Lloyd Smith is the Keeper of Cool, Wizard of the Wild, Attendant of the Awesome, Fiduciary of the Far-Out, Guardian of the Groovy, and more. Lloyd was nice enough to stop by First Comics News and recount his journey in comics for our readers.
First Comics News: Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Lloyd Smith: I’m a (finally!) retired teacher, father, grandfather, husband, and comic book fiend. I have been a fan ever since I saw Adam West and Burt Ward debut on TV when I was 3. Since then I’ve dreamed of being a comic book creator, making my own characters, making comics on typing paper, making comics with friends, the usual. What’s unusual is that in 1988, I started my own comic book publishing company called Blue Moon Comics. It didn’t fly then, but I did make some great friends with fellow creators (many of whom you may have heard of: Warren Montgomery, Jon Gilbert, and many others). About 10 years later, I brought Blue Moon back with the help of many more cool creators and we made a minor splash in the Indy world (thanks in part to the ease of making yourself known through the plethora of online comics fans sites and message boards–run by actual fans, then, instead of corporations). Again, that sort of fizzled after a couple of years, so I eventually started a blog about 1970s comics called Diversions of the Groovy Kind. As the Groovy Agent, I re-connected with a lot of my Blue Moon fans and friends, which led to this newest (and most successful) incarnation of Blue Moon. And here we are.
1st: I happen to know a little bit about the iteration of Blue Moon Comics Group you had in the 1990s. You dismiss it too easily, in my view. You published a ton of content and helped spur multiple creators break into comics. Do you recall the names of any of the titles you put out back then?
Lloyd: We put out a lot of titles! Mystery Adventure Tales, Infinite Tales, Bounties, Power Corps, Blue Moon Spotlight, Blue Moon Superheroes, Vault of Shadows, Steve Skeates’ Comics and Stories, All-Smash Funnies… did I forget any?
1st: You famously published a brilliantly Silver Age-ish tale that you wrote which happened to have Dick Ayers inks. Could you tell us how the heck you managed to get the legendary artist to provide inks on that story?
Lloyd: I had a friend named Greg Mills whom I’d known since college. He was a comics fan/writer, too. He was visiting one day and I was talking about an ad I’d seen in Comic Book Artist about Dick Ayers drawing commissions. He was a HUGE Silver Age Marvel fan and loved Dick Ayers’ work. He said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we got Dick Ayers to draw a story? I’d pay for it!” I told him that I had a story by artist Phil Fried that was in the style of the Marvel/Atlas monster comics. Greg then suggested we write Dick Ayers for rates (and sent him the first couple of issues of MAT). Ayers quickly and graciously wrote back with his rates (along with being highly complimentary of our comics). We decided we could afford to have Ayers ink the story. We were thrilled! Since then, it’s become the most reprinted story I’ve ever done. It’s been published by me, you, Oniric, Will Lill, and probably some places I don’t even know about!
Lloyd: It’s just been reprinted (in color) in Diversions #9, which can be found at IndyPlanet, DriveThruComics, and GlobalComix.
1st: As you’ve mentioned, within the last several years you relaunched Blue Moon Comics. I’d imagine being able to use a print-on-demand gives you your best chance at long-term success this time, does it not?
Lloyd: It does because there’s less cost up-front for me. Printing is expensive, but print-on-demand takes that out of the equation (except for contributor copies which are “usually” covered by sales). In the late 90s/early 2000s, I spent as much time printing, stapling, and mailing copies as I did creating them. Even more time, eventually, and it got to where I was printing more of other folks’ stuff than my own. I like the creative end way more than the printing/business end, so at least mentally, POD is better for me at this point.
1st: You’re back at it again this time as far as getting some big names sprinkled in relative to creating your comics. You also seem to have a variety of genres represented in your current projects. Could you speak to those points, as well as giving us some insights into the content you are putting out now?
Lloyd: Blue Moon has always been lucky with attracting great talent. In the late 90s/early 2000s, we had Ed Quinby, Steve Addlessee, Vatche Mavlian, Seppo Makinen, and many more—including David Vance and Philip Fried, who are back in the saddle doing new stuff for Blue Moon (about which I could not be more thrilled)! This time around we have more great talent like JW Erwin, the late Donnie Page, Joe Koziarski, Russ Martin, Ian Groff, David Johnson Jr., Marcello Rosmini, Kent Clark, and a couple of guys from the major mainstream companies, my friends Steven Butler and Mort Todd. Then there are more pals like you and Chris Malgrain who share content with Blue Moon (you through Golden Era and Chris through Oniric).
Speaking of Steven Butler, he and I are working on a new Sword and Sorcery anthology called Untamed Realms. UR will feature stories and characters we’ve dreamed up together, with me scripting and Steven doing the art. We have three rotating features (at the moment—we’re always kicking around more new ideas): Eva Destruction about a powerful, mysterious woman at war with evil aliens back during An Age Undreamed; Rama of the Flashing Sword who has run-ins with werewolves and a witch that force his life to take an extremely strange turn; and Sword of the Gargoyle about a monstrous hero who used to be a king. These features will draw on our shared love of, not only the works of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs, but Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Alex Toth, Hanna-Barbera, Steve Gerber, Mike Ploog, Ralph Bakshi, Ray Harryhausen, and all the cool fantasy comics, novels, shows, and movies we grew up with. But that’s a bit in the future. In the meantime we have…
…Diversions, our flagship title. Diversions is an anthology that features anything and everything my artist friends and I can come up with. We’ve done superheroes (Night Spider, Midnight Stranger, and Max Miracle) and sword and sorcery (Kragor), of course, but also Westerns (Guns & Rosa), horror (Vault of Shadows), fantasy (yeah, it’s all fantasy, but you know what I mean), and sci-fi (Other Worlds). I came up with the idea for Diversions after Will Lill Comics decided to stop publishing the long-lived, successful, and beloved (by me, for sure!) Fun Adventure Comics. I love anthologies—in fact, that’s the majority of what I’ve published over the past 35 (!) years—so started thinking about doing my own. I’d also done some work for a few other publishers (not the least of which was Rich Sala’s The Creeps Magazine—thank you for the opportunities, Rich!), but finally got the itch to do my own thing again. I took the name from my well-received blog, Diversions of the Groovy Kind tossed some ideas at friends I’d made at Will Lill, Mort Todd’s Charlton-Neo, and Lucky Comics, and in 2019 we began work on Diversions #1. It came out in early 2020— just as everything shut down for Covid! I thought, “Oh no, what a time to start publishing again!” As it turned out, though, the pandemic didn’t hold us back at all. We’ve published 13 issues of Diversions so far (and are working away at #14), four collections (including the Ash-Aman material we did for Will Lill), and are working on other new projects along with the aforementioned Untamed Realms. And that includes our first-ever full-color, full-length team-up between Night Spider and Midnight Stranger by JW Erwin and myself!
Lloyd: They can visit our shop page @ https://www.bluemooncomics.org/p/shop.html which has links to all our comic book distributors, IndyPlanet, DriveThruComics, and GlobalComix. Oh, it has a link to TeePublic, as well, where you can buy shirts, mugs, phone covers, and lots more cool Blue Moon merchandise featuring art by most of our awesome artists!
1st: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Lloyd.
Lloyd: My pleasure. Thanks for making it happen!