While some of us may be delighted by the biggest and the most popular in the world of comics, we all realize that for every popular book, writer or artist there has to be a beginning. While there are many ways to success with each story finding its own route, there is one attribute that can be found in each one: talent. Up & Coming is a regular feature at Newsarama.com that seeks out the next generation of comic creators and profiles them today.
Ohio-based artist Benjamin Morse is an unabashed fan of superhero comics. From his own reading habits to the dynamic work on small press books Wargod and Hellhounds. After graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art with a BFA in Illustration, Morse has worked as a designer while fueling a dream to be a full-time working comic artist.
We talked with Morse by email about his work and his aspirations.
Newsarama: Thanks for talking to us, Ben. First up – what’s the current project you’re working on?
Benjamin Morse: Right now, I'm wrapping up art on Wargod #4, and working on some upcoming Hellhounds and Lonebow issues for Chimaera. I'm also working on designs for our roleplaying books, trade paperback designs, and a Chimaera Universe facebook game.
NRAMA: Do you do comics full-time, or do you have another job going on right now?
MORSE: Dude, I wish I could be doing comics full time. Right now I do a lot of design and illustration work for companies here in Cleveland. I'm trying like crazy to break in at DC or Superman Sample PageMarvel- if I found some paying comics work, I could probably afford to spend a good chunk of my time on that without getting tossed out on the street. Which is the goal.
NRAMA: You’ve got a lot of comics work with the previously mentioned publisher, Chimaera, who mainly run their comics on the Wowio web service. Can you tell us about those books?
MORSE: They're really fun superhero books- a good mix of modern style and old school stories. I really miss the Ultraverse, Valiant, 90's Image Universe, so I enjoy working on stuff in that vein.
NRAMA: I see a real passion in the comics you do. I assume you read a lot of comics, so can you tell us about those?
MORSE: I loved the new Batman and Robin- I'll be reading that as long as Frank Quietly is drawing it. Anything Garcia Lopez draws I buy on sight, and the Superman family "World Without Superman" has been pretty good, I've been picking up most of those. Most of the time I follow artists more than characters for new books.
A lot of the comics I buy are back issues- I'll check out the used bookstore every few months and buy whatever old cheesy 90's comics I can dig up. I'm pretty close to having all of the Liefeld/Capullo X- Force run.
NRAMA:Getting back to your own comics, what’s your ultimate goal in comics?
MORSE: Realistically, I'd be thrilled just to be doing Marvel or DC work regularly.
Beyond that, having been reading a lot of the Marvel essential trades lately, it would be great to do a really long run on a book, a couple of years or so. I think it's great reading thru the Claremont Uncanny X-Men trades and having just about every issue be Silvestri or Romita Jr.
NRAMA: You’ve done a lot of work for others, but do you have plans of doing your own creator-owned book at some point?
MORSE: I have a few ideas I'm kicking around, a scifi superhero thing and a light action comedy book. I'm not sure how receptive the direct market is to that stuff. If I were just a writer, I might roll the dice on that, but it just takes so much time to draw a book- I'd be gambling away a lot of man hours. And as an unknown, I really couldn't expect there to be much of an audience for that.
Maybe in a few years the market will be different. Until then, it's cool- I like the type of mainstream books that are doing well as much as the next guy.