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Interview

Comics artist Dean Trippe recommends some books

Comics artist Dean Trippe talks about working in a comics store, attending comics conventions, and some interesting books...

READERSVOICE.COM: The Sequential Art course you did at Savannah College of Art and Design sounds very interesting. What were some of the classes you remember doing?

DEAN TRIPPE: I took a really good class in writing for comics taught by Mark Kneece, some downright excellent courses in perspective, anatomy, and concept design taught by Paul Hudson, and really fun classes in basic comics creation and comics history taught by Bob Pendarvis.

RV: What was the comics store you were managing and what did you like about it?

DT: Oh man, I worked at a really excellent store called The Gate. I was the first employee, back when it was just a flea market shop, and after college I came back to manage it. As you can probably guess, I like comics quite a bit, and I’m more than happy to recommend good comics to anyone who’s looking. So it was kind of the perfect part-time job for me.
It was also just fun to work somewhere that folks came to hang out, read, and play games. I’d had simliar jobs before, but the comic shop remains one of the best jobs I ever had.

RV: When did you move from Savannah to Nashville and was it very different? Any problems adapting to it?

DT: I actually moved back to North Georgia after graduating from SCAD in 2003, and the move to Nashville happened at the end of 2005 when I got married. Between those times, I worked at the comic shop, taught middle school art, and worked on children’s books.
Now here in Nashville, I’m completely freelance, though I spent a couple of months working part-time in a friends’ cafe last fall, which was fun. I have an assistant now who helps me crank out the comics while we watch tv shows.
I’m digging Nashville. There’s a good comic shop called Rick’s Comic City that’s been really fun to stop into every few weeks. The first week I moved here, they had an issue of a comic I’d done some colors for, The Middleman, which made me think they were pretty cool right off the bat, I guess. Haha.

RV: Do you have a set routine for each day, and what would a typical day entail?

DT: I didn’t use to, but now I have a weekly schedule that keeps me from getting behind. I work on Butterfly one day, commissions on another, and so on. I’m not too tied to a daily routine, but my weekly one has gotten pretty comfortable.

RV: How is your cafe job working out? What do you do there?

DT: Haha, well I just had to stop working there due to some new projects landing in my lap, but working at Nyumba Cafe was really great. I’d serve lunch and wash dishes. I got to see a lot of my friends, and since it was a hangout and study spot, as well as featuring a nice game room, it reminded me of the comic shop quite a bit.

RV: Are you doing any study and if so, what?

DT: I’m taking a couple of Bible classes at a local college here in Nashville called the Institute for Global Outreach Developments International, a great organization that works in developing nations around the world. My wife and I worked with them in Uganda and India this past year.

RV: What sorts of classes have you appeared at to talk about your art work to students?

DT: I’ve spoken informally at a couple of Prof. Pendarvis’s classes at SCAD since graduating, and I was invited to speak to an illustration class at the Memphis College of Art by Prof. Joel Priddy. I typically emphasize basic storytelling and how surprisingly fun it is networking within the comics industry.

RV: Which shows and conventions have you taken your work and merchandise to? What benefits are there to setting up a table at conventions and shows?

DT: I’m a big fan of FLUKE, an indie show in Athens, Georgia, as well as the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD, each fall. I also like WizardWorld Chicago, HeroesCon in Charlotte, and MegaCon in Orlando. Conventions are one of the more fun parts of this job, since I get to sell drawings and talk directly to fans for hours.
I love it. My style seems to attract a lot of parents and younger readers, which I find really satisfying, since I got started reading comics at a young age.

I also get a lot of folks like myself, I suppose, who like the mainstream characters but with a more indie sensibility.

RV: Was the Superior Showcase #1 the biggest breakthrough in your comics career? What are some of your other publications?

DT: Yeah, Showcase was a huge deal for me. Thanks to Chris Pitzer and AdHouse Books, I suddenly had a nationally released book being reviewed in big comics magazines, on comics podcasts, and was even the pick of the week in a lot of big comic shops.
I had a blast working on that story with my friend John Campbell, and it remains my best selling comic at conventions.
I was also published in the first volume of New Reliable Press’s well-received anthology You Ain’t No Dancer.

RV: Are you still planning on doing that monthly series for a big publisher?

DT: No, I’m afraid that fell apart when the writer wanted to move ahead faster than I could commit to. I wish the project all the best, of course.

RV: Did you draw your Africa comic and what’s it about?

DT: Not yet. It’s a secret. ;)

RV: What are some of your plans?

DT: Haha, well I’ve got a few pitches in the works with some of my writer pals, one of which is really close to my heart and superheroey as all get out.
I’ve got a little project called Stray with new publisher General Jinjur Comics, and I’m taking Butterfly back to weekly for as long as I can keep up.

RV: Can you list a couple of book titles you could recommend, whether fiction or about art or anything else, especially any out of the way stuff?

DT: Sure thing. The Alienist and Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr, the Lemony Snicket A Series of Unfortunate Events books, anything by C.S. Lewis, and in keeping with the superhero theme, I have to say that if you get the chance to read Batman: The Ultimate Evil by Andrew Vachss it is an unexpectedly mature and enjoyable take on the character that I can’t recommend more highly.

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