John Crowther: I am a comic book writing lawyer, father of a wonderful young lady and talented artist/YouTuber (Jaylen Byrne), and husband to an amazing wife (Gigi). I was born in Daytona Beach, Florida, and raised about 20 minutes away in Orange City, Florida.
1st: When did you first get interested in comics?
John: I first became interested in comics in grade school. The school bus would drop me a couple of blocks from my father’s law practice; and, as luck would have it, I had a Rexall Drugstore along the route from the bus stop to my parents’ office. As I walked to the office, I would hit the spinner rack fairly often; and, at 75-cents a book, a grew a nice-sized collection.
John: Sadly, it will never happen, but I’d have to say Stan Lee. What he accomplished in his nearly 80 years in the comic book industry will probably never be matched, or equaled.
1st: Are you a writer, artist, or both?
John: I am a writer/creator .To some, writing is an art, but in formal semantics I would not be considered an artist.
John: Rochelle is the first comic series I wrote and the first comic I had published;originally appearing as a flip book with issue #170 of Femforce from AC Comics, and later as a 2-volume series with Antarctic Press. The series, which ws drawn by the legendary Dell Barras (Spider Man, Savage Sword of Conan, Deaths Head, Blue Beetle) and colored by David Hutchison (Teether) follows the adventures of Rochelle Planeta, a teenage girl with cockroach DNA, who has the ability to take on the characteristics of cockroaches and command legions of the little critters. I initially wrote the series for my daughter, who was a teenager at the time. I felt that there was a lack of lead female characters in comics who were not over-sexualized, so…wallah…I gave her Rochelle. You can find back issues on Comixology and with Antarctic Press at https://antarctic-press.myshopify.com/search?type=product&q=rochelle If you enjoy the series, keep a look out. You never know when Rochelle might make a comeback.
John: Squared Circle Comics is imprint of Alabama-based publisher, Inverse Press. It was created as a collaboration between me and the folks at Inverse Press (Kevin LaPorte and Amanda Rachelsl) as an avenue for bringing a collection of authorized biographical comics for a select group of professional wrestlers from the WWE/WWF, WCW, NWA, and GLOW. The first in the series was Nikolai, which detailed the life and career of WWE Hall of Fame wrestler Nikolai Volkoff. We followed the Nikolai series with books for the Killer Bees, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Bruno Sammartino, the Rock n’ Roll Express, Lanny Poffo, Bobby Fulton, and Sunny: The California Girl from GLOWl with many more still to come from Rocky Johnson, the Warlord, Terry Funk, Gangrel, and Billy Gunn.
The books are initially funded on Kickstarter, with limited distribution; but, as the line grew, we reached an agreement with Antarctic Press to make them available to fans via their local comic book stores under the Antarctic Press banner as Turnbuckle Titans, with the first being Turnbuckle Titans: Nikolai Volkoff. All of these titles can be purchased directly from Inverse Press at https://inversepress.com/collections/squared-circle, several can be found on Comixology (Nikolai and The Genius: Lanny Poffo), and Turnbuckle Titans: Nikolai Volkoff can be purchased directly from Antarctic Press at Antarctic-press
1st: Who was your favorite wrestler to write about?
John: That’s a tough one. Every wrestler brings a different story to the table, so I can’t honestly say I have a favorite. Nikolai Volkoff’s story is the story of an immigrant who escaped the bonds of communism to rise to superstardom in the West. Bruno Sammartino’s story is the story of a young boy who escaped near death at the hands of Nazi aggressors in Italy to eventually become the longest reigning champion in professional wrestling history. And Bobby Fulton’s story is the story of a young wrestling fan, who ultimately saw his dreams fulfilled as he grew into a wrestling champion, much like the ones he idolized as a youth. The list goes on and on. Every one is special.
1st: How exciting is it for you to meet so many legendary wrestlers?
John: Honestly, it’s a dream come true. As a young boy, and onward into my teen years, I was a huge fan of professional wrestling, particularly the Championship Wrestling from Florida territory of Eddie Graham. Every Saturday morning you could find me glued to the television watching many of the men and women I now write about competing on live TV. As the territorial system of wrestling was phased out by the WWF, I’d watch the WWF matches on Saturday Night Main Event or the Jim Crockett WCW matches on the Power Hour on TBS out of Atlanta. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined I would be telling their stories today.
John: Another dream come true. If you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, you grew up with Hulk Hogan. He was on my bucket list to meet’ and, with the help of our mutual friend, “Bushwacker” Luke Williams, we finally made it happen at Hogan’s Beach Shop in Clearwater, Florida in 2018. He is a super genuine guy and I wish him continued success in all his future endeavors.
1st: John, you wrote a story for Mangazine from Antarctic Press, called John 3:16. What can you tell the reader about the project and where is it available?
John: John 3:16 is a serialized supernatural story I created with artist Dell Barras and colorist Vito Potenza, that appeared in issue 1 and 2 of the 2018 version of Mangazine from Antarctic Press. The story follows the lead character, John Smith, as he roams throughout Southern Georgia seeking to find his purpose for existing. I spoke recently with Dell about the series (which was left unconcluded due to the discontinuation of the Mangazine title) and we are considering a revamp and re-release at some point in the future. You can still grab back issue of issues #1 and 2 directly from Antarctic Press at https://antarctic-press.myshopify.com/search?type=product&q=mangazine
John: Ahhh…BlackJaq. I am the co-creator and co-writer of that character and series, Back in 2017, I was approached by writer Bradley Golden about joining up with a team of creators to submit a story to Antarctic Press for their upcoming title Exciting Comics, which was seeking to create a universe of revamped public domain and original characters. I, along with Bradley, artists Carlos Tron and Oscar Pinto, and letterer Hector Negrete, began brainstorming about some the more obscure, yet intriguing public domain characters. It was at this time that we came across Black Jack, a crime fighting character who first appeared in the pages of Zip Comics in the early-40’s. A few conversations and character design reviews later, we had BlackJaq, the crime fighting granddaughter of the original Black Jack. You can find the BlackJaq story in issues #1 and 2 of Exciting Comics, and the BlackJaq character making an appearance in the Ghost story currently appearing in Exciting Comics. Here is the direct link: https://antarctic-press.myshopify.com/search?type=product&q=exciting+comics
John: Fever is my first contribution to the ongoing Antarctic Press series, Jungle Comics. The 12-page short story takes place in the Amazon rainforest, and tells the story of a poacher who visits the forest in search of the legendary “Ghost Leopard.” Needless to say, it’s not just the Ghost Leopard he runs into. The story was created and written by me, with the art of Dell Barras, the colors of GeriLou Smith, and the letters of Hector Negrete. I anticipate that the story will appear in either issue #5 or 6 of Jungle Comics.
1st: You are also working on Horror Comics with Bradley Golden. What can you tell me about that project and when is it available?
John: After the success of BlackJaq in Exciting Comics, I was approached by Bradley about joining team for Cold Blooded, a 3-part miniseries appearing in Antarctic Press’s new series, Horror Comics. After the release of issue #1, which Bradley had crowdfunded on the Kickstarter platform, I was brought on board to co-write the remainder of the miniseries, beginning with issue #2. And we couldn’t be happier with the results. The story and series have been an instant hit and is currently the top-selling book in the Antarctic Press line, cracking into the top 400 in sales and pushing Antarctic Press into the top 10 in market share. If your local comic shop is sold out, You can follow the link to purchase copies directly from Antarctic Press: Antarctic-press
1st: I have been following your posts about Blizzard with Oscar Pinto; gotta say it looks amazing. Anything you can tell readers about this project? Where and when it is available>?
John: I first became associated Oscar while creating and working on Exciting Comics. Oscar is an amazing artist, with a very distinct style, and his cover work can be found with Exciting Comics, Horror Comics and on projects with Squared Circle Comics (The Rock n’ Roll Express, You Don’t Know Jack: The Jake Hager Story) and Inverse Press (The Absentee). After seeing Oscar’s work, I knew I had to work with him. Being a huge fan of horror, in addition to Horror Comics, I had recently completed a short story with veteran artist Rick Magyar, titled Murrieta, for the Unlikely Heroes Studies anthology, Elsewhere … I enjoy the challenge of telling a gripping short story, so I wrote Blizzard and presented it to Oscar, feeling it would mesh perfect;y with his artistic style; and as you can tell, he has not ceased to amaze. The story revolves around a group of individuals trapped in the cars in a blizzard along a stretch of interstate outside of Chicago. Unable to leave their vehicles and with little to no visibility, these people fall victim to a young boy who has taken the form of the legendary Algonquian spirit, Wendigo. It’s fairly intense. We don’t have a home for it yet, but once the art is complete and Hector Negrete contributes his lettering skills, we will begin shopping the project.
John: I tend to make quite a few of the conventions in the Central Florida area with several of the professional wrestlers I write for, and always have a great time meeting fans and sharing wrestling tales, If your a fan, I say to have fun, talk to the creators and guests, and add some memorabilia or books if that’s your thing. It’s a fantastic opportunity for fans and creators to discuss projects and what you might like or dislike about them. Creators need to use the opportunity to connect with attendees and build or reinforce their fan base. It is extremely important, especially as an independent creator, to connect with and talk to your fans. Enthusiasm is key. If you believe in your work, so will others.
John: Complete your projects. If I had a dollar for everyone who approached me about an idea for a comic book that never saw completion, I’d be a wealthy man. On demand printing allows anyone to put a comic book together and have a hard copy in hand. The only thing holding you back is yourself.
1st: If you could work with anyone in the comics industry, who would it be?
John: I have been blessed with the ability to work with some amazing folks in the business, including legends like Dell Barras, Rick Magyar, Steven Butler, Ben Dunn, and Bill Black, and rising starts, such as Bradley Golden, David Hutchison, Austin Janowsky, Carlos Tron, and Oscar Pinto, but others I would love to work with include (in no particular order) JK Woodward, RG LLarena, and Graham Nolan.
You’ve done a pretty thorough job, Peter, but I’d like to mention a couple coming out shortly. On the wrestling front, the one-shot authorized biographical comic for WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson, titled Soul Man: Rocky Johnson, will be coming to Kickstarter in October 2019; and, if you’re into wrestling and zombies, I give you both in a 10-page zombie wrestling story I wrote with art by Shaun Piela, titled Tombstone, which will appear in Part II of Austin Janowsky’s popular zombie anthology from Tin Sky Media, titled Zombies We’re Human Too.
1st: Thanks so much John Crowther, this has been amazing. Are there any shout outs, groups or links you wanna mention we haven’t covered in this interview? Thanks John and keep on creating!
John: Huge shout outs to my always supportive wife (Gigi) and daughter (Jaylen); to Brian Blair for putting me in touch with so many wrestling legends; and to Bill Black (AC Comics) and Ben Dunn (Antarctic Press) for giving a 40-year old comic book fan a belated shot at the industry.
You’ve got the links to Antarctic Press and Squared Circle. For fans who would like to follow my creations and whereabouts more closely, you can follow my website with links to all of my social media at: RochelleTheTeenCockroach.com
Thanks again for the opportunity Peter!