Next on Gallery America.
It's the comic book show.
We meet Oklahoma Comic book creators and find out why this is the time to pick up an Oklahoma comic.
I'm Robert Reid and welcome to the Gallery America Comic Book Show.
Now, if you're like me, probably read comics as a kid.
I remember going to the newsstands and picking up a couple for 25, $0.35 and going home and reading and reading and rereading them.
Today, comic books is a thriving community here in Oklahoma.
There are hundreds of comic book creators, and dozens are being published on the web and in print.
Like it this place, the Global Universal headquarters of Oklahoma Comics.
We're going in to find out what makes a great comic.
So we started Literati Press as a platform for Oklahoma creators to be able to tell their stories, get their word out there, but mostly start representing the types of voices you don't expect to hear from Oklahoma.
So Literati Press started and it was me, you know, sitting out in my bedroom, you know, making our first comics just on like copy paper.
And over time, we built this reputation and as a company that we could just get projects done.
And that's what led Natasha to reach out to us.
And she brought Heathen feminist Viking tale.
It ended up being a global sensation.
You know, we're doing the same thing that, you know, Marvel DC image are doing are working on the same tools.
It's really exciting!
comics is a very, very, very difficult art form.
It's a very difficult art form.
Even a 22 page comic is still hundreds of individual art pieces, and each one of those has to be compelling and has to advance the story.
It has to be clear, and it also has to be entertaining.
But as we expanded literary press.
we grew bigger and bigger and bigger.
We came to a point where it couldn't just be me anymore.
*indistinct Chatter * Jorian is one of the print techs that works for works in the back, and she has a tremendous ability to create art that looks like it's taken her days to come up with and just being able to do at the drop of a hat.
A common comic set up is like three sort of “dun dun dun ”t compositionally.
So the rule of thirds, the composition, I feel, is a very important part of comics because comics are visual media.
And so you need to visually understand what's happening.
*indistinct chatter * We meet every couple of weeks and whenever a new project comes in regardless of who it is, even if it's one of mine, it comes to the council.
Everybody sits down, looks at the comic together, reads it, and then we discuss, argues myself.
How does it fit our esthetic?
Is the illustration where it needs to be as a storytelling, where it needs to be?
If not, is it salvageable ?
*indistinct * And at the end there's an up or down vote.
*indistinct chatter * We sometimes that works in your favor.
Sometimes it doesnt.
Jerry Bennett it is probably maybe the most renowned comic book illustrator in Oklahoma right now.
Charles and I had collaborated on a few short stories, and I've always loved his sense of humor.
I've loved him as a person, I've loved his scripts, the script writing form.
And so and he always said, if I ever wanted to work with him on stuff, that I could easily just approach him.
So I so I did.
And he liked the idea and then he just ran off with it and created these amazing scripts.
So Glamerellas daughter is a it's been a passion project, honestly.
It's a comic book about a young, bright, genius girl on the autism spectrum whose mom is the defender of our earth.
And we always do tease about the idea of Netflix picking up Glamerellas daughter.
You know, you never know.
But even even if it never happens, it doesn't matter because like we have, you know, we are fulfilled.
We know we are we feel complete, that we have this comic in the world, this story in the world, and that we've touched so many lives with it.
You know, the next horizon for comics in Oklahoma is making the link with the Oklahoma's thriving film industry, where IP is created entirely inside Oklahoma.
And I think that's the next thing.
And, you know, somebody smarter is just going to have to come along and do it until that happens, you know, we're just going to be here doing everything we can just to keep the fire burning.
You can get more information on Literati Press at their website Literati Press okay dot com and on Sundays they have ink and draw where you can meet artists like Jorian whom you just met and create your own comic creations.
I realized I need to learn where comic books came from.
That's why I thought, I mean, you, Mr. Buck Berlin, high expert of comic books from New World Comics in Oklahoma City.
Can you give me a crash course?
You're going to start off back in early New York just as everyone's coming over from Ellis Island.
A century ago, immigrants to New York were having trouble finding work, but they had brought along printing presses and had a unique idea.
What they ended up doing was taking content that was already produced, like the Sunday funnies and binding those into their own collections.
You get an adventure, you get superheroes, you get Westerns, romance, all that stuff.
After World War Two, comics got more and more violent and eventually faced backlash from parents and the government.
But Marvel's Stan Lee had a revelation.
And we thought, Well, what's the fan base?
So then he made Spider-Man, who had real teenage problems, had trouble talking to girls, had acne, had.
Not Superman kind of.
Superman kind of stuff.
The 1970s saw comics get more grown up, and then international styles like Japanese manga brought new cinematic ideas to artists.
Eventually, a new rock star was born Image Comics.
And it was truly the first independent comic company where everyone could be their own star.
They're the guys who did Walking Dead.
Well, thank you so much.
I feel like I've just gone through 100 years of comic book history and a few seconds.
We actually talked with a manga artist in Broken Arrow, an artist from Oklahoma went to Japan to learn the art of manga.
*Speaking in japanese * you missed.
Bus is from Japan.
He's my he's my little companion.
He's been keeping me company for almost 13 years.
Can't do tricks the way we used to.
I still love you.
Manga is just the Japanese name for comics in Japan.
Everybody reads manga comics for girls, comics for boys, comics for adults, comics for teens.
Anything that you have an interest in, they're going to have a long go for it.
This is my all time favorite manga, Ranma one half.
So the very first one I ever read and the fact that it was a woman who was writing for boys and martial arts story, that's what I really wanted to do from that point from maybe when I was 16 onward.
So I went to Japan, maybe I went to manga school and graduate with honors.
I was an assistant illustrator to a guy that di adult manga and I somehow fell into a group of heavy metal rockers from the eighties.
I was the vocalist because they thought it was awesome to have like an exotic singer.
Because I was exotic over there.
But I ended up staying there for 16 years.
If i have to be 100% honest.
I didn't want to come back.
I was very, very happy where I.
Was and I thought I was going to die there.
My name is Brooke, but I go by the name Ogawa Burukku When I'm doing comics or manga as that's what I went by in Japan.
Ogawa just means like a small river, so it's pretty much just Ogawa Burukku.
Brooke So a lot of thought went into it.
Fallen is it's like a magical girl story where these girls get magical abilities to fight monsters and stuff, but I was a bit of a tomboy and I just kind of wanted to see a person closer to me being the main character.
But now people are reading things digitally, and now there is no real reason for me to do black and white.
So to kind of keep up with what what's common in America, I decided I was going to do my comic in color.
I'll do kind of like block colors, just like you would see, like on a cartoon on TV or something full old fashioned.
I'm old for this industry.
Well, I came back because I got a divorce.
I, in 2018, took a big hiatus from my work because I gave birth to my little girl and I love her to death, my second husband.
So this photo of him, he's been very supportive.
I'm having to kind of rebuild.
Like I say, it's a life reboot coming back here, but it worked out.
It's given me a lot, giving me it's a good outlet for me, a creative outlet.
I've met I've met some amazing people.
I hope I'm able to raise my daughter and and have her eventually look at my work and go, Oh, my mom did this awesome.
We're in Pawnee, baby, tracing the roots of an early Oklahoma comic about a famous detective who always wore a yellow jacket, Dick Tracy.
And this museum right here is the Dick Tracy headquarters.
Let's check it out.
Hello, I'm Robert Reid.
Robert, Bill Pope.
Welcome to Pawnee and to the only brick and mortar Dick Tracy Museum in the world.
The Pawnee County Historical Society has this Dick Tracy exhibit because its creator, Chester Gould, hailed from Pawnee Collection, includes all comic strips that began in the 1930s and lots of Dick Tracy gear.
The big question I've had and all of Oklahoma wants to know why do you always wear a yellow jacket?
What's the deal with yellow?
To tell you the truth, I don't know.
Maybe it's just because everything looks so good in yellow.
Next, we're meeting another superhero made by an O.U.
Student now who spent extra time he had during quarantine fulfilling a lifelong dream to create a comic book from a superhero named Shape Man that he created when he was a kid.
Have a look.
For me to be.
I just like to be surrounded by things that inspire me.
It's a poster of John Carpenter's The thing from, I think, 1982.
Down here is my Dungeons and Dragons minis.
And we play every Friday and Sunday.
So the cover that I like the most is probably this one, the I'm a sucker for like the big looming figures on the covers.
It's like a guy with, like, two hands and he's like.
Like that over a, like a hero who's, like, helpless like this.
As for, like, my most valuable comic book, I keep them all in this Iron Man box over here.
This is my money box.
There is this one that is Avengers 57, the first appearance of Vision.
So I grew up in, like the peak of the Marvel movies, you know?
And I think me being into comic books and things like that sort of stemmed from that interest.
Shapeman is a character.
He's one that I originally created in middle school.
My parents will say that when I was like four or five years old, I would run around the house with a cape on calling myself Shape Man.
It was actually kind of a result of COVID because being inside all day kind of gave me the opportunity to try things I hadn't tried before, which got me into art, which eventually led to comic books.
So once I started being interested in pursuing making comic books, he was the first one I thought of.
He's a shapeshifting alien.
He crash lands on Earth from outer space.
He kind of has to find out his identity in this new world that he's landed in.
And then eventually he meets Hazel, who is a little Chickasaw girl.
That's when he decides, okay, maybe I would like to be a human.
He falls in love with humanity and wants to do what he can to protect it.
It takes a lot of inspiration from those old comic books, so much that I use software to emulate, like the half tone patterns, like the dots you'll see in comic books.
Being able to hold what you spent a year working on in your hand.
Like, even if it's just 20 pages, it's, it's.
And it's such a good feeling.
I think we sold about 900 copies online.
Like, that was such a big number to me for a first comic book.
So it was a great moment.
It was it was kind of around the time when we were finishing issue one, we were getting ready to ship em out.
So I was doing a lot of movement, you know, putting the comics in the bags.
But I think that's the moment that I realized that I was having some sort of problem.
Eventually, I decided, like, this isn't going away and I can't really it's hurting to draw.
So I told my parents, I think I need to go to the doctor.
I got diagnosed with Sharps syndrome, which is basically kind of a it's a more mild mix of like arthritis and lupus, but it's manifested itself in my wrists.
I don't draw any more because of it, because it's a lot of wrist action.
So I mainly right now, which honestly kind of feels like a blessing in disguise.
The TV people are here.
Hey, I was coloring our first page.
Think it's all and everything, so.
I think this one is basically ready to go.
It looks great.
We could maybe do, like, a little more grass color around his feet down here.
Yeah, that's what I was thinking.
So Anthony is someone I met through social media.
Anthony who lives in California.
So we work very remotely.
I've never met him in person.
Those are good color choices, by the way.
We've kind of gotten into a rhythm now, and I love working with him.
fun thing about shape man is that i feel like im the vessel for you now.
And I try to make it look like something you would have done rather than what I would have done.
Yeah, it's a lot more fun.
I'll talk to you later, okay?
My favorite superhero is Doctor Strange.
His story is that he was the best brain surgeon in, like, ever or something.
But he gets in a car wreck and he damages his hands.
And so he goes looking for answers.
And then he becomes the greatest magician of all time.
And I can remember a time when I was dealing with, like, the news, kind of like coming to terms with what I was having to deal with.
So I took a walk around campus in the middle of the night.
That's when Doctor Strange popped into my head.
If I'm like, maybe I'm having a flare up or something, I just need to remember like, Hey, it's okay, you know, you're where you need to be because of this.
So just take it like Dr.
Strange is, I still have the ability to write.
I use, like, a voice recognition software.
This is a little short film.
I think deep down, I always cared more about the storytelling as opposed to the art itself.
I think it's it's the universe is like heavy handed way of telling me, hey, you should do this.
Were Back in New World Comics with Buck Berlin.
Hey, tell me, what is this wonderful place?
So this is all of my hopes and dreams.
Put into 2000 square feet of amazingness.
Back when I first started working here, the average customer was a white male between 30 and 50, and now we don't have an average customer.
It's all walks of life.
You organize Comic-Con New World.
And what is that?
It is a collection of pretty much everything that I love in the comic book business right now.
We bring local artists and vendors and creators and any kind of other talent that's in the state all together in one room.
What's your favorite comic like of all time?
Well, the favorite comic series is Fantastic Four.
And then issue number 232 is my all time favorite comic.
Hey, here we go.
Not super valuable or anything, but it just kind of exemplifies why that team is important, why they're a family.
It's everything that you would want out of a fun comic story.
Thank you so much.
Really good lesson all day about comic history at the theater.
Thanks for having me.
We are now going to Tampa to find out about an artist who was asked to save Iron Man.
And he did so well.
It became maybe you heard a movie series.
Have a look.
I've written and drawn about every comic book character imaginable in my 45 years in the business.
It'd be easier for you to try to find one characters that have it.
Most of all, I'm known for the reinvention of Iron Man.
So when I when I heard that Marvel was going to kick off their entire cinematic universe with my version of that character.
It was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life.
Another local artist who had worked and had a connection with Iron Man was Beth, who lives in Saint Pete.
Based on all the graphics of the paintings in Iron Man three, so we are actually Iron Brothers 2012.
I get a phone call just like, Hey, Robert Downey Jr wants your art in Iron Man three.
So immediately I was like, Oh, we've been collaborating on some ideas for paintings that he could do.
Based on my work, Bhasker and I had similar backgrounds and similar problems that we had to deal with.
I grew up in the Midwest, and it was it was a difficult childhood because my mother had to raise five of us alone.
I learned to read from comics.
I brought my sister Sue, to teach me how to read.
I could tell what was happening in the stories because the pictures connected one panel to another.
But I didn't know what they were saying.
And I was so curious.
Growing up in the Czech Republic, it's you know, we lived under a communist oppression.
And it was it was pretty stifling.
I'm always the outcast and I always look towards art to kind of help me through a lot of those moments.
I found that comic books were an incredible escape for me.
I started looking towards, like, art, like as a as a go to form of joy and therapy and everything, distraction, whatever it might be.
I didn't have that many friends growing up, so it was just kind of something that it's I created my own worlds, my own places where I can go.
Sources of entertainment essential thank goodness for Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four and all these other characters that kind of kept me going when I was drawing violent comic books or doing graffiti.
None of that made sense to my parents, but they were like, We're going to go all in and encouraging.
Eventually, when I got into comics, I started my career at DC and there I met David Michaelides, who was my writing partner.
I convinced him to jump ship and go back to Marvel, and they offered us three books that were in danger of cancelation, and that's how they tried out new talent.
We basically did a complete overhaul of the premise of Iron Man, and then at that particular time, the Betty Ford Clinic had just opened up and the people were talking openly about drug and alcoholism for the first time.
We wanted to give Tony an internal struggle demon in a bottle there.
There is this real world grounded element of it.
And yeah, it's like it's about a guy who is dressed up in a metal costume and he's a billionaire.
And all this, despite him having everything in the world that he wants, he still has this this albatross around his neck that he just is weighing him down and having him self-destruct from the inside.
And it occurred to us that this would be an interesting villain for Tony to have to struggle with anybody who's ever had a vice that they were struggling with or something internal.
It's like the battle of self versus self is always artist.
I was struggling with alcoholism myself, you know, 40 something years later that it was a cry for help going through my own struggles with various things very substances or drinking or partying too much.
As an adult, I got to truly appreciate how profound that was.
You know, Demon in a Bottle was Robert Downey is one of the reasons why he signed up to do Iron Man.
Sometimes the message or the what the artist is putting out there, things or thoughts or images that reflect a point in time in his life that he wants some he needs somebody to connect with that in order for a story to really resonate, the story has to come.
A conflict has come from within the character.
So it truly something that is that I connected with personally.
I saw a new way to kind of interpret the old Iron Man through Barthes imagination, how he took the turns like little course, hard drawings into fine art.
And that's that's how Joslin, the curator, brought all this together, because she figured out a way to bring comic books and fine art together in the gallery in one showing.
It was an amazing experience.
It's something that I'm going to remember always.
You know, it was taking something old out, a new door.
Thanks so much for joining Gallery, America's comic book show.
Remember, as always, you can see past episodes of Gallery America by visiting our archives at a OETA.
TV slash Gallery America.
And follow us online on Instagram at OETA Gallery and Bonus!
Gallery America has a new podcast called Oklahoma Expression about Creativity and Oklahoma.
And this new episode features a comic creator you met today.
Jerry Bennett, thanks so much for joining us.
We'll see you next time.
Stay Arty Oklahoma!