(Because 10 are not enough — and who has time to read twelve?)
In 1992, Bart Alexander Thompson created the first incarnation of Approbation Comics. In that early version he hand wrote, drew, lettered, and distributed Xerox copied “ashcan” copies of his vision. In the following years, Bart devoted his time to creating and cultivating characters and storylines, watching trends, and researching the graphic illustrated novel industry. His first full color, Diamond-distributed comic book was Vampires Unlimited: Shades of Things to Come.
Since 2005, Bart has worked as a professional writer, editor, and letterer working for companies such as Alias Enterprises, Arcana Studios, and Dead Dog Press. With limited funds, Thompson has been able to publish numerous small press titles including Myriad, Vampires Unlimited, ChiSai, Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies, Amour, the Evil Inside, and more.
T.E. Pouncey: Your work on Vampires Unlimited was amazing. With so many people doing so many variations on the vampire myth, why do you think vampire stories remain so popular?
Bart A. Thompson: Thanks again! I think vampires are popular because they represent sexuality and strength. Who wouldn’t want to be able to fly and lift cars and stuff? There is also something very seductive about the vampire lifestyle… as humans some of the coolest stuff happens at night (nightclubs, bars, most dates, etc.) and that’s the only time vampires can be out and about, so they occupy themselves with the more fun side of life. The only drawback to it all is being forced to only drink human blood and killing every night, which in a morbid since is sort of sensual.
TEP: You both wrote AND illustrated Vampires Unlimited: Shades Of Things To Come. Which is the harder task for you, scripting or illustrating?
BAT: Well, actually I only wrote the final version of VU: SOTTC. I did draw a version, but I bowed out at the last moment as it wasn’t completely up to what I wanted. But to answer your question, for me, illustrating is MUCH TOUGHER. You have to be in a “creative zone” for either, and over the years as more adult responsibility has fallen upon me, my patience for drawing final artwork has decreased to near nothingness. You can pretty much write anywhere on anything, but drawing is pretty exclusive to one spot. It’s hard for me to focus on just one thing for a long period of time. If you’re in a creative zone you could do a whole script in 24 hours or a full page of sequential art. To me the script is more fulfilling. Then again, I did get into comics to tell stories… I just happen to draw, but writing is where my heart is.
TEP: The way you draw portioned, realistic, believable anatomy is incredible. How much of your art is learned technique and how much is simply natural talent?
BAT: Hmm, good question. I’d say it’s 50% natural and 50% learned over time.
TEP: You seem to enjoy both horror and sci-fi. In your opinion, what was a better horror/sci-fi anthology TV series, The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits?
BAT: That’s a tough question… I guess it depends on what mood you’re in. Twilight was more about cerebral horror dealing with more natural human situations while Outer was more sci-fi. They both had twists of some sort, but they were two different entities.
TEP: Speaking of anthologies, the story A Slight Period Of Adjustment was presented in an anthology. Do you think horror anthologies comics like the old Tales Of The Unexpected or The Witching Hour will ever make a comeback?
BAT: I hope anthologies of all genres will make a return, really! Two of my favorites are Imperium‘s Trailer Park of Terror and Arcana‘s Dark Horrors. Some don’t really seem to “get” it, as I was disappointed with the new Tales From the Crypt comic because the art just didn’t say “horror” to me.
TEP: A Slight Period Of Adjustment was probably one of the best comic short stories in the last five years. What kind of fan reaction have you gotten from it?
BAT: Wow, thank you! It is one of my favorites. So far people for the most part really dig it and the rest of the Evil Inside stories. So as long as you all keep reading ‘em, I’ll keep writing ‘em!
TEP: You are adept at both horror and action/adventure comics like ChiSai: Duality. Which kind of comic is personally more fun for you to work on?
BAT: It goes back to mood and what creative zone I’m in. I think everything I do has a horror and action slant to it, but depending on the book is how much of each. Each project I work on has their super fun moments.
TEP: ChiSai features a kick-ass female lead character. If Shy fought Electra and Black Canary, who would win?
BAT: Well, since Electra is dead and the Skrull who replaced her is also dead, we’re down to Shy and Black Canary, right? BUT… ignoring that, both Electra and Black Canary are both older and more skilled, Shy would pull a Batman and wait until they beat each other to a pulp while watching their fighting styles and figuring out the best spot for her attack. When Electra kills Black Canary Shy would just shoot her in the head with a sniper rifle.
TEP: Your Sorority Girls Vs. Zombies is a great concept. Any experiences you’ve had with real sorority girls that you’d like to share?
BAT: Hahaha… sadly there aren’t any I can clean up enough to make it all ages friendly for this interview. Though now that you mention it, they’d probably make decent letters to Penthouse … hmmmm…
TEP: Here’s a Kafkaesque question: If you woke up tomorrow and were the editor of Marvel comics, what is the first thing you would do?
BAT: The very first thing I’d do is call Joe Quesada and find out what happened to him!!!! I’d be pretty worried because he’s a great guy as a person and I like what he’s done with Marvel under his watch. Hell, I don’t think I’m even ready for that much responsibility yet! “AN” editor, yes… I’d love it. But “THE” editor? Yikes! But if for a day or a week or something, I’d just follow Joe Q’s notes and kick off an Ultimate Cloak & Dagger series for myself. ^_^
TEP: What do you have in the works for the rest of 2007?
BAT: For 2007 the plan is to finish off The Evil Inside and Amour anthologies along with the Lazarus Factor: Perceptions TPB. In October there will be two of my horror shorts within Arcana’s Dark Horrors 2 anthology. Around November or December the collected edition of the first Lethal Instinct miniseries, Full Moon Over Blackstone is supposed to be solicited. Behind the scenes we are working hard for books coming out in 2008 including Blood, Shells, & Roses from Arcana Comics; Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies from Approbation Comics; Lethal Instinct (Vol. 2): Starchild, and Lethal Instinct (Vol. 3): New Whitechapel, and I’m also doing the editing and lettering for Samal McNealy’s Burlesque, also coming out through Arcana Comics.