It was artist J.K. Woodward‚??s third time at Scranton Comic Con on Dec. 8 at Johnson College, but this convention was particularly special ‚?? it was held just for him.
Joe Figured, owner of America‚??s Most Wanted Collectibles (735 Washington Blvd, Williamsport, americasmostwantedcollectibles.com), organized the con and an auction of donated collectibles as a last-minute way to raise money for the illustrator of IDW Publishing‚??s ‚??Fallen Angel,‚?Ě ‚??Star Trek,‚?Ě and ‚??CSI: NY‚?Ě after he lost everything in Hurricane Sandy. The Weekender caught up with the talented Woodward afterward to talk comics, Klingons, and the generosity of others.
What got you started in illustration?
J.K. Woodward: Comics and sci-fi. When I was a child, I was inspired by Spider-Man, ‚??Star Wars,‚?Ě and Doctor Who, and that never really changed. These stories would ignite my imagination, and I would think up stories that hadn‚??t been told and draw them. As I got older, all this practice started to pay off and eventually I looked for commercial work as a freelance illustrator. After that, I turned my attention back to my real love ‚?? comics. Drawing comics is really all I ever wanted to do since the age of seven. I talked about nothing else.
W: Who are some of your favorite characters to illustrate?
JKW: The gang from ‚??Star Trek: The Next Generation‚?Ě and ‚??Doctor Who‚?Ě were a lot of fun! I also really enjoy painting Klingons in battle. But really I‚??d rather invent my own characters. I think I have the most fun doing that.
W: You‚??ve relocated a few times over the years, to Los Angeles and Germany and then eventually New York.
JKW: I actually lived in a great many more cities than that. I move every two years. I find staying in one place too long can make you stagnant. A person tends to just accept their reality after a while and starts viewing the world through the filter of their specific environment. Moving to a new environment helps clear your mind of preconceived notions. It wakes you up. You learn a lot more and a lot faster this way. It‚??s like being young again.
W: What made you settle in Queens?
JKW: I actually haven‚??t. I‚??ve been here four years now, which admittedly is longer than anywhere else, but my wife and I had already planned a move before the hurricane hit. In fact, she sold her condo in Queens and we took up temporary residence in Long Beach, which is how we lost everything. If we had stayed in Queens, we would have been just fine. Our old neighborhood was not hit too badly at all.
We lived in Long Beach for only a month and the house we lived in was utterly totaled. The flood took everything I owned, including most of my art. I would never go back there.
W: What has that been like for you and your wife, and do you plan on rebuilding?
JKW: We have no choice but to rebuild. The question is how. Having all your possessions taken away is horrible, of course, but also liberating. I lost everything and it‚??s really not that big a deal. I‚??m still standing. I have a lot less to worry about. It sometimes feels like a great weight has been lifted. It also means it will be much easier to move. My wife and I can go anywhere now and there is very little we have to cart with us. We are going to rent a place in the Mount Washington Valley in Maine/New Hampshire until spring, and then we are thinking of going back to California.
W: You had to sell a lot of your original Star Trek/Dr. Who artwork. Was that tough to do?
JKW: No, not really. I sell it anyway. I do at least 22 pages and one cover every month; there is no way I could hold onto that. It just builds up and I‚??d run out of room. I always sell my art eventually. I just sold this stuff sooner rather than later so the wife and I could raise money to get a new place. I actually have an agent who sells the work for me atcadencecomicart.com.
W: What was your reaction when you got that call and they said they were raising some money and doing an auction for you?
JKW: Joe‚??s a great guy‚?Ľ I was thrilled and moved by the generosity of it. The comics community in general have been very generous to me, and I consider myself to be extremely lucky to be a part of it, but putting on a convention is no simple task. I am extremely grateful for all the donations and hard work everyone has done. It‚??s a bit overwhelming.
In all, I would say it was a great success. Not only was there the auction, but I also did commissions all day, sold some prints, etcetera. This con has gone a long way to getting me back on my feet.
W: Do you plan to be back at the next Scranton Comic Con?
JKW: I will go for as long as Joe wants me as a guest. All he has to do is call and I‚??ll be there.