Everything from Green Lantern, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man to Zorro, Tod Smith has done it! Now with the release of The Enforcers #0 Director’s cut, Tod stops by InvestComics for a 10 For The Pros spot.
10 For The Pros
Tod Smith – Artist/Inker (http://www.todsmithart.com)
Artist Tod Smith began his comics career by attending the Joe Kubert School in Dover, NJ back in the late seventies for three semesters, then migrated to CT where he found himself working in the art studio of Dick Giordano and Frank McLaughlin for about a year. That lead to a week inking backgrounds for the great comic artist Gil Kane, before being offered the penciling chores on The Omega Men, his first solo gig, at DC Comics. Next came The Vigilante and several other projects for DC, followed by a run on The Green Hornet for NOW Comics, and a variety of fill-ins for Marvel, including Conan, The Silver Surfer, and the Scarlet Spider. This led to his being offered the penciling for Darkhawk, a fairly new character at Marvel, which he did for two years, right up to the Marvel implosion of the mid-nineties.
In the late nineties, he collaborated with fellow Kubert School alumnus Thomas Yeates on the syndicated Zorro strip written by Don McGregor, for two years, until the strips cancellation. About this time he also decided to try his hand at humor rather than heroes, and did his first job as penciler on an Elvira, Mistress of the Dark story for Claypool Comics, beginning an association that would last almost a decade, up to the cancellation of that book and the reorganization of Claypool in 2006. It remains one of his favorite experiences as a cartoonist.
More recently Tod has done a series of educational childrens books for Capstone Press, and two fictional adaptations for their sister company, Stone Arch Books, as well as two New Look graphic novels for Archie Comics.
Tod would like to say Thanks to my fans and readers for enjoying my work over the years, and please feel free to drop me a line, Id love to hear from you.
Best wishes,Tod G. Smith
1. What comic (character) would you love to have total creativity control over? And why?
(TS) I’ve always had a great affection for the character Zorro, which is now being published (once again ) by Dynamite Entertainment. But recent interpretations have lost the flavor of the character and the time period…nowadayss, to be a swashbuckler also means to be a modern action hero, an acrobat, and a martial artist. My favorite interpretation of the character is the 1940’s “Mark of Zorro” with Tyrone Power, followed by the Disney version with Guy Williams, who looked great in the costume, and really knew how to fence. Somehow, when Hollywood gets hold of such a character these days, something gets lost ( see Question #5 below). I’d like to see a return to the original source material, without all the modern trappings. Check out the horsemanship and actual fencing in the Powers movie – absolutely amazing!
2. If you could have 1 superpower, what would it be?
(TS) Creative genius, like Walt Disney. He turned a simple drawing of a mouse into an entertainment empire through imagination, enthusiasm, and vision. Oh yeah, and I’d love to be able to fly!
3. Do you have a routine that you follow before or during work?
(TS) I do thumbnails first, to warm up and get a feel for the characters and the action. They’re usually very simple. Then I do rough layouts, which I trace off on the lightbox, tightening up and changing as I go. These steps help me to loosen up, and also eliminate the need for lots of erasing and re-drawing. By taking it through several steps, focusing on each one separately, I feel like I get the best that I can do.
4. Who is your favorite creator to work with?
(TS) As far as writers go, Chuck Dixon stands out as a great writer to work with, though it’s been a while. He says the most with the least, and combines just the right balance of grit and humor. I’ve been fortunate to have also worked with a number of talented inkers, including : Al Milgrom, Al Vey (loved his Elvira inks over me) , Terry Austin, and Bob Wiacek, to name only a few. Each brings something unique to their inking, without losing my style of drawing. Some inkers don’t do that as easily. Oh, and Frank Strom’s writing on Elvira always cracked me up!
5. In your opinion, do you feel that the movie industry is doing a good job with the Comic Book movies?
(TS) I would have to say…no. There are obvious concessions you have to make when going from one medium to another, and there is a certain formula to Hollywood movies which tends to give the comic adaptations a sameness and predictibility. Not that they can’t be enjoyed on a certain level, especially if you’re not familiar with the source materia,but overall I enjoyed Spider-Man and others more on the printed page, where my imagination was more engaged, and you didn’t have to compress months or even years worth of oontinuity down to a couple of hours. On the other hand, certain terrific movies have made for dull comics. Each medium works best for certain things, but one does not always translate well in the other form. So I guess you could call me a purist. It’s different with novels made into films, because they never existed in a visual medium, but the comic page offers so much more power to fire the imagination than film, even with today’s incredible effects. I just find a Jack Kirby drawing of the Thing much easier to accept in context than a guy in a rubber suit – too literal, and it starts to become silly. Of course, I’m also an art fan, which is part of it.
6. What comic book hero/villain do you want to see on screen?
(TS) Well, after that last long-winded answer, I would have to say there really aren’t any. Sorry, Hollywood.
7. “If I wasn’t in the comic book industry, I would be working….”? “
(TS) If I wasn’t in the comic-book industry I’d be a full-time musician playing guitar with a popular and successful band”. It’s another long time passion of mine.
8. What advice could you give a creator trying to break into the industry?
(TS) Have a back-up plan in case it doesn’t work out – it’s a tough field. Other than that, be very good and very persistant.
9. “My best Investment in life was…….”
(TS) My best investment in life was meeting and marrying my wife Candace. After that, developing my talents for art and music.
10. Have anything you’d like to plug?
(TS) I’ll soon be launching my website, TodSmithArt, where those familiar with my work can reach me. I’ll have some pages for sale, and will be accepting commissioned pieces, of characters I’m associated with and whatever else people would like to see me do (e.g. Tigorr and Elvira out Trick or Treating? Hmm…) None of these questions have related to what I’m working on at present, but one is the next issue of the Enforcers for 3J Productions, the follow up to one I did a l-o-n-g time ago. Being in a better place now both artistically and personally, it should be a big step forward from the previous issue, and I’m looking forward to working with Carl (Herring Jr., author and director of 3J) on it. Lots of action, gun battles, and sexy babes, as well as a laugh or two. Carl’s a talented writer, and I’m happy to be part of a developing new comics company with him. It should be out later this year, so watch for it.
Who were your influences breaking into the Industry?
(TS) Kirby, Kane, Kubert, Infantino,and Buscema
Digital or Paper?
Thanks for the interview, Jay, and everyone come visit my website – should be up and running by May. Hasta luego, pilgrims!
No no, Thank you Tod Smith!