Welcome to Indie Insight, an article series where I track down rising self-publishing creators or people on the cusp of breaking through the wall, and harass them with a bunch of the geeky questions we all have on our minds. My motto is to always pay it forward; with an industry that is so crowded, sometimes it’s hard to catch the attention of the masses. So hopefully I can help project some of those smaller voices to an audience they might not have reached before. I had the pleasure of getting a hold of a creator from my old town, Eric Schock. I met him at the Phoenix Comicon this year through a mutual friend of ours, and when I was brain storming on content to bring my wonderful audience, he was first to spring forth. So follow me along this trail as we learn a little bit more about this man.
Hello Mr. Schock how are things going?
Everything is doing really good, Mr. Gacey; and Mr. Schock is my father. Eric is just fine, sir! Thanks, for having me on here. It’s really a pleasure to be doing this interview.
Fair enough, let’s get right into this! I recently started reading your Bald Avenger stories and I’m curious where the idea of the character came from, how did it all start?
That sounds good to me. The Bald Avenger started as one of those experiment characters that kind of grew into a life of his own. The idea was to dive into the psychology of a character that, in all essence, has lost the fundamentals of his life. How would someone react to not having a soul, and the overall [effect] of trying to deal with the event? In some ways it was my view about how I felt, not having the freedom to create how I felt I could. Working in the design field, going to school, and pulling crazy hours at a job that I was really unhappy at- it creates a lot of pull on someone. The Bald Avenger became my expression to vent those frustrations.
There has to be a balance. The Bald Avenger gave me that balance to do what I really wanted to do… Comics. The origins of The Bald Avenger came out of my breaking point. I remember I was out with a friend of mine, and we were at a Donut Wheel at 4am. We would go there each night for the coffee, and draw in our sketchbooks. I started [to] draw a guy in a trench coat that was bald; he had a gun in one hand and a teddy bear in the other. I left him in that sketchbook for a while; for me this sounded too crazy to have this bald guy on a hunt for a teddy bear. As I thought the concept through, I thought that the teddy bear could signify something. Could I destroy this character by taking away everything that most people took for granted, or in some they don’t even believe was there in the first place? Would he just let this happen or would he fight? With all his hopes, dreams, and ambitions gone what would he do?
I started writing a rough script that fleshed out to about a hundred or some thumbnails. With two failed attempts it was hard to make the next decision. I really wanted to put him back on the shelf and just walk away. That didn’t happen, in a way he wouldn’t let me. I felt that his story should be told, so I funded the first ASH-TRAY COMICS to tell it, and as rough as the first story in that issue was it brought him into his own light. He was officially born.
Sounds like a lot of history that went into it. So what was the thing that made you become an artist. What brought you into it?
There is a lot to take in as an artist. How I became an artist I think it had to do with Batman; the old Adam West and Super-Friends versions. I remember my folks telling me the first thing I drew was Batman in crayon on the wall. From that, it took off from there! I’d watch cartoons, and draw. I’d go outside with my friends, get bored, and draw. It just became a part of me, like breathing. I was a military kid, and we moved around a lot. Each year I’d go to my Grandparents farm in Minnesota. Before we left, my dad would grab a few comic books, and some paper and pencils. I’d read the adventure of The Flash, Spider-man, Daredevil, Batman, and Plastic man on the road trips. My aunt Cindy would be there some of the time, and she was the artist, heck, she is still the artist, and I’m just a funny book artist. She would spend time showing me how to use a pencil to create tones. I was excited to show her my progress every year. She would look them over and give me more insight on what I should do next.
I grew older and entered junior high and high school, while everybody was checkin out girls and going to parties, I was the guy that was behind the sketchbook (where I’d check out girls) and hanging out with friends; going to events/parties with a sketchbook always on me, and drawing my comics. Those stories were fun, but it was one of those things that I figured I’d grow out of, or that it was too unattainable to try.
My friend Adrian Cronin was the first writer I worked with, and still one of the best writers I’ve worked with. We would spend endless weekends writing up stories, then drawing them out. Creating stories, and if the story was going nowhere, Adrian would kill off characters. When we were around fifteen we worked at a comic shop, and we met a guy named Adam Foster. He was an artist, and pushed me to keep drawing. From there I drew even more… like every single day. That still hasn’t stopped.
After Graduation, I moved to Phoenix, went to design school, worked as a designer, came back to Tucson, moved to New Jersey where I attended THE JOE KUBERT SCHOOL, moved to Phoenix, then back to Tucson. I thought my younger years where rough. When I came back to Tucson I started Evil Robo Productions, and the rest is proverbial history.
Every time I talk to an artist who is passionate about what they do, it all starts from the moment we could pick up a pencil. It’s a great thing. I have to ask, of all the mediums out there, with fine arts, graphic design, stuff like that, what made you choose comics as your story telling medium?
Comic books are a really good form of expression, and I’ve always loved those books, so with this medium it combines all of the fields into one. That’s why I draw comics.
I know that every field has it’s bad days. The ones where it would appear our muses have left us high and dry. What keeps you drawing? What keeps you motivated during those periods of time?
The love of the comic medium, and all the great people that want to see me keep going. My friends are a really key factor in me moving past those time, and getting the work done.
What inspires you as an artist?
I’m inspired by many things, such as other artists, music, movies, life, and work. The whole world gives you inspiration; you just have to be willing to accept it.
I’ve also noticed you run your own comic production company (Evil Robo). So this goes along with the previous question, what or who inspires you business wise?
Will Eisner, and Joe Kubert. They are the masters.
Speaking of Evil Robo what made you choose self-publishing over seeking out the big publishers to release your work?
The freedom to do what I love to do, without having someone tell me I can’t. Don’t get me wrong, if a company came to me and wanted to produce our books (ASH-TRAY COMICS, EVIL ROBO PRESENTS) I’d do it in a heartbeat; as long as I could bring the other creators with me. I’d want the other creator to have the opportunity to make their comics their job. If I go, I bring my (comic) family.
That’s good to hear, loyalty is always a great thing. So many people rise to the top and forget about the people who held them up before their star rose. So I have to ask, how has Bald Avenger been recieved? What’s the audiences reaction? Better yet, I’m sure it’s crossed the paths of some big people in the industry, if so, how was that received?
The Bald Avenger has been received pretty well, I really surprised that it’s done so well. The reaction has been a positive one from the fans. They still pick it up, and that’s great, cause The Bald Avenger is just getting started. Getting the word out there is the most important thing for a small publisher, All of us at Evil Robo Productions do our best to make that happen. (Taylor, Kyle, Henry, Adam, Zip, Sasa,Tino) We keep pushing, and the public likes it.
It’s good to hear it has been getting a positive reaction. What are your plans for the bald one?
You’ll have to read them to find out, but I’m currently coming to a close for my second arc “The Bullet Proof Corset”. This story is directly linked to events that happened in the first story arc. Bob, aka The Bald Avenger is going to learn a little more about what family means to him in the upcoming months.
Sounds like the story is about to get really deep. I love when a story has some depth to it. So what are the plans for Evil Robo? More comics, shirts, a cartoon? Anything interesting going on?
Evil Robo’s plans for the future? We have a lot of them. The first is ASH-TRAY COMICS is going full color with issue ten. We are all pretty excited for this. Evil Robo will be venturing into the digital age, with online comics, which will be available to purchase/download in the next few months!
Evil Robo Presents will be launching at Tucson Comic Con this year, with a whole new set of creators. Henry Barajas will be working on EL LOCO, Kyle Stephens will be doing TRAPPED IN DECAY (with illustrations by Zip, Sasa, Taylor, Tino, and myself) ,and Santino A Castaneda will be working on his grindhouse epic called BANG.
We are still doing the Golden Age Titles in ash-can black and white format, and once we get enough of them, we will be producing them in a collection in full color on old school comic paper. It will feature Daredevil, The Black Terror, The Owl, and a few more that still need to be done. Not to mention the great talent (Zip, Taylor, Sasa, Kyle, Henry, Eric M. Esquivel and myself.) that we have on these, and future books. So keep your eyes open ’cause you might miss it.
I really like what you guys are doing with the Golden Age titles, it’s always great to see some of those old characters brought back for a new generation.What comics are you currently reading?
I read a lot of older stuff, Kirby, Eisner,Cole, Kubert, Toth, etc. But I’m a fan of The Goon and Hellboy, with a side of Miller, and Bernet. I’ve really liked The Flash, Green Lantern, Batman, All-Star Superman, in the recent years. IDW, is really putting out some stellar work with Torped, and Transformers. I read a lot to tell you the truth.
I’ll have to pick some of those up, my reading list is a little light right now. So, here we go. A fun question. Aliens show up on earth, and your’re passed out after a long night working on the comic. They seek information about our culture. What three comic books do you hand them?
Classic choices, I think those aliens would be floored by what they read in those pages. So I have to ask as an artist and creator, what character would you kill to work on?
Plastic man, or The Spirit.
Here is something I’m always curious about from creators; specifically the small press ones. What do you think of the comic medium moving digital and where do you think and hope it’s going to go?
I’m all for it! It was bound to happen, and it gets your work out to a larger audience.
What do you hope people get from your books when they read them? Is there a message or a certain feeling you’d like to get across?
I hope people will get that you have to go through hell to get to where you truly want to be in this life. Never give up on what you want in life, keep going, never stop. It’s only a teddy bear away.
I have to admit, the teddy bear aspect really has caught my attention. I’m into quirky hooks like that. Looks like I’ve come to the end of my list, so here is my final question, What can we look forward to from you and Evil Robo Productions?
More great art, more great stories, and I hope… a lot more fun.
I want to thank Eric Schock for taking the time to answer these questions. I’ve been following him on Facebook and Twitter and he’s been a working mad man, so for him to pause all of that and take the time to show myself, and ComicBooked.com some love is amazing. Later this week you can expect a review of one of his books. Which one? You’ll just have to keep your eyes open for the next Mr. Gacey article. ‘Til next time my karnie kids, keep it kreepy.