I met Phil a few months back at the Louisville Cavalcade of Comics. He was the first person to buy one of the first prints of my comic Death’s Life. Super big thanks for that Phil. It was the least I could to to spotlight his amazing tallent for everyone to see. Take it away Phill!
Tell us a little about yourself and your background? (Where are you from, where you grew up, when did you start drawing ect.)
I’m from a small town in Northern Indiana called North Judson. Life events in my twenties brought me to Jeffersonville, IN around 1995 and I’ve lived in this area ever since. So I grew up in a small, rural town.
I finished college in Louisville and started a career in graphic design. Later, when the internet came into being, I became a web and front-end designer and have been doing that ever since.
I have always loved to draw. My earliest art memory is drawing with crayons during the first day of kindergarten and noticing the kid next to me, copying off my drawing. Later that week my teacher suggested I try other activities beside coloring. I felt ambushed! I nearly cried, but sucked it up and went over to play house or blocks or something. Funny how things like that stick with you.
What is your favorite thing/comic/superhero/genre to draw?
I love drawing comic book style artwork. For the longest time I only drew heroic male characters that almost always looked angry — they still do I think! I wish someone would have clued me in earlier in life and encouraged me to branch out to draw other things. So now I try to mix it up a little more. Art had always been a personal, solitary thing that I did alone and didn’t really share with anyone. I showed my family my drawings and some friends, but as I got older I started to drift out of art to focus on other things. I guess I didn’t know people could make money in art and design fields. The people around me in my life at the time didn’t really know much about it either (i.e. the pre-internet era).
Who is your biggest influence?
In life, my parents were my biggest influences, teaching me about hard work and respect. In art, I have tons of influences. The big names that come to mind: Jim Lee, Travis Charest, Phil Noto, Adam Hughes, Eric Canete, Kim Jung-gi, Joe Benitez and tons more.
What piece in your portfolio are you most proud of and why?
Currently my favorite portfolio piece is probably the cover I drew for our upcoming comic “West of Light” (more details below). I penciled it, my friend and amazing artist Steven Bowman inked it digitally, and master colorist Francisco “Pac23” Perez finished it off and took it to an all new level. I really stressed about what I was going to draw as the cover to our book. To see it come together so nicely in the end gives me a great feeling of accomplishment. Now I hope other people like it!
I am finishing up a one-shot comic book, West of Light. It’s a one-shot, 44-page comic book I’m working on with Steven Bowman (inker) and Bruce Thomas (writer). West of Light is about a bounty hunter with two magically-possessed pistols, on a rescue operation in a dark world filled with demons. With a little luck we will have the book off to the printers in February, then we will be promoting the book and peddling wherever we can. It’s been a long time coming for me, as it’s my first full-length comic book. I’ve learned a lot and become a better artist because of it, so I’m excited to share it with everyone soon. You can learn more at http://westoflight.com/
I’ve also been doing custom Munny, vinyl toys and finished 3 pieces for a show at Ultra Pop! in Louisville recently.
In 2014 I created more artwork than probably the previous 5 years combined, so I’m hoping to take that even further in 2015.
I know you sometimes work with the Louisville Cartoonist Society. How did you get involved with them and what exactly is the LCS?
A friend of mine calls me the Rick Grimes of the LCS, and I get a kick out of that comparison. I started going to the LCS drink-n-draw back 4+ years ago and just slowly started getting involved in projects and volunteering my time and experience in design and website creation. It just kept going from there and now I help keep the group motivated and moving forward to create our best work in the form of self-published, comic book anthologies. The LCS is a group of people from Louisville, Southern Indiana and surrounding communities, who are interested in creating comics. We are not just fans of the medium, but creators. We want to write, draw, color and publish comic books. So that’s what we do. The group has been a strong motivation force for me and has encouraged me to practice and better myself as an artist. So to summarize, I think of the LCS as a group that cultivates talent, encourages collaboration and creates comics.
I snooped around on your website, tell me a little about Experiments Conclusion and Musashi vs Kojiro. Are they web comics, did you write them as well?
Experiments Conclusion was a short story a co-worker of mine came up with for the LCS future-themed anthology book. I was looking for a story to draw and knew my friend was interested in comics, so I asked him if he would be interested collaborating on a project. He wrote the story and I did all the artwork. It was a fun project, as I love science fiction in general. We crammed a lot of story into 4 pages — maybe too much, but it was still fun to do.
“Musashi vs. Kojiro” was a 4-part comic strip that I collaborated on with Troy Eskridge. He had the cool idea to retell and remix the story of Musashi, the ancient Japanese ronin (“The Book of Five Rings”). We did the first couple installments and they were published in the LEO (LEO – the Louisville Eccentric Observer). Although the LCS is not in the LEO any more, I’d still like to finish the story and complete the next two panels for the fun of it. I really enjoyed the single panel approach.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I try to post artwork and projects on Instagram.com/philback weekly
I also update my website, PhilBackArt.com as often as I can
www.WestOfLight.com is my current focus as we wrap up our comic book
Thank you for this opportunity!