Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Aris Asks Chris Eliopoulos

Chris Eliopoulos is creator of his own web strip Misery Loves Herman, long time professional letter extraordinaire and writer of the the up coming Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers (how awesome is that!) from Marvel in May 2009.

1. Where would the world be without the Greeks?

Without democracy amongst a million other things. :)

2. My last name is Iliopoulos, similar, are we related?

Could be.

3. Lets start out with Pet Avengers (because it's awesome!), how did you come up with the concept?

My editor at Marvel said he wanted me to come up with a book about Lockjaw and a bunch of other animals. I picked out which animals I wanted to use and got to work.

4. When you pitched it, did any one look at you strange?

I think there were a few up at Marvel who wondered if I lost my mind, but enough thought it was fun and an interesting take of the Marvel U.

5. How did you pick your team? Is Lockjaw actually the leader?

Lockjaw sets this book in motion and he and Frog Thor co-lead. I really went through the list of all the Marvel animals and picked out which ones I thought were cool or might play well off each other.

6. Can you tell us anything about the series that haven't been addressed in the solicits?

I can't say too much, but I will say that a character may die.

7. Anything else out there from Marvel that has you doing writing duty?

I just finished writing the framing sequences for the Marvel Assistant Editor's book and I still write and draw Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius 4 times a year.

8. When did you start reading comics?

I mostly read comic strips, never really read comic books except Richie Rich, Casper, etc. as a kid. Never got into the super hero books much.

9. Right now what are some titles you are really enjoying?

Honestly, I have so little time, I don't really keep up on anything.
Usually I'll find stuff at the bookstores and buy collections. Also really enjoying webcomics now.

10. Now that you are writing are there any artists or projects you are dying to get your hands on?

I tend to lean toward non-mainstrean (superhero) books. I like doing these fringe books, so I just keep trying to come up with new things in the Marvel U to play with.

11. How did you get into Lettering?

I got an internship at Marvel in college, was hired when I graduated and one of my friends taught me how to letter. I had studied type and graphic design, so it seemed a natural fit. I moved into the lettering department and a few years later I went freelance and have been ever since.

12. You created the fonts Marvel uses digitally now, can you explain what that means?

All the fonts anyone uses on a computer were created using a font-creation program like Fontographer. I've made a large amount that look like hand lettering and sound effects. Me and the people who work for me use them to letter the Marvel comics you know and love.

13. For a split second, when you were doing that, were you worried you would be out of work?

Well, I created the fonts for myself and my team. Marvel has licensed a few of them, but I've had a very good relation with Marvel and they have always done well by me. So, I don't think I was worried much.

14. With the increased use of digital media for lettering, inking, coloring and effects do you think any of the craft or artistry is being lost in comics?

Nope. I just think they are new tools. It's the people who use them and how they use them that make the difference. Just like computer animation is only as good as the people making the films, some people can do great work in comics on the computer and others can just be bad. It's the people, not the tools.

15. Why do you think Larsen wanted you to letter Dragon so long the traditional way?

He loves the traditional way. It's his right as a creator to do what he wants on his book. Just like on my webcomic, I letter it by hand, draw in brush and ink and do my Marvel work on the computer. On my work, I can do what makes me happy and so does Erik. I think he just happens to really like the organic feel of hand lettering and, personally, I think it goes better with his art.

16. People should really check out Misery Loves Sherman, can you tell us how this strip came about?

I've always wanted to do a daily strip and I've come close to syndication, but I felt that the opportunities in the newspaper market were drying up and I saw a lot of successful creators doing webcomics and felt that this may be the future of cartoons. So, I work on the idea, wrote it, drew it, got a webpage and started posting a strip every weekday. It's great in that the web cuts out the middleman--no syndicate, no editor, no distributor. Just you and your audience. Seems real pure.

17. Greatest comics strip of all time?

Krazy Kat, Barnaby, Pogo, Peanuts, Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbs.

18. With the decline of newspaper circulation, what do you think strip creators like yourself can do to get your projects out there?

Move to the web. I have plans to do my own kids book and instead of going to publishers right away, I'm going to post to the web and when it's done, offer it to publishers. Web strips seems to be growing and improving. The cream is rising to the top and the really professional creators are gathering audiences. It's like being a part of the original astronaut corp. This is the ground floor.

19. You have been doing stories about Franklin Richards for some time now, how did you get that going?

A number of years ago, I pitched the idea to Marvel's publisher and it was rejected. I mentioned it to C.B. Cebulski a year later and they loved it and we got started on it. At first Franklin was a back up feature, but people seemed to like it enough to warrant a full comic and we've been going strong since.

20. Do you think comic strip sensibilities are appreciated by the "capes" comic book audience?

Not really, but the goal of Franklin is not to go after the people who already read comics, but those who don't. It's designed to get children reading and parents having something they can read with them. We, as an industry, have to reach out to new markets to keep growing.

21. What are the greatest influences on your work over all?

Charles Schulz, Walt Kelly, Berkley Breathed, Bill Watterson, Erik Larsen.

22. What are the chances of an all Greek creator comic coming out from DC(Wonder Woman) or Marvel(Hercules)? Don't you think that would be crack the internets in half huge?

It could happen--wait I write, draw and letter Franklin. Does that count?

23. Back to Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers(because it is AWESOME!), is it set in continuity?


24. Chances of a series of events starring the Pet Avengers like Marvel has been doing with their Galactic characters since Annihilation?

Anything is possible. If Marvel feels it's something they want to publish, it will be done.

25. Any parting advice for the guys and girls out there who dream of being a being a comic creator?

Stop trying to break into Marvel or DC and create your own work. Use the web--it's much cheaper than paying for printing. When you're good enough, the Marvel's and DCs will be grabbing you.

Please check out more of Chris' strip at http://www.miserylovessherman.com/ it is constantly hilarious and make sure to pick up Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers9because it's AWESOME! :) out in May from Marvel Comic.

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