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Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Am Spock (And occassionally Uhura) -- A few thoughts on Leonard Nimoy


A little time traveling.

When I heard of the death of Leonard Nimoy, my reaction was, well, uniquely mine...
My mind went to a kid named Bill and an odd jumble of a  pink house, in a small town in Texas.

Bill you see, was my first boyfriend (at least in my mind he was. Bill may have a different story). I was all of 7 years old.

I can’t remember how I first met Bill. I think perhaps it was the day he was in his back yard, hands on his hips, contemplating a peeling wooden dog house that looked like it was being held together by maybe two nails at the most. I, in my own backyard, ambled over, introduced myself, and somehow we ended up with various cans of rusted old paint and some dried out brushes we found in a shed, and we were giving the little structure a fresh new look.

As one of my first outside art installations, I remember my motif included some nice flowers, which I assume were daisies,  along the side, in multi hues. Not to be negligent,  I also had the idea that the dog should have something nice to look at while in the house as well, and promptly painted some scenes on the inside too.

I don’t remember if the dog house was big, or if I was just small, but yes, there was enough room for me to paint inside.  And in fact, I don’t remember there ever even being a dog, now that I think about it. But that didn’t seem to matter.

We were fast friends.

Our visits house to house became so frequent in fact, that either Bill’s parents or mine—I can’t remember which— put a gate in the chain link fence separating our properties, so neither of us would be climbing it henceforth and ripping holes in our jeans or worse, our legs.

Very convenient this, because we had a lot of work to do.

Bill’s house was a marvel to me. Rocking that paint that was a Pepto-Bismol hue, it was no ordinary house.  It had, what I’d later learn, is called “personality.”

Instead of being a regular square shape like most abodes in the neighborhood, this house was made of wood instead of brick, and was an odd jumble of at least 4 different geometrical shapes, all fitted together without rhyme of reason, and connected with tacked on wooden halls, as if they were arteries going into a four chambered heart.

It was like a fun house had mated with a New Orleans Painted Lady. And I loved it.

Nothing like Pepto Bismol pink!

Recently my brother told me that before Bill’s family, at some point,  the house had been occupied by one Charles B. Pierce, the director and producer of “The Boggy Creek Monster” and the “Town that Dreaded Sundown.”  Two movies,  one documenting our area's local monster, and the other not so lovingly,  our most famous serial killer.

Mr. Pierce must have been quite the eccentric. And I can almost picture some frenzied, coffee-fueled, scriptwriting going on in one of those lego block rooms in some begone day.

Whatever it’s pedigree, the pink house became mine and Bill’s stage for many adventures.

I recall the summer break when we decided  it would be a fine idea to stage a carnival for the neighborhood kids ala Spanky and his gang. I was the artistic director and the Public Relations person. Bill was in charge of sets.  I don’t know how many people actually showed up, but the planning  and building of the attractions was a hoot. And not to forget all those afternoons making new grooves in the yard with that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang go cart that appeared out of nowhere in Bill’s backyard. (Note, these are fun as long as you don't mistake a hot muffler for a handle. And if you do, butter does NOT help.)

There were also melancholy times... for instance when we found a  baby owl near Bill’s front porch, and how we tried to nurse it back to health, it’s large black eyes looking up with a mixture of fear and futility. We failed. I know I cried that day. I think Bill did too. Bill’s Mom gave us icing covered Pop Tarts, which she always seemed to have in great supply. And we gave the owl a little funeral in a small cardboard shoe box. I believe Bill said a few appropriate words.

When I think of Bill, I remember him with dark hair and brown eyes. Wouldn’t it be funny if I was completely wrong.

Memory is an odd thing, the patina of time makes the Polaroids in ones mind fuzzy around the edges.

But I do remember without a doubt  that he, like me, enjoyed monster movies and Godzilla and Tarzan (Johnny only) and “Hogan’s Heroes,” and most of all… “Star Trek.”

There was a time when “Star Trek” was on every afternoon following school, and it became an obsession for Bill and I to dash home to watch it every day, then, of course, run outside to re-enact that afternoon’s scenario, in the large yard studded by evergreen pines around the Pink Lady.

For some reason, unbeknownst to me, Bill always had to play Captain Kirk, which left me with the rest of the cast to choose from. 

Starting out, I took on the challenge of channeling Uhura, being that she was the only consistent women on the show, and a strong female character to boot, so I didn’t mind. (It’s only bothered me a little in hindsight , not that I didn’t like Uhura, but it would have been nice to be the Captain now and then, Bill. And,  no, your name being "Bill" is not a free ticket to ride.)

Even then, we were a great team. Rifling through the toy barn (also painted pink)—that magical shed on the property, full of those rusty cans of paint  that people save “Just in case,” and various pieces of long destroyed toys—looking for objects that could substitute for communicators and ray guns or alien artifacts harboring great and misunderstood power.

One time we thought it would be a good idea to recreate the infamous Kirk/Uhura kiss. After all we’d seen it on TV. Somewhere in the midst of a heated battle with Klingons, Captain Kirk leaned in to kiss me… I mean Uhura… on the cheek, our tender moment interrupted by Mr. Hamilton  shouting “hello kids” from next door. (He, unbeknownst to us, must have been taking a much closer look at our daily antics than we realized. )

It wasn’t long before my acting chops needed a boost however, and I suggested to Bill, that regardless of the fact that I was a girl, that if we used our imaginations, that I could also perhaps play Spock. He was one of my favorite characters after all.

Spock and The Captain.

And thus, the next day, the transformation was made. And I wasted no time perfecting my Vulcan Nerve Pinch and writing it in to the "original lost episodes" that we began to scribe ourselves. Charles B. Pierce would have been proud.

Sometimes it would be Kirk that would rescue Spock, sometimes vice versa, but it was all quite the adventure, taking turns saving each other, you know.

Of course, it did cut down on the kissing scenes.

I have to say that some of my finest acting to date may have been on the stage of our pink house and environs—explaining logic to “Jim” and shooting our ray guns— which may have formerly been parts of a T-Rex— at an onslaught of Romulans. And as for me, I was perfectly happy in my new role of Spock. It seemed…well… logical.

Not everything in life is...

I’m not sure when the last time I saw Bill might have been. It’s lost in my memory, filed away perhaps in the folder entitled “Things I choose not to remember.”  But the end for me seemed to be comprised of  two major events.

The first, probably mostly major to me….We were out playing putt-putt on a bright summer afternoon, and Bill, with his usual theatrics  and joie de vivre, decided to swing the club back like he was really playing golf.  Think: A steel mallet at full force. I had the misfortune of standing behind him and being hit square in the head, opening a huge bloody gash right on my eyebrow.

It’s true what they say about head wounds. They bleed. A lot. 

After leaving behind huge red puddles on the nice new cement of the Putt Putt Golf, a visit to the hospital and numerous stitches, Bill and his Dad came over to our house--a hollow knock on the  garage door. Bill was standing there, so upset, he seemed to have shrunk in size somehow, shoulder's down, apologizing to me. I didn’t really understand why. It was a accident. I knew he felt bad.  His eyes said “I’m sorry I didn’t save you this time” more than the words. 

I  remember mostly his eyes.

For some reason, my mind has erased such moments for  the second event... I remember it as if someone told me about it. Like they were people I didn’t know. But I know that’s not true.

Bill’s Mom worked with my Mom at the local Sears store. My Mom was the bosses secretary at the time (she later worked her way up to personnel manager). I can’t remember what Bill’s Mom did. I do remember that she was sweet and kind. (Note the aforementioned iced Pop Tarts). And she smiled a lot.

My Mom and Bill’s were friends, and met almost every day at the Sear’s coffee shop for their break. The shop was a glass enclosed 1970’s little place on the corner of the building, with Formica tables and colorful plastic chairs, and a grand view of the parking lot.

One day, Mom was running late and didn’t make it to their usual coffee break on time.  A car crashed through the glass window that day, killing Bill’s Mom, as she sat there alone. Just drinking coffee.

She may have been the first person I ever knew who died.

I don’t know how long it was after that, but Bill’s Dad remarried. They sold the old pink house and moved away.

Eventually a lock appeared on the gate between our properties.

I never went there again.

++++++

I have thought about all of these things. Most within a few minutes of hearing of Mr. Nimoy’s death. I’m sure too, that your mind took you on a journey as well, also uniquely your own…a journey that made you think what relevance he had in your own life.

I wonder if someone like Mr. Nimoy understood all that?  I mean…how much those characters were a part of our memories. I like to think that he did.  I know he embraced what he had created, at least later on. And that he understood that the character— that ensemble cast, the stories—meant something to a great deal of people.

I love it too, that he created the Vulcan Nerve Pinch because he was tired of staged on-screen fights, and  he also created the “V” symbol that every single one of use who grew up on the show practiced over and over again until we got it.

Admit it, how many of you automatically did that “V” symbol within moments of hearing of his passing! I know you did, and it makes me smile.

Because I did too.

In my current line of work, I've have the great fortune to travel near and far to places that as a child I  could only dream of going. China, Russia, Brazil, Chile...Madison, Wisconsin! To a little girl full of imagination, growing up in a small Texas town, they would all have seemed as equally exotic to me and unattainable...except for the fact that at 7, I had already traveled frequently to the Klingon home planet of Kronos!

In the course of events, I’ve met many of the Star Trek actors, and it always seems surreal. I’m not that affected by actors to tell you the truth, having worked in film production for many years. They are doing a job. Their’s is just on the other side of the camera. But I admit, when William Shatner once told me I looked nice, I was giddy. “That’s Captain Kirk Dammit,” I said in my head. (And maybe out loud too. I can’t remember.)

While I was at some shows with Nimoy in recent years, I regret that I never really got a chance to talk to him much. (I guess I'm still shy by nature.) My impression is that he was a class act, and true professional, and a supporter of many causes that I also believe in, as well

I think you can see the essence in his character by the fact that he  took the high road and remained friends with all his Star Trek co-stars during times when many of them were squabbling with  each other and didn’t talk for years.  

The more I read about him and his career just makes me like him more:

http://news.yahoo.com/leonard-nimoy-logical-spock-star-trek-dies-83-050004136.html;_ylt=A0LEVvCbzfBUFG0AiTAlnIlQ

So, here’s to you Mr. Nimoy for the inspiration, the joy, and whatever that secret ingredient was that you guys added that made us want to be you.

And for the hint, dare I say hope, via your show— which really was positive— that perhaps nobility and friendship are things that will always exist.

"Kirk: I want you to know why I couldn't let you die... why I went back for you..."
"
Spock: Because you are my friend."

That maybe as you said in an 1986 interview that it gives us the ideas that “mankind is humane and will do the right thing eventually to each other and to others…. And we all like the idea that there are great mysteries still to be explored.”

Your last post on Twitter, February 23rd  was a brief and beautiful statement, and it was a summation of my own mind meanderings today, I suppose:

“A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP”

 I know...

When I’m home at my Mom’s in Texas, I sometimes sit in my Dad’s old chair by the backyard window— the chair he used each night when he was alive, and I look through the trees towards the old pink house— still there, still painted like Pepto-Bismol, but needing a new coat… or perhaps some nice daisies along the sides…if only one could find a few squirreled away rusty cans of paint and a young soul or two to do it…and I still see imprinted on that canvas what use to be. 

And I find myself reaching up without realizing , to touch the “putt putt” scar, hidden by my brow.

Then...  I remember Bill and I remember “Star Trek,” and I  see an 8 year old Captain Kirk and a not so logical Spock, boldly setting out to change the world . Not really knowing at that point what the world even was.

Yet on our little plot of soil, turned into a vast universe in our imaginations, it somehow seemed…well… limitless. And you know what, Mr. Spock, as illogical as it might be, thanks in part to you,  I still feel the same.



LLAP



— R. Witterstaetter
Somewhere in Costa Rica
March, 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Historian/Writer Trina Robbins Available for Booking!

 
Trina Robbins
 
 
Hi Everyone-- 
 
We are pleased to announce that we are doing a limited amount of bookings for 
the amazing Eisner Hall of Fame member,   Trina Robbins. Here is a little bit about Trina below. 
For more information, contact us at: evaink@aol.com
 
Best,
Renee Witterstaetter
Eva Ink Artist Group 
 
 
 TRINA ROBBINS:
 
Award-winning herstorian and writer Trina Robbins has been writing books,
comics, and graphic novels for over forty years. Her 2009 book, The
Brinkley Girls: the Best of Nell Brinkley’s Cartoons from 1913-1940
(Fantagraphics), and her 2011 book, "Tarpe Mills and Miss Fury," were
nominated for Eisner awards and Harvey awards. Her all-ages graphic
novel, Chicagoland Detective Agency: The Drained Brains Caper, first in a
6-book series, was a Junior Library Guild Selection. Her graphic novel,
"Lily Renee: Escape Artist," was awarded a gold medal from Moonbeam
Chidren’s Books and a silver medal from Sydney Taylor Jewish Library
Awards. Trina’s most recent book is Pretty in Ink, her final and
definitive history of women cartoonists. In 2013, Trina was voted into
the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.
 

Just a few of the books by Trina Robbins.
 


 

Legendary Spider-Man Editor Jim Salicrup Available for Booking!




Jim Salicrup is noted as the editor on Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man run.


Hi Everyone-- Happy to announce that we are doing some limited booking for one of my best friends in the industry, not to mention a mentor, Jim Salicrup.  Here is a little bit about Jim below. 

If you would like more information or would like to inquire about dates, contact me at: evaink@aol.com

--Renee
Black Spider-Man costume in "Kraven's Last Hunt," drawn by Mike Zeck.



JIM SALICRUP

Jim Salicrup is the Editor-in-Chief of Papercutz, the graphic novel publishing company he co-founded with Terry Nantier. Papercutz is devoted to publishing great graphic novels for all ages:  Annoying Orange, Ariol, Classics Illustrated, Dance Class, Disney Fairies, Geronimo Stilton, LEGO® Ninjago, LEGO Chima,Lunch Witch, Nancy Drew Diaries, The Smurfs Anthology, and many more. Recently, Papercutz launched a new imprint, modestly called Super Genius, which publishes titles such as WWE Superstars, Neil Gaiman’s Lady Justice, and more.

After being published as a writer and artist in Kids Magazine at age 14, Jim moved on to working at Marvel Comics for twenty years, editing most of their top titles, such as Spider-Man (with Todd McFarlane), The Uncanny X-Man (with Claremont & Byrne), The Fantastic Four (with John Byrne), Iron Man, and many more. Jim was the writer, and then editor of Spidey Super Stories, , a comic created to help children learn how to read. Spidey Super Stories was produced in co-operation with the Children’s Television Workshop, the producers of Sesame Street and The Electric Company. Editing and writing Spidey Super Stories was important in getting Jim to think about comics created for kids.

Jim was also the writer of such comics as Transformers, Visionaries, The Spider-Man Child Abuse Prevention comic, The A-Team, The Inhumanoids, Kool-Aid Man, and more. He also wrote and edited Marvel calendars, toilet paper, coloring books, posters and drinking cups. He also was the editor on Marvel Age Magazine for eight years.
Editor Jim Salicrup

After Marvel, Jim developed a line of comics for the Topps Company, Inc., where he was Editor-in-Chief. At Topps Comics Jim worked with such writers and artists such as Charlie Adlard, Ray Bradbury, Steve Ditko, Keith Giffen, Michael Golden,  Don Heck, Gil Kane, Miran Kim,  Jack Kirby, Don McGregor, Mike Mignola, George Perez, Stefan Petrucha, P. Craig Russell,  Scott Shaw!,  Roy Thomas, Craig Yoe, and many others.  Jim was also Senior Writer/Editor for Stan Lee Media, and a Trustee for the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Artist Matt Triano-- Commission List Opens!

Double Page Spread from "The Devilers"


For Immediate Release:

Eva Ink Artist Group is pleased to announce that artist Matt Triano will be accepting a limited number of commissions. 

Vampirella by Matt Triano



Matt Triano

Matt Triano is known for his illustrative work on both super-hero and fantasy/horror projects. "Grimm's Myths and Legends," "Robyn Hood," "Call of Wonderland," "Sleepy Hollow," "The Story of Mankind" for the Discovery Channel, "Shark Week" illustrations for Discovery Channel, "The Shadow," "The Lone Ranger Annual," and more, highlight his amazing work and insistence on research and story setting. 

His attention to detail and design has most recently been seen in the series "Sherlock Holmes: The Liverpool Demon," which was released to great reviews. And the new series from Dynamite Entertainment, “Devilers,” on which Matt also did designs. 

In addition to his story work, Matt also is a storyboard artist, working on motion comics projects and developing custom comics for high profile clients. Other works include material for Robin Hood Charities in New York,  work on Marvel Trading Cards and Batman work for the "DC Halloween Special." 

When commissioning a piece, it is the character of your choice and there are options available for head shots, torsos and full figures. Blank comic book covers are also being accepted.  

For rates and more information, contact Renee at: evaink@aol.com

Artist Matt Triano

Above and Below: Sherlock Holmes pencils from "The Liverpool Demon"



Vampirella story with art by Matt Triano


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Michael Golden Knocks 'Em Dead with Exclusive "Walking Dead" Cover for Wizard Indianapolis!

Variant Exclusive Walking Dead #1 cover by Michael Golden

Indianapolis-- Renowned artist and storyteller Michael Golden is knocking 'em "Dead" at the upcoming Wizard Indianapolis show! 

Wizard World, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD) and Skybound, Robert Kirkman’s imprint at Image Comics, today announced that “Rogue” co-creator Michael Golden has drawn the fourth in a yearlong series of Limited Edition Exclusive Variant Covers of "The Walking Dead" #1 comic, to be provided free to all full-price attendees at the inaugural Wizard World Comic Con Indianapolis, February 13-15. Skybound’s The Walking Dead created by Kirkman, the groundbreaking, Eisner Award winning comic book series, continues to captivate audiences worldwide.

The exclusive "The Walking Dead" #1 edition will be produced in extremely limited quantities and is available at registration to fans at the Indianapolis Convention Center only while supplies last. VIP attendees will receive an additional black & white sketch version of the comic.

A hugely popular Wizard World guest, Golden has penciled everything from Batman to Captain America to Vampirella. If a fan brings up a character, Golden has probably worked on it at some point in his career. And his ‘Storytelling’ panel is not to be missed by aspiring artists, or those who just want a little more insight into this iconic artist’s work.

“Michael has been a fixture at Wizard World Comic Cons as one of our most prominent artists,” says John Macaluso, Wizard World CEO. “This cover reflects the amazing, colorful art that has been his trademark.”


Michael will be at the show all three days to sign books and take sketch requests. (Fees do apply.)

The artists for future books will be announced as they are selected. A similar series in 2013 featuring exclusives of The Walking Dead #1 proved to be wildly popular with fans. The full schedule of 2015 Wizard World shows is available at www.wizd.me/PRSchedule2015.



"The Walking Dead" #1 variant cover by Michael Golden, 2013
And in fact, this is the second time that Michael Golden has put pen to paper to collaborate with this popular franchise. His variant on "Walking Dead" #1 in 2013 was one of the highlights of the series, and one of the hardest issues to find. He is often sought out at shows to sketch likenesses of the main characters from the TV series, many of whom will be in attendance in Indianapolis as well.

Stars of “The Walking Dead” TV series scheduled to attend Wizard World Comic Con Indianapolis include Michael Cudlitz (“Sgt. Abraham Ford”), Emily Kinney (“Beth Greene”), Sonequa Martin-Green (“Sasha”), Michael Rooker (“Merle Dixon”) and Andrew J. West (“Gareth”). Other top celebrities on hand include William Shatner (“Star Trek,” “Boston Legal”), Liam McIntyre (“Spartacus: War of the Damned,” “The Legend of Hercules”), Katie Cassidy (“Arrow,” “Gossip Girl”), WWE® Divas The Bella Twins™, James & Oliver Phelps (Harry Potter) and many others.

In addition to Golden, Artist Alley in Indianapolis will feature John Tyler Christopher (“Amazing Spider-Man,” “Avenger”), Neal Adams (“Batman,” “X-Men”), James O’Barr (“The Crow”), Dr. Travis Langley (“Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight”), Renee Witterstaetter (“She Hulk,” “Avengers”), Troy Brownfield (“Grimm Fairy Tales”), Jeremiah Lambert (“Transformers,” “Tonka Truck”), C.S. Marks (“Elfhunter,” “Ravenshade”), Arthur Suydam (“Marvel Zombies,” “Army of Darkness”) and more.

Wizard World Comic Con events bring together thousands of fans of all ages to celebrate the best in pop-fi, pop culture, movies, graphic novels, cosplay, comics, television, sci-fi, toys, video gaming, gaming, original art, collectibles, contests and more. Wizard World Comic Con Indianapolis show hours are Friday, February 13, 3-8 p.m.; Saturday, February 14, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday, February 15, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

For more on the 2015 Wizard World Comic Con Indianapolis, visit http://wizd.me/IndianapolisPR.

For more information on artist Michael Golden, contact his agent at:  evaink@aol.com

(Partially taken from: www.wizardworld.com) 

A look at the line art for the new Michael Golden "Walking Dead" variant.
Below, after the artists color treatment on the piece, sans logo.



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Michael Golden Meets The Trail Blazers! (A Comic Con Night to Remember)

Portland Trail Blazers Poster by Michael Golden

Portland, OR-- Call it a little “February” Madness, but with the Wizard Portland Comic Con approaching like a full court press, the area's leading pop culture show isn’t letting any lead up time idle, tapping slam dunk artist Michael Golden (“Fantastic Four,” “Deadpool”) as the shooter creating an amazing art piece featuring five of the Portland Trail Blazers most recognizable players. 

This combination of the all star talent turned into a great promotion for both Wizard and the Trail Blazers, with 20,000 copies of the Golden poster printed and  given to all attendees of the Miami Heat vs. Portland Trail Blazers game Thursday 1/8/15!

The five players  dominating the Portland skyline on the print are: Holding the W-Nicolas Batum; Holding the moon-Wesley Matthews; Holding Rip City- Robin Lopez; Holding the Earth- LaMarcus Aldridge; Holding Trail Blazers-Damian Lillard.

It was all part of Comic Con Night at the Trail Blazers game, as professional cosplayers were roaming the stands and cheering the Trail Blazers on with the fans, as they went on to beat the Heat 99-83.

But the shot clock hasn’t timed out on the fun!


"Wallking Dead" cover by Golden.
Artist Michael Golden.
 Along with the artist of this exclusive piece, Michael Golden— who will be at the Wizard Portland show to sign the poster for those 20K fans who received one—all those attending Wizard Portland Comic Con can meet a variety of amazing talent, including Punisher artist Mike Zeck,  wrtier /editor Renee Witterstaetter (of “She-Hulk” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” comics), actors such as  Stephen Amell from “Arrow,” Bruce Campbell from “Evil Dead,” and a number of “The Walking Dead” cast members including  Michael Rooker (also in the film, “Guardians of the Galaxy”).

In addition, fans can also meet some of the Trail Blazers at Wizard World Comic Con Portland. And again, get those posters signed!

Now that’s  a scoring opportunity!

The show takes place January 23-25. For more details visit:   http://www.wizardworld.com/portland.html

And for more details on Michael Golden and Mike Zeck, contact  evaink@aol.com.



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Interview with Comicbook.com, October-- 2014


A recent Interview at one of the Wizard Shows, featured here. Thanks to Jerry Milani for setting it up. --R. 

Link to Original Post:  http://comicbook.com/2014/10/29/interview-with-author-and-editor-renee-witterstaetter/

Interview with Author And Editor Renee Witterstaetter



Renee Witterstaetter is the author of Excess: The Art of Michael Golden,  the critically acclaimed Nick Cardy: The Artist at War, Dying for Action: The Life and Films of Jackie Chan, Kerry and the Scary Things, Nick Cardy: Wit-Lash, and many more. More recent projects include James O’Barr: Uncoffined and Michael Golden: Dangerous Curves.

Witterstaetter began the comic phase of her career working on titles such as Superman, Silver Surfer, Conan the Barbarian and Conan Saga, and then went on to spearhead the reintroduction of She-Hulk at Marvel. She then moved on to Topps Comics, where she was the editor on X-Files, Jurassic Park, Xena and Hercules, and was the co-creator—with artist Michael Golden-- of the Spartan X.
In addition, Witterstaetter has worked as the colorist on hundreds of comics from the Avengers to Spider-man to Captain America, and many, many more. She then went on to work on music videos for Madonna, Seal, Ben Harper and Usher, as well as the feature movies Crime Story, Rush Hour Two, Red Dragon, and among others.

A member of the Society of Illustrators in Manhattan, in addition to on-going film work, she is the President of Little Eva Ink Publishing and Little Eva Ink Toys. Witterstaetter is also currently working in artist management via Eva Ink Artist Group, and is the co-producer of the DVD series highlighting creatives in many fields.

While appearing at Wizard World, Witterstaetter took the time to answer a few questions.

 

Describe your introductory experience to the world of comics.

I like to joke that it started when I discovered some old Jerry Lewis and Spider-man comics and "Mad Magazines" in my brother's bedroom when I was 7 or so.
But in reality, it was one of these situations where one door opens and you decide if you will walk through it or not. That one decision can, and often does, decide the course of your whole life.
I became interested in Journalism while I was in Junior High School, when my brother Robbie took me to one of his High School Journalism parties, trying to recruit I suppose. I was already the editor of my Jr. High newspaper, and was already producing slide show documentaries-- most often relating to history.

The one I was most proud of in Jr. High was on World War II, documenting the whole conflict on slides, timed and accompanied by a cassette tape recording. The nice German lady who helped me with the voiceover recording had actually been a concentration camp survivor. I won an award for that.

But basically, what I'm trying to say is that I was interested in storytelling-- all forms of storytelling-- from an early age. And art is storytelling.

I was the kid that would sneak out of bed every night to watch the Midnight Movie (we only had three channels), while my parents were asleep. So that was my film education, and I saw everything. I think that my Dad thought it was funny. I'd often stay awake until the channel went off the air after the movie, by showing a huge picture of the American Flag and playing "The Star Spangled Banner." Dad was a postman--back when that was a wonderful job--and would wake up early at 4 am to go to work, turn off the TV and put me to bed.

So, starting off that way, being a shy kid-- you tend to spend alot of time in your head using your imagination. Drawing as a kid, reading all the books in the library subject by subject, eventually finding an outlet for creativity in the Jr. High newspaper, continuing with editing my High School newspaper, then my college newspaper and art magazine... I think my path was laid to be involved in storytelling in one manner or another.

What influences have shaped your work as a writer, editor or colorist?

All the experiences in my life really. I spent many years as a colorist, but now I am mostly a writer and editor. But when I was doing alot of color art, my color influences were people like Maxfield Parrish. I love his work and how he creates a sense of place with his color palette. Writers that I love are people like Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. Modern writers-- I enjoy the humor of Carl Hiassen. I run all over the place with my reading tastes. I don't stick with one genre. But I believe I find my most inspiration just in my life and people around me.

I was lucky enough to have some very wonderful people helping me learn along the way--they shaped me-- Craig Anderson, my first boss at Marvel, followed by Spider-man editor, Jim Salicrup and Vice Editor in Chief, Mark Gruenwald. Marvel during that time period was a very creative place and a great home. They were my influences. They taught me about being an editor-- what all these people taught me--being an editor requires you to think creativity if you are going to be good at it. Think on your feet. And I believe it's imperative to have a good artistic eye yourself. At any given time, I'd have 6-9 books a month or more to get out. Considering that you have 5-7 creatives on each of those titles, that's alot of working with various personalities and addressing various needs to keep things running smoothly.

Working in movies--which I did after my years as a comic book editor-- seemed to be the same thing to me, and not much different than being a comic book editor. Organization, organization, organization.

How did you “break in” to the industry?

While I was in college at East Texas State University, some of my friends from Texarkana told me they were going to a convention in Dallas, Texas called the Dallas Fantasy Faire--- one of the premier shows of the time--and asked me if I wanted to go. So we loaded up the truck and drove to Big D. I had an amazing time talking to writers, artists and other creative types, and met friends at that show that have remained my friends until the present.

In fact, my first job out of college ended up being as the "Girl Friday" for the Dallas Fantasy Faire working with the owner, the late Larry Lankford. I think my official title was "Assistant Convention Coordinator" or something like that. But it entailed everything from making phone calls to acting as a guest liaison, to taking and developing photographs, writing press release and articles. Laying out the program books. You name it. Whatever needed to be done.

From that experience I met many people in the comic book industry and landed a job as an assistant editor at DC Comics on the Superman books with editor Mike Carlin. Carlin taught me a great deal about comics storytelling and putting together a comic book, and I'll always be grateful to him for that.



From there, I moved over to Marvel Comics for five years, starting out as the assistant editor for Craig Anderson on the Silver Surfer books. I was the editor on "Conan Saga" then too, and assistant editor for "Savage Sword of Conan." Soon, I became a full editor, and had my own line of books, including "She-Hulk," "What The?" "The Impossible Man Summer Special," "The Marvel Holiday Special," and numerous others.

When my friend ,and one of my mentors, Jim Salicrup, became the head at Topps Comics. I joined him there for 5 years, editing such books as "Xena," "Hercules," "Jurassic Park," "Jason Vs. Leatherface," and I can't remember how many other books. It was a fun time.

After this run of comic jobs, I worked exclusively in film for five years, on such movies as "Rush Hour II," "Red Dragon," "To Ease the Lose," and dozens of music videos for talents like Madonna, Seal, Usher, and of course too many commercials to count.

The funny thing about all my various jobs, be it working at a small newspaper, doing PR for a convention, editing comics or working in film, the attention to detail, and the eye for storytelling and graphics--the skill set required was the same. My skill set served me well at each of these jobs, I think. It's about adaptability, I suppose.

I've been an agent, in addition to everything else, since 2003, when an artist friend of mine asked me to start repping him because of my knowledge of comics (I was working exclusively in film production in LA at the time, so comics sort of "pulled me back in.") And again, I'm using all those same skills I used as a comics editor or a crew member.

Are there any current trends that have changed your outlook of making art?

I don't tend to follow trends with my writing. I like to write things that I myself would be interested in reading. That's how my book "Nick Cardy: The Artist at War," came about.  I was visiting Nick in Florida and he brought out all these sketches that he'd done during World War II. Now, it you don't know who Nick Cardy is, he set the standard for cover design at DC Comics for decades. This was art of his, that nobody had ever seen! And of such historical significance. I immeditalty decided that we needed to write a book. Nick said "Renee, do you think anyone would want to read it? I said, "Nick, if I want to read it, others will to."  It sold extremely well, and the UK edition has just been released from Titan Books. Nick passed away last year, so I'm so happy you got to see this before he died.

How does an idea for a piece begin? What are the steps to your creative process?

In my writing process, the ideas are easy to come by. I stumble on them-- just like the idea for the Cardy book. The trick is recognizes that what you tripped over could be something. Then, it's finding the time to do them all. I have 4 books I want to work on right now. The first thing you have to do, is write down your ideas. You think you'll remember them, but I'm here to tell you, you don't always do that. Ideas slip through your fingers like water.  So, write them down.  Then the research phase begins, and that requires alot of note taking. I still use index cards to write down all the details and organize the thoughts and facts into chapters and groups after compiling everything. Then, your prose is the glue.

 

What projects are you currently working on?

My newest books are "Michael Golden: Dangerous Curves" and "Mark Texeira: Tempest." Two art books that have just hit store shelves this  month. Michael Golden is a renowned illustrator and storyteller and his work is just amazing. This is a look at some of his key pieces over the last few years.  I am also working on a deluxe package of the aforementioned book "Nick Cardy: The Artist at War," to commemorate our friend Mr. Cardy.

Are there any mistakes that you frequently see other creatives making? If so, what are those mistakes and how do you think they can be avoided?

Oh sure. All the time. But I'm making mistakes too, so it's better for me to focus on my own work and improve what I'm doing. Hopefully we all become smarter as time goes on.

What are your favorite characters you like to depict, and why?

I have an idea for a detective series that I'm itching to write. I can't tell too much about it, but it's a combination of things and people I love from history, and putting a fantasy aspect to it all. If I have to spend alot of time with the characters I'm making into flesh and blood, they might as well be characters I like.  Of course you have to throw in a few you don't like so much as well, to stir the pot.

What kind of stories are you looking to tell through your work?

Oh Gosh! That's hard to say. I've worked on so many things I love. I feel I've been very lucky to live a life where I can work on projects, be creative and say one day, "Ya know, I'd like to write this book," or "I'd like to produce this toy," and then I find a way to make it so.
Every project I'm currently working on is my favorite project and is a story I want to tell.

I'd have to say for me though that some of my favorite books have been about people I care about-- "Dying for Action: The Life and Films of Jackie Chan," and our comic book series "Spartan X," inspired by Hong Kong movies, for one.

I have also loved learning about the subjects of my art books-- Michael Golden,  Nick Cardy, James O'Barr....finding out what makes them do what they do, and how they do it. That is my journalistic background coming into play.

In my film work, I have enjoyed being a part of every movie I've worked on, and contributing to those stories becoming solid. It is this bizarre reality where you live, eat, sleep to make a movie for six months, and the people you are working with become your surrogate families for that unique time. When the movie wraps, you almost feel like you are going through some time of mourning or withdrawal. The first morning you don't have to get up at 4 am and go to work for 20 hours, you don't know what to do with yourself!

I was lucky enough to work with some fantastic crews, with directors like Brett Ratner, and AD's like Jamie Freitag-- a few bad ones too. When those productions end, you can't WAIT to get away. :-) You are almost ready to chew your arm off to do so! But lucky most production jobs are not that way.
Of all my movie experiences tough, I think I loved working with Jackie on "Rush Hour II" and Anthony Hopkins on "Red Dragon." You remember the ones who are class acts, and I knew Jackie long before I worked with him on that movie.

So, what stories am I wanting to tell? New ones are always popping up and can come from any or all of these experiences and often do.




Are there any characters or stories you're dying to do?

"Kerry and the Scary Things," is a children's book that I developed with my friend and talented artist Keith Wilson, many years ago. Probably over 2 decades ago. It had a long and winding road to being published-- i.e. picked up by two companies that then went out of business. And Keith and I got a little frustrated to see many of the ideas we had for the book, starting to be mirrored in other pop culture projects and movies. So, we felt we really needed to get out our book and introduce it to the world. So we did.

Kerry, our hero, is a little boy who loves monsters. So, he puts together a monster fighting backpack in case he ever meets any, with all the things he'll need in order to fight them. In the course of the book, you'll see if he actually does meet any monsters, how he deals with them if he does, and what he has in his bag of tricks. It's really a story about kids using their imaginations.

I think we've lost a lot of that--kids have toys or video games that play "for them," and it's important to not forget to foster creativity.

There are several sequels planned. The next, which also was written many years ago is "Kerry and the Dreadful Dragon."

My intent is to pursue animation with these properties as well.

What future projects are you currently working on?

I'm waiting for the next door to open. And it will. More comics, more books, more movie work, more writing. More fun.

I have a few other books I can't announce yet, but I think they will be fantastic to bring to life. And a few more documentary projects a well.

In the world of comic books, what liberties and restrictions do you observer?

I often have folks asked me if it's been a disadvantage--or been restrictive-- being a women in comics. Well, I never had a problem with it, and I actually never even think about being at a disadvantage or being restricted. I like being a woman. And, I have always tried to go out and make my own opportunities. Granted, however, it's true there were not that many women in the comic book industry when I first started. I can probably count with one hand the women that I knew that were working in the industry. But remember, you didn't really have very many women even going to conventions at that time either.

As far as working in the industry, me personally, I was given so many opportunities: to be an editor, to learn and to work with some amazing people. If I did have a bad story or two, I probably wouldn't tell it. No need.

All my bosses in comics were men. (Conversely, working in film, most of my bosses were woman.) In comics, Mike Carlin taught me a great deal about putting together comic books when I started at DC comics as a green assistant editor on the "Superman" books. And from there my friend and mentor Jim Salicrup at Marvel comics was a great teacher, he was the "Spider-man" editor and later my boss at Topps; my immediate boss, Craig Anderson on the "Silver Surfer" books at Marvel was amazing; and another one of the best bosses I ever had was Mark Gruenwald at Marvel, who really took everybody--all the assistants--under his wing and taught us all his passion for putting together comic books. By that time there were a lot more women in the industry.  I never felt like I was ever being discriminated against, and I was also given plenty of opportunities to do female oriented books. I was the editor on She-Hulk for a long time. Xena later, etc.

Now the field has changed so much! SO many women in the industry now as compared to years ago.
As far as liberties? Well we have an amazing life. I love my work. It makes me happy and I look forward to doing whatever I'm doing every day. I travel with creative people. I make books and stories and events happen. I feel blessed. There's nothing, for me, like working in a creative industry. That's a gift.

And with the internet and digtial publishing, the field is wide open. There are so many avenues now for folks to get their stories out there. It's wonderful.

Any advice you'd like to offer for up-and-coming creators?

Sure: Breathe. Dance more. Laugh often. And take notes.