Welcome to a comic as weird and wild as Texas! Over the next few weeks I’m going to be spending some time introducing ya’ll to the creative team behind the Halloween Man “Bat City Special.” Next up, it is Mr. John Gholson!
So, tell us a little bit about yourself…
Lifelong Texan here! Yee-haw! I have my fingers in a lot of different pies – acted in films (Zero Charisma) and television (Hidden America with Jonah Ray), worked as a movie blogger and critic for a long time, and I’ve performed live comedy here in Austin for a couple of years now. Texas comic fans might know me as a panel moderator at the Dallas Fan Expo shows.
How did you come to be interested in making comics?
I was reading at young age and the TV shows that I watched back then – Super Friends and Fantastic Four (the one with H.E.R.B.I.E. instead of Human Torch) – sparked my interest in superheroes. That lead to the comics, and I’ve been an addict since before I was even in school. Comics were my preferred “treat” as a kid, if someone was bringing me back a little something from the store.
As a kid, I did notebook paper comics based on what I was already playing with my action figures. I’d be mixing all the properties together and giving them their own stories. Looking back, I was way more interested in personal drama than action, which means my comic tastes were set in stone pretty early.
Later, I attended the Savannah College of Art & Design to try to hone my writing and drawing talents. I didn’t finish, but I kept working toward my goals.
What are some other projects you have worked on.
I did several one-page comic reviews for films for Movies.com, as my first “pro” comics work. The past couple of years, I’ve done two full comics in secret for promotional use within a huge corporation. I’ve done illustration work for GQ and Fandango too, but sequential art is such a different beast.
Favorite Comic Book Artist?
John Byrne, Jack Davis, Erik Larsen, Kyle Baker, Bud Sagendorf, Kevin Maguire, Art Adams…I could keep going. Lately, I’m inspired by the work of Chris Samnee.
How long have you lived in Austin? If you moved here, what brought you here?
I moved here in 1998. My film school friends at University of Texas were having me out to Austin to help with their student films, and it just felt right to be here. I’m originally from the Houston area and still have family there.
How would you describe working as an artist in Austin?
The tricky thing is there are so many creatives, and a lot of those creatives have artistic needs, but also little to no money. You’ll hear “never work for free,” but it’s hard to charge for work on, say, a poster, when you know the people you’re doing the poster for aren’t getting paid. There’s a lot of “I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine.” Sometimes you’re working for karma. No one is angling to take advantage of each other, which is really what a good artistic community is all about.
Austin, is known is a musical city, are you involved with the music scene? Are are there any venues or bands you like?
When I first moved here, I tried to get out to live shows, because – hey! It’s Austin! It’s the thing to do! But I discovered that live music is not really my scene. Last band I went out of my way to see was Blondie at Austin City Limits, because how in the world could I pass that up?
When did you first become aware of Halloween Man?
I have a friend who was making YouTube videos at a now-closed local comic book shop, and he tipped me off to it.
Who is your favorite Halloween Man character?
I kind of imprinted quickly on Halloween Man himself (initially due to his cool shirt). The first story I read (from Ray Gun Gothic) focused mostly on Solomon; I didn’t get to know the supporting cast really until later.
Tell us about your story for the Bat City Special and your process of working on it?
I talked to Drew about my strengths and he wrote a story around that, thankfully! In the original script, Dr. Van Helsing was inspired Donald Pleasance, but Drew changed it to Edward Van Sloan before I started drawing. I loved that change, because I’m a Universal Monsters nut.
What else excites you about this project?
It’s great to finally have something out there that the general public can actually read, after a couple years of doing “secret” comics. I also love that the artists in this project are all so different from each other.
Anything in closing?
Keep Monsters Weird!
IF you want to support the Bat City Special, please check out their IndieGoGo page.