If you’ve spent any time looking at fan created art on the Internet, I’m hard-pressed to believe you haven’t come across … and be struck by … the incredible work of Dean Trippe, an illustrator who lives in The O.C.
Dean is a terrific storyteller with his popular “sidekick of a sidekick” online comic, “Butterfly.” And, he has has inspired hundreds of artists and comics fans to share their reimagined versions of established (and in some cases, forgotten) heroes at the newly relaunched Project: Rooftop blog. Whatever he’s doing, Dean has a knack for creating and inspiring people to stretch the boundaries of an already imaginative genre just a little further … and with a side-order of class and style.
Marvel Smartass: Who were your “A-Ha!” creators — the ones who most spoke to you and influenced your own work and passion? What keeps you excited about comics?
Dean Trippe: I first read The Dark Knight Returns when I was twelve. My grandmother bought it for me at a small comic shop slash used bookstore outside Atlanta. That was a good shop, they had back issues and non-superheroey stuff the grocery stores didn’t. DKR was a big deal for me. I still have the same thoroughly read TPB.
I was also really into Chuck Dixon’s Bat-Family stuff. His Nightwing stuff with Scott McDaniel especially. Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo on the Flash and then ‘Ringo and Todd Dezago over on Spider-Man. Waid and Ron Garney on Captain America. Grant Morrison’s JLA, Chris Bachalo’s Generation X designs, and so much more awesome. And obviously, Batman: The Animated Series was a huge influence on me, as an artist and storyteller.
By the time I was heading to school for comics, I was into Hellboy, Tom Strong (and the rest of ABC Comics), Planetary, The Authority, etc. The Just-Outside-the-Mainstream stuff. These days, Grant Morrison’s my favorite writer by a mile. Artists are harder to rate, because I like far more styles of art than styles of writing, I guess. Guy Davis, Frank Quitely, Mike Mignola, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Joel Priddy, Chris Sprouse, Darwyn Cooke, Cliff Chiang, Scott Morse…there are a ton of great artists out there.
But the thing that really keeps me excited are the up-and-coming artists, like the folks I meet through Project: Rooftop. I tell you, there’s more talent than good books out there.
Marvel Smartass: What’s next up for “Butterfly”? Have you ever thought about animating it?
Dean Trippe: We’re plotting the Butterfly return right now. Jemma Salume, the series artist as of a couple of years ago, just sent me the pencils for the next strip, so we should be up and running again any week now. I’d love to do an animated series for Butterfly. I think it’d be great. Apples in Stereo’s “Energy” would be the theme song.
Marvel Smartass: How important have Web comics become to helping creators break into the industry?
Dean Trippe: Webcomics are a great big deal. The internet, message boards, free-hosted blogs, all that stuff is the only reason anyone knows my stuff at all. It’s the difference between stapling your mini-comics to shelve at the local comic shop (still awesome) where a handful of folks may be able to check them out, and making them available virtually everywhere on the planet. That still doesn’t beat putting a book into the hands of a fellow creator (or employer) at a convention, but for building a network of friends and fans in the industry, it’s the best.
Marvel Smartass: How did the team on Project: Rooftop assemble? What’s in store for P:R in 2010?
Dean Trippe: I just asked my friends if they wanted to join up. I’ve tried to bring on folks from every profession or viewpoint within the industry. Coming up, we’ll be running a Captain America contest, more awesome content for all the new columns, and a Dick Giordano tribute event. The relaunch has been so much fun, and well-received. Our mission is to promote taking superhero costume redesigning seriously, foster continued interest in these amazing characters, regardless of who owns them or how they’re handled in the actual titles, and to spotlight up-and-coming creators, many of whom have gone on to win awards and work for the Big Two. I’m incredibly proud of P:R. We’re glad to be back.
Marvel Smartass: If you could take the reigns of any established series currently in production today, which would you pick? Why?
Anything in the Batman or Superman Families would rock. The World’s Finest are the best. I absentmindedly write stories for them in my head all the time. Their archetypal nature as the IDEAL and the OPTION, day and night, hope and justice…ah, I just love ‘em. Have since I was younger than Robin.
Marvel Smartass: Throw us some comics blogs/Web sites you love to visit …
Dean Trippe: Comics Alliance does great comics news and interesting articles. I follow The Daily Batman religiously. Comic Twart is a great new comics art collective blog. I’m a huge fan of the guys at Robot 6. And I like Super Punch a lot.
Dean was a great interview. To hear what other creators have had to say on Marvel Smartass, click here!