Alumni Spotlight recognizes a chosen Kubert School alum showcasing their work and journey after The Kubert School.
- Alumni Spotlight
- Shane Davis
- Garry Brown
- Brandon Vietti
- Eric Shanower
- Cliff Rathburn
- Anna-Maria Cool
- Rob Tornoe
- Dan Duncan
- Kevin Colden
- Warren Martineck
- Kevin Mellon
- Thomas Yeates
- Henrik Jonsson
- Tayo Fatunla
- Grant Miehm
- Carli Ihde
- Tamra Bonvillain
- Gary Fields
- Elisa Feliz
- Jerry Wilson
- Jeff Brennan
- Emi Yonemura - Brown
- Adam Pedrone
- Rian Miller
- Eric Schock
- Steven Pennella
- Jason Quinones
- Clayton Cowles
Talent from The Kubert School
Interview conducted by Michael Kraiger
The Kubert School: Do you remember when you first noticed comics or comic books?
Eric Schock: The first comic I owned was a reprint of the golden age Daredevil #1; it
was a gift I received at an Air Force party. They had a stack of comics for all the kids; going though them I saw this character with a split costume fighting Hitler, and thought it was amazing. I remember how confused I was once I noticed Marvel's Daredevil later that year. The first comics I purchased were Daredevil #180, and The Amazing Spiderman #250, and Wolverine's first graphic novel (At this age, I was sure Frank Miller drew every comic out there.). As an Air Force kid we moved around a lot, at this time we were stationed in Florida. We would go the Base Exchange, and I would always gravitate to the comics. I'd get five dollars a week for my allowance, so I’d spend it on comics. Later, my parents both had jobs, and I was brought to a day camp where you could check out a binder with different comics in sleeves. This was my first exposure to a vast collection of comics, and what
they had to offer. Sgt. Rock, Weird War Tales, G.I. Combat, Howard the Duck, Captain America, Batman, Green Lantern, House of Mystery, are but a few I would read over, and over again.
TKS: Do you remember when you started drawing or perhaps drawing better (or more) than the other kids?
Eric Schock: My first memory of drawing was drawing a crude Batman on the walls of one of my homes in base housing. I remember trying to draw the golden age Daredevil on lined paper in crayons, and pencil. Moving around, I remember always having a lined notebook, and pencil. Drawing all the time. After, a few years, I graduated to copy paper, and a mechanical pencil. We moved to Arizona and I would draw during lunch and recess. I would always have my little makeshift sketch pad everywhere I'd go. The other kids would drop by me sitting by myself, and ask what I was doing. So, I'd show them, and they would always say I was really good, and ask me to draw their favorite character. It wasn't until
Junior high that I really started focusing on artwork as something I wanted to do. I'd draw X-men, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Batman, and every comic character I was challenged with. When, I reached High School I was known for drawing comics, and everyone came to me if they wanted one drawn. I was a teacher's assistant in art class my junior year, and when the teacher was out for the day, I'd teach comic book illustration. I started creating my own characters in my senior year.
TKS: What were some of your earliest artistic influences?
Eric Schock: My earliest influences were animated cartoons such as Space Ghost, The Herculoids, The Galaxy Trio, Super Friends, Transformers, G.I. Joe, The Real Ghostbusters, The Ghostbusters, Voltron, SilverHawks, ThunderCats, Robotech, X-Men, Spider-Man and any animation in the 80's and 90's I could find that interested me. I was later introduced to anime with Akira, Robot Carnival, Lensmen, and Vampire Hunter D. I'd travel to the video store and look over the tapes they had available and watch what I could. My earliest influences in comics were The Uncanny X-Men (by Jim Lee), The Amazing Spider-Man, Wolverine (any appearance, any artist), Frank Miller's Batman (The Dark Knight Returns and Batman Year One), Transformers, and Silver Surfer. My friend, Adrian Cronin, and I worked at a comic shop called Dimension X comics in the 90's and our shop carried everything, I would just grab a stack of books that looked cool, it was some amazing education. It also showed me that you didn't have to just work in the mainstream you could work independently. That opened my eyes to more possibility then ever before. I read The Crow, Sin City, Torpedo, The Spirit, Dark Horse Presents, Hellboy, Madman, Monkeyman and O'Brien, Azarak, and I was introduced to artist like Will Eisner, Wally Wood, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller, Jordi Bernet, Mike Allred, Mike Mignola, and countless more creators. The store was like a museum I could venture though and find any artist, or comic I might have an interest in, this made a definite impact on me.
TKS: Is there an artist whose work at some point you realized you recognized and that it was a single person creating it?
Eric Schock: Frank Miller was the person I recognized though my early exposure to comic books. He was the artist of the first comic I bought; Daredevil #180, and then I got the Wolverine graphic novel he drew, written by Chris Claremont. Later I would pick up Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Then I'd be reintroduced to him with his Sin City work. Miller was my first step, it all started with him.
TKS: Early on, who were some of the artists you admired?
Eric Schock: Frank Miller, Will Eisner, Joe Kubert, Alex Toth, Bruce Timm, Jack Kirby, Jim Lee, Burne Hogarth, and Jack Hamm.
TKS: At what point did you realize that being an artist was a career choice you were moving
Eric Schock: I think it was during high school when I attend a small comic con at a hotel and met a few of the artists and writers in town. I was showing my small portfolio around, and got a lot of great feedback, that inspired me to draw even more. I got a commission from a local creator, and I was paid more then what I was making at my job, I was surprised that I could actually make money with artwork. I started taking commissions for graphic projects that lead me to
attend graphic design school after high school.
TKS: How did you learn about The Kubert School?
Eric Schock: I learned about The Kubert School in the pages of Weird War Tales when I
was a kid. It always remained on the back burner in my mind throughout my life. After completing my graphic design degree, and working as a graphic designer for a few years a friend asked why I had never sent my portfolio to The Kubert School, at this point in my life I was at a fork in the road. Did I want to be a designer or a comic illustrator? I figured, why not give it a shot, I was accepted and the rest is history.
TKS: How would you characterize your time at the school?
Eric Schock: My time at the Kubert School was one of the best things I did as an artist/creator. My fellow classmates/instructors are still some of my best friends, and I learned so much about life, art and hard work. People have asked me what was it like? "Well, It's like boot camp for comic artists." The people you meet at the school will become your family. They will push you to create more, create better, and will always be there even after you graduate. I not only learned from my fellow Kubies, but some of my instructors were like older brothers and sisters. They would give me the most sound advise I would ever receive and they groomed me into a professional artist. Joe Kubert was for want of a better word, our father figure/drill sergeant. Joe said to all of us in our orientation, "If you are not behind your desk, you're not learning
a damn thing." I still live by those words to this day. It was tough at times, I remember pushing myself late into the night working on projects, and then getting two hours of sleep, going to class, then doing it all over again. It's not for everyone, but I'm proud of my time there, I wouldn't change a thing.
Sasa Bralic, and I were Resident Advisors for student housing at the mansion for two years, I was happy to have the opportunity to help new students adjust to their new environment. Having this be apart of my time at the school was one of my
fondest memories. Every Friday we would have a BBQ (regardless of rain, snow, etc.). This was something our R.A. used to do for us during our first year at the school, and we turned it into a tradition of sorts. It was a time for every student to venture over and enjoy some time with each other, getting to know the other students and creating bonds that would last for years. It was a time where you could hang out, and take a moment to relax.
TKS: Is there any particular class or lesson that stands out from your three years at the school?
Eric Schock: In three years you have a lot of lessons that you are responsible to bring to completion. "The Crucifixion" in Joe Kubert's class was one of my favorites. Toby Cypress’ class was also one of my favorites, learning his process, and having the opportunity to get inside his head as he created. Andy Kubert's second year narrative class pushed me further as an artist with the complexity of the lessons. Fernando Ruiz got the blue pencil out of my hand, and taught me not to draw with a blunt matchstick.
TKS: Did you ever doubt you'd made the right choice going to the school?
Eric Schock: I've made lots of mistakes in my life. I wish I'd have gone to the Kubert School first, before settling on a graphic design school. But, if I would have, I would never have met the instructors, and friends I have now. Life has a tendency of leading you to where you are supposed to be. I'm honored to be a part of my class, and also sharing the experience with the classes after mine for those three years. I never questioned whether I'd made the right choice; it was
the right choice for me.
TKS: What's the best trick or most valuable bit of advice you received while at the school?
Eric Schock: The most valuable advice I received from an instructor was that I should focus on the characters that I'd created. "There are places you can go where other mainstream characters can't go." With those words... and many, many, more throughout my time at the school I learned that my ideas were viable, and have a place in the world of comics.
TKS: What was your first professional work after attending the school? How did it come about?
Eric Schock: Well, I met an editor when we went to DC, I sawhim again at New York Comic Con and he liked how I drew robots. I wasgoing to work on a Bionicle comic for DC comics, but then that fell through (Istill got paid). I was getting ready to move back to Arizona when Mike Schneider gave me a project called Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated. I got involved with the project after talking with Sasa Bralic. He said this guy was looking for comic artists to help out on this movie. I sent him over some samples and he loved them. I took the job and eventually saw my artwork on the big screen in a theater, then on Netflix, and finally on DVD. I was invited to the San Diego Comic Con, where I was on a panel for the film and answered questions about my involvement in the project. I also got to plug my creator-owned company Evil Robo Productions, and our book ASH-TRAY COMICS.
TKS: Tell me about ASH TRAY COMICS and Evil Robo Productions.
Eric Schock: ASH-TRAY COMICS is an anthology of continuing stories and short stories by
independent creators. The creators own the characters, and the comic is a vehicle for them to create something without anyone telling them they can't do this or that. ASH-TRAY COMICS has featured dozens of creators over its
I began ASH-TRAY COMICS as an ash-can comic with Adrian Cronin a few months before I attended the Kubert School. Before graduating from The Kubert School I asked Sasa Bralic if he would be interested in working on a project with me. It went from just Sasa and I to more and more creators. The last issue of ASH-TRAY COMICS was released in May of 2014. Some of the stories have moved onto there own series through other publishers.
Evil Robo Productions is my self-publishing venture, it is an idea house and publishing company I started for projects like ASH-TRAY COMICS, THE BALD AVENGER, EVIL ROBO PRESENTS, E.R.P. THE GOLDEN AGE and NOVEMB. Evil Robo Productions is also a production house for artwork, design, and comic book illustration; we’ve done promotional artwork for TUCSON COMIC CON and Phoenix Comicon, We have also collaborated (or least I have) on books such as The Official Handbook to the AZ UNIVERSE, provided narrative artwork of both UNITE AND TAKE OVER - Stories inspired by the songs of The Smiths VOL.1, and Vol.2 for SpazDog Press, as well as Narrative artwork for Steampunk Originals VOL. 1, and VOL. 2 for Arcana Studios, Inc. We've provided pin-ups for the publication Jack Kirby Birthday Tribute with proceeds going to Kirby 4 Heroes, Standing Apart, Drawing Together: The One Hundred Artist Project for The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund / The Hero Initiative, as well as ICONIC II by Comicbook Artists Guild We have provided covers for BRIEF HISTORY IN TIME#5 for Sillie Monkie Comics, and the cover of HUH? AN A-Z OF WHY CLASSIC AMERICAN BAD MOVIES WERE MADE by Apocalypse Later Books.
We are a company from Tucson, Arizona with involvements in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. At this time, I wanted to reset the company I started and find more creators to work with, giving Evil Robo Productions a new face, and making what I set out
to create more streamlined.
TKS: What can you tell us about your current job?
Eric Schock: My current job is owner of Evil Robo Productions, LLC and I'm also a freelance illustrator, and graphic designer.
TKS: What's a typical workday like for you?
Eric Schock: My typical workday is never really typical, some days I'm a writer, others days I'm an artist, a colorist or a letterer and production artist. I’m also the editor; I have to wear many different hats. As the owner of E.R.P. and a freelancer, I have to talk to potential clients or artists, talk to people at comic cons, run E.R.P.'s social media and still find the time to do the work on my own projects. It's a never-ending cycle that I enjoy every minute of.
But if you'd like the even shorter version it's something along the lines of wake up/coffee/emails/social media/artwork/lunch/artwork/dinner/sleep.
That would be my ideal, but I'm usually up all night working. I work best at night.
TKS: What are you working on now?
Eric Schock: Evil Robo Productions is continuing our venture with public domain characters of The Golden Age: we are working on The Raven with Thomas Keith's company, Sillie Monkie Comics. I'm also currently working with a first time writer on a project, and working on prints for upcoming comic events/shows.
Eric Schock: I've been working on my next graphic novel for THE
BALD AVENGER called Bulletproof Corset, once that's completed then I'mcontinuing his story with his own book. I've also been working with publicdomain superheroes lately so the next character I'm working with is The Duke of Darkness. Then I'm going to venture into different genres with my art. I'vealways liked the idea of teaching narrative art to students, so I might take aswing at that.
TKS: Any bit of advice you'd give to a first year student or someone considering coming to the school?
Eric Schock: Don't expect this to be easy, if this is what you want, then make it happen. You are the only person in your way.
TKS: Anything you'd like to add about Joe Kubert?
Eric Schock: Joe Kubert will always be Sgt. Rock in my heart. Without his teachings I would not be doing what I am now. He got me to focus on my projects and not to rush my artwork. He inspired me to create realities that have never been created. He was like a father to many of us. His Legacy not only lives on through his children, but with each one of us he taught.
The Bald Avenger, The Bulletproof Corset