john lawrence talks time lords and pro wrestling with the famed comic book artist …
Comic creator Josh Adams may be younger than a lot of his peers, but he is definitely no stranger to the industry. Despite his young age, his resume already includes work for IDW, Marvel, DC, WWE, MTV, SyFy, and many, many more. Oh, and did I mention, he just happens to be the son of comic book legend Neal Adams.
Instead of following in the footsteps of his father, Josh was determined to carve out his own niche in the art world. Josh’s unique approach to comic book art has also made him a fan favorite, especially amongst Doctor Who and Sherlock fans. As he continues to explore his artistic voice, we constantly see that he is definitely not limited to one style, and I personally look forward to see what’s next.
(On a personal note, at Phoenix Comic Con, my daughter Madison used her birthday money to buy an art print from Josh Adams. It was her very first art print, and after looking through all of the great art at the Con, that was what she decided she wanted.)
Josh took time out of his seemingly endless con touring schedule to sit down and tell us about some of his work.
Pop-Break: I saw on your twitter that you posted a sketch of The Doctor as an Adventure Time character. How did that combination come about?
Josh Adams: I’m a big fan of Doctor Who and Adventure Time, so a few months ago I drew a piece just for fun. I posted it online and within a few minutes someone was asking if they could buy it from me. I was just kind of experimenting with the Adventure Time style. It’s really amazing how simple that style is, but how much you can communicate with it.
PB: Your career is all over the board. In addition to comics, you have done work for SyFy channel, WWE, MTV and so on. How did your career in art begin?
JA: Well, my father is a comic artist, so it’s always been a part of my life. I’ve always drawn a lot. I decided I wanted to be a comic book creator when I realized I wouldn’t be tall enough to be a pro wrestler, and I can’t sing like a rock star. (Laughs) Honestly, at seventeen, I had an opportunity to intern at the SyFy channel. We had a program at my high school where you can take on an internship and take time off in your last year at school. The opportunity to intern at SyFy was amazing, so of course I took it immediately. Right off the bat they had me doing story boards and things like that, so I was thrust right in to the QD/production world. So before I even had a chance to consider what my future might hold, I was already working for the SyFy channel. I was working on shows like Eureka and Battlestar Galactica and I ended up leaving to go to college. After that, I was able to go back to work at SyFy, but now it was on a freelance basis. That’s when I made one of my first really good connections, which was with the WWE. At the time they had ECW and eventually they got Smackdown, so I was able to do work with ECW and WWE Smackdown. It really worked out great, because I was a huge wrestling fan, and they had an on call artist that knew everything about wrestling.
PB: Is that how the book with Mick Foley came about?
JA: A Most Mizerable Christmas. I got that job from Jill Thompson. She was looking for me in San Diego. She came up to my table with her phone in her hand and asked if I was working. I thought she meant at the convention, so I said “No, I don’t have any commissions right now.” She said “No is your schedule busy?” I had just finished some Doctor Who work and I was pretty free, so she hands me her phone and tells me to talk to Mick Foley. So now I’m sitting at my table on the phone with Mick Foley. He says “We don’t have a lot of time and we don’t have a lot of money. Can you illustrate a book for us?” Of course I can. We only had about two weeks to get it done and it was a lot of watercolor work. About forty pages worth. It was a crazy job, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
PB: I have a question about your art. I am by no means an art critic, but I feel that your comic art is a little outside the box in relation to other comic art. It almost has a little pop-art influence to it. I was wondering where you draw your influence from.
JA: Well, first and foremost, I don’t think of myself as a really good artist. When I look at most of my work … I see the flaws. The stuff I wish I had done better. From that aspect, I look at all of it as a learning process. I like the belief that what I’m doing is not the norm. It’s kind of cool. When I was in college, the department head didn’t want to pass my portfolio, because all of the work in my portfolio was professional work. It was the work I did for different companies. He said I never got a chance to find my own voice. This is true to a point, but I feel that it has also helped me become a more versatile artist. As far as my influences, there’s a lot of guys in the comic industry like Adam Hughes, Stuart Immonen, Bryan Hitch. Sometimes it depends on the day. You can go into a comic shop and see something that inspires you, or you can pick up an art book, or look at some of the fifties and sixties advertising ads. (laughs) I just try to play it by ear.
PB: It’s funny that you mention Adam Hughes. He’s one of my favorite all time artists.
JA: Guys like Adam Hughes bring a certain elegance to comics that wasn’t there before. I mean there’s always been great artists like Jack Kirby and my dad, but guys like Adam bring a new level of skill and quality to it. He figured out how to create something that is elegant and even at the same time, sometimes quirky. He’s just so good at telling a story with a single image. It’s definitely something to admire and strive to. I’ll actually see him this weekend at the Heroes Convention in Charlotte. Every year the artists do an art piece for the charity auction there, and every year Adam does a really brilliant painted piece that goes up for auction and becomes the thing to bid for. This year I decided to do a painted piece, and while it won’t be as good as Adam Hughes, I just want people to look at mine and say “Wow, this Josh kid’s pretty good.”
PB: Your dad is Neal Adams. One of, if not the most, influential comic artists of all time. Did that make it easier or harder to get into comics? Were you afraid you’d be compared to him?
JA: The cool thing about Neal Adams being my dad, is that I grew up with comics around me all of the time. There are comic book creators and artists that I’ve known my entire life. Sergio Aragones who everyone knows from MAD Magazine, I’ve just known my whole life as uncle Sergio. There was another guy that would always come to our table at conventions to talk to my dad and I’d see him around. He always wore black, and was really popular. I had no idea what he did. One year he comes up to the table to talk to dad and says he has to rush off to a panel. He leaves and is immediately followed by an army of fan girls. So I said wow who is this guy. Well, it was Neil Gaiman. I’ve known him my whole life, but not as the brilliant writer that everyone else does. He was just another friend of the family. I love Neil and he’s a really great guy, and as I got older I became a fan of work, but I keep those as two totally separate things. The comic industry has always been a second home to me. I never thought that I was going to try and break into comics or that it was going to be something hard. It’s just going to be something I do. As far as being compared to dad, some people have said over the years that they are really glad that I’m not just a Neal Adams clone. I always say the benefit to not being a Neal Adams clone is that it’s really hard to try to imitate Neal Adams.
PB: What are you currently working on and what can we expect in the future?
JA: I’m working on two different projects right now comic-wise, but I’m also working on a million other projects. The first one is called Redux. It’s a graphic novel and I really can’t tell you what it’s about. I signed an agreement, but what I can tell you is that it will be a hard cover graphic novel and it’s over a hundred pages. It’s going to be a very different style than what I have been doing. Idon’t know the release date yet, but I’m about halfway through it. The other project I’m working on is a web based comic called In the Garden of Steven, it’s going to be on www.IntheGardenofSteven.com.
It launches July 15th, and I will be writing as well as doing the art. It’s even another different style for me. It’s a little more cartoonish. It’s about a guy named Steve who, is an average, modern guy that manages to find the Garden of Eden. He meets Adam and Eve and is quite attracted to Eve, but Eve has no feelings for him, because she was made for Adam. Adam is meeting another man for the first time in his life and discovers new feelings he’s never had as a result of it. It’s sort of a love circle of sorts. We are going to have all sorts of fun stuff popping up in Eden. There may be dragons, or dinosaurs, or even pokemon, you never know.
PB: My daughter Madison always likes to contribute something to all of my interviews, and she has a special question for you, since you are a Doctor Who fan. Who is your favorite Doctor?
JA: Wow, that’s tough question actually. I’m going to have to say that Matt Smith is my favorite Doctor. He has been such a quirky cartoon character. He’s really fun to try and draw because you never know what he’s going to do. He’s always doing something new and different and weird and fun. The way he turns on his heels, or throws his finger up in the air when he discovers something. Everything about him is so different.
PB: I have to go with Christopher Eccelston.
JA: I loved Chris Eccelston, but unfortunately like any Eccelston fan, I feel his time was too short. He never got to fully explore being The Doctor. Chris Eccelston had just come from the Time War and was still living with the grief of it. He was darker and angrier. He’s trying to find himself, but hasn’t gotten there yet. One of the greatest moments in Eccelston’s run were his last moments, when we finally get to see him shed some of that guilt. “You were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And you know what? So was I.” Then we get to see him transform figuratively and literally before our eyes into a person that is now taking those steps to move on. He starts worrying less about his past and more about who he really is.
By the time you get to Matt Smith, he’s gone through that whole contact with the Master and he has reaffirmed that his decisions were the right ones. Had he not ended the war and destroyed the Time Lords and the Daleks then the Universe would be gone. So being free from all of that, Matt Smith got to be this Doctor who is no longer weighed down by this guilt and he gets to be himself. The only problem he still has to face is that he is completely alone. There are no more Time Lords.
PB: Wow this really isn’t just a job for you. You really are passionate about the series.
JA: I’m in no rush right now. I really like to do projects that grab me, and Doctor Who really did grab me.