Comic Creator interview
with Robert Hendricks
Name: Robert Hendricks
City: Haslett, Michigan
Comics: Stranger Two Stranger, The Washington Tragedy, The Disappearance of Gordon Page, Jr., Legends of Baseball
Websites: strangertwostranger.tumblr.com, roberthendricks.net/comics
QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?
Robert – I remember buying I think Spider-Man comics when I was very young. & I also remember getting some sort of lightbox that came with comic characters & you could trace them out with paper on the lightbox & then color them to your liking. This was probably when I was around 10-12 years old I would guess. Then I pretty much didn’t do anything with comics or really read them until I was probably 37 or 38 when I discovered independent comics & non-fiction & memoir comics.
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Robert – I think it was a Spider-Man comic when I was around 10-12 years old.
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Robert – I was 39 in 2011 when I put out the first Stranger Two Stranger comic.
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
Robert – This decade!
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Robert – After high school I went to community college & studied graphic design & art & thought I would do something along those lines for a career. After I did that for a year, I decided that wasn’t for me & I went into journalism & later photojournalism. I really loved the idea of telling a story visually, but also having words providing a context for the photo & together they work really well. & so I have always loved the idea of visual storytelling. & when I discovered drawing again in my mid-30s after really not drawing since right out of high school it was such a different way to express myself from photography. Originally I was just keeping a sketchbook & drawing scenes from real life. & then when I discovered the genre of comics based on reality & non-fiction & memoir & historical events -- it just was a natural progression for me to try it to see if I could do it.
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?
Robert – I think mini-comics & indie comics could lead to mainstream comics if that’s what the artist wants. But I think of indie & mini-comics as a pretty unique media.
QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?
Robert – I don’t really do a press run per se. I have made copies for a few years now when I sell out of number one. But I am thinking about having it go out of print once I sell out of this last batch.
QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?
Robert – I like to price my work fairly cheap. & the reason I do it is because I want to share my artwork & I want it to be a low risk & hopefully high reward for anyone who buys it.
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
Robert – Well this year I think I will do 2 or 3. But 2 are really small 8 page books from the Legends of Baseball. & the other one is the longest thing I have ever done -- Washington Tragedy Part Two which was around 30 pages… & it took its toll on me as far as producing much else this year. I guess if I could do about 4 a year that would be pretty cool. Maybe a couple of short ones & a couple of longer ones.
QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?
Robert – Well I think I am a better artist. I think I understand pacing a bit more than when I started.
QRD – Do you do thumbnails?
Robert – I do thumbnails. They are super loose & don’t look like much more than stick figures.
QRD – At what size do you draw?
Robert – Depends on the book. For The Washington Tragedy I was drawing those pages at 9x12 & they print about 6.5 by about 8. The baseball portraits are done in my sketchbook which is around 5x7 & then they shrink down to about 2x4 inches.
QRD – What kind of pens do you use?
Robert – I use a variety. Mostly fountain pens. & all different kinds at that. I am kind of obsessed with them. I use a brush pen to fill in larger areas of black or if I want a thicker line.
QRD – What does your workstation look like?
Robert – I bought this drafting table off of Craigslist for $20 & that’s where I sit.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Robert – I draw everything by hand & ink the page. Then I scan it in & clean it up digitally. I also do the font work digitally as I made a font out of my handwriting.
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
Robert – I prefer black & white. But color is something I want to experiment with more.
QRD – Do you think it’s important to have a full story arc completely written before starting to draw?
Robert – I used to think it wasn’t important to complete a story arc before working on a comic. I have since changed my mind. I found it essential especially with my latest work on the Washington Tragedy.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Robert – It’s hard for me to pick one. But I guess it would be Crumb. I don’t feature myself in any of my comics & my comics are not nearly as personal & raunchy as some of his. But some of my favorite comics are the ones he did where he profiled people in history.
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Robert – My friends & family have been very supportive of my comics. I am grateful & I appreciate their support.
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Robert – I do self-publish now.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Robert – Well I like to go to zine festivals. I try to do the Chicago Zine Fest every year. & also Michigan has a couple that I like to do too -- Grand Rapids Zine Fest & Mid Michigan Zine Fair. I also do the Michigan State University Comics Forum. I did SPACE a couple of years ago & I am doing it again this year & I am going to try to make that a regular expo too. I feel, for whatever reason, my work tends to “fit in” better at zine festivals & small comic shows than more traditional comic con type venues. I have done a couple of more traditional comic cons, but my work doesn’t seem to translate well to the audience that typically attends those shows. I have fun doing them, but I am not sure it is a good fit for my work.
QRD – How do you feel about doing work for anthologies?
Robert – I have submitted to a few anthologies & was published in one. I would like to do more of them & I think they are a good way to stretch your limits or break out of what you are normally doing & they help get your name out too.
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
Robert – I go to conventions. I have an Etsy shop. I try to get my comics reviewed when possible. I post updates on my blog. I have also been known to leave business cards or small free comics around at various places I visit.
QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?
Robert – Hmm… I think it depends on the comic shop. I do sell my comics at Qumiby’s & Chicago Comics in Chicago; but they feature a lot of self-published & independent work, so I do have luck there selling my work. I am not sure it would do well if the shop just dealt in Marvel or DC work.
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Robert – I consider myself a comic collector. I don’t have a ton of single issue comics. But I have a big library of books, graphic novels, etc. So I collect those for sure. I also read a lot of books & comics by artists I admire.
QRD – Anything else?
Robert – Thanks for the opportunity to talk about my work!