The first cartoon book I remember reading was a Pogo collection. It had a ratty, crimson-colored cover with frayed edges and a yellowed picture of Pogo on the front, doffing his hat to the reader. I didn’t get any of the jokes in the book, but I remember poring over the drawings and loving Walt Kelly’s artwork. When I was 8 years old, I remember being introduced to the French comic Asterix, and I immediately fell in love with Albert Uderzo’s artwork and Rene Goscinny’s writing – it was the perfect mix of humor, history and cartooning. I knew then and there I wanted to draw like that some day. The other book that had a direct impact on me was Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. It was the first superhero comic I read with a beginning, a middle and an end; I loved how Miller made it feel like a movie – that book showed me that a comic could convey depth of story and character. Those three comics – mixed with a healthy dose of history and mythology – are the primary influences on Kid Beowulf.
It would take a very long time for those influences to filter down into my work, though. My first foray into cartooning was comic strips, and I had dreams of being a syndicated cartoonist. I did a strip in high school and through college called Plato’s Republic, which I carried over to the Web in 1998 and would submit to syndicates. I did it daily for about five years; it was very much a hybrid of Doonesbury and Bloom County, but it never got any traction in the comic strip world, and I have countless rejection letters from syndicates to prove it.
Eventually, as my artwork and storytelling got better, I wanted to break out of the confines of the four-panel strip. That’s when I started to play around with comic books. I had a friend at the time doing a fantasy zine and he suggested I contribute a story. My tendency is always toward the classics, and I happened to be re-reading BEOWULF at the time. Somewhere along the way, it struck me as funny to imagine Beowulf as a kid, and before I knew it I started drawing a story about it. Kid Beowulf started life as a six-page zine – I never expected I’d still be doing it over 10 years and 600 pages later!
It took time for Kid Beowulf to find its legs – both in the writing and the drawing. I’m primarily self-taught, so whatever drawing style I have is born out of my limitations as an artist. I love the lush line-work of classic cartoonists like Walt Kelly, Albert Uderzo and Peyo, but I also admire the action storytelling of shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender. When the drawing days are good, I’m able to mash all those influences together, and hopefully, it comes across on the page.
I’m also very lucky to have a day job in the comics industry working at the Charles M. Schulz Studio (Creative Associates) in Santa Rosa, California. Located on the same campus as the Schulz Museum, the studio handles PEANUTS licensing, offering editorial and content direction to licensees worldwide. The studio is filled with artists, cartoonists, and sculptors, all of whom have great affection for Schulz’s legacy. One of the projects I’m involved in is the new series of PEANUTS monthly comic books from BOOM! Studios; I help put each issue together with editorial direction, and will occasionally write or ink a story.
My home studio is about a 10-foot walk from the back door of my house. I try to do some work every day, whether it’s writing, sketching, drawing or coloring, and my dog, Loki, always accompanies me to and from the studio. There are three books done so far in the Kid Beowulf series – the first of which is being colorized and featured on GoComics. I’m really excited to bring the series to a whole new audience – it’s certainly a different experience to read one page a day versus reading a book all at once, and I hope readers are enjoying the story.
My most recent work is stand-alone adventure from a new series I’m doing called The Kid Beowulf Eddas – these are short stories featuring the secondary characters in the KidB. Universe. The newest story is called “Shild and the Dragon,” and it’s the story of how the Dragon lost his eye and Old King Shild lost his hand. For those reading Kid Beowulf on GoComics, they may have remembered this scene, which inspired the new story…
Shild and the Dragon is available online and in print form.
Right now on my drawing table is the next Kid Beowulf Edda featuring fan-favorite, Holger (Hrothgar’s well-adjusted younger brother). After I’m done with the series of short stories I’ll rejoin twin brothers Beowulf and Grendel and begin the next chapter in the cycle. In addition to the new work, I’ve also begun a Patreon campaign, so if you are enjoying Kid Beowulf and want to see it succeed, this is the best way to show your support and get some behind-the-scenes goodies on the creation of the series. So stick around – the story is just getting started!
Read Kid Beowulf here, follow Lex on Twitter or become a patron of Kid Beowulf at Patreon!