This month we turn our spotlight on writer/artist Timothy Truman, whose name has popped up more than once on this blog the last few months (he has worked often with Joe R. Lansdale and John Ostrander, both of whom we have also recently interviewed.)
Truman burst onto the comics scene in the early 1980s, when he and Ostrander co-created GRIMJACK for First Comics -a very influential title, which ushered in the "grim and gritty" movement that would dominate comics for the next decade. He has since worked on various comics, from TARZAN and CONAN to STAR WARS, as well as revamping the DC superhero Hawkman in HAWKWORLD. He has also created artwork for album covers and posters, doing several pieces for the Grateful Dead.
He has also been prolific in creating western and western-related comics, approaching the genre from several different angles. With Lansdale he produced several Jonah Hex "weird western" miniseries in the '90s, as well as a Lone Ranger miniseries. With Ostrander he created THE KENTS, a long miniseries following the western adventures of Superman/Clark Kent's adopted father's ancestors.
His 1985 series SCOUT was a dystopian, futuristic sci fi comic whose hero was an Apache. His two-part graphic novel about Revolutionary Era renegade Simon Girty won much critical acclaim; he also did a graphic novel adaptation of Allen Eckert's outdoor play TECUMSEH!
More recently, with his son Benjamin Truman, he has introduced HAWKEN- an aging Wild West hired killer who is haunted by the ghosts of everyone he has killed. Literally.
Timothy Truman has agreed to answer some questions for us today.
1. Simon Girty: Renegade was a very powerful work, and an unusual subject choice. What can you tell us about it, and why you chose Girty?
3. Native American Indians figure prominently in your work, as do frontiers -even in some of your science fiction. Do you have a particular attraction to those themes, or did it just work out that way?
4. You've been credited with helping launch the "grim and gritty" trend in comics in the early 80s. Why do you think so many other writers and artists followed your lead in this regard?
5. Your series Scout blended westerns with post-apocalyptic sci fi, and Hawken and Jonah Hex blended western with horror. Why do you think the western genre can be stretched into such diverse shapes, and yet still feel "western"?
6. We've recently interviewed John Ostrander and Joe R. Lansdale, both of whom you have worked closely with. Can you tell us about your professional relationships with them?
7. Of all the western characters you've worked with, have you had a favorite?
TT: Kit Hawken, without a doubt. So far he's my favorite character I've ever drawn. He's the only character whom I've drawn six entire issues of and still wanted to go on and do more, more, more. I've loved them all, but Hawken is the best, and I'd love to continue his adventures someday. There's so much more to tell! Ben and I are putting together a new Scout project though, Scout: Marauder, and it seems like it will have just as much energy to it.
If you could choose one fictional or historical character you haven't done that you'd like to do, who would it be?
8. Not a western question- but I never thought an artist could approach John Buscema as the definitive Conan artist, and in my mind you have done so. You have said that the (very western-like) Robert E. Howard Conan story "Beyond the Black River" sums up the theme of the character: that "the powers of civilization will always end up praying for a man with a sword." Do you think this helps explain the enduring (though vacillating) popularity of the western, as well?
TT: To a degree, sure. Sounds good, for certain types of Westerns. Call it the High Noon syndrome, I suppose? Of course, there are some great tales that explore what happens when you pray for that guy and he finally comes: I'm thinking of The Unforgiven here, and a few others. Just goes to prove what I was talking abuot earlier: take the genre, turn it's conventions inside out, and fish through the guts awhile with your bare hands. You'll find a story that's worth writing about or drawing.
9. Do you have any recent or upcoming projects you'd like to make us aware of?
TT: The two that I mentioned above: The Rory Gallagher box set that just came out. That was a really cool project to be involved with, since I'm such a Rory Gallagher fan, and also because of the fact that there's never, ever been anything like it ever done.; And the Scout: Marauder project that one of my publishers has asked Ben and me to work up a pitch for. That's really exciting. I've wanted to return to the Scout saga for a long time, and people are always asking me when I'm going to get back to it. So it seems the time has come. Stay tuned!
Visit Timothy Truman's website and order some of these great books! www.timothytruman.com
Many thanks to Tim for visiting us today!
-Troy D. Smith