Meet One of the Code Illustrators: Howard Simpson
Code. The Mysterious Man of God. We know so very little about it him. But now, Howard Simpson, one of a talented team of illustrators who has illustrated him, decodes aspects of the Christian crusader's personality for The Guardian Line™ fans. Also, Simpson, who has drawn for Looney Tunes and DC Comis, shares how he got into comics and other high-profile projects he's worked on.
The native of Newark, NJ, is now co-owner Abba Dabba Design Studios, which specializes in graphic design, cartoon, and flash projects. Simpson began his art career by drawing storyboards for Action News and Accu Weather. His illustrations are also featured in Quotes for Kids: Words for Kids to Live By, published by Just Us Books.
1) How did you get involved in Just Us Books?
I was to speak at a career day for Arts High School in New Jersey. I'm an alumnus. The morning of the event, I attended a complimentary breakfast for the speakers and happened to meet one of the co-owners of Just Us Books, Cheryl Hudson. I had an interest in doing children's books and was surprised to find one very close to me.
2) Is the list below accurate in terms of your work with DC Comics and Looney Tunes? Tell us more about it? How did you start working there? Is that how you met Michael Davis, creator of The Guardian Line™?
· The Awful Tooth (Looney Tunes, August 2000)
· Bad News Cat (Looney Tunes, January 2001)
· Door To Door Duck (Looney Tunes, March 2004)
· Doors (Looney Tunes, December 2001)
· Puss in Books (Looney Tunes, September 2001)
· Quiet, Peas! (Looney Tunes, March 2002)
· Sign Me Up (Looney Tunes, July 2001)
· So You Want A Million Bucks, Eh? (Looney Tunes,
· There's Snow Telling What He'll Do (Looney Tunes,
· Whatta Yawn (Looney Tunes, September 2002)
It is accurate, to my knowledge. I don't really have a complete checklist of all my work. I'll leave that to the historians. I started doing the Looney Tunes work and work for Disney around the same time because I wanted to do comics that my daughters would recognize and enjoy reading.
I started working at DC Comics by going up to the offices and showing my work around to most of the editors, until one finally gave me work.
I met Mike in the lobby of DC Comics during one of those trips. We started talking and immediately got along with each, as if we had been friends for years and have been friends ever since.
3) Why did you become an illustrator? Is Abba Dabba solely your venture or are you in partnership with others? How long have you been in business for yourself? Do you also have a full-time position somewhere?
My mother says I've been drawing since I was two years old. So it's a God given gift that I had to use. Abba Dabba is a company with whom I have silent partner and have been running it since 1994. I'm totally an independent contractor right now.
4) Where did you get your artistic training? What is it about drawing that appeals to you?
My first two art teachers were great: Gary Singer in elementary school and John Guerdarian from elementary school to high school. I also attended the only art and music school of its kind -- Arts High School in Newark , N.J.
Drawing is something I can't help doing. I would do it if no one was paying me. It's part of what makes life worth living for me.
5) How and why did you get involved in The Guardian Line? Has it been a different experience than other projects you've worked on?
Mike called me and asked me if I like to be involved. I had wanted to do some comics along these lines for years, but what I saw from other publishers always
seemed to lacking in quality and Mike let me know that wouldn't be the case here. So I jumped on board.
As far as the experience, well, I've worked with the two Mikes before (Davis and Baron) so it was very comfortable for me. What was different was the drawing style I chose to use for the book. I felt this book would be a perfect for a film noir look.
6) Tell us about any high-profile characters you've drawn?
A short list would include Looney Tunes, Lion King, Lilo & Stitch and currently the Lazytown characters from Nickelodeon.
7) Can you relate to Code on any level?
Hmm... Code is a man in search of who he is and yet even not knowing those answers he exhibits integrity and the people around him know what to expect from him.
I'm very sure of who I am, but I can relate to Code on the other levels.
8) Code is a man of mystery, but can you decode Code on any level for us so that we may gain more insight into his personality and focus?
All of us at one time or another ask who we are, why are we here, what's our purpose or some variation of these questions. So the journey that Code is taking to find these answers is something that plays out on a more fantastic scale of an inward experience most people go through.
9) Did anything interesting happen in the process of illustrating the first book?
Just as I was beginning to draw the book I was becoming the care giver for my ill uncle. As I learned to be a servant and what that means, I was also drawing someone who was a servant to the Lord.
10) What was the hardest thing about physically depicting Code?
The hardest thing is the hat. I never got that quite right.
11) If Code were to become a movie, in addition to the comic line, which well-known actor would you want to portray his voice?
Kevin Grevioux would be great voice for Code!