, started up a company, and a friend of mine, Rich Rankin, sent some samples of ours to everybody, and these guys liked it and wanted to publish one of these stories we did. They hired us, and I pretty much haven't stopped since.

5. One of the things that is most interesting about you as an artist is that you have two distinct styles. I've looked at your work and I've seen you can do the standard straightforward superhero stuff, and other times I've looked at your work and enjoyed it, it's rather cartoony. Is this by accident or is this by design?

Oh, definitely by design. I think probably it's based more on the fact that I'm easily bored. I don't want to be stuck in one particular groove as far as my art goes. I just like doing different things, I don't just want to draw superheroes, or just draw horror comics, or just whatever. I want to draw a little bit of everything, so I kind of, through the years, adapted my style to fit whatever it was I was drawing. It kept my interest level up.

I think there's a downside to it though. Unfortunately, like everything, especially in entertainment, people have to pigeonhole you, and if they can't they tend to...not remember you. So, because I keep adapting from one book to another, I think I'm probably not noticed as much in that sense.

But in the other sense, people like yourself, fortunately see my work and they appreciate it probably more than the average fan would — I kind of like that more. But I probably don't get as much work as the guy who would draw it the same way all the time.

6. You've done several collaborations with Kurt Busiek. How did this happen?

Well again, this happened because I was just getting another assignment, and it was for... Vampirella Comics...when Harris comics had just started them. And Kurt was writing a Dracula story with Vampirella, Richard Howell was the editor over there at the time, and my agent over at Star Reach had sent my work to them, they liked it and Richard Howell asked me to do the story, so I said fine and I started some phone conversations with Kurt, got to know him a little bit and found out we had a lot of the same interests, both in comics and in movies.

And...I actually drew the first 15 pages of the book before I was fired. The powers that be apparently didn't think my style was appropriate — thought it was too cartoony. Kurt and Richard both loved what I was doing. And this apparently according to Richard was just one of many incidents that he was having with the publisher. He would pick people and they would disapprove after the fact.

Ultimately what happened is I began a friendship with the two of them, and they both left the company. [laughs] It wasn't specifically because of me, but I was part of it. And then ultimately, Kurt and I got to be buddies over the phone — because of course he lives on the west coast and I live over here on the east coast — and we worked out some other ideas and we ended up working together.

7. What is your dream project?

Well, that's of course one of those most asked questions, I think if I had a dream project it would be — if it was a project that was owned by some other company, like DC or Marvel or somebody — it would probably be the Creeper for DC, but if it was ultimately a dream project it would be something of my own. I don't know exactly what it is yet, there are various ideas that I have, it would probably have to be something that I either created or co-created. But I don't think I have a character or a concept...it might have something to do with the supernatural or something like that.

8. So you enjoy supernatural type comics?

Yeah, I get a kick out of the stuff that Kurt and I have played around with, especially Jonny Demon. It had that cross between martial arts and supernatural. We just love that stuff. And when I self-published my own book back in the 80's, Eagle, I also did — it was essentially the same kind of subject, the supernatural and martial arts. I would be very surprised if I didn't end up doing a book like that if it was my own.

9. What creators outside of comics would you say have influenced you?

Um...I don't know, maybe some illustrators, but I don't think anybody specific. Probably some filmmakers, you know, the old black and white films. I'm mostly influenced by film I would say.

I guess I like the film noir thing, and I'm a fan of horror films. Especially the Hammer films, the English horror films, I think there's probably a mood...or an atmospheric kind of thing that comes across in some of my stuff from that. And maybe even the storytelling, I suspect that whatever story talent I might have probably came from watching a lot of movies and television, as opposed to reading a lot of comic books. There's a certain amount of cinematic feeling to some of the stuff...that, and when I came into the books, that was the thing I did best in a sense, as opposed to the drawing. The drawing I kind of had to learn on the job, get better at, the storytelling came right away. So my guess would be that that came from film more than anything.

10. Okay, here come some less serious questions. What is your favorite food to munch on during those long hours at the drafting table?

[Laughs] I try to avoid a favorite food, if only for the reason you don't lose a lot of weight sitting at a drawing table. But in the last few years I guess the most — probably something like M&M's or something like M&M's — Hershey's kisses, if they're sitting around. But I try not to eat while I'm working for two good reasons, one I gain the weight, and secondly it makes for messy pages. I try to avoid that. I try to keep nothing liquid near my work anymore. [Laughs] I ruined too much stuff at the beginning of my career.

11. Outside of comics your proudest achievement is?

My family. I'd say definitely my family. I humbly don't even feel it's an achievement as much as a lucky accident that I ended up with my wife and my daughter.

12. If you were placed in charge of the National Endowment for the Arts, what would you blow the budget on?

[Laughs] Oh, God, um...[laughs] I should think of something very noble, but I can't. I don't know, I'd...it would probably have something to do with movies. I would probably do something with movies, I don't know what it would be about, but it would definitely be in that direction. That's the best I could come up with, I'm sorry.

13. No, no, that's fine, and here's the last one: are you the sort of person you'd imagined you would be as a child?

I think looking back on it, a little bit. I think in relation to what I said earlier, I wasn't really positive I was going to be a comic book artist when I grew up, so, in a sense, I surprised myself. But yeah, I think basically. I consider myself a comparatively decent fellow, and I can say I'm fortunate enough to end up with a good family. I've got a job I enjoy and I get paid for it, so that's kind of a dream come true, I guess you could say so.

Well-So much for doing this every day!

I told myself i was gonna try to write something down in this blog every day...but the thing is i really don't wish to just write down ANY OLD THING!

I'm not so much worried readers will be bored or disinterested-that's gonna happen in spite of me-lol-so on those days i can't think of something more important I'll just post more art or old interviews and articles related to my fascinating life & career...

oh...wait a minute...i forgot -that's ME that thinks it's fascinating...


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Who is this Vokes Person: the interviews

By way of giving some more background on the "living legend" that is the Vokester (great-now I'm talking about myself like I'm not here...) here's an old interview from 2003.

It was done for a proposed website about me that this nice fella wanted to do-but as I've heard little from him since then,he's obviously come to his senses...



b3: First off, lets talk about where you came from. I've heard rumors of you as a small babe, a spaceship from a dying planet, and a small farm in Kansas.... any truth to those rumors?

Vokes: None whatsoever...It was a dimensional rift which threw my still pulsing gelatinous form into your earth's atmosphere-smack dab into the middle of a trailer park in ft. Lauderdale, Florida! -{laughs}- Well...the Florida part is true.



b3: How about the ones about you being able to leap tall soda cans in a single bound or draw a speeding locomotive?

Vokes: It would seem that many a legend has sprung up about my dark and mysterious origins-well-to take a page from John Ford: "...print the legend."

b3: What was the first comic that you can remember reading?

Vokes: I recall the place and the book-at least the name of the book anyway-It was in a barber shop (Tony's)-and the 1st comic i remember reading was (drum roll) "Superman" !

b3: What comics did you read as a kid?

Vokes: The aforementioned "Supes"- all the various DC comics-my favorite title being "Batman"-but,truth to tell, i was more interested in horror movies -My favorite mag was "Famous Monsters of Filmland"-it was my Bible (no offense-i didn't actually worship editor Forry Ackerman)

b3: When did you decide that you wanted to draw comics as a living?

Vokes: I think i always felt that drawing comics would be cool-my dad encouraged me to draw-not comics though-he used to destroy my comics on a regular basis-thought that they'd warp my mind-hmm...he may have had a point-lol-But as far as wanting to do them for a living-i never seriously entertained the notion-i was too busy trying to get my screwed up life in shape

b3: It's a hard field to get into, and you certainly have the talent, but how did you "break in"?

Vokes: Well,it's a long and twisted story-so I'll do my best to make it longer and more twisted...

I had, for many years,worked in a furniture warehouse as a supervisor-and was very near going postal-when the guiding hand of fate intervened and slapped me silly! They laid me off with the promise of calling me back in the near future-that was 18 years ago...they still haven't called-but i have faith that someday...lol-Anywho,I languished in the crowded halls of the unemployment office for what seemed years (it was about a year and a half actually-that free money thing was very addictive) -Then,my wife,Siri,and I had a serious talk about what i was going to do with myself-i had no frikkin' clue!




She suggested trying to break into comics-i told her she was insane!-lol-But,history has proved her quite sane-i bought several anatomy books-including Burne Hogarth's series -and hunkered down to about a year of serious study-i never really practiced before then-lol-whatever talents i had as an artist were either supernaturally endowed upon me...or i was born with it.


I then began to send in various samples to the different companies(this was around '82-'83)-including Pacific Comics-the home of 'Grimjack" and 'Starslayer' -They were the only company to send back a copy of my samples with copious notes on them-and a rejection-lol-i'll always be grateful to the famous Joe Staton for helping me figure stuff out back then (he's become a pal since ) -it was at this time that i met one of my best friends: Rich Rankin-he was running a Heroe's World-a comic shop in a local mall-and was an amateur artist like me-we struck up a friendship-he was also sending in samples-we decided to try something different-work together as penciller and inker! However,we didn't know which of us would be which. So,we started with me telling a story and him inking it-it worked well enough that we never tried it the other way around-We sent stuff in-got more rejections-then did a short story ("the Gauntlet"-an 8 page tale with our own characters and no ending) and sent that out-Nothing...until Comico comics, future home of "Grendel" and "Mage", liked our story and wanted to publish it in their new talent showcase:"Comico Primer and they wanted to pay us!
So,we said sure!

We went to Norristown,Pa. to get to know the guys better (they were all freshly out of art college-we were both older than all of them) received a check for our story-and became friends with these guys!-That helped us get in on the bottom floor of several (thankfully unpublished) projects-but this was wonderful on the job training -So,when our 1st "big break" came along-"Robotech Masters"-we were in the right place at the right time...Whew-I told you it was a long story.

b3: How did you celebrate :) ?

Vokes: We got drunk...of-frikkin-course!




b3: Looking back, with your long career drawing these funny books, what are you most proud of?

Vokes:I'm most proud of several things-probably the 1st important thing i did as a pro was also a self created project: "Eagle"-We did that right after "Robotech"-actually while we were still drawing it,much to the chagrin of then editor Diana Schutz (who,along with the infamous -and verrrry dangerous-Bob Schreck,was very helpful to me back then)

"Eagle" was a turning point for me-as a book and as way of exploring things in the form without an editor watching over me,telling me how to do things the "correct" way-(this is not a put down of editors,by the way-lol-I've worked with several very good ones-starting with miss Schutz)-But it freed me up to discover "my style" of storytelling-after that,there were several others-"Congorilla";"Hammer of God";(both inked by that inking god:Jay Geldhof)"Life,the Universe,and Everything";"Tarzan the Warrior";"Ninjak" and now "Superman Adventures"-

There are different reasons why I'm proud of each of these books-and i'm also very happy with various moments here and there in the other books-

b3: Who were the influences on your art?

Vokes: Artistically I'd have to say the 1st people to make an impression on me as artists (when i grew to be old enough to think beyond "wow-this is cool!") were Kirby,Steve Ditko,Gil Kane,Mike Sekowsky(an underrated artist),Kubert,Nick Cardy, and later Neal Adams,Toth, Wrightson and a whole slew more-
Storytelling wise,i learned from films-movies were always my favorite things-and whatever talents i may have in that area came from films (and those old pros like Kirby and Ditko)




b3: Is there anyone in the field that you haven't worked with, that you would really like to?

Vokes:Egad!This bio is long enough-lol-I've had the honor to work with some wonderful writers already(Busiek,Engleheart,Baron,Wheatley,Stern,among others)-but there are a few left I'd love to work with(Gaiman,Moore,Dini, and a whole lot more!)-And I've also enjoyed working with several inkers,letterers,and colorists who made doing my job a heck of a lot of fun!It's a long list!




b3: Do you read any books currently?

Vokes:Basically,no-I've found that my interests went elsewhere-mostly back to movies-lol-(i don't mean to imply that there's nothing to like-there are too many good books out there-i just don't have the same interest anymore)

b3: Are there any "new guys" that you think are doing some good stuff?

Vokes: I'm out of the loop,not reading anything anymore-but,artist wise there's my little bro,Mikey Oeming(who has recently been getting the attention he deserves),Mike Mignola is a god,David Mack,Alex Ross is absolutely magical-it's hard to pick "new guys' ,not knowing who's new-lol




b3: You've done some creator owned stuff, care to enlighten any readers who may not know about them?

Vokes: I've already spoken about "Eagle",my 1st baby-there was "Jonny Demon",with Kurt Busiek; we have to do more of that !There are others; some x rated-naughty Nels-lol-and a bunch of unpublished...



b3: Any new creator owned projects coming out?
(Note: this was of course before PARLIAMENT OF JUSTICE,THE BLACK FOREST and THE WICKED WEST books)

Vokes:Lots being worked on-lol-but coming out? not for awhile yet-i can safely say that Kurt and i are brewing up a new project-for next year-I can't speak about it yet-save to say,it will be lighthearted,probably "cartoony" and may show up in a,for us,unusual place (he says coyly)-

b3: I hear that you have an unnatural fascination with *really* old guys with swords, who like to slice off each others heads.... What's up with that?

Vokes:You must be talking of "Highlander"-lol
Yes,i love the concept-when we did "Eagle",it was called "Richard Eagle:Psychic Detective",until i saw the 1st HIGHLANDER film-after that,my already keen interest in martial arts,swashbucklers,and swordplay mutated into an obsession-i then proceeded to alter "Eagle" into a story of an immortal loner with a sword-But Highlander is a cool idea (in spite of the 2nd and 3rd film)-and i proudly have in my growing sword collection,several Highlander blades.




b3: What are some of your favorite movies?

Vokes: heheheh...This will be a very long bio-lol-"Highlander"; "Horror of Dracula"; "The Magnificent 7"; "The Vikings" ; Coppola's "Dracula"(it's not Bram Stoker's Dracula-more like Dan Curtis' Dracula,with a bigger budget); "The Matrix";"The Bride with the White Hair"; "Burning Paradise"; "West Side Story"; "The Searchers"; "Rio Bravo" and hundreds more westerns,horror films,musicals,comedies, etc.,etc.,etc...

b3: Books? (funny or "real")

Vokes: As i said earlier,i don't read much in the way of funny books anymore-i have enjoyed "Marvels"; "Astro City";"Leave it to Chance"; "Watchmen"; "Peace on Earth";"Kingdom Come";"Powers";"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"(?) and many more.

Real books: "Red Dragon/Silence of the Lambs/Hannibal" by Thomas Harris;"The Exorcist/Legion/The 9th Configuration" by William Peter Blattey;"Magic/The Princess Bride" by William Goldman, and a lot of film biographies and behind the scenes stories-most recently "Burt Lancaster"; "With Nails" by Richard E. Grant(hilarious);" Adventures in the Screen Trade/Which Lie Did I Tell ?" also by Goldman-many more.




b3: Any words of wisdom for someone trying to break into comics?

Vokes: Don't try!-We're all booked up!-lol
But seriously folks-learn to draw-another "duh", i know-but take a close look at some of the artists working recently-yeesh-they skipped the learning to draw part,it seems-look very closely at life-study people ,places and things;learn how a coat wrinkles when you bend your arm or leg;study anatomy(another 'duh",but again look at those aforementioned "artists");learn outside of comic books(you can be sure the best ones did);and most of all:BE YOURSELF!
with all this other knowledge inside you,it would be a severe waste to spend your life drawing just like somebody else!(yet another "duh")

b3: I also hear you managed to snag yourself a wife. I thought that comic geeks couldn't get chicks :)
How did you score that one?

Vokes:I was lucky. I snagged Siri after I was getting away from reading comics and before I was a pro artist. So there-the true secret to my two major accomplishments in life (my marriage and my career) : TIMING!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Batman Returns!

As I said in the last post: not enough time-whew!

I spent most of today finishing my resident Batman fan's newest commission-hope you approve...;o)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Not Enough Minutes in a Day...

Did you ever wish you had just two more seconds/minutes/hours/days,etc to get done all you want/need to do in your life?

Fret no longer,dear reader-thanks to Wired Magazine (via ETP buddy Dan Taylor ) there IS a solution!

How to: Sleep Two Hours a Day

Don't waste time snoozing the night away. Turn your waking day into a 22-hour party by getting your shut-eye polyphasically — in a few quick bursts. Studies by the Chronobiology Research Institute show that for those on round-the-clock schedules — sailors, astronauts, gamers — it's more effective to recharge in short stints. For survival, the brain will eventually adapt by entering the REM state much faster. The cumulative result: a higher percentage of the best kind of z's.

The most time-efficient strategy, dubbed the überman (what else?), calls for a 20-minute nap every four hours. (Warning: The long-term side effects are unknown. But with only two hours of sleep a day, you'll have plenty of time to worry about it.) Here are three tips for streamlining your sleep regime: 1) Invest in an office couch. You'll need to zonk at least twice during an eight-hour workday. 2) Use an alarm (or three). Oversleeping will turn you into a zombie. 3) Stick it out. The first seven days of deprivation will be sheer misery, but stay on track. Once you start dreaming during naps — a sign you've hit REM — you'll begin to feel better.

— — Mathew Honan

Commissions

So-I'm sitting here at my drawing board-well,actually about 5 feet from it at the keyboard (geez,I'm awfully "board" today...ahem...) working on another Batman commission for a regular customer/fan (this will be his 4th Bats-some of the others were posted yesterday) and I'm realizing that i really haven't drawn a book in over a year!



This may not worry YOU,dear reader,but it concerns ME!

I absolutely ADORE telling stories on paper (a distinction slowly changing thanks to the internet and the eroding of our environment) and have since i was knee high to a knee-high. The stories I've told since becoming a comic book artist have ALL been a joy to do (not always a joy to draw-due to certain factors-but ALWAYS a joy to actually be doing it ;o) and i look forward to that challenge at the start of another project.

But-and there's usually a big but dragging around behind-I've been almost exclusively doing private commissions for quite a while now- this is not to say i don't enjoy them-heck no-i make more money of late than when i was doing my own books (not to mention i get a kick outta focusing on just one image at a time-in it's own way storytelling) but I'm a teller of stories and i miss that-so one of my resolutions this bright and shiny new year is to get back in the saddle and do what I think I do best (next to sitting in front of a TV/movie screen ;o)

I have a couple things in mind,including the long delayed-by me- horror tale,THE VOICE-written by good buddy and filmmaker, Robert Tinnell (who is gearing up to start his next film,based on his hit online strip and resulting book, FEAST OF THE 7 FISHES) as a screenplay-we decided to do it as a follow up to THE WICKED WEST 2, but one thing led to another and I'm sitting here blogging to you about drawing commissions!

That's about to change-i need to get back into laying out his story,soon as possible (laying out a story will be the subject of a future post ;o)




There-i got that off my chest-but now i have several witnesses to this personal promise-dang-I'm cornered now...;o)


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Batman









Wow! ...2008...geez...


Well,here we are in two thousand and eight (!) and I'm writing my 2nd blog entry- amazing!

I've been plodding along this big blue marble for nearly 54 years now and even in those relatively few days of existence,I've had the honor to live thru some fascinating times.

Hell,the 60s alone would justify that remark-lol-tho they say the if u can remember the sixties,you "weren't there"- I'm gonna hafta say BULL PUCKIES to that- i was there-i remember it-one didn't need to be stoned to have truly lived thru those turbulent years.

The Beatles!!

The drive-ins!

The hippies!

The clothes!

The drugs!

The riots...

The Viet Nam War...

the assassinations...

i remember standing in single file with my 4th grade classmates-we were walking out to recess-at the top of the stairs the teacher stopped us because there was an announcement over the loud speakers (yes,we had loud speakers in them thar ancient days ;o) about the assassination of our President,John F. Kennedy...to this day i can remember the sadness and shock that swept thru the kids and teachers-even tho i was only a youngster then...yeah...that day will ALWAYS be with me...

I didn't mean to be so maudlin today,it's just that as you get older-as you go "forward"-you tend to look back. I was reminded of this the other day when my 14 year old-barely a blip on the big ol' time clock-was nostalgic for her old home (which is only about three blocks away by the way ;o) and walked up and down the old street where she lived-climbed the tree she practically lived in outside her old home-talked to the neighbors who watched her grow from baby to teen...even at 14 she was looking back.

I mentioned my brother,Kevin yesterday- he and i grew up with my dad,who was always on the move-always leaving behind a failed relationship or job and moving on-with his two boys in tow-back when Kevin was about 12 or so,he got into trouble-a lot-but then our dad was never home (he was out working hard to support us and also tried to have a social life) and he was always being watched over by his older (by a year and a half) big brother-me-it was my job,at the tender age of 13,to clean house ,cook the meals and watch Kevin-oh-and try to have a childhood-lol-so i don't blame my lil bro for rebelling- and there came a time when the state of NJ said to my dad: "You can't control your son,Mr. Vokes,so we're going to have to take him away..."
...as you can imagine,that was a traumatizing moment for all 3 Vokes men-i wasn't even told the details about my brother's leaving us til a few years later when my dad also left ME-when i was about 15-to scrounge for myself (lest i make my dad out to be a monster,let's give him the benifit of a doubt as to his decisions back then-40 years ago-he's changed,I'm happy to say ;o)

When i was 18 or 19 i tracked down my brother to try and reunite-we had a pleasant lunch and i think that we both realized we had grown apart-we were both teens and establishing our own lives at that point-i never heard from him again...

Flash forward to the age of the internet-i tried tracking him down again about ten years ago but had no success- what i realized after several more tries thru those years was he probably changed his name-so i went on with my life,accepting the fact i'll never see my brother again.

Then...this year-the day after Thanksgiving (how about that timing?) i get a mysterious email from someone named Kevin-but with a different last name-i thought he was a fan or something-then he sent a 2nd email which explained otherwise...after the shock of realizing who this writer was,i managed to start a email thread with him that helped fill in some of those 35 years-we then made a plan to get together in the flesh and ladies and gents...wow...another memory to look back on and smile...we shared stories of our misspent yoot and just soaked up the very awesomeness of this moment in our long and eventful lives-I'm glad to say i now have a lil brother again and we hope to get dad and him together to mend some of those bridges as well-I'll be sure to share that with y'all when it happens.

Here in 2008,it's time to look back-not to dwell in the past,but rather embrace it-not to fret over regrets about things never done- learn from it-accept the bad WITH the good-all those experiences are the building blocks of who we are,my friends.

The day's gonna come when you may not be able to remember them (my dad is fast approaching that) and you'll wish you could...

"All those moments...will be lost in time...like tears...in rain..."
--BLADE RUNNER

Neil

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Just who IS this Vokes person and why should we read his Blog?


Well...I think i can answer that 1st question,but the 2
nd is ultimately up to you,dear reader.




I'll try not to ramble-much-or rant...no...odds are I will rant from time to time-lol-it's in my nature to pull out the old soapbox from under the bed and to share my opinions on certain subjects-Heck,that's what these blogs are for,right?

But,in the long run I'm doing this for the same reasons several of my friends are doing it-to relax-to let off some steam-to have what amounts to a one on one conversation with you (tho I hope there will be more than one of you out there ;o) to share just a little of myself with casual blog surfers,fans and friends just who this Vokes person is...more or less...;o)

As days pass, I'll attempt to give you some background on me and my work-I say those two together because much of what I am is my work-not to say it dominates my life,but it's a goodly part of what makes me tick.

Let's start with a little background,shall we?

I was born in Ft. Lauderdale,Florida some 53 (very) odd years ago-My family moved here to exotic New Jersey back in the late 50s- I have a younger brother,Kevin,who I've recently reunited with after 36 years (I plan to touch on that subject eventually ;o) and a father,Don, who lives nearby-I've been married for 27 wonderful years (OK-maybe every single day wasn't wonderful,but she stuck in there when lesser wives would've booked-perhaps with good cause ;o) to a great and generous lady named Siri-we have a lovely teenage daughter,Erin- these two gals get me thru the day-as do several very close friends (whom I will be discussing eventually ;o)

How about we introduce Neil Vokes,comic book artist?

I've been telling stories in comic books professionally now for about 24 years, thanks to my wife,Siri, convincing me to give the comics biz a try back when i lost my "real" job-OK-I didn't LOSE it-it was taken from me,but "lose" just sounds kinder.

I started at a new company in Norristown,Pa,Comico Comics in November of 1983 (i still have a copy of the 1st check i earned,with a photo of the publisher,Phil Lasorda handing it to me ;o), with friend and inking partner Rich Rankin who has long since left the business to hang onto his sanity best he can (smart move,pal ;o). We learned "on the job" at the little company that could and made several life long friends-it was one of the most precious times in my entire life.

Comico hired me to pencil the Japanese cartoon based Robotech Masters for my first regular gig. I was very lucky in that it was a great opportunity for a comic virgin like myself and I was paired with a talented writer named Mike Baron,creator of the legendary NEXUS.After drawing the Japanime styled book for awhile,Rich and I felt we could do our own project-ah the confidence of youth-The independent B & W comics market burst forth with a little book called TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES-in no time,amateurs and pros alike were doing martial arts themed indie comics-this exciting time eventually led to Rich and myself co-creating EAGLE, a martial arts/sci fi/supernatural adventure series which we self-published for several years through Crystal Comics (our own label) until the b& w comics boom, fizzled in the twilight days of the 80s. I then dove back into the work for hire pool again.

There were MANY books in the intervening years from the early 90s till recently-I'll try to touch on only a few select ones,if I may (in no particular order)...

There was SUPERMAN ADVENTURES with the legendary Terry Austin; TARZAN THE WARRIOR with old friends Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel; FRIGHT NIGHT; Douglas Adams' LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING; ADVENTURES OF THE MASK with that demi-god of inkers, Jay Geldhof; UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN, where I got to fulfill a childhood dream of drawing two of my favorite Steve Ditko characters, Spidey and Doc Strange, with writers Kurt Busiek and Roger Stern (and Jay again on inks); JONNY DEMON with Kurt (we returned to Jonny again with a short "prequel" tale in the CBLDF book MORE FUND COMICS 2 , in ‘04-we have high hopes to do the concept justice in the near future); CONGORILLA (yes, I said Congorilla) with legend Steve Engleheart and Jay (you seeing a pattern here?);NINJAK with Kurt and lil bro Mike Oeming; JURASSIC PARK with Engleheart; the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES;Jeff Amano's GENE-FUSION;PARLIAMENT OF JUSTICE with Oeming (a book that truly changed my career);
THE WICKED WEST 1 & 2 and THE BLACK FOREST 1 & 2 with good friends Robert Tinnell and Todd Livingston (two more books that have not only improved my personal satisfaction with my work,but gained me a new batch of fans) and...

Well...I've left quite a few out due to space and humility...well, OK, just space.


I have several more projects coming up in the coming days and years. First I’ll be continuing my successful partnership with Bob on another horror book called THE VOICE (based on another of his screenplays) and after that an homage of sorts to the famous British company Hammer Films that Bob,Adrian Salmon (THE FACELESS) and I will be doing sometime in '08- then i hope to finally work with hot young writer Miles Gunter (ZOMBEE) on an adventure/fantasy/sci fi epic-I am also planning on re teaming with ol buddy Mike Oeming on a couple projects- It is also my sincere intention to return to my beloved EAGLE.

It has been an honor and a privilege and a pure, unbridled joy to be a storyteller/artist all these years. I hope that I've been able to share a little of that joy with those of you who have followed my career even casually.

I think I'll stop here and just post this before i continue on....I did mention i might ramble...;o)


That's all there is to it, Neil
1.8.08
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