Saturday, November 14, 2020

Herotalk Interviews by John Crosby (JC2.0): #9 MRasheed

Fellow member of the Museum of Black Superheroes Herotalk message boards, JC2.0 interviewed several of us in a popular series. He posted the interviews in one of the forums though they are sadly gone, unless he kept them in his own file archives. I happened to keep the copy I made to duplicate here. This interview with me was published back in 31 Dec 2009.

Very respectfully,

M. Rasheed
Cartoonist | Socio-Political Commentator | Graphic Novel Serialist 
Second Sight Graphix


JC2.0: Back again! Some people think that in cranking out quantity you sacrifice quality. MRasheed disproves that saying seemingly with great ease not only bringing us Monsters 101 but also a wide array of eclectic material, some of which is crawling into animation. This is an interview that will definitely let the art speak for itself.

JC2.0:  1.) When did you first get into comics as a reader and what titles/artists/writers did you gravitate to at first?

M. Rasheed: When I was a pre-teen, I would very rarely get my hands on a comic book. Although I loved them …was absolutely fascinated by them… I didn’t receive a regular allowance or anything, and just plain didn’t have personal comic book spending funds. I would get them every now and again as a present from an obscure relative, or if I just happened to be out with my parents and saw one in a store and BEGGED to have it. By the time I was sixteen I had a total of maybe twenty comics or something. Up to that point I didn’t have the luxury of only getting what I liked (I didn’t know what I liked) and my mini-collection was a wide-ranging eclectic mish-mash of titles. 

Then one day, the family of a first cousin of my mom’s moved out of their Detroit home and my parents received ownership of the property. The cousin’s oldest son had been in the military and was an avid collector of Marvel comics, having stored hundreds of various titles in boxes under the floor boards in his room. My parents, with little qualms or fanfare, turned this treasure over to my brother and me, much to our delight. I spent the next several weeks reading the who’s who of The Best of Marvel Comics… tales like the Dark Phoenix saga, Frank Miller’s first Daredevil run, the Mantlo/Buscema years of The Incredible Hulk, etc., and just like that, my little world had changed: I was officially a comic book fan. The Incredible Hulk and Daredevil were my personal favorites, the one for the art and the latter for the writing/timing.

JC2.0:  2.) What were your influences initially outside of the comics medium and did they predate your exposure to comics?

M. Rasheed: My first artistic influences were television cartoons, and in fact, any and all of them that involved super powers/super beings in some way. That was probably why I had always been fascinated by comics, rare though they were at the time, because I knew that’s where those great TV shows came from. My earliest memories of drawing involved my peewee interpretations of Underdog, Mighty Mouse, Super Grover, The Amazing Spider-man, Mighty Man & Yukk, Plastic-man, The Great Grape Ape, Hong Kong Phooey, Fang Face, The Mighty Heroes, The Kids Super-Power Hour with SHAZAM!, Thundarr the Barbarian, The Herculoids, etc.

JC2.0: 3.) When did you get into creating and who are your influences?

M. Rasheed: One day, in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s I saw an episode of a show I think was called “The Tarzan & Batman Action-Adventure Hour” and the villain in it was a glowing man-like being with moonlight derived powers causing havoc in Gotham or some city near Tarzan’s jungle or whatever. I was so impressed with him that I started a comic book in which the creature fought every superhero I could think of. I never stopped making comics since then.

During that time period, my influences were the studio house styles of Hanna-Barberra, The Underdog Show, Terrytoons, and Jack Kirby. After I received that treasure of comics from my cousin, Sal Buscema was added. Shortly after that when I started actively collecting comics and American Illustration prints and book collections, I eventually added Albert Dorne, R. Crumb, Sergio Aragones, Stan Sakai, Jeff Smith, Uderzo, Fritz Freleng and probably some others.

JC2.0:  4.) What books are you reading now and how do you think your tastes have changed over the years?

I don’t collect anymore. Every now and again I’ll pick up a story from a favorite creator when I’m made aware of it but I no longer read comic books regularly. But over the years I’ve gone through personal changes in what I preferred to read and create (I’ll probably eventually return to collecting) and I went through my Blood & Gore phase, my Cutesy Children’s Book phase, my Pornographic phase, my Traditional Super Heroic phase, etc. Today there are elements of all my old growth phases within my work, each one dominating as the whims of the story dictate, but none never too far from the other. If the reader gets too used to a syrupy sweet Cutesy scene then a character’s throat will get torn out in the very next page. You gotta stay on your toes.

5.) What are your views on the black comics movement and how it has changed over the years to become what it has today?

M. Rasheed: I never even knew there was such a thing until I joined BSH and subsequently discovered ECBACC and its founders. The idea of a “black comics movement” excited and motivated me, and the reality of it has me a little frustrated but still excited about the raw potential. Creatively I think it is the last frontier of black talent, with its true potential retarded by the baggage of the mainstream comic industry’s well-documented stench. I suspect also that the average black comic creator isn’t a particularly good business man, nor is he any good at thinking beyond the “Superman in blackface with an Ankh on his chest” box which has also caused the movement to stagnate. I think David Alan Grier’s skit about the movement in his Chocolate News show was the perfect, painfully insightful example of how the movement was and is. But as printing technology has made becoming a published author easier for the little guy, and Hollywood’s current love affair with comic book properties seems to still be going strong, then eventually the real black superstar talent will begin to infuse the black comics movement with new blood that will energize it to the billion dollar status it should be in, and where all the cool kids will flock to.

JC2.0:  6.) While the idea of adding more characters of color may be important do you fear it may pigeonhole some people or yourself into saturating your ideas with a highly diverse cast?

M. Rasheed: No. In fact, I think it is the ‘mainstream’ stories that are saturated with unrealistic interpretations of peoples, cultures, and ethnic groups that are forced down the throats of the public with multi-million dollar advertising budgets and print runs. Adding stories to the general pool that present various interpretations of characters of color by people of color is something that absolutely MUST BE done to counter the doctrine of nonsense-passed-off-as-fact that the mainstream has positioned itself as the experts of.

JC2.0: 7.) For people not familiar what is the premise behind Monsters 101?

M. Rasheed: Monsters 101 is the story of a school bully and his victim whose relationship does a 180° turn into best friends when three monsters hire the bully to feed them his schoolmates. This incident starts the boys along a road of high adventure which effectively turns them into super heroes and the bully receives an eventual redeeming new lease on life.

JC2.0:  8.) How and when did this particular idea come about?

M. Rasheed: It actually began as one of a group of newspaper comic strip submissions in late 1999, and after some surprising advice from the great Lee Salem of the Universal Press Syndicate, was then re-created into comic book form.

JC2.0: 9.) How do you think your environment has affected how and what you create?

M. Rasheed: I can draw in any environment, but brainstorming and story writing require a strict peace and quiet from my immediate environment. Growing up, my parents never had a problem showing (and describing in detail) the scariest, craziest, most gruesomely disturbing movies and stories to my brother and me, and I think that has cultivated in me a fondness for the blood & guts, quirky & weird, Addams Family side of life that I tend to usually depict.

JC2.0: 10.) How much time do you devote to working on various projects?

M. Rasheed: All of my daylight hour time goes to paying work, with all of my free time around that going towards projects designed for practice or just fun.

JC2.0: 11.) Is there anything in particular you like/dislike rendering?

M. Rasheed: 

LIKES: Supernaturally-powered people, creatures, monsters, chicks, weird-looking people

DISLIKES: Backgrounds/landscapes and mechanical objects.

JC2.0: 12.) What tools do you use 2 create?

M. Rasheed: Traditional dip pens and watercolor brushes for inking with Higgin’s Black waterproof inks, Ames lettering guides, HB graphite pencils, BIC mechanical pencils, Faber-Castell PITT artist brush pens, Sharpies of various sizes, FW acrylic artists ink, Adobe Photoshop CS2, Illustrator CS2, Adobe Flash CS4, WACOM tablet & pen

JC2.0: 13.) What can you tell us about the free online comics like Popeye vs. Hulk and the whole Zeppo saga?

M. Rasheed: The concept of the “free online comics” came from my wanting to take advantage of the Internet’s publishing capabilities to showcase to the general public stories that I had no intention of actually giving the traditional print book publishing treatment to. Most of these tales began as spur-of-the-moment gags drawn to entertain friends, acquaintances or my Museum of Black Superheroes/Herotalk family, and I didn’t want the stories to simply disappear forever.

JC2.0: 14.) How did you realize you not only had a knack for pretty speedy (and amazing) artistic turnout and doing caricatures?

M. Rasheed: I received the first hint of my speed during my senior year at the College of Creative Studies when I saw the discrepancy between my own enthusiasm for FINALLY getting a semester where I had ALL illustration classes, and everyone else’s absolute dread of the same. It turns out that traditionally that was the semester that broke students into blubbering crying messes because they weren’t able to keep up with the work load of completing several illustrations in a matter of weeks. I found myself with days of non-stressful free time. I didn’t think anything of it at the time because our classes were full of students with varying degrees of preferred media for artistic output which obviously can effect how quickly someone completes a project. I didn’t really find out I was actually considered a ‘fast’ cartoonist until I attended the Joe Kubert School and found myself around a bunch of people doing the same thing I was doing.

I started doing caricatures in 1997 when I worked in the traditional ‘big head/little body’ house style of Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio right after my stint at the Kubert School. Since then I’ve abandoned the exaggerated house style and just do my own thing called CARTOON PORTRAITS as part of my over-all art business.

JC2.0: 15.) Also you seem to be venturing more into animation territory, what can you tell us about The Destroyer?

M. Rasheed: At the Kubert School I was a Character Animation major, so this is really a coming home thing rather than a new venture. It’s the ‘limited animation’ approach that is actually the new part for me; in school I preferred the more fluid ‘full animation’ which eventually led to my abandonment of the field because it turned out that I didn’t have much patience for it. Limited animation is actually more fun and fits in better with my creative style if not necessarily more aesthetically pleasing.

The Destroyer is a series of paperback Men’s Adventure novels that had a Marvel Comics adaptation in magazine form at one time, as well as a 1986 movie staring Fred Ward and Wilfred Brimley called Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. I’ve been a big fan of the property for almost two decades now, and I often use the characters to warm up for sketchbook work or, in this case, to get my new ‘limited animation’ style down pat. 

JC2.0: 16.) Do you do commissions?

Yes, they make up about 60% of my art business.

JC2.0: 17.) Any final thoughts?

M. Rasheed: PHILLY!!!

Monsters 101, Book Four: “Late Enrollment” is scheduled for an ECBACC 2010 debut. Also keep out an eye for LOTS more animation clips including extended trailers for each Monsters 101 book as well as a twenty-five minute pilot episode.

The Official Website of Cartoonist M. Rasheed

JC2.0: So in closing, check out the site you will be there forever oogling all the pretty pictures and that can only help in pulling you into the exciting world of Monsters 101.


See Also

HeroTalk: Master Spy Files 

Zeppo the Killer Clown by M. Rasheed 

Popeye versus Hulk by M. Rasheed

Artifacts of the Black Superheroes 

HEROTALK BATTLES: The Top BSH Fighters Battle for Supremacy! by M. Rasheed 

The Official Handbook of the HEROTALK UNIVERSE 

Herotalk Archives: Sketch Challenges and Miscellaneous Images 

Herotalk Interviews by John Crosby (JC2.0): #9 MRasheed

The Champion of the Universe: Victim of Fight Game Corruption 

BOOK REVIEW – The Asin Adventures: The Lands of Darke

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