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Indie Spotlight: David Moses

Hey fellow Comic Loungers, I have another indie spotlight for you guys! Today I have a chat with cartoonist David Moses for you guys to check out.

I was drawn to his work from the striking imagery and that Kirby Krackle heavy in his work. I got a chance to read some of his stuff and even a sneak peek at his next project. Take my word for it, this is some awesome stuff.

Hope you guys enjoy this chat and make sure you go out and support him on Instagram and stay tuned for his next Kickstarter!

RYAN: For those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?

DAVID: I’m a cartoonist (and freelance artist/designer/editor) who lives near Raleigh, NC. I began writing comics four or five years ago, and started drawing my own about three years ago. My work is overpoweringly influenced by Jack Kirby, haha.

RYAN: What was your first exposure to comics as a kid?

DAVID: I have older brothers so whatever they were into, I was into. We grew up in peak market integration -- where you have the GI Joe action figures, the GI Joe cartoon, the GI Joe comics, and the GI Joe movie (not to mention constant commercials reinforcing the products). It was like this for all of the popular IP franchises back then, so we had a smattering of each thing -- comics, cards, and toys, etc. So comics were always around.

That was also the transition period between, for example, Miller and Jansen’s Daredevil and the Image boom (and subsequent bust). In fact, I remember reading my best friend’s copy of Daredevil 181 in the middle of the street, holding it like it had a kinetic charge. The moment Elektra dies felt so transgressive, like such a violation of all the rules. It scared me, and maybe scared me too, haha.

From as far back as I can remember, I was drawing. Ninjas, planes and helicopters, tanks, and so forth. When I was about six, there was this one kid who was on my brothers’ basketball team that we gave a ride to named Mike. He showed me some comics that he drew, and I was blown away. That same trip, I started making up my own characters. I was hooked. That was probably 1991. The Image explosion.

RYAN: Who were some of your artistic influences growing up?

DAVID: My Dad was a closet artist. Really phenomenal. But he didn’t do it much beyond doodling for us every once in a while. He was definitely the main catalyst for my interest in drawing.

How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by John Buscema was massive for me. I looked through it countless times. But it always felt unattainable -- even the way it breaks things down, I couldn’t quite comprehend it as a kid. Or it felt like too much work, and I thought you had to rely on natural talent to be good, not work hard. That was one of most important things I unlearned as an artist. Now I know that work wins.

From first grade to high school, I took art classes, which mainly focused on classical work. Caravaggio was my favorite -- the stark, deep shadows and the development of foreshortening.

Comics-wise, Liefeld -- everything of his that I could get my hands on. I loved the look of Spawn, but with dark supernatural themes wasn’t really okay in my house, so I would sneak peeks at the comics shop, or at Barnes & Noble when they started collecting trades of the Capullo run.

RYAN: Your book Galactic Junk Squad was a blast to read. Can you talk a little about the inspiration behind the book, besides Kirby?

DAVID: Thank you so much! Yeah, haha, obviously Kirby is the main influence.

At the time I started, I was reading stuff all over the map -- whatever the library had that looked remotely interesting. A lot of it was current material, but I was also playing catch-up and discovering stuff that had been out for a long time.

As I leaned into the universe I was creating, I realized I could do whatever I wanted! That freedom is a massive inspiration.

RYAN: With so many books being launched through Kickstarter, how was your experience doing your book through crowdfunding?

DAVID: It was wild, actually. I felt like we prepared pretty well -- and then COVID made landfall in the US. One of my collaborators, Corey Corcoran, and I had the discussion early on about whether to pull the plug or not. But we eventually decided that the worst thing that can happen is that we just don’t get funded, so we might as well keep going. It’s going to get released one way or another!

I was confident that we would have made our goal a lot earlier if the virus hadn’t hit, so I reached out to Kickstarter and asked for an extension. They gave us an extra week, which ended up being perfect. We hit our goal a few days away from the deadline. Whew!

We are grateful to everyone who funded us -- and I’m SUPER proud of my collaborators. It was a lot of work, but the freedom and directness of what Kickstarter provides, or what Patreon provides, is important to me. Diamond Distribution is suffering right now because of the choke-hold it’s had on the industry, and now people have avenues to, in a manner of speaking, own their means of production. Until Diamond and the big two really start treating creators well, I think the industry will shift more and more to crowd-sourcing.

RYAN: Can we expect another issue soon?

DAVID: I’ve got the rest of this arc planned out, which includes two more “issues,” or collections of chapters, and then a few vague ideas for what’s after that…

All that to say, I don’t know how soon. Hopefully I can have something else ready by what would have been SPX in September, since it was cancelled. My two main personal deadlines are to have new stuff ready for Heroes Con and SPX. We’ll see!

I’ve been inspired a lot by this project, on a bunch of levels. Collaboratively, the doors are wide open. I’ve got some plans in the works with other friends and creators I regard highly. I’ve also developed the desire to explore other stories and genres not attached to this universe (or maybe loosely attached).

I love the idea of a periodical anthology where I can put whatever I want into it -- including the next chapters of the GJSWMLF universe. We’ll see…!

RYAN: Getting a sneak peak at your next project got me super excited to see the finished project. Can you talk a little bit about that?

DAVID: It was so much fun because I had my section, GJSWMLF Issue 4, and then a sandbox in which I could play along with other cartoonists, Creatures from the Chaos Realm. Their work absolutely blew me away. I would write a basic script for some of them, then they’d show me pages and I’d get lost looking at them -- their work was so transformative that I’d totally forget I had anything to do with the script! And don’t even get me started on Jasper Jubenvill’s covers. You just let that dude lose and he’ll knock your socks off every time.

I just got the proof copy, so hopefully we’ll have the whole lot by mid-June!

RYAN: What books or cartoonists are you currently following?

DAVID: Some of my favorites right now are Patrick Rooks, Harry Nordlinger, Hyena Hell, Josh Bayer, Joshua of Grand Rapids, Karmichael Jones, Ken Landgraf, Mike Prezzato, Juni Ba, Matthew Allison, Frank Gidlewski, Matt Lesnewski, Lale Westvind, Nate McDonough, Rich Tomaso, Matt Kish, Charles Glaubitz, Alexis Ziritt, JB Roe, Hank Simmons, Nick Cagnetti, Bryson Lee Webb, Cam Del Rosario, Aka Zenko, my friend Grace that I tabled next to at Heroes Con, all of my collaborators on this project (Jasper Jubenvill, Corey Corcoran, Josie Breck, Negashi Armada, Cory MacDonald), Ben Marra… I recommend following all their stuff on Instagram. I’m a big fan of Cartoonist Kayfabe. There was a point, before Covid, where I had watched pretty much all of their videos. Now I’m way behind, haha.

I’ll try and pick up anything Matt Fraction does, anything Kelly Sue DeConnick does, reissues of old Kirby and Ditko stuff… I was following a few Big Two stories, but most of the ones I was interested in have concluded (the Shuri series by Nnedi Okorafor, Female Furies by Castelluci and Dibenedetto).

Folks who church out pages really inspire me. Zack Empire, Robert Negoesco, Jaimie Filier, Pat Skott, and a bunch of other colleagues.

RYAN: What are your preferred tools when illustrating?

DAVID: I like to do as much as I can traditionally. I love the fact that I get to participate in a practice that great cartoonists have for decades upon decades -- I find it grounding.

So that means I use 11”x17” bristol board for most things (from Canson), mechanical pencil with blue lead (.05mm), Micron pens (.01mm, .05mm, .08mm, 2mm chisel tip), a hunt 102 nib, white gel pen for small corrections, a number 4 brush, Speedball ink (I recently switched from Higgins Black Magic), Ames lettering guide, circle templates, t-squares, short ruler, triangle, masking tape, white ink, a pen knife for pasting, cutting board, drafting table, lights… I want to be as comprehensive as possible with my list. For such a long time, the process was totally opaque for me, and I always like hearing about what other people use.

I’ll scan in pages at 600dpi and format them in the open source Photoshop analogue called GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulator Program). After working with it for a few years now, I’ve figured out a process that I like for prepping pages.

RYAN: What project is currently sitting on your drawing table?

DAVID: It’s a full table right now, which is great. I love having work to do. Right now I’m working on an 8-ft painting commission, a company rebrand, a couple of pinups and one-pagers for projects with friends, a project for the city of Raleigh where I’m designing a piece that will be put onto a bus stop shelter… Whew!

One of the best parts about this is that I can regroup and write out the plans for the next issue without having an itchy drawing hand. Having things planned out beforehand helps the work flow better and faster.

RYAN: For all the readers out there, where can they follow you to learn about any projects you might be working on?

DAVID: I’m on Instagram @d.moses.l. That’s the best place to stay updated. I’m launching a storenvy on July 1st!

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