Just before the release of Mysterius the Unfathomable #1 tomorrow at your favourite comics retailer, we thought we would check in with cartoonist Tom Fowler. 2009 also marks Tom’s 10th year drawing comics professionally, and his work has been published by companies such as Oni Press, Dark Horse, the late Speakeasy, Mr. Comics and, of course, DC Comics. In early 2007 Tom became a regular contributor to MAD magazine.
What part of a Canada are you from/where do you live now?
Tom Fowler: Originally i’m from northern Ontario (Dryden/Timmins) but we moved to Ottawa when I was eleven. I’ve lived here ever since.
Were you a comics fan growing up?
TF: Very much so. before we moved to ottawa my mother had a policy, though, of not letting me buy any comics that had the words “to be continued” written at the end. She’d vet all the books I wanted to buy at the corner store. My parents didn’t want me getting addicted and wasting all my money. Then two things happened: First, while having dinner at a family friend’s cottage, our host dragged out a box of old comics to occupy my brother and I. When my parents protested, she (being an elementary school teacher) tore a strip off them. After that comics were good. My parents went to a few garage sales and bought us our own box of comics (this was back when you could find comics at garage sales). The second thing was a move to a city that had comic stores. And that was that.
Ironically, through all of this my brother and I were reading all the Asterix and Tintin ( Les Schtroumfs, Marsoopilami, Lucky Luke and whatever else we could get our hands on in the school library) we wanted. to my parents’ eyes, those weren’t comics.
Who are some of your creative influences?
TF: The two biggest are Jack Davis and (as you may have guessed from above) Albert Uderzo.
Can you tell us a bit about your career as a comic book artist?
TF: No one wants to hear about my first jobs in comics. The two that I’m the most proud of, though, are the two that I’m working on now: “Monroe” in MAD magazine, and “Mysterius the Unfathomable” with Jeff Parker for Wildstorm.
Monroe because it’s fun to do and the people I work with at MAD are by and large the friendliest, sweetest, and most professional group I’ve ever worked with. Having your work available at every corner store, pharmacy, check out stand, etc… in North America is a real thrill too.
Mysterius is great because Jeff and I were given carte blanche to do just about whatever we wanted. We’re (certainly I’m) having more fun doing this book then we’ve had before, and it shows in the work.
Can you tell us specifically about the comics work you had published in 2008?
TF: While I was working on “Mysterius” for most of 2008, all that was published was my work in MAD: the ongoing feature “Monroe”, about a downtrodden teen and his miserable, alcoholic, grifter family, and an article named “Great Monkeys in American History”, about great monkeys in american history. I like monkeys. Is that specific enough?
What are you currently working on?
TF: Currently Monroe and Mysterius. Mysterius is about an abrasive, lecherous, and curmudgeonly magician who’s lost his way until he finds his newest assistant, Delfi, …and she gets lost with him. Mysterius the Unfathomable will be available in stores as of the 21st of january.
MAD is available from the dumpster behind your local grocery store.
Do you have a website and/or blog?
TF: bigbugillustration.blogspot.com Go and be dazzled…
January 21 @ The Beguiling, 601 Markham Street, Toronto 5-7pm
January 23 @ Isotope, San Francisco 8pm-Midnight (with Jeff Parker)
January 31st @ The Silver Snail, 391 Bank Street, Ottawa 12-3pm