Erik, you’ve just recently released The Dreaded Dinosaur Man on Webtoons, BUT before we get into that, tell our readers a bit about you. Where were you born? When did you first pick up a pencil and decide that illustration was your calling?
Born in El Dorado Springs, Missouri, the armpit of America. At least that’s how I felt about it at the time. Drawing was my escapism, always has been. It was also the only way i got any positive attention from my peers. I was a very bullied fat kid.
You released a few titles early on in your career like your comic strip Nobody likes Chad the Fat Kid, and, through your Hey Melby imprint, there was World of Zombies. More recently you’ve found success with your professional wrestling parody prints. How are you able to move between genres so effortlessly?
If i said something cliche to answer this your readers would riot. I’m not sure. It’s mostly from my experience, a collection of all I’ve been interested in. If others like it then so be it. Honestly it’s either I have a large interest or no interest in anything so it’s all equal. For Wrestling, I always saw it as live action comic books, so that it works like peanut butter and chocolate is a bonus.
You’re something of an advocate for a condition known as scleroderma, a chronic connective tissue disease, in fact you’re the only professional illustrator with this disease. What unique challenges do you face as an artist with this condition and how do you overcome them?
Relearning to draw sucked. I still struggle with live drawing. I don’t have any fine motor function in my hands so it’s hard to keep a level of quality i’m happy with. Plus, one of the worst symptoms is fatigue. So i get tired and have to stop. My brain hates that as it can go all day. Digital tools like the Wacom and tablets have made it easier. They remove the “what if i screw up” anxiety and allow me to smooth my line work to create polished professional results.
So tell us about your newest project that just premiered on Webtoons: The Dreaded Dinosaur Man!
Dinosaur man is my last, best chance at seeing an idea of mine prosper. He is the a man with the head of a dinosaur. He has two natures, the animal and human and he struggles to maintain a balance (like we all do). The story starts kinda in the middle. Dman and Spaz have been together for awhile, just getting by. Dman wants to help and free those around him so he is setting out to be a hero and not the villain he is known to be. The concept is pretty unique, what influenced you in it’s creation? Well the name came for being bullied. My bullies were not the sharpest tools in the shed, so that one of the more family friendly names I was called. Dman was originally planned as a segue from a reboot of Chad the Fat kid, but I loved the character so much and the lore (I spent a year just world building) came so fast I just ditched Chad’s reboot and started fresh.
We’ve read through the first release, you’ve just put out the second a few days ago one of the first things that we noticed is that the art style and the coloring look “episode” like ‘screen caps’ from an animated production.
That’s great to hear, I really want to capture the 80’s toon feel, but keep it fresh for a new audience. Plus, more creators are afraid of garish colors. Not me, I try not to ever use black except for the line art.
Tell us about Dinosaur Man, the character, is he a dinosaur with a man’s body or a man with a dinosaur head? Are there others like him?
His origin story will be told in a print form comic. For now, let’s just say he didn’t use to be that way, and he has no idea how it happened.
Talexxis seems to be a call-back to an era of sexy, yet powerful and capable women. This being your love letter to the 80’s, which characters from that period inspired her creation the most?
Teela, more Teela and a side of Cheetara. The slave angle comes for Star Wars obviously.
You’ve said that Dinosaur Man owes a bit of it’s inspiration to music, which bands and songs would you say are the most responsible?
My muse for writing the story comes from Blind Guardian a German power metal band. Their music is very fantasy oriented and I love music that tells stores so I’ve pulled a lot from their lyrics and feel. The Planet Tanelorn is from a song about a fictional city from classic sci fi writer Michael Morecock, thats one example. Other bands have some influence like Sabaton and Iron Savior but mostly Blind Guardian.
So right now Dinosaur man is exclusively on Webtoons. Are there any plans for an official printed version in the future?
See above, lol. Yes a print edition with it’s own stories is planned. It’s a giant universe with no throw-away characters so everyone can have a backstory. Those can be told in other ways.
Can our readers get their hands on any Dinosaur Man tie-in merch right now?
No, not yet. I want toys but that’s a big undertaking.
Where can we follow not just the antics of The Dreaded Dinosaur Man but you as well?
First go to Webtoons.com and subscribe to Dinosaur Man, it’s free and there are tons of other great comics besides mine too. Then Follow me on Instagram @heymelby and finally head on over to myspace, er I mean facebook and like my Art Page Erik Hodson Illustrations. Now for extra credit, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel and watch my daily show where I draw the comic LIVE!
Editor: Melissa Wong- Becker