Tuesday, February 27, 2024

An Interview with Comic Book Artist/Author Sandy Plunkett

 

An Interview with Comic Book Artist/Author Sandy Plunkett

Originally from New York City, Sandy Plunkett is a wizard with a pencil. A long-time resident of Athens, Ohio, Sandy is an icon in southeastern Ohio. Beginning his career drawing for DC and Marvel Comics, he creates scenarios and characters that engage and amaze; fantastical creatures, superheroes and heroines, magical beasts, and so much more.  

Welcome, Sandy!

GM: How in the world did you land in Athens, Ohio from New York City? 

SP:  Yeah, I've gotten asked that a lot since landing in Athens. The simple part of the answer is that I was in a relationship with a woman in NYC who had friends here. She'd visit every spring for an annual dance party hosted by John Thorndike. One year she convinced me to tag along (I'm not wild about dance parties in really) we stayed the weekend, mostly at a community near Amesville called, at the time, The Helpless Far. I was taken with what I saw and the people I met, the kind of lives they'd carved out for themselves. Eventually I started coming to Athens on my own, visiting folks I'd me, exploring the area.

At the same time, I found myself dealing with bouts of depression back in New York. I think there might have been a number of reasons for this, but a big factor were the changes the city was going through in the 80s. It was rapidly becoming gentrified, its PR machine having convinced half the world that Manhattan was the coolest place on the planet to live. This meant wonderfully grizzled old ethnic neighborhoods disappearing overnight and rents going through the roof. The tone on the streets changed- everyone seemed to be on display, 24/7. The working class was just forced out and with it, a lot of the city's true character. So, around 1990 I decided I'd had had enough and flew the coop.

GM: What do you find most likeable about the Athens culture and environment? Where in Athens is your favorite place for creative inspiration?

SP: I've been in Athens over 30 years now and, as you would suspect, the town has changed a lot in that time. And a lot of what first attracted me has disappeared. It's hard to put a word to the quality the town had back then. It felt very much like the small, Appalachian college town it was but the influence of a somewhat anarchistic, back-to-the-land community added a sense of  possibility and unity I hadn't experienced elsewhere. There seemed to be endless invention in how people were shaping their lives. I'm still impressed by how positive many Athenians are about constructing a better world, for themselves and others, but OU has grown so dominant, the real estate market has grown so prohibitive, that it's made Athens seem like a more serious, money-orient environment, stifling that sense of freedom.

My favorite place for creative inspiration? Well, that to has changed over the years, but once the students have cleared the bricks for the summer, I love to take a sketch book uptown and sit outside the Donkey Café, watching the light fade in the evening, just absorbing the atmosphere.

GM: Your creative portfolio is extensive; Spider-Man, Batman, Daredevil, Dc Comics, Marvel Comics, etc. Who is your favorite character to create?

SP: Well, when I have worked on a copyrighted character like the ones you mentioned, I'm not actually “creating” a character- I'm just trying to add something to a preexisting “property” while still sticking to the core of what makes that hero work. It's an interesting and enjoyable challenge- seeking out possibilities no other writer or artist might have found yet. Alan Moore did this brilliantly with DC's Swamp Thing. When working at Marvel regularly, I'd seek out their lesser known characters to work on, mostly because they weren't quite so closely scrutinized by the marketing people who were always very concerned about writers going “off message”. You'd have a little more latitude, creatively, doing the more low profile heroes. I enjoyed working on Ant Man and the Black Panther for that reason. Hardly obscure figures now, but back in the 80's, they were definitely considered second-stringers. Also, they had simple costumes- easier to draw than, say, Galactus.

GM: How did your childhood play a role in developing your artistic abilities? Are you a natural? Formal training? Are/were your parents supportive?

SP: My childhood shaped my artistic development tremendously, but not necessarily the way your question implies. I actually avoided most art classes in school because the assigned projects always seemed boring. My memories of drawing start at around age 5, when I was plunked down in front of a TV for the first time. I immediately fell in love with the old Tarzan movies, Flash Gordon serials and the Superman TV show, all of which being endlessly replayed on local stations. All this stuff, including Marvel Comics (which I discovered a couple years later) helped spark a desire to create my own fantasy worlds on paper. But I stopped drawing at the beginning of junior high because I kept being told I'd reached an age where I'd outgrown those sort of childish things and that it was time to start reading the newspaper and follow events in Israel or Viet Nam. Without the inspiration of comics and jungle movies and heroic spaceman, the world seemed like a much duller place and the inspiration to draw- and create comics of my own- withered. Fortunately, I managed to come back to my senses sometime near the end of tenth grade and started buying comics again. It was something of a watershed event. Buying comics was definitely not considered cool back then and so this was something of an existential decision for  me. And once I was back in the fold, I began drawing again.

GM: What are you currently creating? 

SP: By the time anyone reads this, I'm pretty sure I'll already have moved on to other commissions. But right now, I'm doing a t-shirt design for the Southeast Ohio History Center, finishing up a large Justice Society of America drawing for a private collector and starting  work on a poster for Rural Action.

GM: Who is your favorite all-time artist?

SP: Well, there's no way I could ever isolate one artists from the dozens (hundreds?) of artists whose work I love. And even a list of top ten given right now would probably change if you asked again in a year. As far as the fine artists go I'd put Rembrandt at the top. And as for comic book artists and illustrators, I'd say Frank Frazetta, Carlos Nine, J C Coll, Herge, Jeffrey Catherine Jones and many, many others.

GM: Describe your studio and where you work... do you have a muse, listen to music, special lighting, or something else to spur creativity when you work?

SP: How would I describe my work space? Rustic, bordering on primitive. (See drawing at end).

Not inspired by music so much anymore. I get excited (and inspired) when I discover artists that are new to me, whether they be architects or photographers or print makers. Even better, when a faded interest in some art movement or genre is rekindled. Recently I picked up a beautiful book of early movie posters, many of them lithograph prints, that made me swoon. Both consciously and I'm sure unconsciously, I start to incorporated design elements or approaches to composition or color schemes from those artists into my own work.

GM: What is your best advice for young artists finding their way in the comic book industry?

SP: Learn to live frugally.

GM: List some things that your fans may not know about you...

SP: What fans don't know about me would probably best remain unknown. But, listing a few of the less embarrassing ones. I’m a hopeless romantic, a believer in magical thinking, always fantasized about being a night janitor.

GM: What's for lunch?

SP: Whatever I can scrounge from the fridge. If not, a peanut butter and jam sandwich- always a great fallback.

Sandy's studio (c) Illustration by Sandy Plunkett

Connect with Sandy:

https://www.plunkettcomicart.com/

Southeast Ohio History Museum

https://www.comicartfans.com/comic-artists/sandy_plunkett.asp

https://www.marvel.com/comics/creators/3733/sandy_plunkett

WOUB Interview (November 2023)

Meet the Artist Sandy Plunkett (WOUB/PBS)

(The Athens News 2009)

Wiki

Blogger’s Note: It was December 2023 when I first met Sandy Plunkett. As the sponsor of a first-time book fair at The Dairy Barn, my planning was off and I overbooked authors. Sandy, who had called prior to let me know, was running late to the book fair. In a room full of round tables (not configured for author book signings), zealous authors, and stacks of books, everyone scrambled for space. In the frenzy, I forgot to hold a table for Sandy (the most prolific artist/author in southeastern Ohio). When Sandy arrived, I was humbled by his kindness. My offering was a small desk in the middle of the room. Sandy was fine with the space and the event went well. My son was thrilled to receive an autographed copy of Sandy's book. We will be sponsoring the book fair at The Dairy Barn in 2024 with rectangle tables. Sandy, I hope you will headline the event!

 


Monday, February 26, 2024

Milliron Monday: Letters Home Sept 10 1960

   

Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.:  June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Virginia Joyann "Jody" Haley Smith: April 2, 1938 - May 9, 2021
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Milliron Farm and Clinic, Dr. Pete and Jody Smith. 

"Pete and I went for a beautiful ride up into the foothills the morning of our anniversary."
― Jody Smith

Jody's letter home to Mansfield, Ohio. After Jody passed away, I remember seeing "two very nice bound (blank pages) books." The pages are still blank.

Route 1
Fort Collins, Colorado
Saturday, August 20, 1960

Hi,
    Sorry I haven't written for so long but things are awfully busy around here what with Jessica, remodeling the apartment, and getting ours and the Field's furniture switched around.
    Jessica is now eating carrots as well as her cereal. Tuesday, September 6, she weighed 9 lbs. 12 1/2 oz. and was 23 1/2 inches long. She's also been doing "pushups" lately. She raises her head clear off the bed and supports herself on her hands.
    Steve Field stopped a week or so ago and the first thing he said was, "You've painted the door. Makes the whole place look better," so I guess your work hasn't gone unnoticed, Mom. That meatgrinder has been a real timesaver. Sure makes great hash and we really are using the stepladder after all, painting the apartment.
    I didn't forget your birthday, Dad, but I never seem to get time to write, so Happy Birthday, a bit late.
    I keep saying I'll write every night before I go to bed but I'm always too tired, so this is being written at 6 a.m.!
    Pete and I went for a beautiful ride up into the foothills the morning of our anniversary. We borrowed Saha - Birky's half-Arab and Pete and Mary Lou Matthews took care of Jessica for us.
    Pete's folks sent us two very nice bound (blank pages) books for our "paper anniversary." Hope we get time to write in them.
    Thanks for the anniversary card, Jess.
    Bye for now.
Love, 
Jody
     
Previous Letters Home: 

~  ~ 

  
Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

  

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

An Interview with Ohio Author Tim Bookman

 

An Interview with Ohio Author Tim Bookman

From SE Ohio USA, Tim Bookman is the author of Homegrown, a suspense thriller about “a young man who, through bad circumstance after bad circumstance, is driven to turn on society. Through his high intellect, he develops a plan that could possibly bring the nation to its knees.”

I recently caught with Tim and asked about his new book and much more.

Welcome, Tim!

GM: What is the premise for your new book Homegrown?

TB: I originally tried to develop the idea of how soft and fragile we are in the USA. Through Covid, I have seen how divided our country becomes when anything affects the general population personally. We get angry when attacked, but feed up when we are affected personally. So, I gathered facts about our infrastructure and modeled an unfortunate character in the mold of Ted Kaczynski (Unabomber), then coupled the character with a knowledge of our infrastructure and the backing of an extremist group. The premise imagines the effects of their actions and the response of the American population. I use real-life personalities that are put into situations that cause people’s demeanor to change, and through that change how their behavior impacts the people they interact with.

GM: What would you like readers to take away from your book?
TB: My book Is intended to move America awake of the need to better protect our infrastructure, and the access to information that makes locating it possible. Also, it is meant to raise awareness of our reliance upon our infrastructure and the need to have alternatives to compensate it’s interruptions.

GM: Who is your favorite author?
TB: Clive Cussler is my favorite author. The way he uses existing technology to interact with his stories, then uses that technology to help solve his storyline is brilliant.

GM: What are you currently writing?
TB: I’m writing a short non-fiction on my belief in forest farming. Taking small tracks of forested properties then, without destroying the wooded property, transforming it into a property that pays for itself; self-sustaining forest farming.

GM: What are you currently reading?
TB: I am reading articles and literature on the Hopewell Indian tribe. I am trying to understand the various formations they built throughout the mid-west.

GM: List 5 things your fans may not know about you…
TB: 1) I didn’t go to college. I started in construction straight out of high school and have been in the industry for 45 years.
2) My wife and I (of 42 years) have lived in Hocking County Ohio our entire life. We raised three children and have eight grandchildren – all reside in Hocking County.
3) I have raised my family to love the outdoors – hunting, fishing, and hiking. We are excellent morel mushroom hunters and can identify most species of plants and trees found in Appalachian forests.
4) I love to build. I have been part of building structures all over northeastern USA, all different styles, including historical, new builds, factories, churches, and office complexes. I even built the house I live in.

Connect with Tim:
Homegrown on Amazon




Monday, February 19, 2024

Milliron Monday: Letters Home August 20 1960

  

Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.:  June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Virginia Joyann "Jody" Haley Smith: April 2, 1938 - May 9, 2021
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Milliron Farm and Clinic, Dr. Pete and Jody Smith. 

"She still howls nearly all day long but at least that's better than at night."
― Jody Smith

Jody's letter home to Mansfield, Ohio. Backstory: Jody is enjoying living in the country with Starboy (her gelding) nearby, but motherhood is paramount and nurturing a new baby takes most of her time. Pete is a senior at Colorado State University. (In 1960, the cost to mail a letter was 4 cents.) 

Route 1
Fort Collins, Colorado
Saturday, August 20, 1960

Dear Mom, Dad, and Jessie,
    It was nice to hear your voice, Mom; I'd gotten so spoiled though, being able to talk to you whenever I wanted for a few weeks, it seemed strange for it to be an expensive luxury again. Thank you all very much for putting the money in the account. Pete was quite relieved and pleased and went out that afternoon to pay off the loan. I'm certainly glad that's off his mind before his studies begin.
    Jessica did an amazing thing last night - she slept from 10:30 pm to 7:30 am! She's getting two feedings of cereal a day and sometimes takes 6 oz. of milk, other times three or five. She still howls nearly all day long but at least that's better than at night. The bathinette is certainly a big help. I just cart it into the bathroom and fill it up and give her a bath. I've been rocking her for a while each evening and taking her out for a couple of walks during the day - a practice which she seems to enjoy. I took off her diapers and laid her outside on a blanket in the shade while I hung up the wash this morning.
    I'll try to write a bit longer letter when I get the time and energy.
Love, 
Jody
     
Previous Letters Home: 

~  ~ 

  
Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

  

Sunday, February 18, 2024

This Week @ Monday Creek: Time for a pedi...


Time for a pedi…

February greetings! It has been a good week – planning the spring garden, managing horse hair as Zubie sheds her winter coat (it can be overwhelming at times and is a sure sign of spring), working on new titles at Monday Creek Publishing, including Achim’s Pocket by Todd Linder, and Bandit Lost in the West by J.A. Hall. Both titles are for middle grade readers and will be released this spring. Besides that, I'm writing a fiction novel based on The Truants, a 1960s garage band from Jackson, Ohio. Still in its early phases, the first draft is almost complete, but somewhat still in my head.

My fun time this week was going for a spa treatment. I would like you to meet Mandalyn, my manicurist. She’s amazing! Last week was my first gel-pedicure. It was an hour of pampering in an ergonomic, vibrating chair while my feet soaked in a whirlpool of lavender water. The pleasant aesthetics of Mandalyn’s spa room was the perfect Valentine’s Day experience. I highly recommend Mandalyn (and gel polish for every cowgirl – it doesn’t come off, even at the barn). Mandalyn loves horses and is an artist. We talked about horses and her creative nail designs. Follow Mandalyn on Facebook.

There is not much happening in the event arena for us in March, just working on new titles and planning four Hocking Hills Book Fairs in 2024! Follow our Facebook page for book fair announcements. However, we are looking forward to April events! We have tickets to the Jackson Pro Rodeo and Equine Affaire Fantasia! Tickets for these two events are almost gone, so get your tickets now! The Apple City Book Fair hosted by the Jackson City Library is Saturday, April 6th, 10 am – 2 pm. I hope to see you there! We will have several Monday Creek Publishing authors signing books and I will be giving away free Creative Packs as well as other ways to encourage writing, reading, journaling, and creativity. In the meantime, I will clean my saddle, keep writing, and dream of spring.

 Planning for spring @ Monday Creek

An Interview with Comic Book Artist/Author Sandy Plunkett

  An Interview with Comic Book Artist/Author Sandy Plunkett Originally from New York City, Sandy Plunkett is a wizard with a pencil. A lon...