vəˈräɡō/: a woman of strength or spirit; a female warrior.

Interview with Gary T Becks: Comic’s New Blood

Gary T. Becks’s work is advanced art masquerading as a comic. Masterful illustrations of vampiric dolls that would have made Lady Death quit her job and start working at Denny’s. What impressed me most about Mazscara is that it wasn’t overtly erotic but rather suggestive. The female characters are enigmatic, intelligent, and aesthetically interesting. The story is jet rapid with no dead air. Comics need to drink some new blood.

They should start with Mazscara.

Ara: When did you draw your first comic?

Gary: The first comic I did was called Brave New Rock. It was a companion piece to a CD I released in 1988 called ” I live to Rock N Roll”. It featured a futuristic rock band going against an evil and corrupt mega radio station who was sucking the “soul” from real musicians and making soul-less carbon copies. Looking at that story now, it may have been ahead of it’s time somewhat.

Ara: What are some comics that inspired you?

Gary: Otomo’s Akira, Frank Miller’s Sin City, Vintage EC comics like Vault of Horror, any of the original Heavy Metal artists like Moebius and Enki Bilal, Appleseed by Masamune Shirow

Ara: Films, music that takes you places?

Gary: A love early Disney animation, especially the bizarre scientific animated shorts they did in the 1940s. Films by Fritz Lange, like Metropolis. I think a lot of silent film takes me more on an adventure because it’s not bound by dialogue, most of the emotion is still conveyed in a musical sense. A lot of films in the 20s are very revolutionary technique-wise, even the controversial ones. Being a musician, I’m pretty open to all types, but 90s ambient and 70s progressive rock really takes my mind to another level. I love some of the early ORB stuff, Pink Floyd’s Animals and Yes’ Tales from Topographical Oceans.

Ara: Best vintage horror film?

Gary: The original Haunting that was directed by Robert Wise. No effects, no gore, just a lot of psychological techniques to scare the hell out of you. Those are the best horror films in my opinion.

Ara: Where has your comic appeared? Magazines?

Gary: I do a series called Fiendy. Fiendy is an intergalactic artist who makes radical art from Space Ship Wreckage and must fight against an Empire that totally outlaws freedom of expression. It appeared in Heavy Metal Magazine twice.

Ara: What shows/cartoons did you watch as a kid? Did they influence your art? Do they appear consciously in any of your comics?

Gary: As a kid I watched Speed Racer, Astro Boy, Marine Boy, Ultraman, and Johnny Quest. In High School it was the Transformers and Voltron. The latter shows were stepping stones into getting involved in drawing comics. There’s a lot of Manga and Anime influences in my comics. As I became more exposed to other American and European artists my style changed over time.

Ara: Why mainly female characters?

Gary: Probably because of my Mother’s influence in my life. I always found female characters more interesting to write for some reason, maybe because of their complexities, or I’m just more in touch with my feminine side. Most of the women in my life have had some kind of impact on me that has spilled over into my art.

Ara: What era would you visit for inspiration?

Gary: For some reason 1966-1974. There was an artistic revolution, especially with music.

Ara: I noticed the elaborate costumes on your female characters. Why do details like this make such a difference in comics?

Gary: That’s just another one my influences again. My sister was into modeling for a while and she would have magazines like Elle and Vanity. I used to look through them every once and a while and check out the clothes that the models were wearing. This must have carried over unconsciously into my comics, even the main influence for Mazscara’s look came from a Janet /Michael Jackson video and the outfit Janet was dressed in. The villian Tung, was inspired by early actress Anna Mae Wong, I also wanted to go beyond the “superhero” outfit look and do something different as well, by incorporating Gothic, Fetish, Industrial and Lolita fashions that I’ve been into the last few years.

Ara: I mentioned that the writing is very quick and the dialogue reads like a short film. I used to get lost in vintage comics. The stories would lose me. Do you write other things, besides comics?

Gary: I actually started out writing. I wrote a couple of short stories and poems in High School and Junior High that won some contests. I think I’m a better writer than artist, but I think the dialogue compliments the art in a certain way, like lyrics to music. I’m also more influenced by film as far as a visual inspiration and that goes the same for my writing. When I draw something on paper, how I see it in my mind is like a moving picture, and I try my best to transfer that to a 2D perspective. Like a film, I want the person who reads and sees those images and words together to feel the emotion that I felt when I drew it on that paper.

Ara: Favorite artist and piece of art?

Gary: Hieronymus Bosch – Garden of Earthly Delights.

Ara: What are your plans for future comics? Any new characters?

Gary: I’m also working with my friend Letterist, David Paul, on a comic strip called JOSEPH! which is modern day take on the Jesus and Joseph, father/son relationship. I’m also working on Fiendy and redoing an old comic of mine called The Humuroville Hillarrions, about the adventures of a dwarf cop named Jordash in an alternate reality Californian town called Humorville.

Ara: You have thirty minutes with any 5 people (dead or alive). Who?

Gary: Harriet Tubman, Malcolm Mcdowell, Marilyn Monroe, Richard Matheson, Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar

Ara: Are your comics available in print or are they purely web comics?

I’m doing a Kickstarter to fund the printing of Mazscara Books 1-13, which are the books that are currently online. I really want to reach the goal. I feel these books deserve a broader audience and more exposure. Whatever the result, I feel Mazscara will eventually get there, it’s a new and different kind of story, and that right time will come.

Right now Mazscara can be read on the web at:

http://www.smackjeeves.com/comicprofile.php?id=12456

The Kickstarter can be found at this link :

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/419494443/mazscara

Ara: How do independent artists get exposure?

Gary: Put your stuff out there and just keep doing what you’re doing, find your own style and work on making it better. I don’t think you can ever perfect a style, perfection never exists. You’re always growing, so you never reach any point of attainment.

Ara: What are your future plans for Mazscara?

Getting it to a bigger audience. Movies, TV and games, I’d also like to see other people’s interpretations of the characters, despite what happens, I’ll keep creating, because it’s what I love to do.

About Ara Harris

Ara Harris

Music junkie, Atari 2600 bringer backer, word maker upper, loves to photograph and write about suburban decay. Ara grew up on a corner lot in small town Ohio. She began escaping the micro minds of the Midwest by listening to music, watching b films, and touring the cities in her mind. She wrote poetry on the back of algebra tests and asked Lou Reed to take her to prom. Two decades later she self published a full collection of poetry that one reader described as “a Tom Verlaine riff in every synapse”. She believes that we all have a gift, we just have to find it.

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