Around 2007-2008, I met an artist named Dean Kotz on DeviantArt. Because of his classic style and mastery of drawing skills, I assumed he was some older, great talent that had slipped by me somehow. But no, he was a few years younger than me and was just chock-full of talent and skill- a perfect combo for an artist. Dean had spent so much time studying and practicing the fundamentals that he was operating on a higher level than most creators his age. He had been doing work for Boom on a book called Poe, which is where I first saw his pages and loved them.
We followed each other and got to know one another discussing inking techniques and our love of the old masters. I even commissioned him to draw Madman for a studio pin up for me in 2009. It still hangs in the same place today.
I decided I need to work with Dean. I had stories in my head that I could not draw and all I wanted to do was have him bring them to life. One was a Sci Fi story, the other was a story about Caravaggio, the painter.
I had to make more money so I could hire him. It was time to go from Wildstorm to DC in order to make some royalties and fund some indie projects. Writer and friend, David Hine of Spawn, set up a meeting with Mike Marts, head of the Bat office at the time, and I was very quickly snapped up and put to work.
The next few years were a wild ride of being the new guy that was popping up on every title. I wanted my name out there, even though I was “just an inker”, I wanted to make connections with the fans and sell books. But long story short, I did not enjoy the process of working there, and higher paying gigs with toys and movies were starting to come my way. So as mentioned in previous posts, I left mainstream for these gigs and the chance to focus on Indie Books.
Jump ahead to the printing of Death Betty with the Driver And Shotgun(eventually Gods And Gears) preview and my transition out of mainstream comics. The work I had put into Death Betty and Driver And Shotgun had informed me on my bandwidth for projects and I knew I could not do The art for any other projects than Betty.
D&S had grown in scale and I was not experienced enough draw it properly. So I reached out to Dean, who had seen bits and pieces of the project on DeviantArt. I knew he dug it, but enough to work on it?
I had been lured over to ink at Valiant in 2014, this meant I was going to be going to New York Comic Con in 2015. I could meet with Dean, who lived in NYC, and pitch the project to him in person.
Cut to October of 2015. I’m on the subway headed to Brooklyn. There’s a fire on the track, we get evacuated. I eventually find a train I can take, my phone is about to die so I’m keeping it off and figuring stuff out old school.
I eventually get to Brooklyn and Dean laughs off my tardiness. Knowing that can happen to anyone in NY at anytime, he thought it was a good experience for a tourist.
So we walked around the borough and talked comics and movies. Then we grabbed lunch and talked Driver And Shotgun for hours. He was in right away, so most of the talk was about characters, settings, and themes.
I left for my hotel a few hours later, realizing I had just lived out a childhood fantasy of walking around New York, talking and creating comics, just as so many before me had. It felt like an honor and a privilege to be able to do so.
We were a team now. We were moving forward. Down the road.
Next time- Pages And Pitches!