I've known the mysterious, talented and mysteriously talented "Artboy_X" for quite a few years now, having working with him on various projects, most notably the Mr. Massive character. I recently sent the X (as I like to call him...from now on) a list of questions, and he sent me back some answers. Most of them are funny, and all of them are interesting. Here's the first part of my interview with Artboy_X:
JM: This first question is one that many people (or perhaps just me) have been wondering about for years and years: where did the name "Artboy_X" come from? Is there any significance to it? Are you perhaps in the witness protection program? X: If I was in the witness protection program, I think I would go with a name that was closer to “normal”...like Joe Brown or Joe Momma. Something that would not draw too much attention. I’ve always been a big X-Men fan and so everything I create must have an X in it...or else I’m not happy. In my world, any name, logo, or title that incorporates an “X” is automatically cool in my book. For example: eX-con, eXcalibur, eXtra, eXtra-ordinary, eXtreme, XXX, Triple X, eXample...you get the idea. X is just cool. JM: What was the process you went through in first designing Mr. Massive? What were your influences for the character design? X: My ultimate goal was to keep it simple and hopefully achieve that iconic feel of yesterday’s heroes such as Captain America, Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. I started with a rough ball point pen sketch and when I went to color it - everything just came together.
JM: Mr. Massive is played out as a comedy. Why do you think the character lends itself to funny stuff rather than more serious storytelling? X: The name lends itself well to a comedy, in my opinion. In our reality, today’s America and world...what would be the first thing on your to do list if you just found out that you (a 15-year-old boy) had powers that would rival that of Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Captain America, Thor, Green Lantern and the X-Men (first class)? I don’t know about you, but a visit to our neighboring galaxy would be first on my list. I understand with great powers comes great responsibilities, but kids will be kids. Mr. Massive is a kid gifted with the powers of gods. Also, I think we just need more funny books in the funny book industry. Why so serious Batman? Why? JM: Who are some of your artistic inspirations? X: I learned early in my art career that, as an artist, you can’t just limit yourself to learning from other comic book artists. So I try to keep my eyes on all forms of art and artists from other industries. When I first had the idea of becoming a comic book artist, I would reference the work of Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Whilce Portacio, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen. I’ve always been a big fan of the team books and the mainstream style of the time.
Here is a short list of the artists who inspire me in my growth as an artist and pursuit of my individual style: Jae Lee, Bart Sears, Rags Morales, John Paul Leon, Larry Stroman, Dale Keown, Brandon Peterson, Alex Ross, Joe Mad, Albrecht Durer, Michelanglo, Rapheal Sanzio, Donatello (and all the other Ninja Turtles), Bruce Timm...I can go on and on but I have a questionnaire to finish. JM: You are currently an artist who is enlisted in the US Army. Do your fellow soldiers ask you to draw things often? Tattoos, perhaps? What kind of stuff do you design for your comrades-in-arms? X: Yes, the request for tattoos never end. It's a good thing I graduated from the D.A.R.E program...and mastered the ability to say no to friends and associates. But things changed once they started offering George Washingtons and Benjamin Franklins as a sign of their eternal gratitude. I’ve designed t-shirts, logos for some of the units and a couple tats. One thing that I am proud of is the mural of Transformers I did on the back wall of a classroom in Virginia in 2007.