Traveler, writer, reviewer, all-round observer. I like anything cool & fast, but occasionally sit at a cafe watching the world go by.
If you look up Graig Weich’s name, you will find him all over the internet, especially on YouTube – and rightfully so – after all, he had his start at the age of 15 when his art was published on the cover of Video Game Magazine. Since then, he worked with Todd McFarlane (SPAWN #30) at the age of 19, has acted, was an extra, and been in the media spotlight (Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, Spiderman 1 and 3, E! Entertainment Television’s Ice Loves Coco, AMC’s Comic Book Men by Kevin Smith, Fox’s Buried Treasure, and many more). Most recently though, he created three comic book series and novels (Ravedactyl, Code Name: Justice, and Gekido (co-created with Writer Brandon Wilson)), as well as written, directed, and produced short films including Ravedactyl which won Best Action Short Film Award at the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival.
For a long time he’s been known as ‘the next potential big hit’, but somehow, his name had never reached the levels that anyone in the pop culture world strives for, that is until the last few months when he positioned himself to change all that. Staging a breakout during New York’s 2012 Comic Con, having his short films screened, releasing his new issue of Gekido #1 (sitting with him at his table were model/actress, Coco; America’s Next Top Model winner Adrianne Curry; and Howard Stern’s Gary Dell’Abate, aka Bababooey who all appear as characters in his comic book as Coco, Tricity, and a Ninja), along with Ravedactyl and Code Name: Justice, things are finally starting to change for the better.
Comics Crux recently received an invitation to his art exhibit held at the Peter Louis Salon/Gallery in Manhattan on June 26th, and I had the honor to attend this VIP Art Reception of ‘Be A Superhero’, as well as meet the guest of honor, Mr. Graig Weich himself. Featuring 22 prints of his work – which included cover art from Gekido, Ravedactyle, Code Name: Justice, as well as prototype/concept art proposals of Unbreakable (based on the movie with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson), The Matrix, Masters of the Universe: He-Man, and a special print of Michael Jackson (Graig was personally commissioned by Mr. Jackson himself before his passing) – an interesting flux of people showed up to view them. The price for each large-sized print ranged from $199 to $999, which is reasonable for the 36″ x 48″ dramatic art that seems to just burst out at you.
The prints were not 3D, but the effect they had made it seem so. Two prints in particular caught my eye, caused me to pause and stand there while I lost myself in the scene. One was of a three-panel scene from the pages of Gekido. The first panel is a tranquil scene of an ancient Japanese castle on a winter night. The words at the top state, “I like castles….” The second panel continues with a close up of the angled rooftop and a cherry blossom tree in the foreground portraying its fluffy blossoms mimicking clouds and snow. On the third panel though, are attacking ninjas flying through the air about to disturb the serenity of it all, and ending the print at the bottom was the word, “but…” I noticed there were several other onlookers, both comic book enthusiasts as well as local art collectors, that felt the same way about this specific print.
The second artwork that caught my eye was from the front cover of an issue of Ravedactyl. It is reminiscent of Spiderman flying through the air, but what’s eye-catching about it are the colors and scenery. The combination of the red tint in Ravedactyl‘s outfit and his pose flying through the air, gives the effect that he’s about to burst through whatever is protecting you from the print. In addition, the blurry scenery in the background gives the impression that you’re flying along with the character as part of the action sequence. Some of the other prints by Mr. Weich give the same impression that the main character in the frame is posed to come out of its enclosure and join you in the real world.
Interviewing Graig Weich, I came to learn that his goal is really to preserve the classic feel of the original superheroes that he grew up with, such as the old Superman and Spiderman of decades ago, through new superheroes of today’s world. He gave me an example of his desire to give back to his fans and share the same feeling he had through his work, “I once worked 72 hours straight to meet a deadline! I wound up in the hospital from that.”
To get an idea of where this desire originated from, and why, I asked, “When and what made you first interested in comics, pop culture, etc…?” His eyes narrowed as he thought back trying to remember, “Well, since I was little boy… I was 2 1/2 years old watching Star Wars when it came out. I didn’t know what was going on, but when the opening scene started, the crowd went wild as the title burst on the screen. That excitement and thrill is what I remembered and took with me. I used to have a Landspeeder with Micronaut action figures to go with it after the movie since the Star Wars figures weren’t out yet. By age 3, I was able to actually draw all the superheroes such as Shazam (Captain Marvel), Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Hulk, Wonder Woman, and other classics.” He went on to reminisce, “I actually met my first crush, Lynda Carter who played Wonder Woman on the original TV show I grew up with! She actually said she saw me on Ice Loves Coco, and invited me back stage after her Jazz singing performance in Lincoln Center. Incredible and beautiful woman, still” He continued on to the present and what his aim is, “As I get older, I want to ensure the classics are not lost. I want to continue to donate more of my art to help raise money for sick children and animals in need of charities.” Mr. Weich has donated his art to help raise money for Rosie O’Donall’s Rosie’s Kids, and Howard Stern’s wife, Beth Stern’s L.I. Bull Dog Rescue. “It’s the best feeling to think that my Superheroes are actually helping people in need in the real world. That’s what it’s ultimately really about.”
His official training came from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He admitted to me that it wasn’t easy, “At the time, it was rumored that they had something like a 60% drop out rate due to the excessive workload they piled on us back then! As tough as it was, I stuck to it and made it through and it taught me how to handle deadlines and large workloads.” He explained to me that by his 2nd year at the age of 19, it was very obvious that everyone was better than him – that only made him study and strive harder than ever before by continuing to practice over and over again until he became one of the youngest artists to be published when Todd McFarlane hired him personally to be the featured poster artist for SPAWN #30. I interjected, “It’s like the old adage ‘How do you get to Carnegie Hall?’ Practice, practice, practice.” He laughed and nodded in agreement.
I asked of his current inspiration and favorite artists that he draws from. “Alex Ross, Jim Lee, Joe Quesada, but Norman Rockwell comes to mind first. I love how he’s able to tell a whole story in one single painting. And of course Todd McFarlane who really taught me how to exaggerate and draw free from constraints -he’s a real ground breaker!” He explained how without the exaggeration, the action you’re trying to depict then becomes minimal, stiff, and hidden. His most recent projects allowed him to work with and appreciate Brandon Wilson’s writing. “He’s a creative mastermind!” He stressed.
I wrapped up the interview by asking one final question. “Comics Crux was created for comic book and pop culture enthusiasts, but especially for those who love and live it. It is also a place for upstarts and those who wants to get into the industry. Do you have any words of wisdom to offer our readers?” He drew in his experience and looked back to his life and purpose, “The main thing is to give back as much as you worked, through charities and donations. Don’t forget your fans, they are the best. Ignore haters, you don’t create for them, you create for your fans and for yourself. Also, as much time as you spend drawing and writing, you must also spend in networking and promoting or no one will know you exist. Seek out people who are supportive and learn from critics who are not haters, but who are objective and make good points so you can improve. It is a very difficult and hard industry to get into. It’s something that doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time, but don’t give up if you have something and don’t get discouraged! If you have no time to work on your projects, because of a job you have that pays the bills, then put in 15 minutes at the end of each day, and after a few months, you will see, that you have completed something. That’s how it all starts sometimes. Turning an idea into reality.” He went on to tell me that it is a very difficult industry to get into. It’s something that doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time, but don’t give up and don’t get discouraged!
Graig is running a contest where “You can appear in his comic books and movies!” For more info on this contest, as well as be able to obtain a new signed comic book, Gekido, you can log onto his website at http://www.BeyondComics.TV. You can also follow him on twitter: @BeyondComics, as well as Facebook: Graig Weich of BeyondComics.TV
On behalf of Comics Crux and its readers, thank you Graig Weich, and Peter Louis Salon/Gallery for inviting us to this exhibit. The Art show will be running all summer long, so stop by and check it out.