All Pulp sat down with Tom Grindberg, artist
of the upcoming Tarzan Sunday Strips about the project as well as his comic
book career and love of pulps.
AP: Tell us a little about yourself and your pulp and
comic book interests.
TG: Pulps in general were their from the beginning and
deserve as much place if not more importance than that other medium called
comics. My interests and appreciation for the Pulps was the blend of text
enhanced with pictures. So many great illustrators of that era are just
being discovered by today's artists and fans and I for one am a huge fan
too. I also would love to see more publishers repackage some key stories
or even lessor known works to a new audience of fresh eyes. So much material
could spawn and inspire this younger crop of creators coming into the business
pervaded with only superheros. The pulps have so much variety and choices
for any group out there looking for newer idea's to entertain.
AP: How did you get your start as a comic book artist?
TG: I went to both Marvel and DC comics back in 1981 when
I was still 19 years old and began my career in comics. I went to Marvel
and met Jim Shooter who was the EIC at the time and he basically asked
which rock did I crawl from under and gave me my first assignment. It was
an inventory job to test me out on. That same day I went to DC's offices
and met Ernie Colon they're art director at the time. He offered about
the same thing but did mention something about illustrating Batman, which
really was not as hot as the Marvel characters at the time and since I
already had a commitment from Marvel I stayed put with my first offer.
Never take your first offer! Sometimes itís best to go with your gut instincts.
AP: With Tarzanís 100th anniversary in full swing, youíve
landed the art duties on a new Tarzan Sunday web strip along with writer
Roy Thomas. What can we expect from this new strip?
TG: Well for one thing you can bank on all new plots and
art! Both me and Roy have plotted roughly years worth of material. Most
of that material will happen in Africa in the 1940's before the second
world war and thus allow us to bring that element if it crosses Tarzans
path to be included. Tarzan, Jane as well as the Wazuri tribe are part
of the cast along with La of Opar. We also want to explore as many places
within the Tarzan universe that ERB created as possible. The possibilities
are endless and I hope that we can entertain old as well as new readers
to keep everyone interested in the strip.
AP: Will the Tarzan strip be an on-going project?
TG: Yes, we will be doing only Sundays at this moment
for as long as it is feasible for us to continue a continuity strip. Essentially,
its all up to you and the readers and how much of a need there is for this
AP: Anything you can tease about the new Tarzan strips?
TG: Not to give too much away but I have been teasing
the heck out of many on FaceBook lately and have stirred up enough peoples
expectations and interest enough. They what to see more and more. I'll
keep posting newer images without spoiling too much of the storyline.
AP: Do you, as an artist, approach doing Tarzan as a web
comic any differently than if you were doing it for a newspaper or comic
TG: Not really, only thing is that if it does go to print
the dimensions of the book will be more rectangular, but other than that
my I approach this with the same attitude as regular comics. Though with
each Sunday your more focused on keeping the readers expectations high
so that they want to see next weeks installment, I think in today's comics
your allowed a bit more room to roam and not too confined. In every Sunday
I am trying to give the readers as much art as possible without it looking
like a pile of mini panels unless it warrants it for something narrative
or cinematic. I love to create a rich and lush environment but not to overkill
the entire design of each Sunday with too much or too muddy it up.
AP: There seem to be many different opinions about what
can be defined as pulp. How do you define pulp and what do you look for
in a pulp story as an artist and a reader? Is Tarzan a pulp hero?
TG: Initially, Tarzan was just prose written by the author
with perhaps a few illustrations...In its basic form that is how I imagined
pulps were then and now. I would regard pulps as text and a few pictures.
AP: Tarzan is not your first time stepping into the world
of these types of pulp characters. How does working on Tarzan compare and
contrast to working on Conan?
TG: Different time periods for starters. Conan world is
just as dangerous as Tarzan's. Conan's world is full of wizards monsters
and epic battles with Conan managing to come out on top with but a few
scratches while Tarzanís world is more modern and probably more realistic
even if you can imagine a boy being raised by gorillas and then learning
to speak there language and communicating with about every beast in the
jungle which is of course both characters are based in Fantasy which is
more interesting to illustrate. Action, adventure and fantasy is core reason
why I love both characters so much and respect Burroughs and Howard characters
and all their creations.
AP: Where do you see the comic book industry in the future?
And how can we get the millions of fans that enjoy movies based on comic
books to pick up the source material?
TG: I think I see comics moving more on line and less
standing in lines. I believe computers have been a very important tool
for us to get information from and that its much cheaper to operate and
get your message out to millions across the world. I think this is next
evolution in the world of comics and self-publishing. If it sells well
online then by all means produce it in trade paperback form. I still like
holding the finish product in my hands. If Hollywood and comics could join
forces in a project it might create a whole new genre. I imagine motion
comics or animatics may be this new direction. Static pictures are not
enough for this American audience who wishes to be amazed and not bored.
AP: Is there a particular character out there you havenít
had the chance to work on that you would love to take a crack at drawing?
TG: I would like to illustrate Raymondís Flash Gordon
or Foster's Prince Valiant...So far, I have a real gem on my hands right
now, that being TARZAN...I'm not complaining at all!
AP: Where can readers find information on you and your
TG: For right now, I am on FaceBook and would encourage
anyone becoming friends with me and wanting to see more of what I do this
is the one stop spot for the time being. Later on, I imagine I'll be needing
my own website but that's down the road.
AP: What upcoming projects do you have coming up that
you can tell us about at this time?
TG: I have been offered a shot at Bruce Jones return to
his book Alien Worlds and hope to be collaborating with him very soon on
a few short stories produced by RAW Publications. I always, loved his collaborations
in the past as well as his own art and look forward to putting both feet
into something more suited to what I really like to do best which is Science
Fiction Fantasy. I have been doing a few covers a year for Moonstone's
licensed character Airboy but not nearly enough of anything with Dark Horse,
Marvel or DC.
AP: Do you have any shows, signings, or conventions coming
up where your fans can meet you?
TG: No, but I really need desperately to get out more
often and seek out my readers and art lovers. Its a funny situation when
you don't produce enough material yearly to warrant going to shows to show
off a few covers but, that will change once the Tarzan strip gets up and
running. I live in the Brooklyn New York area and will try to be at the
next Comic Con.
AP: And finally, what does Tom Grindberg do when heís
TG: I spend most of my time with my wife and our little
daughter Katie who is now 18 months old. They are best things in my life
right now and deserve so much attention for all the joy they give me.
AP: Thanks, Tom. Weíre looking forward to the premiere
of the Tarzan Sunday Strips.
You can learn more about Tarzan and the Sunday Strips
You can learn more about Tom Grindberg at www.facebook.com/tom.grindberg