We reached out to our Twitter followers recently and asked if any OC based artists were interested in getting interviewed by us. We were flooded with requests and had to narrow it down to a select few. One of the most interesting artists we found is J.Q. Hammer. He is a comic book author and artist living working out of Orange County. I have NEVER met a comic book artist in The OC so I was extremely excited to interview him. Click below to read the interview.
Art in the OC: I am very impressed with your gothic horror comics. What inspired you to create this style of work? How long have you been creating comics?
J.Q. Hammer: Ever since I was a little kid, I have always been more at home drawing creatures, monsters, and the like. I definitely have to blame all this inspiration on the kind of things I grew up reading and watching on television. The book series Real Scary stories, the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine, horror movies and of course comic books! Specifically the horror comics from the late 40s, 50s and 60s. The funniest thing to me is that growing up, there was a lot of cartoons and comics that had horrific material that were geared toward children, and now looking back I just wonder how the heck they ever got away with marketing towards kids in the first place.
Art in the OC: Do you draw and write the comics yourself? Or do you have a partner or team?
J.Q Hammer: For the Literary Mushrooms series, everything from the covers to to the inside artwork is drawn, colored and designed by me. My business partner for the book series is Dr. Franz Potter. He came to me with this idea of putting these vintage horror stories from the early 19th century and pairing them with the horror pulp comic art from the 50s. We’e bringing these stories back in a fresh new way so that we can ensure that these tales can be appreciated for a new generation to excite and horrify you at the same time.
Art in the OC: Do you utilize both hand drawn imagery and computer imagery for your comics?
J.Q. Hammer: I have always been one of those artists that liked to stick with traditional hand drawn artwork. I always felt that the computer was kind of cheating in a sense. However, as I started to use the computer I realized that it can enhance your work and really make it that more awesome. I really think it makes artwork for commercial use that much more amazing. So yes, my artwork for the literary mushrooms series is a mixture of the two mediums. However, I will always stick to the fact that I truly believe that if you can do everything by hand, your artwork will always have that extra human element to it, and that is something that a computer will never be able to replicate.
Art in the OC: Storytelling is a huge part of being a comic book artist. Were you first interested in the art style of comics or the storytelling aspect?
J.Q. Hammer: Oh always the art style first. And to this day, it is what makes me choose the comics I want to read. When it comes to the story of a comic, I feel that if you have a really awesome story and the artwork doesnt match the tone of your story, it wont get noticed. But if you have really incredible artwork, and a so so story, I think that people will over look that fact and revel in the book for all the pretty pictures. With our project, we have 15 really strong stories that people will really enjoy, whether you’re a hardcore horror enthusiast or just a casual reader who wants to check out some really interesting literature.
Art in the OC: Where in Orange County are you based out of?
J.Q. Hammer: I was born and raised in San Clemente, located right by the beach and I couldnt ask to live in a better spot. The weather, the people, it just all works. And it’s a great place to draw inspiration from and it really shows in other aspects of artwork I love to do.
Art in the OC: Compared to Los Angeles, the OC is a bit lacking in the comic book store arena. But do you have any favorite places in Orange County to draw inspiration from?
J.Q. Hammer: Oh I know, it’s a travesty! Growing up there was Comicopolous in San Clemente, but they closed years ago. There have been a few comic shops that opened all around the South OC area, but unfortunately comic shops dont thrive around here, and it really is a shame. When I need a comic fix, you can never go wrong with Nuclear Comicsand Comic Quest right here in South OC, and I have been to going to both shops forever. They are certainly staples in the OC comic culture. Other than comic stores, you can probably catch me hanging at Starbucks. It’s a great place to work, and you can meet a lot of really great people there who are doing basically the same thing.
Art in the OC: Tell us a bit about your creative process.
J.Q. Hammer: Primarily I like to work at night, it’s very calm and serene for me. And I get a heck of a lot more work done at night then I would during a busy morning or afternoon. My studio is located at my home, it’s like the ultimate man cave/art studio. I dont necessarily have a designated creative routine, though I try to draw every day. I’ll spend a good couple days plotting out a drawing in my head, getting the poses down, the perspective, then when it’s time to out it on paper, it just comes out better.
Art in the OC: Which artists do you admire?
J.Q. Hammer: Growing up, I had an obsession with the Batman the animated series cartoon and Bruce Timm, who was the head artist. I would draw all the Batman characters and really thought they were so cool with their art deco designs, sharp edges, just an all out really beautiful show. Artists that are amazing to me, just to name a few, are Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Johnny Craig, Tim Burton, Todd Macfarlane, and Jim Mahfood. All of them are brilliant artists, and all have their own distinct style. This is something that I think is one of the most important things to posses when drawing anything. You become instantly identifiable, and it takes years and years to truly define your own style.
Art in the OC: What advice would you give to an artist just starting out in comic books?
J.Q. Hammer: Say good bye to sleeping, haha! Well I would say that you really need to have a good routine and be a very organized person. You have to be fast, and you always, always have to meet deadlines. If you can get eveything in on time, people will know they can rely on you and you will get more work. I’ve always had a perfectionist complex, and it was something I had to just get rid of completely. You always want your work to be the best it can be, but being perfect will only slow you down. And it will ultimately hinder you getting your work out on time. Jack Kirby said it best, “perfectionists are their own devils.”
Art in the OC: What are your artistic plans for the future?
J.Q. Hammer: We are launching our Kickstarter for the Literary Mushroom series. Our hope is to raise funds to keep the series going, so far we have 3 issues available out of the initial 15 on our website www.literarymusrooms.com and sales have been amazing so far. I am also doing artwork for my friends role playing card game business which he is starting and I’m really stoked on that. In addition, I’m wrting and illustrating my own comic book, it is coming along nicely and I hope to have it realy finalized by the end of the year. I’m happy to just be working, while honing my skills, and just to have people see my artwork and enjoy it is really the best part of doing what i do.