Bay Area Indie comic creators: Adrian “Age” Scott & Mike Hampton pt. 1. Adrian “Age” Scott is the creator of the first and longest running HipHop comic book, Won and Phil, which he has been writing, drawing and self publishing for 20 years plus. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Scott teaches art in schools and libraries locally. He also has a public access television show, “Cartooning With Age,”broadcast by Vallejo City. Mike Hampton has been self-publishing comics for over 10 years. Mike has written and illustrated popular indie titles such as Captain ‘A’ and Hot Zombie Chicks, and has jumped into superhero territory with his newest effort, Eagle Eye & The Quail. As a graphic designer and colorist, Hampton lent his digital coloring talents to the latest issue of Brandon Bracamonte‘s The Mustache Ride. Hampton is a sketch card artist for Topps’ 2012 Mars Attacks and Star Wars cards and currently has several comic book projects in development. He resides in Berkeley, CA. The two, individually are incredible creators in their own right. But, when they team up, watch out! They create some of the freshest and most innovative projects on the indie scene. Both took time out of their busy schedules to share a bit about this dynamic duo’s work and thoughts on the industry.
MT: Tell us a little about Age 4 Prez and what it is about. What made you decide to create this?
AS:”Age4Prez” started off as random Facebook posts, as if I were running for President. Some were serious and some were jokes with some seriousness added to it. My friend Maria told me that I should illustrate them and with the help from Mike, Age4Prez was created. (and even though its already getting some attention for it, I am currently looking for a publishing house to help me get it to the world. Children book publishers, let’s talk.) You can pick up Age4Prez as a kindle book on www.Amazon.com or see the Youtube Video, Age4Prez (see associated video). Thank you to my lil nieces and nephew for reading my book aloud. (It’s a cute video, please check it out)
MT: I noticed that Michael was involved with the project as well, in what capacity did you work on this project?
MH: I did all of the digital stuff, like formatting the art pages into book form, I colored the front and back cover, created Age’s “Age 4 Prez” logo, lettered the book, and did somelightweight editing for Age.
AS: Mike helped format the book but not just with art or lettering, I trust his judgment and respect his ideas. He actually pulled a page out of Age4Prez, saying it was too over the top. That page was a bit much, and I thank Mike for helping me. The way we help each other is like Yin and Yang…peanut butter and jelly. They are great separate but when together…it’s just better.
MT: How did you two get into comics together?
AS: We both grew up on comic books. I meet Mike at Wondercon years ago, I was doing a Hip-hop inspired magazine called HOOD. It was a takeoff of Mad Magazine. Mike picked up a copy and before you knew it, he was drawing in it. I have been buddies with him ever since.
MH: I grew up reading SpiderMan, and was really into that. I went to my first WonderCon in Oakland before the Comic-Con guys bought it out back in 1995. The next year I met Age and saw he was doing Hip-Hop in comic book form. I had never seen anything like that and, at the time, I was so hip-hopped out I soaked up Age’s sales pitch like a yellow sponge. I bought one of everything he had for sale at the table. The next year at WonderCon, I had a 1 page strip in the next issue of Hood Mag. After that another 4 page story in the next issue. After that, it was my first shot at a book all done by myself. It was Gunja Rabbit #1… I was 18.
MT: Age, what part of the process is your favorite (writing, pencils, inking, coloring, etc)?
AS: My favorite process in creating is drawing then writing. But, with books like SUPERHOOD (our take of the superhero genre) I just write it. I don’t draw it.
MT: How about you Mike?
MH: My favorite part is penciling. It’s all about feeling the motion of the wrist snapping and swiping across the page. And it’s a great feeling when that line you drew just brings it all together. It’s a real connection you build with the paper and pencil as an energy. I also do enjoy coloring, it just means I’m hunched over the computer for hours..
MT: Who inspired you in the industry and made you want to create comics? What are some of your favorite titles that you are reading right now?
AS: I love, love, love Sergio Aragones. I dig Jim Mahfood. Frank Miller, Jeff Smith‘s BONE. Age4Prez is kind of Dr. Seussish also. Even though I am a huge fan, I’m not really reading anything too current…because it all seems like the same stuff. I do read my sisters book, “Halfrocentric” by Jewels and her artist Ron. I check out my crews stuff…Brandon Bracamonte‘s “Mustache Ride” is always great stuff, he’s a nice artist (Brandon also has worked on SuperHood with me). Check Brandon’s art out..he is on fire!!
MH: My very first inspiration in comics was Mark Bagley‘s Amazing Spider-Man run in the mid-90’s. Before that, I was really into the first Batman Animated Series, but had no clue who was drawing that. Later on I figured it all out and Bruce Timm is a huge inspiration to me. It’s his simple and stylish art that captures me. I also was a huge fan of Dan Brereton and the way he used his colors. No one else creates an emotion with moody colors quite like he does. Right now I read the Before Watchmen books, and the new Batman series written by Scott Snyder.
MT: What do you think of the Bay Area comic book scene? Do you think there is a healthy indie community in place and what can be done to increase the spotlight on local talent that some may not be aware of?
MH: I think the Bay Area comic scene is great. I lived a lot of years in Sacramento and between the Bay and Sacto, there is a lot of really great artists and friendly community. I think the fact that WonderCon has been forced to move outside of the Bay is unfortunate, but this new Big Wow! Comic-fest has a great-great artist feeling to it. Tons of artists come to that show. I think that more conventions that focus on the artists and not tv celebs would help. Also, maybe some of the local shops could host a local artist day once a month and have the artists of the area rotate around the comic shops of the Bay, set up a table, and meet comic book fans.
AS: I think the Bay Area comic book scene is decent. Its not bad nor is it great. There are not many outlets for comic book creators to really show their art to the world. You have some conventions you can attend but its really easy to get swallowed up from all the people there. At San Diego Con, if you’re lucky, you can get a ticket. If you’re really lucky and paid to afford it, you can get a booth. Its just so much some times. I am looking forward to BIG WOW in May 2013 in San Jose. That will be a great show (please come attend). I will have my next Won&Phil there with SuperHood.
MT: Before we wrap the first part of the interview, would you guys care to share where fans can find out more about you and your work?
MH: I have a website www.thereisnohalo.com, and also at mikehampton.deviantart.com I also post a lot of my work on Facebook.com/mikehamptontheartist Or you can purchase books in the Bay Area from The Cartoon Art Museum, Illusive Comics & Games (in Santa Clara, CA), or Dr. Comics and Mr. Games!
Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview where Age and Mike talk a bit about their thoughts on digital comics, their current slate of projects and some advice for aspiring creators.