Monday, July 21, 2014

Interview with Deron Bennett of ANDWORLD Design

Curious about diversity in Comics? Deron Bennett provides insight in this as well as other topics in this informative interview

Voice Interview -  Link
ANDWORLD Design Website -
His Twitter -
His Facebook -
His Tumbler - 
Purchase Deron's comics here - Link 
Did Lettering for Legend of Mantamji - Link

Thelonious: Hey, everyone! Thanks for joining Thelonious Legend blogspot. Today we have a special guest. We have Deron Bennett of ANDWorld Design. Deron could you tell us a little bit about what you do for AndWorld Design? 
Deron: Basically it's a lettering studio that I run. I perform various letterings that we use for different comic book companies, including DC, Boom, Slash, Archie and a couple independents as well. Lettering, for those of you that don't know, is where printing of any of the script text, dialogue, sound effects and things of that nature that go into a comic book. Essentially without a letterer you would not be able to read comics. So that's my job and responsibility there. I also do design work as well, creating logos and advertisements for the company. 
Thelonious: I guess it would be safe to say you have a creative background?
Deron: Yes. Originally I went to school at Savannah College of Art Design. Initially, I was trying to get into the business as a pencil-er. But I fell in love with lettering, early on in my career, got into font design and all the creative processes going into lettering. I also have taught graphic design, because they're so similar. The mediums are so similar. Essentially when you’re lettering its sort of thinking from a graphic design standpoint. All the sound effects and stuff have the same similarities that you’re trying to get across when you're doing graphic design. All the conventions you use in comics as well. It's a creative medium I've got my background in, but I also do graphic design as well and website design, clothing. Due to what I've done in comics.
Thelonious: Why did you choose the medium of comics to display your talents?
Deron: Growing up I've always loved drawing. That was my big thing. Everybody was like "Oh you're gonna be an artist, you're gonna be this, you're gonna be that." I wanted to do animation, initially and be the next Walt Disney. After a while, when I was in middle school. I got into writing a lot. I wanted to write. Seeing a medium that combined the two so well and so perfectly. Where I can tell a story through my illustrations. It just dawned on me that this is where I wanted to be. This is what I wanted to do. And I've been loving it ever since. 
Thelonious: You're a comic book fan?
Deron: Yes
Thelonious: Who was the first hero that you identified with that every week and every month you needed change to go to the store and buy that comic book?
Deron: Milestone comics was my first passion for actual comic books. Before that I was really into Calvin and Hobbes. comic strips and things. I would read Heathcliff, and all those newspaper comics. I liked the funnies. That sort of transitioned when somebody brought to my attention Milestone comics. Picking up Static, picking up Hardware and all the rest of the titles. Icon. I had a whole run of each of the titles. 
Thelonious: I had the whole run too. And for those of you who know Milestone comics was the spinoff of the DC comic. Basically it was based out of North Dakota, which was a city. You just had this rich rich characters. From this universe. For whatever reason it never quite took off. And the most popular character was Static Shock. Milestone, unfortunately was discontinued. But if you don't know about Milestone, you should do some research on it. I think you'll be pleased. The characters were great! They were three dimensional, diverse. You had gay characters, you had black characters and Asian characters. A lot of the subject matter that you see today Milestone was way ahead of the time. Just thought I'd throw that in there. So now what current projects are you working on that we should be aware of? 
Deron: Right now I am working on a couple of different books that I'm lettering, I'm doing a Flash Broadcast with Boom and Archie. I am also doing Thomas Elsop, and that's a great supernatural thriller that's also from Boom Comics. I'm doing a few DC projects. I do a lot of their digital work. I do He-Man and the masses of the universe. So I'm involved in a few different things that I've been working on. Amazon has their imprint, their Amazon publishing 
imprint. Jet City that they've just started and I do a lot of work with them. We've put out recently and a couple of things from George RR Martin. And a lot of different things that are coming up. A lot of smaller publishers that are doing bigger things. And I'm really excited to be apart of it. I've also finished up my own comic that I've put out there. You know, just me doing the whole thing from start to finish. As far as producing it I've hired an artist Dan Mora, who just signed on with me to do text re-publishing.  Paul Little to do the coloring and Arty Randolph to do the cover for that issue. An amazing team I got to work with and that got to bring my story to life. It's out on Comixology right now. I'm doing it digitally, and there are also prints available through my website and through the Facebook site. 
Thelonious: We're actually gonna post all your links. So all you comic book fans, and especially for all you Games of Thrones fans. Anybody who's associated with the Game of Thrones please go to the links after the interview and show Mr. Bennett some love. We need to have his vision out there. We talk about diversity in comic book characters and diversity in film and diversity in literature. This is your chance to play a part. Wool was basically a self-published series of short stories. Wasn't it Mr.Venice? 
Deron: Wool was actually a written novel by turned into a graphic novel by Hugh Howey. I'm not sure if it was part of an anthology. I know the comic was done by a single creative team. So it wasn't a multiple creative team process there. But it's the terrific story that people should be getting into because it's a lot of thought provoking things going along in there that really resonate. 
Thelonious: Right, and if you're a fan of dystopian literature and if you're a self-published writer, Hugh Howey is somebody you need to be familiar with. He basically published all his stuff on his own and put it out for free. He just did a whole paradigm shift on how to sell and market. Totally different from some New York Publishing Houses. And if you're with him, I think that's a big plus and again I urge anyone to check out Hugh Howey, to check out Mr. Bennett and find what projects they're associated in, because Hugh Howy pretty much defined self publishing for the next decade and It's just so exciting you're associated with them. 
Deron: Thank you, thank you. Yes, that's definitely something people should be checking out because it changed the way, we can go about self-publishing. Printing out our own works. It's really a fun way of coming about things. I'm glad you're giving him that credit, because it's definitely something to check out. 
Thelonious: And this has been a special week for comic book fans. Especially for women and minorities. Actually I would say for everybody, because anytime you introduce diversity it's a benefit for everybody. But unfortunately there has been some negativity associated with the changing of the Hammer, if you will from a man to a woman. And also the changing of Captain America being now Sam Wilson, who was formerly the Falcon. What are you're feelings about that, that you would like to share with the listeners?
Deron: Whenever there's a big change I think people sort of react.People want to fight change at any point and in any kind of a industry. Change can be something that people are against, initially. Because with change we introduce new characters who people can come to love and want to follow these characters in their own way. People who are rebelling against this change of Thor, being a woman. I understand where they're coming from, to the women who just want a new female character or other male counterparts, saying just can we get a new character. But it's been done before. Thor's been changed before. Thor's been a frog. I mean, it's really crazy the backlash against this form of fiction. Basically, you can do anything in a comic and why turn your head when something good and positive can come out of it. 
Thelonious: This whole discussion reminds me of what happened on Fox News, a few months back, where somebody said that Santa Clause was black, and Fox News actually had a panel arguing for the record Santa Clause is white. And I was like for the record Santa Clause is fiction. 
Deron: Yes, exactly. People outrage against the craziest things. They hold on to these fictional characters like they're real. Sometimes you just have to let go a little bit. It's a fun medium, that's why I got into it. The creativity, all the great things that come out of it. You know just to have fun with it. Enjoy new characters with new story lines. We've been enjoying the old Thor for years. We've been enjoying the old Cap for years. Let's see what happens with this new run.
Thelonious: And nothing stays the same. 
Duran: Right
Thelonious: And I think a lot of the push back is that they're more than characters. They're symbols right. So, Captain America is blonde hair blue eyes all American. You know honor. A lot of people that identify with him, you take that away from them and they rail against it.
Deron: Yes
Thelonious: And some of the anger and confusion might be justified. But as far as criticism and the hate that I've been hearing and seeing. I think that goes against everything comic books are about.. 
Deron: Yes, comic books should embrace diversity and I think that it's something people have been asking for, but once it happens people kind of start to panic.  You know "What's going on? They're changing!" Well you ask for diversity. So let's see some.
Thelonious: Here's my issue with it. It's that I think it's an easy out for Marvel. I think there's a rich catalog of characters they could draw from. Whether it's the Wasp, coming from the female side. Or whether it's Luke Cage. Now I wasn't a big fan of Luke Cage back in the 70's because he was a character who was basically a caricature. But in the last decade or so they've really made his character three dimensional. I know Netflix is doing a collection of heroes and Luke Cage is one of them. So when I see a lot of people celebrating and jumping on the bandwagon, and I get it because I'm enthusiastic as well. Because Captain America and Thor, they're icons and symbols and they pretty much defined Marvel Universe for more than a couple of generations. But also there's a part of me, the Milestone part, that wants to see characters written by a diverse cast, a diverse group. grow from Inception whether it's spider-man being bit to where he is now and see that audience grow with it. So there's a microwave solution of the changing of the hammer, and there's the solution of what Milestone did. Start new characters from scratch, build them and then build an audience with them. Which I don't know if that's a good example, because Milestone is no longer here. But I guess that would be my only argument. 
Deron: Yeah
Thelonious: Any thing that brings diversity I'm for. So I don't want to rain on any one's parade And there are a lot of characters that people might identify with if Marvel spent more resources or even DC for that matter.
Deron: Yes. Indeed I think that you definitely hit the nail on the head with looking at characters like Luke Cage, and we should be seeing more of that. These characters should be getting they're own spotlight. I know that a lot of people are pointing out the Storm is getting her own series and things of that nature. 
Thelonious: Storm has been one of my favorite characters for a long time. 
Deron: Yes and I think fans have been waiting for this sort of thing. It's really up to the companies to start pushing these things. I think that's sort of the problem with Milestone, they were a little a head of there time and didn't get the big push behind the DC imprint as necessary. I don't know, I was a young guy back then. I couldn't tell you the ins and outs of the business behind the scene. But you know if you told people back then about the books, nobody knew about them. But they knew about Superman.
Thelonious: Yeah, there was a lot going on and they did a crossover with DC. I was a big fan of Icon, BloodSyndicate, Hardware, Static and all the titles, I got all of them. I think that if it happened again today, where the production cost is down, the distribution cost is down. There's social media to reach more fans. I think it'd be viable today. 
Deron: Oh yeah
Thelonious: But I'm glad it happened. I think we're all better for it, I mean it found you. And it made me a fan of comics. I'm glad it happened and I'd like to see it happen again. Whether it does or doesn't, that's not for me to say. But any time you broaden the spectrum and fan base, I think it's a good thing.
Deron: Yeah, that's definitely positive. It is definitely the way things should go. Expand not only the audience, but also spread appreciation and understanding of different cultures and the people behind them. 
Thelonious: For our listeners, where can they find you at today? 
Deron: I am frequently on twitter  and also on Facebook I have a page setup. That would We can have that available on the website, for people to follow. I am readily available on social media. Twitter is the way you can find me, interacting with the community, letting people know my thoughts. Definitely reach out to me, I'd be glad to engage. 
Thelonious: What we are going to do is provide everyone with you're links. We are going to get those from you. What I'd like to do is start up a twitter conversation in a couple of weeks. You could drive the conversation. If you have any other people who are doing diverse comic books, and they wanna be involved I'd think it'd be great. It's an especially exciting time right now for comic book fans. I'd think it'd help to generate interest for you and what you're doing. Also, to give people food for thought, as far as what's been going on before. So they can appreciate what's happening now. 
Deron: Yes. That sounds great.
Thelonious: Yeah, I'd like to do that in a couple of weeks. So what I'd ask you to do, is to get like 2 or 3 guys, you know get those twitter followers. And we'll announce it on all of our blogs. We'll just have a comic book diversity chat. And we'll come up with a hashtag.
Deron: Right
Thelonious: That's not much specialty but we'll come up with the hashtag and talk diversity in comic books. You and your crew can help drive the discussion. I'd just like to participate as a fan.
Deron: Yeah
Thelonious: Any thing I can do to drive that. Just let me know I'll be happy to coordinate it. 
Deron: That sounds really good. I'll be glad to help out
Thelonious: Thank you Mr. Bennett I know you're busy, I've been trying to get you all week and I'm glad we waited, because we had a lot to discuss. Again, I'd like to work with you on driving some type of twitter chat about diversity in comics. If you could get some guys to help out twitter followings. Everyone's that listening, I will be having all of Mr. Bennett's information on my blog, and I'll tweet it out.
Deron: Sounds great! Thanks for having me.
Thelonious: I'm glad we hooked up. This was exciting for me. This was like talking to a basketball player. To talk to someone who does what you admire.Thanks for allowing to have this discussion with you.  
Deron: Thanks, again! I appreciate it.