I have been a fan of Derec Donovan (formerly Derec Aucoin) for years and he was also the first artist that I ever commissioned a drawing from. I met him a few years ago at a comics convention and found out that he’s a super-cool guy with a great sense of humor to go along with his killer art skills. I now consider Derec to be a friend and when he told me that he was going to start a Kickstarter campaign for his first creator-owned comic, Bionic Bombshell, I knew that it was time to interview him about his comics career and let him proote his campaign.
How did you get into comics?
The first comics that I remember reading were books that got passed around between myself and the other kids in the apartment complex that I lived in. We would swap and trade. I still have an old Green Lantern with George Tuska interiors and a beautiful Gil Kane Cover. After those it was whatever I came across in the spinner racks at the 7-11. I didn’t become ravenous about them until I picked up an Amazing Spider-Man by Todd McFarlane, an X-Men by Jim Lee and an Excalibur by Alan Davis, all at once for a dollar each at a grocery store and that went off like an atom bomb in me. Shortly after that, I discovered comic specialty shops and that was it, every spare moment was spent there until they eventually gave me a job.
I got serious about doing comics for a living when I was about 14 and I met a local professional at the comic shop I went to. That made it seem like a real thing, a real job that someone gets paid to do. From then on it was like tunnel vision.
Early influences were Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee. Then my horizons broadened as I discovered others. Kirby and Moebius are big influences for sure. All of the Gaijin Studio artists, David Mazzuchelli, the Hernandez Bros., Arthur Adams, Michael Golden, Mike Mignola, the list goes on . . .
Who are your artistic influences outside of comics?
A lot of painters such as Leyendecker, Rockwell, Struzan, Klimt, Monet, Van Gogh, and Syd Mead. Also, a lot of filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick, David Fincher, and Steven Spielberg. And writers such as Stephen King and Michael Crichton. Nowadays it’s anyone that catches my eye.
The first time I saw your work was in the L.E.G.I.O.N. and R.E.B.E.L.S. series. Were those your first published comics? And how did you break into the industry?
Those were my first works for a major publisher. Before those I had done a few things for smaller publishers, making my bones as it were. I broke in by constantly sending submissions and getting feedback from editors until one day they caved in and decided they would hear from me less often if they gave me work than if they didn’t.
On both R.E.B.E.L.S. and later on a few issues of Legion of Superheroes, you were working with Tom Peyer, one of my favorite writers. How was that experience?
Tom worked full-script style and he was fine to work with when I could get a whole script from him. One of my biggest pet peeves in comics is getting only partial scripts and not knowing the complete story, which occurred a couple of times. But Tom was fun and a nice man.
Shortly after this you moved over to Marvel where you drew a Venom miniseries and worked on one of my favorite comics of that era, Quicksilver. How did you land those gigs? And was it fun getting to draw all of those iconic Marvel characters (the Avengers, the Inhumans, the Heroes for Hire, etc.) guest-starring in Quicksilver?
Those jobs just kind of landed in my lap, I loved working on them. I was just getting heavily into comics when Venom showed up and I love Quicksilver and the Inhumans.
Your run with Joe Casey on Adventures of Superman is one of the best Superman runs ever, in my opinion. The stories were imaginative and fun, and your art seemed to take a step forward during that time. Tell us about working with Joe on comics’ most iconic character.
I will always look at that as one of the best times that I had in comics. I think that Joe and I were in sync and we had a blast. Also, during this time I started to ink my own work regularly and it helped me to grow as an artist. Working with Joe was a joy. He has a unique vision and I’m a fan.
I agree, Joe Casey is one heckuva talent and nice guy as well. So, not too long after your Superman run you collaborated on the short-lived Jubilee series with Robert Kirkman, back before he was the world-famous Robert Kirkman. What can you tell us about that experience?
Well Kirkman is a great guy, but I don’t think either of us look at the Jubilee series with any fondness. It certainly wasn’t my best work and I think that Marvel was just looking to put him on something and they said “he does a book about a superhero in high school lets copy that”. I don’t think anyone involved really cared and as a result the book was flat and mercifully cancelled. I would love to work with Robert on something we both were jazzed about, especially now that he is Mr. Famous.
The Connor Hawke: Dragon’s Blood miniseries that you did with Chuck Dixon is one of my favorite books that you’ve drawn. The art on that one just clicked for me and I would have loved to have seen you and Chuck do more stories with that character. How did that project come about and how much research did you have to do on archery for it?
Thats another project that fell into my lap. I had been a fan of Chuck’s for years and then met him while we were both at Crossgen and I told him I’d like to work with him. Then one day I get an e-mail from Chuck asking if I’d like to do a 6 issue mini-series, and I jumped on it. I did a decent amount of research. I was an amateur archer when I was a teenager, but I read up on it and amassed a decent reference library for that series.
You got to use your archery knowledge once again with Shaft in the Youngblood relaunch that you did with Joe Casey. I felt you guys had a great, different take on that team and I was sorry that it didn’t last longer. What can you tell us about that project?
That one kind of landed in my lap as well. Joe called me right after I finished drawing Robin Annual #7 to ask if I’d draw the book. I only did one redesign for that series, for Diehard. I was never sure how long the book was going to be around, our numbers were okay, but I have my own theory about the book all together. I think that we were putting the book out to get the attention of all the other potential book makers who maybe had ideas that they wanted to bring to market and show them that Image was the place to be. This was before the Walking Dead TV show aired and I think that we were bringing the Youngblood brand back to life, a brand that has always been known for huge sales numbers and bringing it down to a level that seemed like anyone could do it. And then the series ended with all of these television references, even going as far as putting Oprah into the book. It’s not the direction that I would’ve taken the book if I wanted it to be a huge success. We didn’t have the big double page action spreads with characters fighting and blowing things up. It seemed like we were deconstructing all of that and inviting other creators to come and bring all of that in with their own creations. I may be wrong, but that’s just how it felt from inside the fish bowl. It was fun, but not what I would have done with those characters and that title if I was looking to make a big, splashing success.
All right, what do you like to draw, paint and color with? Tell us about your preferred art tools of the trade, both digital and traditional.
I like to Paint with either Watercolor or Acrylic, but I think I’m a little stronger with watercolor. With the computer it’s Photoshop. For traditional drawing I use Micron Pens, brush and ink.
When working from someone else’s script I go through the script with a pen and pick out the key story or visual moments, and then I design the book around them. I do rough layouts which I then scan into Photoshop and do a tight layout. Then I print those out in non photo blue onto my art boards, which I ink over.
When doing my own work it’s very similar except I’m not bound by someone else’s script and I’m free to compose and build the story however it feels right.
We’ll go into your own characters very soon, but first tell me are there any characters (besides your own) that you would like to work on someday?
I like a lot of Kirby characters- the Demon, the Fourth World stuff, FF, Silver Surfer, Hulk, etc.
The new Hellboy series is fun, I love Mignola. I’m up to the third trade paperback of Scalped and I’m digging that. Saga is great, I love it as well. Also, I read everything from Stan Sakai and Erik Larsen.
I bought the first four Scalped trades but haven’t read any of them yet. My to-be-read pile if gigantic. Anyway, let’s talk about your Kickstarter for your new comic: Bionic Bombshell. Tell us everything!
Okay, my book is called BIONIC BOMBSHELL.
It’s all me, I wrote, pencilled, inked, lettered and colored it and it’s my first creator owned book. And yes, it’s ALL done, just waiting to publish.
It’s a 20pg superhero romp in the spirit of the Tick and the Naked Gun movies. In other words, it’s Dumb Fun.
The comic is about a young scientist who inherits a bionic super suit and the responsibility of protecting her city from her deceased billionaire uncle. She then goes on to fight some of the cities more colorful super villains, such as the Oxymoron Gang, lead by JUMBO SHRIMP, a dwarf who can grow to the size of Godzilla.
I’m doing a Kickstarter and I have all kinds of reward packages:
$1- PDF, Hi res wallpaper, and thanks
$10- ^above plus copy of book
$25- ^above plus 18×24 Poster
$50- ^above plus T-shirt
$80- ^above plus Hard Bound Moleskine w full Pen and Ink sketch inside
$250-^above plus 11×17 2character plus BG Pen and Ink piece
$350- ($80 package) plus 11×17 Watercolor
$500- ($80 package) plus I will do your Cover for Your Book-Pen/Ink/Color and you keep Original (you get layout approval)
$600-($80 package) plus the Original Art for COVER B
$1000-($80 package) plus the Original Art for COVER A
I’m initially looking to Raise $3,000 to cover Printing and Marketing, but hope to go over that and I have a couple of PUSH goals, such as an additional 10 page short story added to the book called “Justin Time vs. the Time Toads of Krylos 8” and a 16 page B&W sketchbook.
Check it out here.