Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eye of the creator...Ross Campbell

So I'm a comic nerd. I can tell you about crisis of infinite earths, how superman died and came back alive, hell I can even tell you about what the hell a black lantern is. But I cant tell you how they were created or crafted or conceptualized till now, ok well maybe a few of those but I digress. I have been an avid enthusiast of creator Ross Campbell's for what seems like ages many. His moody art work and character driven yarns are superb they include his mini comic Mountain girl,

The story is of a distant future ice age, it follows the story of cannibal warrior princess naga on he journey's across the barren landscape.

Wet Moon,

- This is the wrap around cover image for Wet Moon Volume 5, which should be on comic shop shelves as you read this. Image features Trilby from the series.

Which as Ross describes it it's a "a slice-of-life teen/20-something drama/comedy thing with dark undertones". His work for Tokyopop, The Abandoned,

- Cover of the long out of print and hard to find, much to my chagrin ( I let a friend brow my copy...she now lives on the west coast)

After a drawn out fight with the publisher Campbell left Tokyo pop, but they own the rights to the main character of the, seen above, Rylie.
He also did work for Wolf Publishing's "Exalted" role-playing book series,

Also his work with Minx and the book Water Baby,

- Cover

The book focuses on surfer Brody and her life after a chance encounter with a shark that takes off her leg.
And the book that introduced me to his artwork, Hopless savages,

- Cover of volume 3

The book centers on a Osbourne-ish family of rockers through whatever life trough's at them, and what they trough back.

So after a long prodding, and bugging, I got a chance to interview the man behind the art, (creators create not just wait to respond to emails), I wanted to get some incite into what he does and what drives him to make the kind of books he does, so here you go folks Ross Campbell.

Kaos Blac: What drives you as a creator? What is the spark of inspiration that ignites you to put pen to pad and create?

- for 'Exalted: Blood & Salt,' from White Wolf Publishing.

Ross Campbell: Real life is my main source of inspiration; real life, real people, real cultures, real problems, real places, animals, weather, etc. Even when I'm doing fantasy stuff I'm really fueled by the idea of injecting characters with real life qualities into that sort of material. Nothing gets me going more than just seeing people walking around outside and going about their lives, or reading National Geographic and seeing all the amazing landscape and place photographs, or reading an article about some newly-discovered deep-sea squid species, or changing weather, people's personalities, everything. Even atrocities like murder and discrimination and violence, that stuff is horrible obviously but it's still a part of life and I'm cripplingly saddened by it, but it also compels me to write about it in my stories or address it somehow and in some way acknowledge that it exists and is happening to people. So... yeah, real life is my main spark of inspiration, every aspect of it and everything that goes with it.

Kaos Blac: What influences have you taken in from creating? Are your works a vicarious exercise for you to open more avenues of thought?

Ross Campbell: I think in some ways writing can open more avenues of thought, yeah. I try to write characters with different beliefs and opinions and personalities than myself, like I said before, and that can be really liberating trying to put myself in different shoes and imagine things from a different perspective. It's definitely horizon-broadening, yeah. I love researching movies and musicians that I'd never otherwise be interested in or that I outright dislike, just so I can get a better sense of the character. As far as outside influences go, I'm not really influenced by other artists and writers anymore, even though I still consider myself to be in my formative years. Back when I was a kid my biggest influences were Bill Watterson, Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird, and HR Giger, but these days I think the only creator I'm influenced by is Michelle Silva, she is super amazing, and I do love monsters and killer aliens and slashers like Jason, too, and even though I try not to ape or imitate anything, I can't deny my love for horror and that sort of stuff and its impact on me and my work. I'm really motivated by all sorts of "scary" stuff and blood & guts and serial killers and monsters from outer space.

Kaos Blac: I just wanted to ask you a few questions on your ideas of sexuality in comics. I see that many of your works focus on female characters and are character driven, where as most of the comic market place is mostly all male. Do you make a conscious decisions to focus on Females and why?

- Mara and Zurthorox (the lil roach guy) from Wet Moon. Colored with sumi ink with brush, markers.

- Naga of Mountain Girl.

Ross Campbell: I think focusing on female characters is a both a conscious decision and an incidental one. I focus on them because it feels instinctive and natural to write women, that's the incidental part, but it's also conscious, of course, because you can't write a character by accident. It's definitely intentional. Over the years it's become more intentional as I try to branch out and write different types of characters where I have to develop them and think more about who they are and break out my writing ruts and "typical" sorts of characters I tend to gravitate toward.

Kaos Blac: Also many of the female aren't of the slender side and have more of a full figured body type, which I think is dope to display the various shapes and sizes of the female form. Do you wish to see more variety in character in comics?

- Audrey from Wet Moon

- Page 19 Of Wet Moon volume one, featuring series main character Cleo.

Ross Campbell: I'd love to see more variety and diversity in comics, definitely. In everything, not just comics, but movies too, and prose. I think it's important to get all sorts of characters out there, every sort of person needs representation in fiction, characters who they can connect with and see themselves in.

Kaos Blac: Tying into that last question I note that you feature a lot of different ethnic groups into your comic. Your works aren't just not a Anglo-homogenized flip book but breath life into the various background all around us. They are all comfortable around each other no matter their shape, size, race, gender, sexual identification, or what ever they have going on in there life, (although most of your characters tend to be of a punk/rock/metal/artist/queer prototype). If you don't mind me asking what is your background in relation to the characters you portray with in your work?

- Page from wet moon volume 3

Ross Campbell: I'm not really anything like the characters I write and draw, I'm a mostly-straight white guy from a suburban area and I'm not punky or goth or anything. I think I have only one character who has a background similar to my own, but I try to stay away from my own experiences as much as possible, or if I do draw upon them I try to alter them and imagine them from the perspective of whatever character it's happening to. I don't really have much desire to write characters who are like me or act or look like me or believe what I believe; I want to write about everyone else!

- Fern of Wet Moon

- Kinzoku from Wet Moon.

Going back to my previous answer, I'm really interested in representation and doing stories about people you don't typically see in fiction, especially in comics. There are many people beyond the usual straight white male archetype in comics, and I guess most people don't think about it or gloss over it or whatever, or since the majority folks in comics are white so they're either afraid to do non-white characters or they just don't think about it, but I think it's really important to increase the diversity. Get more faces into comics, more experiences, more backgrounds, that represent and connect with more people.

Kaos Blac: Lastly, what new projects are you working on?

Ross Campbell: I probably shouldn't say much about new projects; I have one project at a big publisher that I've been working on off and on for a few years that I hope will happen soon, but right now my main thing is Shadoweyes, an angsty teen vigilante/superhero thing I co-created with the aforementioned Michelle Silva; so far I've done a 50 page Shadoweyes mini-comic and I have the first couple books written, and I'm super fired up about it all, and I hope the first book will be my next comic.

- Shadoweyes

- Noah, of Shadoweyes

- Kyisha of Shaoweyes

- Wrathcatcher

I'm also in the middle of writing Wet Moon 6, which is fully outlined and partly written so right now I'm finishing that up, while also outlining Wet Moon volume 7. I also want to do a graphic novel reboot of my mini-comic series Mountain Girl, but I'm sort of struggling with the story for that so I'm not sure when that will get going. I have a few pitches both floating around and ones I'm writing still, the main two being a Wet Moon spin-off about high schoolers, and an all-ages Godzilla-style giant monster comic. I also have a new mini-comic I want to do for next year, written by novelist Nnedi Okorafor. Stay tuned!

Ross, we shall stay turned as long as you continue to represent good story telling dope art work and a broader communal sense of sensibility's in your work. You Can find more of Ross Campbell's work at the following,

His personal website:

his devient art gallery:

(all artwork in this blog is by Ross Campbell except for the Hopeless savage vol 3 cover)


Nyaze Vincent said...


Lamont Frazier said...

Comic nerd indeed

Anonymous said...

I read "The Abandon" sometime last year at Barnes and Nobles. I was so amazed that I stayed and read the whole thing cover to cover. What made the book so interesting that in the way that it portrayed blacks in such a way that you are hard press to find anyway. Truly awesome.

Anonymous said...

I read and loved Water Baby. I haven't been able to get the other books though they seem pretty interesting. Can't wait to read them.