Interview with Comic Artist, John Beatty

As an addendum to my “Superheroes Month,” I’m honored to have an interview with John Beatty! John has worked on a number of popular characters over the years, including Batman, Venom and the Punisher. He’s a recent father and a brother in Christ.

1. Thanks for taking the time join me on my blog. I know that being a dad with the type of work that you do can take a great deal of time. Has being a father changed the way that you work?

You’re welcome, and thanks for waiting until I could take some time to think over my answers! Being a dad and working at home is a challenge. I wanted to be home working for many reasons. First, I’ve worked at home for most of my life, so I’m used to being around my own surroundings and not having someone standing over me as I work. I’ve had a few outside the home jobs, but always missed being able to have the freedom to run an errand if needed in the middle of the day.

Having said that, working at home with a son, who just turned 1 year old recently, is a challenge. It’s tempting to go out of my studio to see him and play around for awhile. And while that is a reason I want to work at home, it can also become extended play times, which then can cause work to fall behind. So, I try to plan breaks to go see and play around with him thru the day. Sometimes it fails as he might be taking a ‘nap’ when I come out to see him and his mom.

He started walking around 10 months and is very curious now. Just last week I had taken a break to have lunch and was walking back into my studio … just before I could shut the door, I try to slip out so he won’t see me leave and give me the “look”, he shouted; “Daa-Daa!” “Daa-Daa!”

The weight of his little voice on me was to much, I turned around and picked him up, brought him into my studio and we sat on my chair together for a bit. A true loving time that touched me deeply.

So, there is no easy answer to your question. But in short the answer I guess would be the biggest change is trying to not feel guilty about being shut in a room when you can hear your son laughing, crying and making sounds if the room 30 feet away and wanting to go see what he and mom are doing.

But until the bills stop coming in, work is necessary to do.

2. I noticed that you have your own Wikipedia page . It mentions a character named Crime Smasher. Want to tell us a little about him?

Yes, my Wiki page used to be more “fun.” I’m not sure who revised it, but myself and friend Craig Zablo wrote the first draft, and then I allowed my online friends [ some I’ve met in person ] do some edits to it for fun. I used to do a weekly “Ustream.TV” show and got to know a lot of good people and our interaction was a lot of fun. We had some “in-jokes” and we played off that and added some of it in.

I’ve not looked at the page in awhile … I guess I should check it from time to time just to make sure nobody adds stuff I wouldn’t like.

3. It also mentions that you first got your interest in superheroes after a friend up the street sold you a box of comics. Can you remember any specific issues that were in that box that played so much a part of your destiny?

Yes, Conan #1!

Altho, those actually paid for the entire box, I did not know their value at that time, there were just a lot of Marvel super-hero comics in there. Other than the Conan, I can’t really remember any exact issues. I do think there were some Avengers and FF issues in it.

Until this time, I was more of a ‘comic strip’ fan; Dennis the Menace and Peanuts being my top fav’s and I would buy the digest books at whatever bookstore sold them in the early 70’s.

4. Do you have any favorite books that you’ve worked on? How about any specific favorite characters?

I have many favorite books, I try not to answer that question as I know I will forget some. As for characters, I’ve been blessed to work on my 3 favorite characters from when I was just a reader: Captain America, The Punisher and Batman.

5. What decade do you think produced the best comics? Why?

I believe each decade from the 80’s and before created the best comics. Altho their are exceptions into the 90’s, they are rare.

My feelings stem from seeing comics change so much over the period of time that I entered the field, 1980.

I miss the story of “good vs. evil” without the graphic violence shown in many of today’s comics.

You can show violence without being graphic, altho many don’t.

And you have to realize that I have worked on my share of books with violence. The Punisher stuff wasn’t exactly non-violent, but it was handled in such a way that it was not as graphic as it might be done today.

The ‘Nam work I did, horrible war and situations, but dealt with in a way that you understood the horror and pain, without having to show it drawn in every bloody detail.

I’m a fan of action, crime, history, war, etc, movies, but there are ways to show it without going over the top. I do need to sometimes stop and think if say a movie like “Saving Private Ryan” would have had the same impact if they had tamed down the graphic display of “war” and the showing of literal ‘blood and guts’ or not?

Same with a movie like “The Passion of the Christ”. The Bible tells us how Jesus was beat, whipped, mocked, spit upon, and abused, before he was put upon a cross to die. Without the graphic violence, which I know was controversial, would we really “feel” the pain? Even with the scenes in the movie, we understand that what he experienced was even more brutal.

So, it’s hard to draw a line and say; “We can’t show that because it’s unnecessary.” I think the story will dictate the need.

But to just put in graphic violence because computer graphics can do things now that they never could before, is senseless. It must be relevant to the “story.”

Same with comics.

6. Describe your work space.

Messy, very messy and needs to be cleaned up and re-thot! I need to make it more friendly for my son to be able to come into “dad’s” work room and be safe from stuff he might get hurt on.

7. Do you do any of your work digitally? Do you think that the ability to color and ink digitally is a good thing?

Yes, most of my work for companies is now digital. At least in it’s “final” form it is. I’ve not delivered a traditional piece of work to a bigger client in years. It all ends up in a digital stage in the end.

While I’m glad I grew up in a time where I learned using traditional tools … I also saw where I was going to need to learn digital tools to continue to get work and be an asset to other fields of being a creative.

I enjoy all media, traditional and digital, and feel they all have a proper place.

8. In the past year, how many conventions have you attended?

In 2013, I only did one, MegaCon. That was mainly because my son was born in December 2012 and I needed to be with my wife and him. I was scheduled to do the PittshburghComicon, but had to withdraw due to a schedule conflict. Hopefully, I can do it in 2014, I’ve not done the show and would love to!

Heroes Con in Charlotte is a show I love doing but I believe it’s been 2 years now since I’ve been. Hopefully 2014 I’ll be back.

9. Do you still collect comics personally?

No. Sadly I don’t see anything of interest. I know there must be something out there, but from Marvel and DC, I don’t see it.

10. Would you like to work on a comic of your own creation at some point?

I actually have one fleshed out a bit and a rough 6 page “intro” story that my friend and I came up with. He will be the writer of the books. It will be a series of books. Personally, I think it’s a really good idea and feel it will have a broad audience.

11. In the first conversation that I had with you, we discussed the Kindle. Do you read novels? What are your favorite genres?

I don’t. I like to read Biographies and History when I can. I also read the Bible and books on theology.

13. In January of 2011, I had the pleasure of congratulating you on your salvation. How has your faith in Jesus affected your work?

I think more about what I draw now, and how it’s going to be used. I actually accepted Jesus on 12/26/2010.

14. We sometimes hear horror stories about people who are in an entertainment field whose career is harmed when they come to faith in Christ. Without necessarily going into detail, have you had any experiences like that?

I don’t think so. But again, I’m not sure.

The decision to me was not easy at the time. Looking back, I can see how foolish I was in trying to “decide” what to do, when in fact, I know my heart was already with Him.

I had just not made a public comment and commitment to being a Christian.

We should do another interview on this topic, and I am willing if you have time.

I would definitely love to! Thanks for joining me on my blog today!


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