|One Screwed-Up Creator||
An interview with Kieron Dwyer, by Jon Ellis
Kieron Dwyer was born March 6, 1967, in Chicago, Illinois, to an unsuspecting world. Little did we know that his work on CAPTAIN AMERICA, LOBO, BATMAN, SUPERMAN and others would one day lead to his creator-owned title LOWEST COMIC DENOMINATOR showing us all just how funny and messed up he could be. At the age of 13, his mother married John Byrne in the year of 1980. A few months later, he moved to live with his father in L.A. Byrne remained an influence on Kieron's work, but not on Kieron personally, as they had no contact.
In 1987, after several months of submitting samples to DC and with some help from J.B., Kieron was given his first professional assignment, a fill-in issue of BATMAN, written by Mary Jo Duffy. Shortly thereafter, he was offered the CAPTAIN AMERICA monthly. He drew the comic for two years - 30 issues or so - including several months when the book was bi-weekly ("Bloodstone Hunt," later recollected as a trade paperback), as well as the 350th issue, when Steve Rogers regained the uniform from John Walker, the USAgent.
After leaving Cap, Kieron worked mostly doing fill-in issues of various series, as well as a number of limited series, including a three-issue run on DETECTIVE COMICS ("Dark Knight, Dark City", written by Peter Milligan), some fill in work for CLASSIC X-MEN, GUARDIANS OF METROPOLIS 4-parter (Newsboy Legion, written by Karl Kesel), LOBO: CONTRACT ON GAWD 4-parter (written by Alan Grant; Kieron also painted the covers), a 9-issue run on ACTION COMICS (712-714, 716-721), ELSEWORLD'S FINEST 2-parter (written by J.F. Moore), and the recent three-issue series SUPERMAN: THE DARK SIDE (Now in trade paperback form) plus lots of other stuff which fills in the gaps of the eleven or so years of Kieron's career.
PI: How much of an influence did Byrne have on your art, and what were your main influences in general?
KD: I was just getting into Byrne's art when my Mom met him at a convention in Chicago. She had brought me down there to check it out (my first convention!), and the rest, as they say, is history. I always appreciated his clear, concise way of drawing, as well as his attention to detail and his strong storytelling abilities. As I said, we had very little personal contact over the years, but I learned from his comics the same as anyone might. Other influences included some other Johns -- Romita (from reprinted Spider-Man stories in MARVEL TALES) and Buscema (the HOW TO DRAW COMICS THE MARVEL WAY book was my first real lesson in comics), as well as Jim Aparo's work on BRAVE AND THE BOLD in the '70s.
There were certainly others who influenced me without my knowing it and without my knowing their names. At the time, I was actually more interested in the characters and stories than the artists, per se. It wasn't until my early teens that I began to really appreciate the people behind the scenes. Before that, it was more a matter of wanting anything which featured Batman or Spider-Man (including the "Spidey" book from the Electric Company!). In fact, that's really how I stumbled onto Byrne's X-Men stuff: Spidey was doing a guest shot during an issue with the X-Men squaring off against Arcade, so I picked it up.
PI: So you've worked on some pretty popular characters: Captain America, Batman, Lobo, and even Superman. Who's left? Who's your dream character to someday work on?
KD: Well, I've never drawn Spider-Man, who was definitely a favorite character when I was young. I haven't paid much attention to it for years though, despite liking some of the artists, most notably John Romita, Jr. I can't quite imagine doing Spidey, though, not the least of which because I have deep reservations about working for Marvel. In the 2 years I worked for them on CAP, I never felt especially valued and DC was quick to pick up that slack and earn my allegiance. DC has always treated me very well and made me feel valued, and not just for my work.
I guess I'd like to write and draw my own Batman project, perhaps an Elseworld thing, because they tend to be a lot more fun. You can do anything you want really, without being concerned that the fans will cry for your head because you screwed up the character forever. In a business of imaginary stories, Elseworlds are Super-Imaginary. I have a few proposals in the pipeline at DC, including one or two which I would only write. I've been wanting to explore that side of things a bit more in the last few years and haven't moved on it. Now I'm going to give it a whirl. Eventually I'll write and draw something, although it may be a creator-owned kind of thing, as opposed to work-for-hire on DC's characters. John Francis Moore and I are discussing some ideas we have for original projects. Maybe DC will be interested in publishing them, or perhaps we'll approach other publishers - we're not sure at this point.
PI: Any plans on doing works that involve more painted artwork?
KD: As far as painting goes, I do intend to do more of it, especially with my alternative comic, LOWEST COMIC DENOMINATOR. The full-size issues (currently the first two issues available are mini-comics) will feature painted covers or back-covers, with B&W interiors. Also, I've painted the cover to the trade paperback collection of CAPTAIN DINGLEBERRY for my friend Rick Remender at Underhanded Comics. I'd like to do more painting and I'm looking into ways I can make that happen. The LOBO covers were a lot of fun and I'd love the opportunity to do more stuff like that. We'll see. I've made a deal with myself, though, that this year I'll do a painting a month regardless of whether there's a paying gig involved. Just to keep my chops up.
PI: What has been your favourite book to work on?
KD: Well, LCD, of course, because it's mine and I can do any damn thing I please. As far as mainstream stuff goes though, I'd have to say the SUPERMAN: THE DARK SIDE series, because those Kirby Fourth World characters kick ass, even today. It was a blast to be able to update them and play with them in a story we came up with. That's about as good as it gets with working on other peoples characters.
PI: Your proudest work?
KD: Pretty much the same answer as above. LCD is my baby. It's like that really satisfying feeling you get when you wait just long enough to take a dump so when it's done you turn around to look at it and it's like a foot long or something, you feel like, "Wow - I made that. Life is good."
PI: Your favourite characters to work on? Heroes? Villains? Mutated zoo animals?
KD: How did you find out about the zoo animals?! They never said "no", dammit!
PI: What advice would you give to all the aspiring little punks trying to break into the biz today?
PI: Have you ever dabbled or sought involvement in any other form of entertainment, i.e. movies, music, novels, etc.?
KD: I've done presentation storyboards for a feature film to star Christopher Lambert. It never got made. I am currently doing some storyboards for the BATMAN BEYOND animated series, and I have a number of top secret multimedia deals in the works. When they happen, you'll know. And, of course, there's the bidding war going on in Hollywood right now for the rights to do LCD spin-offs: TV, animation, feature films, the whole shebang. And I'm also running for lieutenant governor of California in the next election.
PI: Worst fanboy experience?
KD: I love all my fanboys. There was that one kid I had to have killed, though. He wasn't fanning fast enough.
PI: Most inspirational old school comic creator?
KD: Bob Kane, I guess. There's a guy who made the most of how little actual drawing skill he had. He basically copied all his ideas from other sources and put them together and "Woo-Hoo, lookit me, man, I'm a zillionaire!" In terms of sheer output and lasting contributions to the field, though, there's only one King, that's Jack "King" Kirby. Incredible.
PI: So how about telling all those misinformed out there just what LCD is? Congrats on the comic format edition to come out soon, by the way.
KD: LCD is LOWEST COMIC DENOMINATOR. It's hilarious, perverse, hilarious, disgusting, hilarious, juvenile, and oh, yes, did I mention it's fucking hilarious?! It's for adults only, so don't even think you can get it unless you are over 18, even though it's written to appeal to the 15-year-old in each of us! How retarded is that? It varies from most of the dirty smut comics in two very important ways: One, it is drawn well; and two, it is god-damned hilarious. Buy it or die!!! You will not regret it, I swear, unless you are old, humorless, stupid, ugly, retarded, easily offended, Christian or any combination of them. In that case you will hate it, but send me your money anyway and I will mail you a Jack T. Chick Tract, which might suit you better.
PI: Any other upcoming projects? Maybe an Arseface/Cassidy World Tour One-Shot. You know you want to do it, admit it!
KD: I'd love to do anything with Garth. He's my main man. He's done more to promote LCD than just about anyone (except me basically!). We were supposed to do a PREACHER Special with the Sex Detectives, but DC rejected his plot. I'll work with that bloody Irishman anytime, anywhere. That's a promise, and a threat! The main thing I have coming up is a new series I'm doing for Slave Labor Graphics. It's called BLACK HEART BILLY. It's the brainchild of my pal Rick Remender (co-creator/conspirator of CAPTAIN DINGLEBERRY). We're collaborating on it and it's going to be pretty damn cool, in my opinion. It's due out in March 2000. Give it a look. More to come ...
PI: Tell us more, oh wise one.
KD: BLACK HEART BILLYis an over-the-top look at modern society. It centers on a skatepunk in his early 20s who has had his head replaced with a robot head after his real head was literally knocked off at a punk show. His brain has been preserved in the robot head, but the fluids in there have sort of fermented and after prolonged exposure to pop culture and television advertising, Billy isn't all there. He goes off now and then cracks heads, quoting ad slogans in the midst of these outbursts. His victims are primarily the folks who have contributed to the moral decay in this country: fat cat businessmen, slick Silicon Valley wheeler dealers in their SUVs, talking on their cellphones, and drinking their lattes, Haight Street hippie kids begging for change, and on and on. It's going to be fun stuff to draw and a good read. We hope to tap into the skateboarding/punk scene, which no one else seems to have done.
PI: And now the name game, I say the name of a certain creator and you say whatever comes to mind. Warren Ellis.
KD: Loves LCD.
PI: Garth Ennis.
KD: Loves LCD.
PI: John Francis Moore.
KD: Loves LCD.
PI: Stan Lee.
KD: Probably wouldn't love LCD.
PI: Mike Carlin.
KD: Loves LCD but doesn't want to admit it.
PI: Jim Shooter.
KD: Has not seen LCD, to my knowledge.
PI: Will Eisner.
KD: Is old.
PI: Robert Crumb.
KD: Has too many reocrd albums of stupid old music, but is an amazing artist. Duh.
PI: Jimi Hendrix (not comic related, but hey, it's Jimi).
KD: Is dead, would have loved LCD.
PI: Chris Claremont.
KD: Writes a lot.
PI: Gorkon, the druken Pigmi with a picture of his dead dog tattooed on his ass.
KD: Is the LCD mascot.
PI: Steve Dillon.
KD: Draws PREACHER.
PI: Mark Chiarello.
KD: Bought art from me. Consumate pro. Great artist, nice guy.
The first full-size issue of LOWEST COMIC DENOMINATOR is available directly from Kieron Dwyer for $4.00 U.S. (including shipping) per copy. Send cash or make checks or money orders payable to "Kieron Dwyer," care of P.O. Box 591134, San Francisco, Ca 94159-1134. The comic will also be offered in the October PREVIEWS from Diamond for books shipping in December, so If you are too lazy to order it direct from Kieron, be sure to tell your local retailer to order several copies. LCD is already selling out in the few stores currently carrying it. You can also order through his website, www.lowestcomicdenominator.com.