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Sunday, March 3, 2024

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Sandbox Spotlight: TONY PARKER, Comic Creator and Artist

THE CONVENTION COLLECTIVE: Thank you for joining us in the Spotlight, Tony! How did you get into art and why did you want to become an artist?

Tony Parker: Classic line of always loving to draw. It was near the end of my dual major that I realized that neither fields were where I needed to go. I went the long way around, but I’m getting there. I love the challenge of finding solutions to puzzles, and graphic novels are far more complex than people realize.

TCC: What was the first work you completed, where you stepped back and thought, “Yes, y’know what, I can do this for a living!”?

Tony:  I’ve been doing this as a full time professional for more years than I admit to, and I still don’t feel there.

TCC: Which artists inspire you? And they don’t have to be in the medium you work in, either…    

Tony: Does “all of them” count? Of course there’s the comic legends, like Eisner, Otomo , Kirby, Wood, Frazetta. I love the traditional classical stuff like Beardsley, Sargent, Doré, the Renaissance, and so on. Same goes for modern masters like J. H. Williams III, Jim Lee, Bermejo, Samnee, Bilquis Evely, Mahfood, and so many more. It’s both wonderful, and incredibly intimidating.

TCC: Can you tell us your greatest fan moment, interacting with a personal hero of yours where you may have gone a little weak at the knees?   

Tony: At one of my first San Diego Comic-Cons, I was able to see Will Eisner’s last panel. They were specific about not coming up to him after the panel, but I had to take that chance. I was able to both thank him for his amazing legacy, and shake his hand. He was polite and very humble.

TCC: What is your favorite fandom? Who is your favorite comic book character/movie/tv character?    

Tony: It fluctuates. I love the Star Wars mythos, to the point that I’ve made my own lightsabers and blaster. I’m on my way to a full cosplay. Same goes for characters. There are times I love living vicariously through characters like The Doctor, while simultaneously love the characterizations and writing of Walter White.

TCC: Outside of the ones you create for a living, what characters/stories do you like drawing the most in your spare time?   

Tony: I love drawing the dynamic super heroes. That kinetic energy is infectious. Been going through a Doctor Doom or Colossus kick recently.

TCC: What’s your working routine? Do you work regular set hours and days, keeping certain days free for personal time, or do you find you create any time the muse takes you?  

Tony: I’m the anomaly, where I have set times. I start around either 830ish on non gym days, and 10ish on gym days. I then draw until 5, when it’s then dinner and family time. I’ll then get back to drawing after everyone else has gone to bed. I don’t professionally draw on weekend days, unless there’s a crazy deadline, but still draw weekend nights.

TCC: When you’re creating, what do you use for background noise? Some artists use music or podcasts, some use a TV show that they just can listen to in the background. What do you use?  

Tony: I used to listen to music and watch tv at the same time as drawing, but I’ve calmed to the point I will only background one at a time. Some times I’ll loop the same song for hours or days, if it hits me right. Often the song has nothing to do with the subject matter, but how it makes me feel or focus.

TCC: What was the first comic con that you remember attending? And, indeed, what was the last?    

Tony: The first was a show in Oakland, where my first ever portfolio review was done by Joe Kubert, with (Michael) William Kaluta giving suggestions from the side. I didn’t know how good I had it at the time, by having them give me a review. It was an amazing review, and am still thankful for it, and learning from it. Most recent one was Emerald City Comic Con 2021, and I had a wonderful time there. There was a bit of anxiety, but the show did a great job of both making me feel comfortable, as well as maintaining health protocols.

TCCWhat’s your favourite element of a comic convention? And which bits could you easily leave behind?   

Tony: The congoers. I love the enthusiasm and energy they bring. It’s not a self glorifying energy, but that they love the medium so much. It’s absolutely wonderful to bask in and enjoy. I could easily leave behind the trolls. These are the ones that go to cause a ruckus. They either wear costumes that they know will be a problem, or are there to harass others. It’s an incredibly small percentage of the convention population, but they love taking the joy out of it.

TCC: At a convention, when you’re not behind your table or doing the things you have to do at a con, which corner of the show would we find you in? 

Tony: Probably using the bathroom. When I’m at a show, I try to stay at my table from before the doors open, to after they close. I don’t want anyone going to my table to see me, and then missing out if I’m not there. I’m there for them. They’re not there for me.

Tony: I was one of the lucky ones. I was working on 2-3 projects the entire pandemic. I tried to boost the profile and commission lists of all my friends who were on hold. We’re all in this together.

TCC: A lot of creatives are also took to crowdfunding – such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo – to generate income from their work. What’re your thoughts on that avenue?    

Tony: So many people on the outside don’t see how much work is actually involved, and how slim the margins are. I know a few people who are successful at it, and it takes a tremendous amount of effort. The biggest long term drawback for so many KS books is that there is a limited window for fans to get the books. For most of them, it’s either get it when the funding is live, or miss out. I know that there are companies that are working at long term book sales for those type of sales projects, but it can be frustrating for both the creator and the customer.

TCC: The conventions are slowly but surely coming back, thank goodness! Have you attended one yet, do you intend to get back out behind a table soon? What’s your next convention or, if you’re holding off for a while longer, what’s your thoughts on cons right now?

Tony: We met at ECCC 2021. 😉 I hope to one or two in 2022, but any time at a convention is time that I can’t use creating books. It’s a tough balancing act.

TCC: But let’s get back to the important stuff:  your work! What projects have you recently finished, what are you working on at the moment, what projects are coming up that you can talk about?

Tony: I turned in the pages for Ascencia #11 right before going to ECCC, and am waiting for the script for #12. I have other projects that I’m working on, but can’t say due to NDA’s. I can’t wait to talk about them in the future.

TCC: How do you stay connected with fans? Do you use a mailing list or newsletters, are you active on social media?    I’m active on social media.

Tony: My Facebook and Twitter handles are TonyParkerArt, and Instagram is TonyParkerArt1. I have a common name, and another artist got there first. No hate there. He got there before I did, and he got it fair and square. Safest place to contact is probably Facebook, and safest to view is Instagram.

TCC: Where can people see an example of your art online and find out about your rates?

Tony: My website is TonyParkerArt.com, though social media is a better place to see my most current work. I’m booked solid for the next while with both professional work and commissions, but can be contacted through my website. 🙂

TCC: Thanks, Tony, for your time!

Tony: Thanks for having me! Have a wonderful week! 😀

We at The Convention Collective want to showcase the very best in creative talent. Are you a creator who would like to be featured in our weekly Sandbox Spotlight? Leave a comment here, or reach out to us at admin@TheConventionCollective.com

Dan Berry
Dan Berry
Dan Berry is a man of mystery, an enigma that flits from convention to convention like a spectre, like a spirit. His interests range far and wide: he cannot be determined, he cannot be defined, he cannot be contained. He's like the wind. He also is a Sagittarius and enjoys a nice Italian.

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