Written by: Ron Bricker
A few months ago CC2K Comics Editor Joey Esposito got to have a conversation with up and comic comic book artist Kris Carter, where they discussed everything from the state of the comics industry, his upcoming work, and the days of comics past. And while you're here, have a gander at some interiors of his work on The Sire Annual for Aftershock Comics and exclusive images of his upcoming creator-owned project, Epoch. Note: this interview was conducted prior to the New York Comic Con in April.
CC2K: Alright, well, first and foremost, thank you for, you know, taking the time to talk to us. Just curious, how did you get your start in the industry?
Kris Carter: Uh…working my ass off! Um, working my ass off, going to conventions, showing my work around, and uh, yeah, I submitted something off to Arcana, and a week later I had my first contract signed. That's pretty much it, and everything went from there.
CC2K: So you mentioned conventions, and this is obviously the big convention season – do you have plans to attend any of them coming up?
KC: Uh, New York Comic Con is coming up in a couple of weeks, and then I'm doing San Diego, and another one in my area in August, and that's it.
CC2K: And where are you located?
KC: Oh I'm in uh, Massachusetts.
CC2K: Oh! Whereabouts? I'm from Massachusetts actually.
KC: I'm in Dracut.
CC2K: Oh. (laughs) I don't know where that is, I'm from Pittsfield, in the Berkshires.
KC: Oh yeah, you're way west. I'm 30 miles north of Boston. I'm right on the New Hampshire line.
CC2K: Oh okay, I got ya. That's probably why I don't know. Um, were there any particular influences on you, as a kid that made you kind of realize you wanted to be in this industry?
KC: A friend of mine gave me Wolverine #4 of a limited series. And it was like crack to me. The first comic book I ever purchased myself was Wolverine #17, and every penny I got as a kid I would walk down to the corner store and spend on comics. This is right about the time that (Rob) Liefeld stated up with New Mutants and all that and unfortunately I thought I was going to be Rob Liefeld as a kid, which I wish I’d never gotten into because I’d probably be a better artist today. Because I emulated him so much when I was real young, and yeah, that was it, then I found out he was horrible and started looking at other artists outside of comics, and Travis Charest's stuff completely blew me away and I’ve been trying to get an ounce of his quality in my work ever since.
CC2K: What’s a typical working day like for you, how many hours a day do you draw?
KC: About 16.
KC: That’s interspersed with taking care of my son while my wife’s at work, and then when everyone goes to work I can work straight through. Or I’m too tired and I fall asleep at my drafting table.
CC2K: So I imagine you don’t sleep very much then?
KC: No, nope, about four hours a night of sleeping, yeah. About 2 AM to 6 AM.
CC2K: That’s crazy! I commend you on that one. Do you read modern comics at all, or does working on them 16 hours a day keep you away from that?
KC: Oh no! I still have my pull list every week, I still buy all my books, I read Wizard – very much a comic book fan. I’ve gotten into buying a lot more trade paperbacks than I used to, than floppies.
CC2K: It seems a lot of readers are heading in that direction, because it’s become so, you know – six issues is a story now.
KC: Yeah, and some of the stuff I read like 100 Bullets, it doesn’t really read well issue to issue, or Walking Dead, I can’t deal with it issue to issue, I have to get a good chunk at a time to be satisfied with it, you know? And take something like Invincible where the story actually lasts like ten or twelve issues, reading one issue you’re just getting such a small snippet that, yeah, I’m definitely into the trade paperbacks now.
CC2K: Do you think that’s a positive thing for the industry? Do you think that’s like moving towards “literature”?
KC: Floppies will never go anywhere, because as a working artist, we make most of our money from the floppies. We make a chunk off the trade paperbacks, but the financial rewards are from doing the floppies.
CC2K: Would you like to see more done-in-one issues, rather than basically being written to fit in a trade?
KC: Well, what I miss is like, early 90’s, before the 90’s boom, the way comics worked, they were one and done, but there was still plot threads throughout the entire series. That’s kind of missing nowadays, the interpersonal relationships with characters, it’s all big event comics and there’s no time for real character development anymore, so, that I miss.
CC2K: Event comics have definitely become very prominent, it can be exciting but it’s also…
KC: I mean, I love them!
KC: But there’s still stuff about comics that I miss.
CC2K: Do you think that as an industry they are kind of moving past the comics are for kids stereotype, due to the success of comic book films comic out and things like that?
KC: I think it’s a generational thing, I think that as people of my generation are growing up and being parents, that stigma’s not there anymore. But it’s still there with even my parents, or people that are even just a little bit older than me. They don’t understand that the comics I generally get assignments for, they aren’t for kids – I would say they’re 13+, they don’t understand, they’re like “Well why don’t you draw fun little cute stuff?” and it’s because it doesn’t sell! There’s not that many kids buying comics anymore.
CC2K: So what projects do you have in the works right now?
KC: Right now I’m working on The Sire Annual, for Aftershock Comics, and then I have two other things that haven’t been announced yet, but as soon as they’re out on Newsarama I’m sure I’ll be throwing them everywhere. I can’t announce them yet!
CC2K: And you’re starting a comics podcast, which starts tomorrow, right?
KC: Yeah, we’re recording our first audio and video podcast tomorrow.
CC2K: As an artist, is there any sort of dream project for you, a sort of ultimate goal in your career?
KC: I’ll never feel like I’m actually in the industry until I get to work at Marvel or DC. Which, those are the only two companies that still kind of elude me. You know, I can get work at pretty much and indie company right now, and I do, like before Deadpool got cancelled, that was one of my dream projects because I would like to draw a humor book. You know, that black slapstick humor kind of really appeals to me. And anything over at Wildstorm which is not the most popular comic book universe, but definitely one of my favorites.
CC2K: Anything else that you’d care to add?
KC: (laughs) No. I’ve just been focusing on drawing my commission, my brain's still focused on female anatomy right now.
CC2K: Well that was one of the positives of our review, if you notice!
KC: Yeah, it seems since I started doing work for Zenescope all the pieces I get now are women!
CC2K: Well I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us!