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Blacky Shepard Interview
[00:00:00] Kenric: all right, guys.
Blacky Shepard: Welcome back to the show today. It's
Kenric: exciting because we have someone special for you guys, you know, and if you're a fan of dynamite comics, then you probably have seen his work many times.
He seems to be tied at the hip with Colin bun right now, with all the stuff going on with ReAnimator and Vampirella versus ReAnimator and pumpkin head Lackey. Shepherd. Thank you so much for coming on.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah, man. It's my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Kenric: Yeah. So how's life going, you and I live in and around Seattle.
So how's it.
Blacky Shepard: Well, you know, the thing is, being a comic book artist, you tend to be, you know, we work alone, you know what I mean? I've worked from home for several years now. And, and so, you know, as weird as it sounds, this. The whole epidemic has really not been a huge issue in my [00:01:00] life. Like the only, the biggest problem that it has issued to me is it's just more of a pain in the butt to go grocery.
Kenric: Right, right,
Blacky Shepard: right. Basically the same. I mean, I don't get to go out for, you know, Chinese buffet as often as I'd like, but, you know, Is
Kenric: that really a bad
Blacky Shepard: thing? It is. I am. I am a certified buffet. Mutant man. I love buffet. I would eat roofing shingles. If it's presented in buffet for me, I love,
Kenric: I like the, I go to Snoqualmie casino and they do crab legs.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I love, I'm a big fan of a Mongolian grill.
Blacky Shepard: So if I can find a good Mongolian grill, I go, as often as I can. I am like bad buffets. I'm just, I like buffets, man. You find
Kenric: yourself in Silverdale. There's a really bad one, right?
[00:02:00] Oh, you know, what I love to get is dim sum. You ever get dim sum?
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. Yeah. I'm a big guy. So. I, I'm pretty much an Asian food junkie, man. I, I liked it all, man. It's, you know, I'm not a huge fan of very fishy tasting fish, but everything else I'm into, you know, like, I'll eat chicken feet.
Like it's going out of style, buddy.
Kenric: That's awesome. So in Collin, have a new graphic novel that hopefully will be out. Is it, are we targeting this year early next year?
Blacky Shepard: Well, okay. So the, the plan is in about, I want to say three weeks or two a month. I'm not exactly sure. They want to launch an Indiegogo campaign to release it.
Right. So it's a graphic novel that takes place immediate. Okay. So ReAnimator the original HP Lovecraft stories. We're published [00:03:00] as six, I think six serialized stories that appeared in magazines back in the thirties. Right. And at the end of the day, sixth story, Herbert West is torn apart and murdered by his undead creations.
Right? So our story takes place about a year after that story ends. And with the mysterious reappearance of our, you know, erstwhile CRO tagging us slash antagonist, Herbert West.
Kenric: Right. So it's
Blacky Shepard: kind of a direct sequel to those original, cereals.
Kenric: Oh, that's cool.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. So, so the idea is they want to do a, an Indiegogo campaign.
to, to get this the first volume out. Right? So it, spoiler alert, it kind of ends on a little bit of a cliffhanger. And the hope is that the campaign will be successful enough to, to [00:04:00] justify, you know, production of the, of the second volume, which is the, the wrap up of the tale.
Kenric: Yeah. Yeah. Well, does the work that you guys did with ReAnimator versus Vampirella have any significance in the storyline or is it a completely separate?
Blacky Shepard: No, they're wholly separate. the thing is so the Vampirella versus ReAnimator takes place in van Parrella's timeline, right? So. it's a contemporary story to modern time.
Right. whereas, and so the idea is, depending on how you look at Herbert West, you know, the question being, you know, how has he, how has he come back from the dead? And so the story that takes place in Vampyr Ella versus ReAnimator, it's. Potentially far enough in that version of the character's future, if you choose to read it as the, that version of H D or I'm sorry, Herbert West being the same version that appears in [00:05:00] our ReAnimator graphic novel, which takes place in the thirties.
Kenric: Right? Oh, interesting.
Blacky Shepard: Just to be super convoluted about it. Right?
Kenric: Right. Well, how else can you be?
Blacky Shepard: Why wouldn't we be convoluted? Right.
Kenric: It's more fun. That way you can do more. if you're convoluted, I mean, this is all seriousness. If you are convoluted, you can do more with it. You can have fun, you know, you can kind of play around how it, so
Blacky Shepard: you guys
Kenric: are taking. This is really interesting because I didn't realize you were taking it.
Directly lifting every time I see anything, anybody do ReAnimator I still, I know it's HP Lovecraft. I read the HP Lovecraft stories years ago, you know, like years ago. But I still think of the movie that came out in the mid eighties, you know, that funny movie that, you know, which is more like a horror comedy really.
Blacky Shepard: very much is. Yeah.
Kenric: Yeah. And so when I say [00:06:00] you guys are actually taking it from a different standpoint of continuing the works of HP Lovecraft, when you think about it, context of that, is there any heavy Hadden handedness to it where you're like, man, I really gotta knock this out of the park because
Blacky Shepard: yeah.
It's very heavy handed in so far as. It's not comedy. You know what I mean? it's a straight horror story and that's, what's beautiful about working with Cullen is that, you know, when we did Vampirella versus ReAnimator, you know, we blended some comedy into it, you know, it had a certain kind of.
Cheesiness to it, you know, an intentional cheesiness and, you know, it had kind of, Perella his sense of humor and, you know, whereas it was pretty gruesome. if you get a chance to read it, you should definitely give it a look. it's pretty gruesome and it goes to some pretty dark places, but in tone, it's more of a, kind of a horror comedy.
whereas this project, the ReAnimator project. Is [00:07:00] very much, you know, straight horror, you know, and it's written to a large degree, Colin has done a very good job in, extending the age, HP Lovecraft kind of voice to, into the story. Now, one thing that's important to note is that. The ReAnimator that appears in the movies that, and that series of characters and that kind of whole thing specific to the movies.
they, and because ReAnimator H Herbert West, ReAnimator all those stories as is true with all of HP Lovecraft's stuff. Is public domain, you know, anybody that wants to write or do a story about an HP Lovecraft character is free to do so.
Kenric: so odd just because he's so prevalent.
Blacky Shepard: Right, right. But the thing is, you know, when Stu I can't remember his last name, but the guy who produced and, and, directed the [00:08:00] ReAnimator films, Stuart Gordon, When he, when he did those movies, he did it, his own version of them.
Right. and he added characters that were not in the books, or in the stories and kind of made his own thing. So we very specifically shy away from any kind of resemblance to those characters or that version of the Herbert West character. two reasons, one, we don't want to step on any copyright toes.
but mainly because, you know, that's a very different and a very defined version of the character, you know, that isn't necessarily suited to the stories that we're telling
Kenric: when you work on stuff with dynamite, like, like Ram pro, is there a guidelines that you set? Do you look at like Frank Frazetta, his original creation and look at what he did and go, okay.
I like this. But I want to change this, you know what I mean?
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. Yeah. Well, okay. So Frank [00:09:00] Frazetta is a huge impact influence on me just in terms of artistic direction and, you know, just
Kenric: everything, right?
Blacky Shepard: Yeah.
Kenric: Create a start as American artists
Blacky Shepard: ever. Yeah, top shelf, you know, I, my primary influence with respect to the wave and Perella looks, comes from a couple of different stories.
the main one is bear with me just a second. I always have a hard time remembering, the gentleman's name, but he is, the artist that really kind of. he gave me the, it's
Kenric: Jose Gonzalez.
Blacky Shepard: Gonzalez. Yeah, he is. He to me is the definitive Vampirella artist. Okay. when I draw or when I think about Vampirella in my head, I see Jose Gonzales art, the other artists that really influences me with respect to the look of Vampirella [00:10:00] is, Dave Stevens, the guy who is prominently known for like the Rocketeer.
Blacky Shepard: Alright. His version of Ambarella is also prominent in my mind when I draw Vampirella and then the final kind of piece of that puzzle is a, it's actually a cost player. Her name is Joni Brosius. and so when I think of a model that I use for Vampirella. I'm pretty much always. I've got Joni Brosius in mind when I draw Ambarella that's why my member Ella is not nearly as buxom as the more traditionally drawn Vampirella because I draw her to have a live kind of a little bit more swimmers, body style frame, much like Joanie has.
Kenric: Right. That's cool.
Blacky Shepard: That's really cool.
Kenric: I didn't, when I think of Frazetta. Well, I think it was brand pro cause I have the, the first like six issues.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. I've got a, I've got, a whole bunch of the original run [00:11:00] of the magazine.
Kenric: Yeah. I just have the magazine sized ones and they're good. I just think of his cover work is what I think of.
Blacky Shepard: Cause I don't, I think that's largely what he did.
Kenric: Yeah. Any, but that first one, you know, it was breaking, you're like, Oh, that's incredible.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, and his work is definitive. for me the definitive, like if I had to choose one image, Joe Vampirella, that is the only image of Ambarella that any, that I, or any other person would ever see for the rest of time, it would be that very famous DOR poster that Jose Gonzalez painted of she stands and she's kinda got her arm out.
And there's the bat on the end of her fingers.
Kenric: Yup. Yup. That
Blacky Shepard: is that to me is the, that is the enemy, Joe Vampirella that kind of sticks in my mind. And that is kind of my, My North star, you know, as it is, you know, when I do my versions of
Kenric: Venezuela. yeah. That's awesome though, man,
Blacky Shepard: now I act dynamite.
Yeah. Before I drew her. So the first time I drew [00:12:00] her was in theory tales, which was the anthology and, they very much wanted a more traditional, you know, buxom Vampirella, which is how I drew her. Yeah. But then when I went to do Vampirella versus ReAnimator, I cleared it with my editor. I said, Hey, you know, here's the version of Amarillo I want to draw.
And I think I even might've submitted it just a quick drawing, you know, the proportions that I wanted to draw her in and that kind of thing. And, and they were real cool about it. They, you know, they let me do what I wanted to do.
Kenric: That's good. That's good. When you go through your, when you get stuff from dynamite and you know, and they're like, Hey, we want to do this.
we really want to do re when you pitched ReAnimator to dynamite, right?
Blacky Shepard: Well, I pitched ReAnimator versus I'm sorry. I pitched Vampirella versus ReAnimator. Oh,
Kenric: okay. Okay. So you can, you get common bond and you're like, possibly, and then he gets off.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. So the way it worked out was I was at, [00:13:00] you know, crypto con that happens here in Seattle.
Okay. So I was at crypto con, I want to say two years ago. and that was the year that, Oh man, every time I forget her name and she's great. She's the actress from ReAnimator the blonde actress, Donna, man, what an idiot I am anyways. One second. I'm sorry.
Kenric: I said, I can tell you here in a second.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah, Donna something I wanted to say, anyhow, you'll figure it out, but I'll continue telling the story.
So she was at the convention as was, the actor who played Herbert West in the movies. and, I was speaking with her, you know, she was just kind of making the rounds and she stopped by my table and we still, and
Kenric: for Crampton.
Blacky Shepard: Barbara Crampton. That's who it is. Yeah. And it destroys me every time.
I forget her name because I stone in love with Barbara Crampton.
Kenric: yeah, I'm the worst with names sometimes. And I [00:14:00] feel horrible when I do that, because I talked to so many people that all of a sudden you're like, Oh, you know, unless you have like a really unique name, like your name's gonna be very easy to remember.
You don't meet a lot of black shoes. Yeah. That's like me, my name is Kendrick. You don't mean a lot of things.
Blacky Shepard: Right. so anyhow, so she was really cool. We're talking just kind of, you know, shooting the breeze. And as she left, I just got it into my head. I was like, wait a minute. You know, dynamite has done a bunch of, you know, ReAnimator sear, you know, stories and series.
And they have the Vampirella license. And I just thought, it just seemed like I thought immediately they had to already have done a Vampirella versus ReAnimator and I just wasn't aware of it, which would it be weird? I'm Vampirella is my first love as far as like comics and that kind of thing. Yeah. My, the first thing I ever did wrong in quotes was when I was, I think, eight.
I [00:15:00] stole a copy of the Vampirella magazine from like the local gas station or whatever, you know, and like jammed it down my pants and went home and, you know, was just blown away by it. Right. and I've loved the character ever since, you know? and so, you know, I thought there's no way that would have gotten past me.
So I, you know, I immediately went home that night and started looking to see if they had done one. And to my surprise, they hadn't. And within five minutes I had and come up with the whole kind of basic plot of the story. Right. and so the F I M I had the idea in my head and I kind of let them percolate because I knew that I was going to be going to San Diego that year.
And I knew that, you know, a couple of them, the guys from dynamite were going to be there. and so particularly my editor on Voltron's. And so I, I went to, I went to San Diego that year and went to a V Vampirella panel that Joe, my [00:16:00] editor on Voltron and, and Nick, the owner of dynamite were at, and just kind of, while we were standing there waiting for the panel to start, I pitched them on the story.
and it didn't. And they said, yeah, that sounds great. You know, what do you think about getting Colin on board? I said, let me shoot him a text, you know? So I texted him right quick and he very quickly said, yeah, that sounds fantastic. So, you know, within a week of San Diego, Oh, they had a, they had given it the green light and we got to work.
Kenric: That's awesome. that's incredible. Did you get work with Colin side by side
Blacky Shepard: on the story arc itself in coming up?
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. So what I did is, Colin and I, you know, I sent him the basic idea, you know, I had the plot. Right. Which is, you know, the idea was that, you know, Herbert West is trying to perfect his formula and he finds out that there's.
you know, some method that exists in one place in the world, which is down in South America in some [00:17:00] ancient temple. Right. And so he goes and either wittingly or unwittingly, brings, you know, resurrects the ancient Aztec, God of the dead. and then Vampirella has to battle that God of the dead, right.
And so, you know, that was the kind of the broad outline. And then, you know, Colin and I talked about it a little bit, brainstormed a little bit about it. And then Colin took that broad outline. And the little bit that we talked about on the phone and then expanded it into the story right. And put all the characters in place,
Kenric: amazing writer.
So, I mean, how lucky are you able to have, Hey, I've heard this idea and then Colin bun actually writes it out for you. It's like.
Blacky Shepard: it was, that's the thing, you know, the best collaborations are the ones where they make you look better.
Blacky Shepard: know what I mean? And that's absolutely what happened. Like my idea of, you know, not to diminish myself, my idea was a strong idea, but definitely full and God has hands on it.
You know, he just turned it into an [00:18:00] amazing story,
Kenric: but then your art, do you have some great, your, you got some great stuff. And I just, everybody to go over to dot com and check out all the blocky stuff, he's got a lot of stuff for sale and commission and pinups and yeah, you got some crazy stuff here. And one of the things I love is you're doing things like with GI Joe on IDW, that looked amazing and your full Tron stuff looked amazing.
What was it like working on?
Blacky Shepard: That was a trip, man. you know, because I'm the right age, you know, for me volts, Ron was. You know, every morning at seven 30, you know,
Kenric: 84, so
Blacky Shepard: know, grab your bowl of captain crunch and watch Voltron and then, you know, haul ass to the bus stop, you know? and then I was lucky in so far as where I lived the market that I lived in the mornings at seven 30, they showed the lion forest Voltron.
And then when I got home at three 30, [00:19:00] they showed an episode of the, vehicle force Voltron. So I might like both stories at the same time.
Kenric: Mine was different. So mine was so I'm 40, I'll be 46 this
Blacky Shepard: summer, right?
Kenric: Mine was. And in the morning it was 7:00 AM in the morning channel 11 kiss, TW would show star blazers.
Blacky Shepard: Then
Blacky Shepard: four o'clock
Kenric: I think it was four o'clock. They would do Vultron and then, or no, they would do three 30. They would do Vultron and then it was transformers and then four 30 was GI Joe.
Blacky Shepard: And it was like, so the transformers GI Joe were both in the afternoon for me. star blazers. They stopped showing star blazers a few, like two years before Vultron came on, they stopped it in like 82, which was a bummer for me.
Cause star blazers was like the first, my first experience with them. That was my
Kenric: first animation. [00:20:00] Yeah.
Blacky Shepard: Like I can still sing the song, the whole deal. Yeah.
Kenric: Oh dude. I used to get picked to the back of the bus because I'd sit the first MTC and I'd be belting up that song.
Blacky Shepard: Well
Kenric: school and the bus driver would be like Kendrick to the back.
Blacky Shepard: but yeah, it was great. So, you know, when, when my editor at the time at dynamite, when she emailed me. You know, it was, you know, she said, Hey, it was weird. The way she worded it. She all, it almost seemed like she thought I was going to turn it down, which is crazy because at the time I had only done the seven pages, I would have taken literally any gig they threw at me.
Yeah. You know, Hey, you know, I don't know if you'd be interested, but I've got this giant robot thing. It's this Voltron thing. And I, you know, I just was over the moon. Right. And so she. It had me do five pages, like a test pages kind of thing. and that she submitted to the, yeah, the license [00:21:00] holder and, they liked it.
Well, I have to give me the gig. And so, you know, it was really surreal, you know, drawing this character that I had been a fan of since I was, you know, 10 years old.
Kenric: Yeah. Yeah.
Blacky Shepard: and, you know, the fact that especially, you know, once we started doing it, you know, I'm a thinker when I draw, like, I, I want to know why things look the way they do.
and, you know, one of the things that always bothered me about Voltron was he makes facial expressions, you know, but in the cartoon, he is supposed to be just. Five robot lions that are piloted by five human beings. You know what I mean?
Blacky Shepard: thought about the facial expression. That's hilarious. There's no reason why he would make facial expressions.
You know, right now I went back and researched and got the original go lion, the Japanese version of Ultron. [00:22:00] And it explains it in that, which is to say that in the Japanese version Vultron is a preexisting entity. That's like as old as the universe. And then he upsets the princess of the universe. And so she shatters him into five pieces.
And then later when the lions are built and he comes back together, his kind of being is in those robots. So that makes sense that you would make, but that's not the way it is in the American version of the character. And at the American version of the character is what we're working on. So, you know, and this is one of the first things that indicated to me that Colin and I could be really good collaborators is, you know, cause I was really starstruck.
I was a big fan of six guns and you know, I'd read a bunch of stuff that he had done. And so I was like, wow, you know, they're putting me with, you know, this guy that's crazy, you know? and so I very tentatively reached out to him and explained to him, I'm like, Hey man, I don't really [00:23:00] buy this whole, I don't want to draw Voltron's face just static all the time because that's boring, but there's no good reason why he would make faces.
And I said still, so I was wondering if I could, I'm sorry. I'm
Kenric: just laughing because I'm
Blacky Shepard: loving that
Kenric: you have dialed into the facial like this, because I can't see very many people, but an artists that would go, why is he doing this? And I need to have, I need to have operation or why this is happening.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. Well, you know, being an artist is a little bit like being an actor, you know what I mean? Yeah. Like I put a lot of thought into the facial expressions of my characters because I want to be, I want people to be able to recognize what the character is thinking and feeling without having to read any dialogue.
I want it to jump off the page at them. You know what that character's emotional state is. and so, you know, I, in my email to Colin, I said, Hey man, so I've thought about this. And I was wondering what you think. And I said, [00:24:00] how about this? The idea is that. Voltron is not the robots. Vultron is the operating system that powers the robots and what the operating system does is it reads the mental patterns of the pilots.
And then when the Vultron is formed, as the singular robot, those mental patterns are combined. Into a single personality that becomes Vultron that way. it gives reason to the idea of why our version of the character would be making facial expressions. Yeah. And he liked it. You know, in fact he kind of, he kind of wrote it into the story, you know what I mean?
which was really cool, you know, and a couple of things, you know, I suggested a couple of different, you know, little grace notes here and there that he very graciously worked into the story, which was nice. And I was like, wow, that's so cool that he would do that, you know, and not have a.
An ego about it or not, [00:25:00] you know, not bat me down and be like, Hey dude, how about you? Let the seasoned comic book writer handle the story. You know,
Kenric: we had Colin been on. He's great. He was great. Yeah. Colin's commons. Yeah. Top drawer, as they say, it's totally a pumpkin head man. You're a pumpkin head stuff.
Looks amazing. Thank you. Yeah. Were you a big fan of the movies? Cause everywhere when that movie came out, that was the
Blacky Shepard: first move. Yeah. Yeah. I tried to watch the other movies, the director video sequels, and I just couldn't get into them.
Kenric: One of them was,
Blacky Shepard: yeah, one of them is okay. But by and large, they're terrible.
Kenric: first it was so good. It's
Blacky Shepard: to me, it's like,
Kenric: no, it's I think we got a little bit of a delay, so it might seem like we're talking over each other, but it's not, No, the first one man is so good. Like the first time I watched it, I think I came out in what? [00:26:00] 86, 85,
Blacky Shepard: 89.
Kenric: Any Oh, is at 89. Okay.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. Yeah, it was right before my, I think I remember the year in high school that it came out.
Kenric: Yeah. I just remember watching it and it scared the crap out of me the first time I saw it.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. Yeah. It was a super good mood. It was really atmospheric. And the idea of pumpkin head is very creepy. it's the back to the monster is extremely well, executed in the movie, which stands to reason Stan Winston directed it.
And Stan Winston, of course, is, you know, the pre or was the preeminent monster maker in movies for 30, 40 years. You know what I mean? if there was a good monster in a movie, he made it, you know,
Kenric: I love
Blacky Shepard: it. And the only criticism I have of the first movie is that because Stan Winston directed it.
And because he's an amazing monster maker, he's not a director. That's, I think that's the only movie he directed. And [00:27:00] so, you know, there are parts of it where I think, okay, a more accomplished director would have reshot this scene or done another take or maybe framed things a little bit differently. but those are so minor nitpicks when overall the movie is extraordinarily effective.
It's very atmospheric. It's very well acted. Everybody in the movie does a great job. You know,
Kenric: you've got Lance Henriksen and it's hard to it's. It's hard to mess up
Blacky Shepard: Lance Hendrickson. Hendrickson's the dude.
Kenric: He is the dude, man. He's great. Yeah. It's kind of funny, you know, there's a rumor that they're thinking of re making that original movie.
Blacky Shepard: okay. So the, as far as I understand, the whole reason that we did that pumpkin head comic is because I think paramount is the company that owns it. Paramount, went to dynamite and said, Hey, we've got a reboot in the works. so we want to get the pumpkin head [00:28:00] brand kind of back out there. So, you know, let's do a comic, and I've read in several places that the same group that has that, like Blumhouse.
Yeah. is the group. Yeah, they're the ones that are doing the reboot and I've read that they've been casting and that they've been, you know, doing filming and the whole night, I have no idea what the state of the film is, but, at least as of a couple of years ago, it seemed like it was very much in progress.
Kenric: Yeah. Yeah. I would love to see it mostly. I would just obviously, or an update of the, Of the special effects, you know? Yeah. But the only thing I worry about is like, I, okay. I love CGI. I love what he did on Jurassic park and all that stuff, but there's a big part of my heart that loves the puppetry and the tactile look of it that it's within the scene.
You know what I mean? Cause you can still tell out in the scene and it kind of, sometimes it can take you [00:29:00] out. I've
Blacky Shepard: found the best use of CGI is not as a replacement for special effects, but rather as an enhancement
Kenric: to special effects.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. So, you know, like in pumpkin head they could do the monster practically for.
85% of the film. and then that other 15%, just a little bit of CGI to
Kenric: make it more,
Blacky Shepard: or, you know, delete, you know, the, you know, erase wires or, you know, just the stuff to really sell the practical effects.
Kenric: Yeah. Make that movement a little bit more fluid. That makes it feel like he's really doing what he's doing.
Blacky Shepard: Right. Cause that's one of the things that was important to me when we did the pumpkin head comic is, you know, I really wanted my pumpkin head to move like a predator. You know what I mean? To move like low to the ground and, you know, to use, he's got [00:30:00] those goat legs, you know, the hook legs.
And an animal with those kinds of legs does not walk completely upright. You know what I mean? It uses them as the fulcrum of their balance. Right. And so to make that move believably, you actually want the center of balance to be lower than it shows it in the movie. Right. But they had to do it the way they did it because they had a man on a wire inside a giant puppet suit,
Kenric: you know?
Blacky Shepard: right. But the comic, I don't have that limitation. So I really wanted my predator to be. Well, you know, lower and more powerful looking and more kind of like it had, you know, movement in it, you know? and so I spent a lot of time, it was really an anxiety inducing for me because at first I thought, man, like with Vultron.
Every single drawing of that guy, I was going back and forth and looking at reference and just constantly, really slowed me down now. and so I was like, man, with pumpkin head, I'm [00:31:00] going to have to do the same thing. You know, I'm going to have to constantly be looking at reference the old deal.
Right on about three drawings in, on the guy. And I realized that I had been drawing monsters and specifically monsters that resembled pumpkin head so long in my life. Like once I drew them once I'm like, Oh, okay. I got it. So I never had to look at that reference. Oh, that's
Kenric: awesome. Would you like to go back and do more pumpkin head or.
Blacky Shepard: I would wrestle a grown man to do more pumpkin head. In fact, when they put out, when they put out the trade paper back of the series, they re they gave it a new subtitle, which so the original series was called pumpkin head. the S O the spirit of vengeance or something. Hold on, let me grab it.
Just give me a second.
Kenric: I'm just going to grab it there. That's awesome.
Blacky Shepard: A pumpkin head, Since revisit it. Okay. So they gave it the [00:32:00] subtitle sins revisited, but when they put it out in trade paperback form, it's called sins revisited volume one. So, you know, that tells me that maybe they're considering doing a second volume and if they do a second volume, I'm going to be real upset.
If they don't have me in colon, do it. You know what I mean? Like, I feel like we did a good job on the character, you know, I Colin's story is amazing.
Blacky Shepard: I put a lot of hard work into the character, into developing the way he looks and developing all the other demons and the human characters.
Like I fell in love with the characters from that
Kenric: story. No, you're on that is phenomenal. Nothing. I mean, what you have on your website, it's all black and white. I have to recommend people to go again to CQ shift.com, go to comics, click on pumpkin head and see the work that black you did on this thing.
It'll blow your mind. Yeah.
Blacky Shepard: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. Yeah. We w [00:33:00] you know, in fact, there's an email that I sent to colon. So one of the main characters is, well, two of them, it's a brother and sister, right. There are these Appalachian kind of drug dealers, right. and they are kind of the antagonists of the story, you know, there, and, you know, the one character, the brother, you know, I based him on, I've got a lot of family from that region right on my dad's side.
And so I kind of based him on an amalgam of. A couple of my uncles. And then I, you know, did the hair the way, you know, I thought it was better, but he's built and looks like an amalgam of a couple of my uncles. And I really fell in love with those two characters, the brother and the sip. So, you know, spoiler alert, you know, everybody dies that's, you know, welcome to pumpkin.
And so I sent Colin an email and I was like, Hey man, when you kill this character, can you make it a good one? Can you know, don't just have him like [00:34:00] killed quickly and, or offscreen or anything. Can you really, you know, have him put up a fight or whatever? and he did the character, right?
Kenric: Oh, that's awesome. No, I love your work, dude. This is, thank you. I can't wait to see what comes out with the ReAnimator graphic novel. I mean, seriously, I hope everybody gets out there and checks it out. Tell your local comic shop that you're interested in on inlet. So that way they can let dynamite know and they can let know.
Blacky Shepard: word that'll work, actually. I'm glad you brought that up because so, first. My I'm convinced that yeah, I work on the ReAnimator graphic. Novel is the best work I've ever done. Oh, awesome. I really poured my heart into it. You know what I mean? Very important to me to make it feel super visceral and to have a lot of detail in the works so that people can linger on the art a little bit.
you know, I really tried to make the art component, you know, and then I, it was very specific with dynamite and asking [00:35:00] for Ellie, right. To do the colors because I just so admire her work, you know? and when I saw her returns coming in, you know, they'd send me the colored pages. It was just, it was better than I could have dreamed, you know, she just absolutely got it.
You know, and then, or the letterer is that guy, you know, everything, he letters his, the cool thing about Taylor is when he letters a story, his letter do two things at once. One, they don't draw attention to themselves, which is kind of what you want with letters, but more importantly, they help tell the story.
You know what I mean? His placement and the way he spaces things in the balloons gives you a sense of the rhythm of the dialogue that many letters don't necessarily think about when they do their lettering, you know, lecturers
Kenric: are unsung hero of the comic industry. Aye. They need
Blacky Shepard: more.
Kenric: They should be more often [00:36:00] than they are, because if you're, you know, you've done it, plenty of comic books now.
And you know, when you look at a book, especially independent books that don't have an established letter and you see it can make or break a book so quick. You can't do it. You know what I mean?
Blacky Shepard: Add lettering you sometimes you don't even know what it is you don't like about the book. You just know you.
Kenric: yeah. And very
Blacky Shepard: often it's the lettering. It, because a lot of times, you know, in order to save money, they'll just have the artists do the lettering. And, you know, I know from my point of view, I can't let her, you know, like I, my best. Skill, when it comes to lettering is just making sure that I've left enough room for the letter to make decisions.
You know what I mean? That's all I can do. And a big part of that was when I first started working with Taylor, he was nice enough. I reached out to him and I'm like, Hey man. I really want to make sure that I'm giving you the room that you need to make decisions. So, you know, [00:37:00] please, you know, tell me, you know, where you think I could improve and I'd send him pages that I was still kind of impressed process on and he kind of helped train me, you know, where to leave space for the letter.
You know what I mean? Because again, you're absolutely right. It's, you know, a bad letter or it can ruin a page and an artist that doesn't let the letter have enough space forces the letter sometimes to be a bad letter.
Kenric: Yeah. Do you ever heard this? I just thought of this. Do you ever like sit and work on a panel or maybe a full page and you're like, this is so good.
I don't want any letters on this. You know what I mean? I don't want anything fucking up what I just created, which you're like. Ah, and then
Blacky Shepard: I don't. And the only reason for that is I think like a lot of artists, I'm very hard on my own art. You know, I'm not gonna lie and say that, you know, [00:38:00] I think my art is terrible because that's not true.
I think I'm a pretty good artist. I like my own art, you know? but I'm not confident enough in my own. my own ability to tell a story completely without the, input of a letter and a colorist. Like I very much am aware of what the limitations of line art are. You know what I mean? and so when I look at a page, I don't so much look at it like a finished thing.
I look at it like the foundation for the finished thing.
Blacky Shepard: So I'm really always very keen to see what the colorist and the letter are, do go to your website
Kenric: and you click on comics and then go to pump. And then you click on pumpkin head. you have the characters kind of, you know, each one, but the first, you know, the cop, right.
And then you have, you know, in the pumpkin head, it's the last one, the free other first row, the first one on the second row. [00:39:00] Okay. And you have the back of the cop with the gun, pumpkin head coming out of the doorway,
Blacky Shepard: man.
Kenric: That just makes me think. And I'm not even just getting dude. That is like a Bernie writes right there.
And it's just like, and I give you a higher compliment than that.
Blacky Shepard: It's funny first. Thank you very much. It's because Bernie writes in is legit. The reason I draw comics, I call him the captain. I have not more into the deaths of many people that are celebrities or people that I don't know because, you know, I mean, there are people I don't know, I'm, you know, I'll be, it's bummer that I won't say any more work from them or whatever, but, you know, I don't feel any emotional attachment, but Bernie writes and, you know, he was, I remember.
The drawing. I remember where I was when I saw the drawing. I remember everything about the moment, the quality of the light, everything about the moment when I saw the first image by Bernie Wrightson. And I knew as soon as I [00:40:00] saw it, that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life was draw things like that.
and it was, it was so Stephen King wrote a calendar actually called cycle of the werewolf.
Blacky Shepard: Yup. And there's so I had
Kenric: became silver bull.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. I stole from I now I have said this twice. I realized that as a kid, I was a little bit of a theme. in my defense. I was a poor kid, but from the library, I stole them with a novelization of cycle of the werewolf with the script for silver bullet in the back.
yeah, it's great. and, and so flipping through, and I don't remember, Oh, it was so weird the month that this illustration was done for was August. and it's an image, the werewolf reaching into. the Jeep of, of, of the man. And he's like gripping the postman's face off.
Kenric: I know exactly the one you're talking [00:41:00] about.
Blacky Shepard: I saw that and it changed my whole life. It changed everything about the way I perceived what I did as a young artist.
Kenric: Cindy did the same thing to me. I mean, I'm not an artist. I can't even draw stick figures. You know, if you want to a stick figure, but thinking of art and thinking of someone like.
Being able to create that type of imagery with their hands in a pencil really, you know, was one, one was the Frankenstein trading card set.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. So good. Oh,
Kenric: it was ridiculous. and then seeing all of the different images, like the werewolves, the seat, the there's one, where is it? I think it's a guy leaning up against a fence post and he's got an ax and he's got head.
I was like, I, you know, it wasn't even about the imagery of being horror. It was just how good they are and how well they're drawn. and the, I dunno, just the [00:42:00] level of detail was so beyond anything I'd ever seen in my life, that I was just like, I was captivated. And then from that scene,
Blacky Shepard: that point
Kenric: on, Bernie rights and all these became the level that I thought of somebody, you know what I mean?
When it came from.
Blacky Shepard: You know, the way I've always looked at it with respect to Bernie's art is he is the goal that I'm trying to achieve. Now. I'll never achieve that goal, right. I'll never be as good as Bernie Wrightson is, but I figure as long as I'm shooting that high, I'm always elevating myself.
Right. Well, let's be the best Blackie Shepard that there can be. You know, that's right. Yeah.
Blacky Shepard: In fact, you know, so when I first started trying to get into comics, I, I was showing my art to, you know, editors and the whole deal. And I remember specifically, meeting an editor for a comic company that shall remain nameless.
and [00:43:00] he's a very famous dude. He's an artist as well. And, he was looking at it and he was telling me how to change my art so that it would look more like Jim Lee. Right. I remember, you know, I try to be as graceful as I could, but I said, look, I appreciate what you're saying, but I don't want to be the next Jim Lee.
I want to be the first Blackie shepherd. You know, and that stuck with me, you know, that should be my goal is to find my inherent voice, not try to fit into the way other people, you know, because if you try to do what other people are doing, you're just lost. That's like what Bernie writes, and I'm not trying to do Bernie Wrightson.
I'm just trying to hold myself to the standard. That I hope that when I look at Bernie rights and his art. It moves me so deeply that I think, Hey, I've got to draw stuff that when people look at my art, it hopefully moves them to some similar [00:44:00] degree, you know, with that image that you're referring to specifically the pumpkin head coming through the door.
Yeah, that actually, so when Colin suggested me to our editor at dynamite, that was the first project that I'd worked on with that editor. Yeah. And all he had seen of my work was Vultron right. So he sent me an email and he said, look, I know you can draw, but I need to know that you can draw a pumpkin head, you know?
So, so would you just put, work up a single image, just, you know, draw a pumpkin head for me and let me know, let me see kind of how you would handle the book, you know? And so I drew that, you know, and sent it to him and, you know, the email that he sent me in return was very nice. It was very complimentary and, you know, yeah.
And, you know, and he said, you know, that it gave him confidence that I'd be able to handle the book.
Kenric: Well, dude, you sent them that one. I mean, to me, I'd be like, well, what else do you want to draw? Cause I'll just do whatever one you want to do.
[00:45:00] Blacky Shepard: I know. And I keep sending them emails that tells him that he should just let me draw whatever I want.
Kenric: I don't know. So
Blacky Shepard: is
Kenric: his whore, your love is that what you like to draw the most?
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. That's, you know, if I could write the book, I will, I'll have an entire career, a long career where I draw almost pre specifically and almost predominantly whore, just because that's where my love, that's my favorite kind of movie.
That's, you know, the types of stories that I like to read and write, you know, it's just, it's where my head and my heart light. but very close. Second to that. Is science fiction and giant robots, you know, and then somewhere in that mix is pinup. You know what I mean? So I've got a fairly broad, you know, range of interests.
You know what I mean? I'll tell you the only thing that I'm specifically not super interested in drawing is standard superhero comics.
Kenric: Yeah. Was good though. I mean, you're not, you know, You're not [00:46:00] 12.
Blacky Shepard: I mean, I just, I don't think that my style necessarily would lend itself to standard super if the only superheroes that I would really want to draw are like really want to draw a moon night.
I think I can do a good job of mood night. Interesting.
Blacky Shepard: Especially if they may went back to his kind of horror routes, and did, you know, like a werewolf by night crossover kind of thing, and,
Kenric: Yeah, we had Marv Wolfman on and
Blacky Shepard: Oh man, I love Mark.
Kenric: I see, well, you know what, when it, when the episode drops don't we haven't released it yet.
Whenever, so yeah. I'll send you the link.
Blacky Shepard: It gets a little,
Kenric: cause he's every bit of it, 79 year old self or a 72 year old self, you know? right. But he talked about working on Dracula and stuff. it was really interesting Dracula, that tomb of Dracula run that he did though, is so good,
Blacky Shepard: you know?
It's top shelf and that's, that is another heavy [00:47:00] influence on me. You know, as far as you know, when I was a kid reading those, really getting into the idea of horror comics,
Kenric: have you ever read Kelly Jones is dead, man.
Blacky Shepard: I've read everything by Kelly Jones. Kelly Jones is. So if I were to say, I have a Mount Rushmore of artists separating Mount Rushmore from the, you know, problematic history that it has, you know, but just using it as the.
As an idiom for, you know, the artists that kind of are iconic to me, you know, Hey, my group of artists is, Bernie writes and Michael Golden, Bilson Kevin, and art Adams and Kelly Jones. Those five artists basically define everything that I love about comic books.
Kenric: I did the new mutants covers that builded.
I will always cherish those.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. Oh, they're fantastic.
Kenric: Oh my God.
Blacky Shepard: I wasn't even there. I didn't even read that series at the time, but I bought them all because I loved it
Kenric: just for those covers. Yeah,
[00:48:00] Blacky Shepard: I've got it. I've got an enormous collection of Dazzler comics and I couldn't be less interested in Dazzler, especially at the time, but except for his covers were so fantastic.
Kenric: Yeah, we had a Kelly on, just a few weeks ago. We just dropped those three hours, just him and I shooting
Blacky Shepard: the shit. He's great, man. He, so he did the first cover for pumpkin head issue, numb issue one. and yeah, and, he saw some of my interior pages. And actually contacted my editor at dynamite and suggested that they allow me to do the remaining covers, which was super nice of him.
he and I
Kenric: that's awesome.
Blacky Shepard: It's super awesome. And the thing is, you know, I hesitate to refer to him as a friend because we only know each other, you know, by virtue of a correspondence via email. and the odd, you know, [00:49:00] convention appearance that,
Kenric: yeah. Yeah. we chat on Facebook messenger, but that's, you know
Blacky Shepard: exactly.
Yeah. It has been, or, and especially was while I was trying to get into comics. very supportive of helping me figure out how to get into comics.
Kenric: Yeah. He's such a nice guy, man. I need the night. Yeah. One of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, completely honest and just, I dunno, I really liked that guy.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. Well, and we both bonded over our singular love of Bernie writes in as well.
Kenric: Yeah. It's huge for any rights and fan huge horror fan.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. Much like Kelly, you know, are much like me. Kelly is also, you know, he worships at the altar of Bernie Wrightson. and, you know, in fact, he was given the honor of finishing Frankenstein alive.
The last issue when, you know, Bernie passed away and Bernie specifically said, okay, you know, we need to have Kelly Jones finished this, you know? And so the last half of that [00:50:00] issue is Kelly Jones finishing. I think Bernie left a handful of layouts. and then Kelly Jones finished those layouts and then did, there's a handful of pages that he did, you know, from soup
Kenric: to nuts.
Yeah. Yeah. Could you imagine if you imagine getting the, getting those and having to be the person to go over and finish the great Reisman's work.
Blacky Shepard: Oh, man. I don't remember if it was in person that we talked about it or if it was via one of our online discussions. But, he told me about when they sent him the original art for the pages that he was going to finish.
Yeah. And he said, you know, he was like, it was just massive, you know, it was just such a huge moment for him, you know, to get those pages and realize that, you know, like really that's like a torch being passed. Yeah,
Kenric: totally. You know, he told us, he told me, he goes, I said, is there anything at Marvel that you would still like to do?
And he goes, I want to do the Legion of monsters and [00:51:00] reboot that. Yeah. I was like, Oh my God, Kelly Jones ran Legion the monsters. That would be amazing.
Is there anything out
Blacky Shepard: there that you were listed that
Kenric: if you had your druthers, not create our own because I mean, I w I'm sure you want to do create our own. I think everybody does at some point,
Blacky Shepard: some people don't like it,
Kenric: like, for instance, with Kelly who were just talking about his big thing was he did create our own.
She liked it, but he misses the collaboration I do too.
Blacky Shepard: I have a lot of creating our own ideas, but I don't think I ever want to completely move away from doing licensed characters. Yeah. Because I enjoy for one. Okay. So I think I'm anticipating your question, which is, are there any properties out there that I really want to work on?
Yeah. the first one, it's kind of a tie. No, it's not a tie. The first one is
Kenric: like, Oh, you cut out [00:52:00] again.
Blacky Shepard: I'm sorry. It's the micro knots.
Blacky Shepard: nice. Yeah. I, you know, the microdots are my first love as far as like. Comic books. I, you know, much like the first time I saw Bernie Wrightson, I remember exactly where I was the first time I cracked an issue of the micro knots with Michael Walden's artwork in it.
Blacky Shepard: And I love the toys as a little kid. and so when the comic came out and the comic was so good and Michael Golden's art was so amazingly good, it really made me fall in love with his style and made me fall in love with the idea of drawing in a more realistic way, as opposed to a kind of a cartoonish way.
You know, and so the micro knots, they've just always been central to my love of everything, comics, and then, and I love the characters, and then, you know, kind of, almost tied with that is wrong. from, you know, [00:53:00] rom the space night, both now both of those titles are owned by IDW. and so, literally, and I'm not using literally the wrong way.
I mean, it literally about once every two months I send my editor and Chris Royal and IDW an email going, Hey man, just checking on, you know, like what the chances of a micro knots are wrong. You know, title is, you know, I'm always here ready to grow up, you know, let me know.
Kenric: Oh, that's awesome.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. But as far as like, with Marvel, they've got Conan now and I would absolutely love to draw Conan.
I'd love to draw moon night, moon nights. So high on my list, with DC, I really want to draw swamp thing. Yeah. I would like to take a stab at Batman, but my bad and then would be a lot closer to Kelly Jones version of Batman than to like the Jim Lee version. Right? Like to me, Batman is, well, Kelly said it [00:54:00] best Batman should be scary.
Right? So the dude who's in the room 10 minutes before you realize he's in the room.
Blacky Shepard: and that's the best that man that I love. I want to draw the Batman with the crazy long Cape and the super long ears. and mostly in the shadows, I kind of want to do a Batman comic where you treat Batman, almost like you treat jaws in the movie jaws where you don't see him very much.
You know what I mean? And when you do see you, it's just brief flashes. You know, and you really pick and choose when you show Batman and all of his glory, it shouldn't be more of a menace on the outside of the story than the constant focus, you know?
Blacky Shepard: And then, but you know, so yeah, and then I really, I've always really wanted to work on the shadow.
I love the shadow and flash Gordon, and I'd love to draw flash Gordon would
Kenric: be cool. You get a lot of good flash Gordon's anymore.
Blacky Shepard: I don't know,
Kenric: it's kind of a good flat or flat, I shouldn't say good flat, but that sounds like everybody who did it suck. [00:55:00] That's not what I'm saying.
I'm just saying flash Gordon come out in a long time. The
Blacky Shepard: best flash Gordon recently, in the past, you know, like 10 years, is, it's called, it was called flash Gordon. Zeitgeists. That, dynamite put out. Ah, geez. I don't even remember what year it was. I want to say it was around 2010, 2011.
and it was written by, Eric Troutman and it had two different artists on it. both of whom were really good, but it was very much like they, it was written in the style and it was drawn in the style of the flash Gordon movie from the eighties. and so, and it, the story was just fantastic.
Heir Troutman is an amazing writer. and it was really like when I need a flash Gordon fix, which is fairly often, I'll either put on the movie or I'll go back to that flash Gordon Zeit guys can give it a read. Cause it was so
Kenric: good. Yeah. I'll check it. I'll have to check it out. I have to check it out. [00:56:00]
Michael cold neck
Blacky Shepard: guy, man.
Kenric: Did you, do you remember that poster he made that had like all of the Marvel characters on it?
Blacky Shepard: yeah. Yeah. One
Kenric: time that we really saw, like the quote unquote spaghetti webbing.
Blacky Shepard: Yeah. Well, he was the guy that kind of pioneered that. in fact, you know, a lot of people will attribute that to McFarland.
but if you ask McFarland, he'll tell you that he got it from
Kenric: Michael gold. yeah. It's on the, it's an 82 poster. I remember my buddy had that in his room. I was like, Oh, I wonder that poster so bad.
Blacky Shepard: Well, and Michael Goldman was one of those artists that taught me, you know, just by example, you know, to think about what I was drawing, you know, because when you look at Michael Golden's art, especially as early art, like the stuff like the micro knots, and then when he started doing the Nam, you can tell that he's talking about the structure of the things that he's drawing.
You know, he wants everything to look like. It works, you know, whereas some artists will skimp on. You know, the [00:57:00] interior design of something or the internal logic of a machine or a, of a, the physiology of an animal in place of just making it look bitching. You know what I mean? it is certainly a place for that, but for me, I was so deeply impacted by Michael Golden's obvious.
A level of thought that he put into the mechanics of what he was drawing, be it a physiological thing or a structural thing or a building, or what have you. you really influenced me that way. Michael Golden is actually another guy that when I was trying to break into comics, he, he was very helpful.
In fact, he and I, again, I hesitate. Do you use the word friend, but we're very friendly.
Blacky Shepard: in fact, so it's kind of a funny story. So when I first showed my portfolio at San Diego several years ago, I was showing it to an editor and I had a few pages of the micro knots in there.
Just some pages I dreamed up, you know? And, and he was looking at him and yeah, and he said, these are pretty good, man. You [00:58:00] should show them to Michael Golden. He's down on the floor. And Michael Golden being, you know, primary among my heroes. I was like, that's not going to happen
Blacky Shepard: you know, he's got a, he's got a reputation for being a fairly blunt, you know, honest guy, you know, and if my hero looked at my work and told me I wasn't good enough, that would really.
In the ding, you know what I mean? and so, but I find he kinda talked me into it, you know, so I went down and I approached Michael, and I showed it to him and he was. Very honest, but not, yeah. Cruelly. So I mean, the thing about Michael is he was an editor at Don or at a Marvel for years.
and so he knows how to be an art director. You know what I mean? He knows how to look at art and tell you what you need to do to improve it, not break you down and make you feel bad. Right. So it was actually a piece of advice that he gave me looking at my portfolio that took [00:59:00] me from. Almost ready to do pro work, ready to do pro work.
And it was just, you know, we were, as we're talking, he said, you need to do X, Y, and Z. I was like, Oh yeah, I sure do. You're so right. Yeah. Oh, it was crazy. And I, at that point, I'd shown my work to literally. Four dozen, editors. And when I say literally I'm not, I don't mean figuratively. I mean, it doesn't editors, you know, and they had all given me some were very useful pieces of information that weren't super impactful or profound all the way to the guy who told me how to draw like Jim Lee.
Kenric: know what I mean?
Blacky Shepard: But Michael and I, we had a great conversation, talked about the microdots for like 45 minutes, which was great. You know? Yeah. And then what was cool is, you know, every year at Emerald city WonderCon or I'm sorry, San Diego wonder con [01:00:00] and then a couple of years at Rose city, I would see.
Yeah, I'm here. Hello.
Kenric: We lost you there.
Blacky Shepard: Can you hear me? Oh,