I was born on February 9, 1956 in Gauley Bridge, West Virginia. My father was a coal miner and Baptist preacher. My mother is a housewife. I have three sisters. My wife Beth and I have been married since 1977. We have two children, Benjamin and Emily.
After graduating from Gauley Bridge High School in 1974, I briefly attended both the Columbus College of Art and Design and West Virginia University. In 1979, I enrolled in the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in New Jersey from which I graduated with Dean's List Honors in 1981.
The day after my graduation, I went to New York City and came away with my first professional assignments from SPI, a publisher of fantasy role playing games. I continued to work in the fantasy game field for about three years, most notably as a staff illustrator for TSR Hobbies, the creators of Dungeon's and Dragons.
I started working in comics in the mid-1980's, becoming one of the mainstays of the so-called independent comics movement. For First Comics, I helped create (with writer John Ostrander) the science fiction mercenary GRIMJACK. Grimjack became one of the most well known and widely imitated characters of the 80's and early 90's and was instrumental in paving the way for the era of so-called grim and gritty action comics. (As a matter of fact, the very term grim and gritty was coined during a Grimjack editorial meeting!) With First I also wrote and illustrated one of the first all-original American graphic novels, TIME BEAVERS.
My next major work was SCOUT, which I wrote and drew for Eclipse Comics. SCOUT told the story of Emanuel Santana, an Apache warrior doing battle with crooked bureaucrats and mythological monsters in a post holocaust United States. The title earned several fan nominations for Best New Series and Favorite Artist, and won a Spanish Haxtur Award for Best Cover Art. Like Grimjack, Scout proved to be popular and influential. Native American readers and educators applauded the book for its respectful but non-patronizing portrayal of Southwestern Indian culture and beliefs. SCOUT was also a favorite comic book of rock musicians like Jerry Garcia and Carlos Santana, both of whom I later had the privilege of working with.
While with Eclipse, I headed a comic packaging group called 4Winds. 4Winds produced several best-selling comic titles, such as THE SPIDER, PROWLER, and AIRBOY. Later, 4Winds branched into publishing, specializing in graphic novels from South America and Europe. We also published comics legend Sam Glanzman's two-volume S.F. epic, ATTU.
During this time, I wrote and illustrated DRAGON CHIANG, a futuristic tale of a two-fisted Chinese Communist truck driver, serialized by a European publisher. The talented Tim Bradstreet inked the project.
In the early 90's, I accepted an offer from editor Mike Gold at DC Comics to revamp, revise and revive DC Comics long-running science fiction character HAWKMAN. I did so in the 4-issue, full color, graphic novel length Prestige Series comic, HAWKWORLD. HAWKWORLD won for me another Spanish Haxtur award, this time for Best Comic Book Miniseries.
Ive spent much of the 90's helping to resurrect a genre that was long considered taboO' for modern comics: the Western.
The first was WILDERNESS-- my most ambitious project to date, and the one of which I am the proudest. This two-volume graphic novel is the biography of vilified Revolutionary War era outlaw, Simon Girty. Wilderness took five years to research and won me accolades from mainstream historians and frontier era historical reenactors.
Following WILDERNESS were two more history projects. The first was a graphic novel adaptation of the popular outdoor drama TECUMSEH!, which gave me a chance to work with Pulitzer-nominated author, Allen W. Eckert. I also served as costume consultant for the 20TH Anniversary Season of the play. This was followed by STRAIGHT UP TO SEE THE SKY, an all-prose, illustrated guide to several heroes and villains from the Ohio River frontier. This book also proved very popular with history buffs.
JONAH HEX: TWO GUN MOJO was my first collaboration with noted novelist, Joe R. Lansdale. This bloody but real dang funny miniseries won Joe and a myself the 1995 Bram Stoker Award for Best Comic Book Series from the Horror Writers Association. A second JONAH HEX series, RIDERS OF THE WORM AND SUCH, called down the wrath of 70's blues rockers Johnny and Edgar Winter, two whose Texas musical legacy was among the topics parodied in the miniseries. (Paradoxically, Id once paid tribute to Johnny Winter by naming a major SCOUT comic character after him, 'sergeant Laura Winters.) A massive First Amendment victory was won when all nine points and subsequent appeals for the unfortunate case were thrown out of court by the California Supreme Court.
Joe and I also helped revive the comic book careers of western fiction icons THE LONE RANGER AND TONTO before returning to JONAH HEX for one more miniseries in 1996.
One of the last westerns I worked on was THE KENTS, which told of the frontier beginnings of Superman's adopted family as written by old GRIMJACK cohort, John Ostrander.
Doing these books in the 90's was a special treat for me, in that they proved to any who doubted it that the Western genre could still be a valid and popular springboard for entertaining comics stories.
As a serious music fan and musician, Ive been able to channel these interests into my comic book and illustration work. IN the early 80's, Eclipse Comics let me to feature examples of my music on flexi-disc soundpages in both Scout and The Prowler, and later released my first full-length LP, MARAUDER, performed by my band The Dixie Pistols.
In 1991, I began a long association with the Grateful Dead. Ive created many CD covers, tour illustrations and limited edition T-shirts for them and was the main contributor to Kitchen Sink's GRATEFUL DEAD COMIX. DC's Vertigo imprint published DOGMOON, a poetic graphic novel which I illustrated for lyricist Robert Hunter. I create a full-color comics page in nearly every issue of THE GRATEFUL DEAD ALMANAC, available free from Grateful Dead Merchandising. It's an honor to follow in the footsteps of Greg Irons, Rick Griffin, Stanley Mouse, and other great San Francisco poster and underground comics illustrators whO've been associated with the band.
Through Grateful Dead Records, I also fulfilled one of my teenage dreams when I did the cover illustration for a CD one of my favorite bands, Hot Tuna.
Ive also worked with one of my favorite guitarists, Carlos Santana, whose biography I wrote and Illustrated for Rock-it Comics. It was during my interviews with Carlos that I discovered he was a longtime fan of my comic, SCOUT (Coincidentally enough, SCOUT's main character, Emanuel Santana, was originally named in honor of Carlos.).
I was honored when Grammy winning Nashville singer and songwriter Jim Lauderdale asked me to do the cover for his Headed for the Hills CD. Jim is a fantastic musician. The songs on the CD were co-written with my old friend and collaborator Robert Hunter of the Grateful Dead and features performances by some of Jim's best friends, like EmmyLou Harris and Gillain Welch. (Click here to see the cover in Gallery4- Rock & Roll Art.)
Music has always been as important a facet in my life as my writing and drawing. Ive been playing guitar since the mid-1970's and in the late 80's started to build a recording studio in my home. In 1999, I started producing, recording, and playing lead guitar for Terry Strongheart, a very talented Cherokee singer and songwriter. The Terry Strongheart Band's first CD, TEARS, received airplay on various NPR and Native American radio stations and earned rave reviews.
For Valiant/Acclaim comics, I served as writer and artist in the TUROK: DINOSAUR HUNTER series. The Turok video game features several of the characters whom I created for the comic.
I was also the lead writer for the STAR WARS comic produced by Dark Horse Comics and Lucasfilm. For them I did character development for the female bounty hunter Aurra Sing and a mysterious Jedi known as the Dark Woman. I also created the Tusken Jedi character A'sharad Hett. At about that same time, I created a heroic sci-fi vampire character named THE BLACK LAMB for DC comics. I also revamped a few of DC's older, lesser-known adventure characters: the CREATURE COMMANDOS (retooling the title as a modernistic military fantasy concept)and GUNS OF THE DRAGON (which featured Enemy Ace and Batlash in a adventure set in 1930's China).
In the late 90's I decided to do less comics work and focus on doing single illustrations. I creating trading cards for Topps (STAR WARS and MARS ATTACKS), Sheltone (the ELECTRIFIED! blues guitarist card set with my buddy, writer and historian Michael H. Price) and Fantasy Flight (GEORGE R. R. MARTIN's GAME OF THRONES fantasy card game); animation (character designs and Native American culture consultant for Universal Cartoon Studios); book illustration (Bantam Books and Byron Priess iBooks WILD CARDS series and collections of stories by authors Norm Partridge, George R. R. Martin, Joe R. Lansdale, and others for Subterranean Press); portfolios (most notably the VISIONS OF ARZACH Mobius tribute series for Starwatcher Graphics); and a return to the role playing game illustration through assignments from White wolf Publishing and Paladium Books. This is a venue that I enjoy tremendously since sword and sorcery/fantasy has always been my favorite genre. Ive done character and building designs for a multiplayer computer game system being produced by my friend Keith Parkinson at Sigel Games.
In 2001, I accepted an adjunct teaching position at the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, where I have taught courses in Illustration and Sequential Art.
Recently, John Ostander and I returned to our GRIMJACK character. The new series has been enthusiastically welcomed by comics fans, selling out in shops around the U.S. and receiving unanimously rave reviews. I also continue to do illustration work for Subterranean Press and the Grateful Dead.
Future projects include a series of volumes reprinting the adventures of SCOUT with Dynamic Forces Publishing; two projects featuring my favorite fictional character, Robert E. Howard's CONAN OF CIMMERIA, for Dark Horse Comics; hopefully another Grimjack miniseries; and work on a non-comics illustrated fantasy story called ODIN THE WANDERER.