Let’s Talk Comics #3- David Whalen and The Offspring

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On this edition we talk with David Whalen and discuss his creation “The Offspring” and Correct Handed Productions! Before we start to get to know David better I’ll let you in on my thoughts on The Offspring Vol 1 and 2! 

 

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The Offspring is described as a SciFi/ Action/ Horror and is centred around three 20 something year olds who all posses power and have a serious amount of personal issues!  Right out of the gate The Offspring lives up to its horror description! We are introduced to Sara, who is feeling a home, being pursued by a much much older mn, who when he catches up to her clearly intends to rape her. She is save in the nick of time by an unseen hero, who we later discover, to have actually have been herself! 

 

 

Sara, Will and Vince, our three hereos all come from troubled backgrounds and they grew up together. Will is still involved in the centre where they grew up, Vince seems to be struggling to manage his demons and Sara just got out of jail. Instantly we know that these three have faced some hard times but they are inherently like-able, Will is kind and loyal, Vince is that annoying older brother who is a bit of a pain in the ass and Sarah.. well Sara is a straight up badass! 

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The first two editions of The Offspring set us up for quite the ride and leave us asking many questions; where did these powers come from? Who else has these powers? Who is the crazy ass old man sacrificing people?!?! I look forward to continuing my Offspring journey to find out the answer to these questions! 

The Offspring has a very distinctive design, it is a more rough/ raw aesthetic compared with other comics available but it compliments the narrative perfectly. It is a gritty tale that doesn’tpull its punches and some of the panels are really unpleasent but you just can’t look away! The Offspring presents the events that occur throughout in a real no nonsense sort of way, it reminds us that life can be shit, but tough that is life and it is the experiences you have and the people around you that make it worthwhile. 

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How long have you been involved in the comic industry?

I’ve been working in the industry for about ten years. I started with small press publishers penciling and inking five to eight-page short stories for anthologies, eventually making my way up to working on full issues.

Who would you say were your biggest influences?

Growing up in a family of six kids, my parents were always very supportive of my artistic talent. That being said, I’ve had some great art teachers from middle school and into college that informed my work ethic and ability to tell stories.

What would you say is a typical day for you?

My day job is an elementary art teacher, so my days are filled with, hopefully, giving students the same love and understanding of the importance of the arts that I have. It’s not just drawing pretty pictures, it’s seeing and understanding your world better. After a full school day of teaching I come home and usually spend the evening playing games or watching cartoons with my kids. I squeeze in drawing or writing where I can in the day, finishing an outline or inking a page to stay on schedule. Weekends, holidays and summers are where the magic really happens. I usually get enough done in my off time to keep my story going and release issues in a timely manner.

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Tell us more about Correct Handed Productions 

When I began working with small press companies, they weren’t producing the kind of stories I wanted to tell.  Even though I cut my teeth at those companies and am very proud of the work I did, I felt I was ready to create my own universe and tell the stories that interested me.  So, I created my own publishing company. The name itself comes from the struggle that any left-handed person could tell you about.  It’s a right-handed world, so I tell people it’s not right and left handed, it’s right and correct handed. South paws love it, right handed people usually scoff at it.

What was the main inspiration for The Offspring?

When I came up with these characters, many years ago, I was reading a lot of superhero comics. I loved them and still do today, but I wanted to see people with powers that looked more like me and looked more like normal people that I would see every day. So, I decided that I would never put my characters in costumes. This was decades before “no flight, no tights” became a thing. As I started to develop the story I realized my love of different genres was the key to making an interesting, fresh, unique book that could change from story line to story line but still keep the essence of the characters and the idea that weird is wonderful.

What key tools would you recommend for budding artists/ writers?

For an artist a pencil and a piece of paper are key tools to getting better. Figure drawing classes, I think, are a must. Bring your sketchbook to the mall and draw as many kinds of people as you can. Don’t worry about perfect, just practice. Reading comics is great, but study classical artists also. Peter Paul Rubens and Michelangelo are great fine artists who helped me to understand the form and function of the human body. As a writer there are two things you need to do: read and write. Read novels, not just comics. Read the classics and find a contemporary writer you can connect to and read until your eyes hurt. Leon Uris, Stephen King, John Jakes, these are writers I connected with and stories that help me grow. In my experience a writer also must write every day. A poem, short story, diary entry, it doesn’t matter what you write but that you write. Don’t worry about the great American novel, that will come when the writer is ready.

What difficulties did you face during the creative process?

For me moving from scene to scene or story to story is always challenging in a good way. You want the story to flow but also have flair. My hope is the reader wants to go back and read the book again because they thought it was cool or look at the panels again trying to find little things they didn’t see before. The challenge for me is to find little places for detail or little moments of characterisation that will help the reader connect with the world I’m creating. I want my characters to seem like someone they may know, and that is hard when your characters are battling monsters or time traveling to the civil war.

If you can pick, which of The Offspring’s heroes is your favourite and why?

My favourite character is Vince Willam because from book one I think he was the most real. He has the personality and struggles that I think anyone can relate to. These characters dealing with their inner demons is really the focus of the book. These interactions help define who they are, and Vince is a great example of a character that makes mistakes, that says stupid things and embarrasses himself. These are things we can all relate to and make this world of fantasy seem more real.

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Which artists, would you say helped influence the art style in The Offspring?

I try to make The Offspring dark but accessible. I think the dark style of Frank Miller combined with the clean detailed style of Tom Grummett’s Superman stuff from the 90’s describes my style pretty well.

How do you manage writers block/ artist block?

If I’m struggling to focus or not sure where to go next, I usually stop and read a book, pick up my guitar or play a game with my kids. I’ve found walking away and taking a breath helps to get my brain back on track. A power nap is also fun because you could dream the answer, which is exciting.

Who were your heroes growing up?

Growing up in the early eighties, no one taught me more about being a hero and doing the right thing more than He-Man. He was everything I wanted to be as an adult: strong and smart, caring and riding a green tiger. My dad was cool too.

What is next for you?

Right now, on top of The Offspring on-going series, I’m releasing a four-part mini-series called Evolution: Utero. It’s a sci-fi action series about an entitled young lady who finds herself with super child. Then I’m collaborating with a small press company called Dojo Kun Comics on a 100-page graphic novel about pre-teen monsters called, The Loved Ones which will be coming out later this year.

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If you could redesign any character in popular culture who would you choose and why?

I’d redesign the DC character The Blue Devil. He’s an underrated character with loads of untapped potential.

 

 

 

What is the most important piece of advice/ criticism you have received?

As a high school football player, a coach once told me communication is the key to success in all things. As I got older I realised how true that is. A lack of communication can completely destroy a good thing. My grandpa also once informed me that if you’re bored it means you’re boring. I try not to be boring.

What advice would you give to a budding writer/ illustrator?

Artists learn to write, writers learn to draw, because you can never assume that anyone else will be as excited about your thing as you are, so if you want your creation to see the light of day you better have the tools to do it yourself.

You describe The Offspring as a horror/ sci-fi, which are your favourite horror or sci-fi stories?

Growing up I loved anything by Stephen King. Pet Cemetary is one of my favorites and maybe even influenced me by using children to push a narrative forward which is a key element to The Offspring. When it comes to sci-fi I’m a Next Generation guy but was totally influenced by the television show Quantum Leap. If I can pull off time travel as well as Dr. Sam Becket did then I think I’m doing okay.

What in particular drew you into the comic medium?

Two things got me into comics. First, as a child I read Archie comics and it helped me learn how to read. Secondly, I’m an adult with a bad case of Peter Pan syndrome keeping me from ever really growing up. Comics is a great way to fulfil those childhood wants but still pay your taxes.

In a chess match, who would win Batman or Superman?

Batman, but Superman would be cool with it.

So that brings us to the end of this edition of Let’s Talk Comics! Big thanks to Dave for taking the time to share with us his process, his inspirations and his thoughts on the chess match of the century! I look forward to seeing how The Offspring progresses and would strongly urge any readers looking for a gritty tale with a lot of heart to check this out. You can keep up todate with Dave and Correct Handed Productions on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/correcthandedproductions/ 

or Twitter https://twitter.com/HandedCorrect 

or check out The Offspring here https://www.comixology.co.uk/search?search=the+offspring

 

 

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