Gerry Kissell Artist Picture the scene. A small child drawing a picture of two comic book heroes having sex on a piece of paper. When suddenly -- THUMP! -- his bedroom door abruptly swings opens, and in comes sauntering in, the child's father, who swiftly looks at what he drew, and then praises him for it, and criticizes him for it, both in the same breath. Want to know more? Then please, by all means, check out this interview I had with the big child in question, Gerry Kinssell. Trust me. He's one hell of a guy.

Gerry Kissell on Amazon

1) What are your own origins, Gerry? Plus what path did you take in life to get to where you are today?   Origins? That is a big question. Okay. Well, I hope you can spare an hour. Ha!

I was born in Illinois, and raised between both Illinois and Arizona along with my six other siblings. My father, well, he kidnapped me when I was 9 and hid out with me in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He hid out with me there from age 9 until I was 17, when I struck out on my own. Though, I continued living there until I was 26, until I joined the army.

I always wanted to be a comic artist. I mean, for as long as I can remember. I grew up drawing. Both my parents, as fucked up as they were, were also great artists. So, I had no choice in what I was going to be. I was screwed, Ha!  I was metaphorically born with a pen in my hand. When I was age 10, my dad found a drawing I had done of Robin, from Teen Titans, and I had drawn him having sex with Wonder Girl. It was very graphic. He told me that it was a really good drawing, but then punished me for drawing it. I stopped drawing sexy stuff, however, that didn't stop my brain from being fixated on it, Ha!

I used to draw a lot of comic pages and stuff as a teen. My best friend and I used to sit and talk about comics we would do together. However, My goals of doing comics just didn't happen. I had, had a son when I was 18, so, moving to New York wasn't in the cards, and back then, both DC and Marvel would not hire freelancers unless they were established. You had to move there and become a staff artist. So, my professional art career didn't start until I was age 24, when I started working as the lead artist for Selling Power Magazine.

It wasn't a comic book job, but I did do comic strips as well as spot illustrations. I loved working for them. I did a lot of self help and positive thinking stuff. My first strip for them was picked up by Reuters, and used for their internal news magazine. I was so proud of that. Selling Power Magazine was a fantastic job. But, after a failed marriage, and for other personal reasons, when I turned 26, I left the job and the life I'd known in Virginia, and joined the U.S. Army, where I served as a combat medic.

Robin and Wondergirl KissingBeing a soldier changed my life, and, it also saved my life. I found myself and learned to have confidence in myself, from being a soldier. Though I was a combat medic, I still managed to do a lot of art for the army. I am proud of the mural I did on a wall in our barracks, of a lone soldier. I continued drawing and painting throughout my service, so I never lost any skills.

When I go out, I was hired by The Federal Way News, in Federal Way, Washington, as their political cartoonist. Around that same time, FXM, Inc., commissioned me to do two Star Trek paintings, which they published as limited edition art prints. Both sold out. Instead of going home to Virginia, I moved back to Illinois, to go to school, and was hired by The Octopus Magazine (Champagne, Illinois) as a staff artist/cartoonist and columnist.

In 1997 I left the magazine and moved to Missouri, because of a job offer as a commercial artist and designer for an internet marketing company. I continued working in the commercial art marketing field until 2010.

In 2010, My buddy Tom Waltz, senior writer for IDW, convinced me to switch to my original love; comics. I was also hired by Dale Dye and Julia Dye (Senior Military Advisers for Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, Platoon, et al) as a cover artist, and have been doing comics and book covers ever since.

Al Williamson Art
2) In your own words how would you describe your style of art and storytelling?   Well, I agree with some others who have compared my style to that of Al Williamson. Though he is far better than I will ever be, he was a huge influence on me as an illustrator. I like realistic stuff. I am not a comic book artist, but more an illustrator. I love realism. Don't get me wrong, I love reading superhero/mutant comics. Yet, the stuff I want to draw needs to be based more in reality. The superhero stuff I do is not over the top. I am at heart a restrained artist.

3) What song would you say best represents your style and why?   "Go Your Own Way", by Fleetwood Mac and "Shock The Monkey" by Peter Gabriel. Ha!

"Go your Own Way", because, well, I never followed in anyone's footsteps. Though that wasn't by choice. I just never had anyone show me anything. I had to figure everything out on my own, and I have always just winged it and done my best. So, what you see, is not from any education. Though, later on, I did get a few very useful tips from Drew Struzan, who has been a mentor to me, as an adult as well as a great supporter in what I do. I don't show my latest art to my parents, I show it to Drew Struzan. If you don't know who drew is, he is the artist best known for doing the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movie posters.

I think "Shock the Monkey" just describes me, and not so much my art.

Iron Sky
4) In roll-call fashion, can you give us a brief run down on your two graphic novels, ‘Endtime’ and ‘Iron Sky’, plus your Lou Ferrigno movie tie-in, ‘Liberator’?   Book One of Endtime is part of an anthology series. It is an apocalyptic horror/thriller written by the amazing Tim Kenyon. It's an amazing book, which is why I wanted to draw it. The main character, Jack Kurgan, is a rogue death dealer. Death dealers (angels of death) are part of the bureaucratic big brother world in the alternate timeline story -- that is similar to our world -- but is also very different. Jack senses things are out of joint and he begins traveling from moment to moment in time, trying to piece it together. He knows that something bad is going to happen and he may very well be the only person (if he is even human anymore) that can stop it.

Iron Sky is the prequel to the hit sci-fi action comedy film that came out last year. It explains how the Nazi's got to the moon, and once they got there, all the stuff that happened that leads them up to the events seen in the film. It was written by Mikko Rautalahti (Writer of the hit Xbox horror game Alan Wake) and drawn by me and Amin Amat.

I did the comic art seen at the end of the film Liberator, starring Lou Ferrigno. The creators later came to me, and asked if I'd like to do an actual comic, I said "Hell yes!" I love Lou Ferrigno. He has been a hero of mine since I was a kid. Blue Water is publishing that. It is a super hero action thriller.

5) If you could get any celebrity – either living or dead – to promote your wares, who would you get, and why would you choose this particular person?   I have two already; Bruce Campbell and Dale Dye. But, if I could pick someone else...hmmm...Ridley Scott. I love Ridley Scott.

6) If you don't mind me for saying so, stylistically your artwork reminds me of a mix-mash of the Daredevil artist, Alex Maleev, plus the ‘From Hell’ artist, ‘Eddie Campbell’. Out of curiosity, though, what artist inspired you the most to draw?   Thanks. Well, as I mentioned before, Al Williamson was a huge influence on me. Frank Frazetta was a huge influence. And Drew Struzan was huge a influence on me as well.

From Hell
I wasn't into Alice Cooper when I was younger, but I owned two of his albums, solely because of the art done by Drew Struzan. In the late 1980's and early 1990's, Frank Miller was a huge influence, as well as Mike Mignola.

7) Can you please tell us a little bit about your up and coming Kickstarter project, ‘Vindicator Inc’? Plus what can you compare this piece to?   Vindicated Inc. is a 100 page graphic novel about a Delta Forces operator, John Russell, who was wounded in combat during an ambush, losing both legs below the knee.

He then returns home to mend his wounds (both physical and psychological) having to learn how to walk again with his new prosthetic legs, and through a series of events, finds himself donning body armor and an ballistic mask, and an cadre of lethal weapons, and going to war with organized crime in Seattle.

He has both criminals and law enforcement after him. Because of his prosthetic legs, his identity isn't Vindicated's only secret.

Vindicated is created by me, but, I turned to my writer friends (who are also military vets) to help me develop it; this includes Ernesto Haibi and Robert Scott McCall. The final script was written by best selling author Shane Moore (Apocalypse of Enoch) and myself. For the immense amount of combat, both in the military scenes as well as the urban combat he does in the streets of Seattle, we have Senior Military advisers Dale Dye and Julia Dye, the folks who oversaw the military stuff in 'Platoon', 'Saving Private Ryan' and other great war films. I love working with those two.

This is the first project we have considered using crowd funding on. I think people will want to help, because it's not your typical action story. This is the story of a disabled vet. A man who says, "I am NOT disabled, I am enabled! I am as good now as I was before, if not better."

I intend to also align ourselves with a charity for wounded vets. This is an important issue to everyone involved.

8) What was the first comic book you ever read? And do you still read mainstream comic books today?   I don't remember my first comic. But, I remember the first one I bought with my own money. I still own it, and it is even signed by the artist, Bernie Wrightson. It was Batman vs Swamp Thing, 1972.

9) During your time as a creator, what is the one thing that has kept you in good stead?   Shame. I really hate being ashamed of not finishing something.

Yeah. I know what you mean, Gerry. Plus I'm sure my readers will too. So go ahead, you know what you have to do. Check out his website, gerrykissell.com, his kickstarter campaign, and his facebook page. Go on. Shift. You know that it'll be the right thing to do. 

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