Screaming Spotlight On: JOHN SOWDER

We seem to be on a roll here with Screaming Spotlight. A few weeks ago, I interviewed the writer Jeremy C. Shipp, and this weekend, I have a few words with up-and-coming comic book artist, John Sowder.

I thought I’d give you some background on Mr. Sowder. They say that the Internet is an evil thing and MySpace is a waste of time, but I’ve met some very good friends on MySpace since I joined a few years back, and John is one of them. We first met on some message boards, a long time ago, and we’ve had to a chance to watch each other’s careers over the past few years.

After talking about doing a possible project together for years, it looks like it might finally happen. John and I have started work on a comic book storyline called FLESH MAGUS, which deals with supernatural beings and earlthy intrigue. It’s just in the beginning stages, but I’ve been pretty psyched about working with John, and I really hope this blossoms into something big.

In the meantime, John seems to be having some success with his comic book art. His art in the comic MIDNIGHT WARRIORS ANNUAL # 1 comes out soon from DIVINE AUTHORITY COMICS. And I figured this might be a good time time sit down with him and give you all a chance to meet him.

And now, without further delay, here’s my little chat with JOHN SOWDER:

LL SOARES: So how long have you been drawing? Give us a list of credits of stuff you’ve got out there.

JOHN SOWDER: My mother taught me to draw when I was old enough to hold a pencil.  My first published work was for a small press magazine called NIGHTSIDE in 1991.  My first comic work was for PC Comic’s RIPLASH in 1996.  I don’t even have a copy of that one.  More recently I had a comic story called ‘When You’re Different‘ published in SLAMBANG ANTHOLOGY COMICS.  My story ‘Down Where It’s Cool’ appears in one of the early issues of Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc’s TWISTED DREAMS magazine.  My art can be seen in the forthcoming MIDNIGHT WARRIORS ANNUAL # 1 from Divine Authority Comics.

LS:  I hear you’re a filmmaker as well?

JS: I made a few short movies that played at a few film festivals.  I also worked behind the scenes with some local digital filmmakers.

I wrote the script for a four minute short called “Man in the Basement” that got me listed on IMDB.  The director didn’t like the script format I used and rewrote it so I only got credit as story writter.  It’s a bit of a campy EC Comics-type  tale.  Really like how it turned out.

LS:  So how did working with Divine Authority come about?

JS:  I found their website and was really impressed that they were just a couple of folks who were doing comics for the love of it.  I showed publisher Mark McCracken some of my art and he asked me if I was up for doing work for them.

LS: Tell us a bit about your comics series PENUMBRA. How it came about. How many parts will it be in? Are there any plans to collect it in one volume somewhere down the line?

JS:  Originally Penumbra was going to appear as a comic strip for a magazine called “New Pulp Gallery” that was never published.  It’s basically about a girl who discovers that she’s the offspring of an otherworldly creature and her very existence threatens humanity.  The story is scheduled to appear in the comic Divine Authority Presents issues 1-4.  There are no plans to collect all stories in one volume and there are no current plans to expand the story beyond the fourth part, although that’s a possibility.

LS: Do you want to discuss Flesh Magus at all?

JS: Flesh Magus is still in the very early stages, but I think it features some of the best artwork I’ve ever done.  There’s alot of interesting visual ideas I want to explore with some of the characters and the settings.  It’s something I’m pretty excited about.

LS:  You draw, write and make movies. Who were your influences growing up? Who are your favorite writers and artists now?

JS: I grew up reading (Bernie) Wrightson, (Jack) Kirby, (Steve) Gerber and (Mike) Ploog comics. I also had a stack of Warren magazines.

My introduction to the horror genre came from a horror host show that aired on Channel 2 from Detroit called “Sir Graves Ghastly.” Lawson Denning dressed as the vampire Sir Graves and showed some classic and not-so classic films.

Another show I loved was the Channel 7 “4:30 Movie.”  This was a syndicated show that featured a theme week.  During ‘Ape Week’ they would show PLANET OF THE APES films, during ‘Monster Week’ they would show Godzilla and Gamera movies.  That really fired my imagination.

I started out reading Lovecraft, Bradbury,King and alot of weird or pulp fiction in general. Right now I’m beginning to read Douglas Clegg and a bit of (Carlton) Mellick.

LS:  Obviously, you work on a very visual level. Did any movies influence you as an artist?

JS:  Yeah.  Whenever I’m working on a black and white book I want it to have a noir look to it.  I draw influence from cinematographer John Alton as well as older horror or crime movies.

LS:  How can people find out more about you (website, where to get Divine Authority comics, etc.)?

JS:  www.divineauthoritycomics.com gives you an update on when Divine Authority Comics will be out and features a gallery of artwork.  You can check out Vincent Ferrante’s comics at www.monarchcomicslair.com

(PART 2 OF THIS INTERVIEW WILL BE POSTED TOMORROW)

 

 

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