Our latest Geek of the Week is Mike Crowder of Gray Sheep Graphics, who also happens to be a children’s book author with one fun ABC book out and a new book coming soon. Mike knows a thing or two about comics, the difference between science fiction and science fantasy, and breaks it all down for us in this interview as he answers my ten geeky questions.
1) Introduce yourself:
Howdy Soaks! I mean Folks! My name is Mike Crowder, and I’m an illustrator by trade, and a children’s author by accident. My website is GraySheepGraphics.com
2) What do you geek out on?
I totally geek out on comics (especially Batman), science fiction (Star Wars, Star Trek, Orphan Black!), fantasy and scary, but not gross, horror movies, I am a FOOL for REH, ERB, Fritz Leiber, and Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Hero. Computers. I was always the short, skinny kid reading my “Conan,” and “John Carter,” and “Elric” books, and comics, while other kids were playing outside. I can’t remember I time I didn’t draw, and can barely remember a time I didn’t draw barbarians and superheroes.
3) Marvel or DC? and Why?
Yes. Each has its own merits. On the DC side, Batman is, undeniably, the. single. greatest. literary character of all time. but Marvel had Kirby. Sure, he did some good work at DC, but he did his best stuff at Marvel. Say what you will about his style, he was the single most important creator in comics history. I never understood why my liking, say, the DC Captain Marvel, would preclude my liking the Marvel Captain Marvel. Growing up, my two favorite comics were “the Legion of Superheroes” and “the Fantastic Four.” Everyone remembers Dave Cockrum for his work on X-Men. And his X-Men was great. But his Legion Stuff is beyond belief!
4) Star Wars or Star Trek? and Why?
Yes. With 2 conditions, Star Wars’ Original Trilogy (4,5,6), and Star Trek TOS, (with Shatner/Kirk). Once one understands Trek is science fiction, and SW is science fantasy, two separate animals, why fight it out?
5) Favorite video game now, or as a kid, or both if you are a long-time gamer.
KISS pinball machine. I’m old.
6) Were you a geeky kid or did you come into it later in life?
I have been a Comics Geek since time immemorial. I watched the Superman/Aquaman show when I was three, in addition to Marvel’s horribly animated FF, Iron Man, etc. My first comic was an old Nick Cardy “Teen Titans.” Became computer geek after interwebs were invented, and I discovered PhotoShop. When my first PC broke, I began repairing them. Surprising how easy hardware is to fix.
7) Are your kids into geeky stuff too?
Yes. Primarily Star Wars and Pokemon. Pokemon? Seriously?
8) Have you ever cosplayed as a favorite character?
Yes. Jonny Quest, the Kirby Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Brad Majors and Dr. Frank N Furter. No pics.
9) You’ve snuck some geeky references into your newest book, tell us a bit about that. I think it involved a shark and a cereal box…
Thank you for asking! My latest book is “Hammy Hammerhead’s (almost) Big Adventure!” It takes place in the mountains of Florida, in Sharkland™, the world’s largest aquarium! There are “ly” references to Batman, the Titanic, Corvairs, Miami Vice, the Blues, “Heathers,” “Bored of the Rings,” and cereal ads. Our protagonist, Hammy, is a big fan of “Night Shark™,” (the Dark Carcharodon of the Night), has two Night Shark™ posters in his bedroom, and enjoys “Chum-O’s™” (the cereal Night Shark™ likes!) In the future, I’d like to have a back-up featuring the origin of “Nighty,” (as I like to call him) which is an amalgam of Batman’s, Superman’s, the Thing’s, the Hulk’s, and the Flash origins of Jay Garrick AND Barry Allen!
10) Are you working on anything right now you’d like to share?
The working title of the second “Hammy” book is “Hammy Hammerhead and the Lost City of Atlantis!” In the second book, we’ll learn A) the people of Atlantis neither drowned, NOR became mer-men. The city was abandoned because everyone went out for milk and just never came back. We also learn 2) the city was actually on the island that became the mountains of Florida, and SharkLand™, being so gastronomically large, was just built around it, with no-one the wiser.
Thanks to Mike for answering my ten questions and digging deep into his geeky history. I will say I am a little disappointed there is no photographic evidence of the Frank N Furter cosplay. LOL. And definitely check out his first book, Wild about the Alphabet! (And Other Tales), if you are looking to go beyond “A is for apple, B is for boy” and learn some unique animal names.