Ty Templeton interview

Few creators have had the diversity of experience that our next creator interview subject has. Ty Templeton is a true comics “renaissance man”/”jack of all trades” — he’s cartooned, written, drawn, inked, and edited comics for both mainstream and independant publishers. From Stig’s Inferno, Justice League, Bigg Time, Batman Adventures, Howard the Duck, The Simpsons, Superman, Planet of the Apes, Hoverboy and more since the mid-1980’s.  In 2005 he won the first Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Writer Award for his work on Batman Adventures and he’s been nominated nearly every year subsequently in that category. He’s been a popular teacher at Max the Mutt Animation School’s comics program, where he has been teaching storytelling and page layout techniques, and his “comics boot camp” talks at conventions are always full and never disappoint.

Ty Templeton
Ty Templeton

What part of a Canada are you from/where do you live now?

I am from Mississauga, Ontario, a bedroom community for Toronto. I still live in the Greater Toronto area. I’ve been to a number of places around the world, and other than New York, Paris and Montreal, there’s no better place to live. New York and Paris are too expensive, and Montreal is still a possibility someday…

Gotham Adventures trade paperback (2000) Cover by Ty Templeton.
Batman: Gotham Adventures trade paperback (2000) Cover by Ty Templeton.

Were you a comics fan growing up?

God, yes. Any and all I could get my hands on. My first comics were probably Tintin and Asterix, and then I moved up to Superman and Iron Man and those types. I can’t remember a time when comics didn’t mean something to me. I started noticing the artists when I was about ten or so, and my favorites at that time were Curt Swan and Jack Kirby, and eventually Neal Adams and Wally Wood. I didn’t really know WHY these guys cut through the rest and got to me, but they did. In my teen years, I started to notice there were writers I consistently liked….probably Stan Lee and Denny O’Neil were my first two writer favorites, but by the time I was 18 or so, I had firmly decided Harvey Kurtzman was the writer I most admired. Early EC Mad comics and Harvey’s combat and war comics became the standard against which all others would be judged. Except for an Alan Moore story or two in the intervening years, I haven’t seen much that lived up to Harvey’s work. (not that there aren’t great writers around, but we’re talking about Harvey…)

Superman & Batman Magazine #1 (1993) cover by Ty Templeton
Superman & Batman Magazine #1 (1993) cover by Ty Templeton

Who are some of your creative influences?

Whoops! I accidentally listed the big ones up top. But if you need more, I was also influenced by Moebius, Elder, Buscema, Gil Kane….Brian Bolland took me over for a couple of years when he started on Judge Dredd (LOVED that linework!). Goscinny and Herge are still in my work here and there….and my father as well, who was a cartoonist in the forties, but had given it up by the time I was born. I look at his old work now, and notice that there are striking similarities to our work, which I was quite unaware of before. I didn’t really study my dad’s cartooning work (he was a sports cartoonist for some Toronto papers, most notably the Star and Telegram) but clearly he had an influence, as our line styles and some of our posing is very similar.

Stig's Inferno #1 (1984), published by Vortex Comics
Stig's Inferno #1 (1984), published by Vortex Comics

Can you tell us a bit about your career as a comic book artist?

First job in comics was working for a little company in Toronto called VORTEX COMICS, working on anthology stories, and then eventually the cult favorite Mr. X (a new omnibus edition of which was just published by Dark Horse!) From there I did a series called Stig’s Inferno (a creator owned project) which was nominated for a Kirby award in the late eighties. That nomination got the attention of the American editors, and within a year I was inking for Eclipse comics, Superman, Batman and other DC books. It’s been my career, more or less, for the last 25 years. The work of which I am most proud is whatever I’m working on right now (which is the Simpsons, Star Trek and Mad Magazine this month…). I try to make sure everything I do is the top of my game, and in theory, I improve a little every year, so my current work should be my best.

BUT…if I had to go back to one era where I woke up beaming with joy to go to work it was the year and a half I was Curt Swan’s inker on various Superman books, (though it was mostly a Superboy title at the time, I did a few issues of Action).

Ty Templeton, Tom Grummett and Dave Ross at the 2008 Sequential Arts Symposium
Ty Templeton, Tom Grummett and Dave Ross at the 2008 Sequential Arts Symposium's "Superman at 70" Panel

Can you tell us specifically about the comics work you had published in 2008?

A few issues of the Simpsons (that I wrote and drew). An issue or two of Howard the Duck (that I wrote but didn’t draw), a couple of Mad Magazine pieces (one in the 20 stupidest moments of 2008 issue, and a did a couple of pages in the MAD MAGAZINE San Diego Comicon special), HOVERBOY, The Republican Superhero published by my little imprint MR. COMICS. Two or three issues of Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, and I think my issue of the Spirit came out this year. I’m certain I’m leaving something out, but that’s probably most of the 2008 work I had going, unless one of my issues of Exterminators was 2008, or one of my Avengers Adventures titles. I was writing Star Trek in 2008, but none of those issue have actually come out yet. I also had a bunch of stuff REPRINTED this year, quite a bit actually, but I don’t think that’s what you’re referring to. A good chunk of my time this year was spent teaching comic book layout and scripting at an art college in Toronto, but I’m pulling away from teaching as it ate up too much time and kept me away from the drawing board.

Hoverboy #1 (2008), published by Mr. Comics
Hoverboy #1 (2008), published by Mr. Comics

What are you currently working on?

Writing Star Trek for IDW, writing/drawing Simpsons for Bongo, I have a Mad Magazine project upcoming, and a special secret thing I’m doing for Moonstone, that should prove VERY cool for Canadian comic fans…it might have something to do with a beloved Canadian character whose last name is “Canuck”

Mission's End #1 (March 2009), published by IDW. Written by Ty Templeton, artwork by Steve Molnar, cover by Kevin Maguire.
Cover to the upcoming Star Trek: Mission's End #1 (March 2009), published by IDW. Written by Ty Templeton, artwork by Steve Molnar, cover by Kevin Maguire.

Do you have a website and/or blog?

I have a few. If you’re interested in some of my comedy work, go to the Hoverboy web site. Although I’m not listed anywhere on that site, it’s created by myself, Rick Green (of History Bites, Prisoners of Gravity, Red Green Show and the Frantics fame) and a wonderfully talented fellow named Marcus Moore. It’s filled with covers and toys and essays I’ve been working on in the last year.

I do have a homepage, but it’s basically just a place folks can read my old Stig’s Inferno issues online for free. It’s very basic, just the pages from the book, really. Here’s the link

Ty's contribution to the Hero Initiative's "Ultimate Spider-Man 100 Project"
Ty's contribution to the Hero Initiative's "Ultimate Spider-Man 100 Project"