Lloyd Smith has been part of the comic book industry since 1988. Many may know him for his publishing company Blue Moon Comics or his comic book writing that ranges from genre to genre and publisher to publisher. Today I talk to Lloyd about two of his fantasy characters. Ash Aman whose trade collection is a great read and Kragor the Savage who has a few appearances already published with more to be released soon!

Joeseph Simon
Welcome, Lloyd Smith, writer, publisher, creator of Kragor the Savage, and Ash Aman.

 

Lloyd Smith
Thank you! I appreciate the opportunity to talk about two of my favorite creations!

 

Joeseph
Lloyd has been active in many ways for decades in the comic industry. Readers might recognize his name for the many things he’s done. My first memory of Lloyd was Blue Moon Comics during the glory days of the Black and White Explosion.

 

Lloyd
Blue Moon Comics was something I started back in 1988. I placed a “talent wanted” ad in the Comics Buyers’ Guide, a top-notch newspaper about comics and one of the most trusted and long-running fan publications in history. It came out every week, so in no time I was getting tons of submissions. My original plan was to publish a 64-page color anthology comic, but the distributors advised me, since I was a green, start-up publisher, to focus on black and white 32-page comics. We started putting books together (totally 80s titles like Awesome Comics and Power Corps), but the 80s boom started to go bust, a lot of things started going south for me, personally (not the least of which was a major flood in my area) which forced me to shelve Blue Moon’s plans. I did work out a deal with a fanzine to publish much of the Blue Moon material, but all they managed to get out was one Power Corps (an Avengers/JLA style super-team) story.

 

Joeseph
Was Blue Moon the start of your comic book industry journey?

 

Lloyd
Yes, it was. Up until that point, I was the typical comic book fiend, buying every comic I could get my hands on and dreaming of working for Marvel or DC someday. I actually tried my hand at art, as well as writing, back then, but after working with guys like Brian Pimenta (the Power Corps’ artist) and Warren Montgomery (publisher/writer/artist/letterer/colorist at Will Lill Comics), I decided that I wasn’t anywhere near where I needed to be as an artist. I loved writing, though, and stuck with that.

 

Joeseph
The period between your start in comics to now is many years, bring us up to date with the highlights leading to 2020.

 

Lloyd
My good friend and fellow Blue Moon alumni, Canadian writer Jonathan A. Gilbert had been kept up with our correspondence via snail mail over the years, and Jon kept trying to get me to start Blue Moon back up again. I finally gave in, which led to a fairly successful revival of the line. This time, using the power of the Internet, we gathered talent from all over the globe and put together some pretty well-received (and reviewed) comics— which I actually printed on a photocopier and hand-mailed to our readers.

We started off with magazine-sized black and white books – The Blue Moon Comics Special, followed by six (seven?) issues of Mystery Adventure Tales. Those books were loaded with comics and comic book-related articles, running 64 to 84 pages per issue. They had black and white covers on color paper, and I kept trying to find a way for us to have color covers. I found a local printer who “thought” they could do the job, so we put out two magazine-sized issues of Infinite Tales with full-color covers.

The printer was a hassle. I’d gotten a computer and color printer. The idea hit me to publish comics by printing them sideways on regular typing paper, making a comic a bit smaller than the norm but larger than a digest. I was able to print full-color covers myself, so I went wild and expanded the line to several comics: Infinite Tales, Vault of Shadows, Power Corps, and Blue Moon Super-Heroes.

Joeseph
One of the ideas that have traveled with you for many, if not all of those years and more is Kragor. Who is Kragor?

Lloyd
I created Kragor in 1976 when I was in the eighth grade. I was (and still am) a huge Conan/Robert E. Howard fan, so Kragor was created, honestly, to be my Conan. Of course, over the years, I’ve sneaked in little things and dropped hints that will show that Kragor is far more than a Conan-clone. Time will tell if anyone catches on to what makes them different.

In the meantime, I just keep those ideas to myself and wait to see if anyone starts putting the pieces of his puzzle together. It’s a fun exercise, to say the least. Kragor first appeared in Infinite Tales #1 in the spring of 2000. That story has been reprinted a few times. It has great art by Luis Sollune, who, back then, worked under the pen-name of JP Dupras. Lucky Comics published an issue with wonderful art by David Johnson Jr. As we speak, David is working on a new Kragor story while Josh Holley is drawing another. I’m hoping we can make Kragor at least a semi-regular feature in Diversions.

 

Joeseph
While Kragor started out as a Conan clone, he does have a Lloyd Smith spin. What sets Kragor apart from Conan?

 

Lloyd
First, Kragor is more innocent and naive. He’s more like what we’d have gotten if Conan had a younger brother who’d been raised in a bit of a more civilized way. He’s more of a dreamer and philosopher, as well. All of that adds up to making Kragor an even more rebellious character than Conan, mostly when it comes to authority.

 

Joeseph
Where “world” does Kragor live in and how does is it different from Conans?

 

Lloyd
Well, that one’s a bit of a secret. Let’s just say that, although Kragor’s world seems very much like Conan’s, in reality, it is very different. I don’t want to spoil my future plans, but I will say that, although the clothing, societies, and geography are almost identical…it isn’t. I hate to be so nebulous when (not) answering such an excellent question…

 

Joeseph
Besides being inspired by Conan, in what other ways does Kragor fit into the world of Fantasy comics?

 

Lloyd
Conan was my first inspiration. Originally I’d planned on telling my own Conan stories with Kragor. But as I’ve grown, my thoughts on Kragor have grown, as well. There are bits and pieces of many comic book and pulp fantasy worlds that have become part of his make-up. Comics-wise, everything from Thomas’s Conan and Kull to DC’s Claw the Unconquered and Beowulf to Atlas/Seaboard’s Iron Jaw and Wulf have played their part in shaping Kragor. Having said all of that, my hope is that Kragor fits in as an entertaining and welcome addition to the world of Fantasy Comics.

 

Joeseph
Kragor is one of many Smith creations. Another fantasy comic you created is Ash Aman. Where Kragor’s adventures are visualized by a variety of artists, Ash Aman is illustrated by the dynamic art of Russ Martin.

Lloyd
Russ is amazing!

 

Joeseph
From the Barbaric Savage of Kragor, your other fantasy hero is more in line with sorcery. Atlantean sorcery and cosmic shamanism! Who is Ash Aman?

 

 

Lloyd
Ash-Aman is the High Priest of Atlantis who falls in love with a wife-to-be of the King of Atlantis. That love triangle leads to the destruction of Atlantis–and the beginning of Ash-Aman’s adventures.

 

Joeseph
Russ Martin art is very idiomatic. That is one of the interesting aspects of genre comics. Artists can create very unique and identifiable worlds allowing the story to exist in a place that words alone would not create. What’s the story behind your creative team up?

 

Lloyd
I had been writing some new comics for Warren Montgomery’s Will Lill Comics and had ideas for some new features. I knew if I could get some really great artists, Warren would let me run them in his wonderful Fun Adventure Comics! I started trolling the Internet for artists, and Russ and I connected via email. We connected as a writer and artist and discussed what kind of comic we’d like to do. Russ was interested in doing a mix of Dr. Strange, the New Gods, and Conan. I had come up with the concept of Ash-Aman months earlier and presented that character to him as the best way to combine those dynamic-yet- disparate concepts. We put our head together on the details, I wrote scripts. He penciled, inked, lettered, and co-plotted, adding a lot of depth, detail, and originality to the mix. It was a fun, organic, and challenging (in the best creative sense) partnership.

Joeseph
Conan until recently wasn’t tethered to the Marvel comic verse. This will change in time, no doubt. Conan as Howard intended is a far better creation than otherwise. Eternals, Kirbys New Gods for Marvel, had the customary crossover with Marvel characters. Yet, if you look at both New Gods and Eternals, Kirby was really trying to create something new and included the comic verse they were in to appease the powers that be and the readers that were. Dr. Strange wasn’t a fixture in the Marvel comic verse to start with.
As a fan of those comics, do you think they became diluted with the extra luggage of the comic verses they were involved with?

Lloyd
During the time Thomas was on Conan, the cross-overs (like Elric, Red Sonja, and Kull) seemed pretty natural and organic for the most part. The What If? issue Thomas and Buscema did was all I ever wanted to see when it comes to Conan in a modern-day setting. I have tried to be open-minded and give the recent Conan-as-an-Avenger a whirl, but it just seems forced and even cheap. Conan does NOT belong in the Marvel Universe.

When Kirby was alive, Deadman in Forever People was really weird. Superman’s involvement with the Fourth World seemed a tiny bit forced but understandable–especially with the Guardian and Newsboy Legion connection. That helped a lot in making the Fourth World work in the DCU for me. Mister Miracle teaming up with Batman in Brave and the Bold was obviously out of continuity and didn’t really hurt things, imo. The Robot Hulk in Eternals was handled well. But after Kirby left those properties, yes, they often became watered-down and sometimes even a waste of time, really. Nobody but Kirby seemed to really grasp the point of New Gods and Eternals.

Doctor Strange, on the other hand, enhances the Marvel Universe. (Can you tell I love Doctor Strange?)

 

Joeseph
As those characters continued on through the decades, do you think they evolved differently as a result?

 

Lloyd
I don’t think they evolved as much as they became totally different concepts. If one can separate the non-Kirby from the Kirby, the newer Fourth World and Eternals stories can be anything from great to just okay. But, again, they’re not even close to what Kirby was doing, because those concepts were obviously very personal and very important to him. Everyone else’s versions came from a totally different perspective. They couldn’t help but be different.

 

Joeseph
Taking all that into consideration, how does weaving whole new worlds for Kragor and Ash Aman to exist in as opposed to merging with an overarching world feel for you?

 

Lloyd
When I write a Kragor story, I’m not thinking about continuity at all. I’m following REH’s Conan lead and letting Kragor come to me and tell whatever story he’s in the mood to tell. There’s no real order to his stories, but I do know where and when they happen. And I know how he’ll evolve and what he’ll finally become–but I hope I can tell stories for a lot of years before we ever get to any of that! Writing Ash-Aman, though, was different. That concept is rooted in the “Blue Moon Universe’s” past. It will be part of our “universe’s” mythology and history. Again, I’m being rather vague, but…I’ll just have to ask the readers to trust me. I really do have a plan!

 

Joeseph
Setting aside comic verses, you have had a range of artists for Kragor. The visual interpretation for a comic character is important. I’m curious when different artists illustrate Kragor does his evolution in your creativity around him change?

 

Lloyd
For Kragor, I’ve always written full scripts because I never know who is going to draw them. I let the newer artists see what earlier artists have done, then if they want to make some changes in Kragor’s look, I ask them to consider the story and what kind of clothing would be appropriate for him in that particular story–and to make sure he has his braids. I think Kragor is the kind of character who can withstand (not the best word, I’m sure) any and all artistic styles as long as there are certain touchstones to make him and his world recognizable. On the other hand, I wrote full scripts for Ash-Aman, but I encouraged artist/letterer Russ Martin, because of his immense skill at storytelling and writing, to make suggestions and add concepts and ideas of his own. He did, and his efforts elevated Ash-Aman to becoming something far, far better than I’d ever dreamed it would be.

 

Joeseph
There are many ideas of what Atlantis is. What is the one presented in Ash Aman?

 

Lloyd
Our Atlantis is a pre-cataclysmic city-state. A mix of ancient civilizations with a science fantasy twist. We didn’t do any sort of “bible” or anything—we just had a basic idea and added to the creative mix as we went along. Concepts like the “Crystal of All” and the “Soul Staff” just almost seemed to spring to life when we needed them. And of course, their god Sise-Neg, is our shout-out to Steve Englehart and Frank Brunner’s Dr. Strange.

 

Joeseph
You can find Lloyds fantasy titles at the following links:

Kragor appearances
Infinite Tales #1, Fun Adventure Comics! #4, Monty’s World Vol. 3, Kragor the Savage #1
(with more to come in future issues of Diversions. In fact, Lloyd informs me Kragor will be making an appearance in the upcoming Diversions #4.)

Ash Aman appearances
Fun Adventure Comics issues 7-10, Monty’s World Vol. 4, Ash-Aman Special Edition #1 (which collects all the stories into one book)

Diversions and Ash-Aman Special Edition are available on ComiXology, IndyPlanet, and DriveThru Comics

Links to Lloyd Smith
https://www.bluemooncomics.org/
http://diversionsofthegroovykind.blogspot.com/

 

https://www.firstcomicsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Lloyd-Smith-Writer-of-Comics-600x219.jpghttps://www.firstcomicsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Lloyd-Smith-Writer-of-Comics-150x55.jpgJoeseph SimonInterviewsAsh Aman,Blue Moon Comics,Kragor,Lloyd Smith
Lloyd Smith has been part of the comic book industry since 1988. Many may know him for his publishing company Blue Moon Comics or his comic book writing that ranges from genre to genre and publisher to publisher. Today I talk to Lloyd about two of his fantasy characters....