This week, I was a bit overly geeked for MECCAcon Weekly. That is all because I was honored the gift of interviewing Khary Randolph. Dude does… A LOT. Khary’s credits include the long awaited resurgence of TechJacket, the upcoming We Are Robin, Deadpool, Starborn, Spider-Man, Charismagic, Justice League, The Boondocks, Milestone Comics, Teen Titans, New Mutants, Peter Parker, Noble Causes, Invincible, and MANY more. He also is a very skilled in animation, character design, as well as doing work on toy design with Upper Deck. Khary also throws a very popular social networking event entitled DRINK and DRAW, where many artists gather at a local bar in New York and draw women live. Even with all of these mainstream AND Indie credentials, he is cool as all get up. I know people who have accomplished 1/9th as much, and their egos smell as bad as my 15 yr old’s bedroom after a track meet.
Anyway… Let’s get to know more about my I-Ching tattoo twin…
BOOKS/ SERIES you’ve created and/or worked on::
Comics books: Static Shock, Justice League Beyond, Spawn, Charismagic, Starborn, Tech Jacket, We Are Robin
Animation: Boondocks, Wolverine & The X-Men, Chaotic
What was your favorite comic book series as a child, and did it influence your art into adulthood?::
There wasn’t one specific thing in particular that super influenced me, it was more so the overall influence of the 90’s boom that really grabbed a hold of me. Between the X-Men cartoon, the Batman cartoon, the advent of Image Comics, and the rise of anime and manga in the west, it was an amazing time to be a teenager. I soaked it all up and by the time I was finishing high school I pretty much knew this was a thing I needed to be a part of.
With TECH JACKET’s relaunch last year, it was a tad bit of a big deal to say in the least. I wasn’t familiar with the book, and when a friend of mine found that out, I thought he was going to tell me to cancel MECCAcon until I got my life in order lol. I started reading the original series, and I was immediately hooked. How many changes were you at liberty to have with your version?::
The book was always meant to be a continuation of what had happened before. It’s not a reboot or a reimagining, just a furthering of the story. With that in mind I took great care to make sure that we honored what happened before while at the same time bringing what I had to the table, which in my mind is a frenetic saturday morning cartoon energy. It’s all based in the Invincible Universe, so I never wanted to deviate too much from what had already been laid down, just further expand the universe. Once I started getting into it, the one request I had was the opportunity to redesign and streamline the character, because that dude is really hard to draw! Thankfully Robert and Sean and Joe and everyone else were cool with it and let me do pretty much what I wanted with it.
Everyone YOU know thinks that I am insanely obsessed with all things Detroit, so I will continue to honor that tradition. If Zach from Tech Jacket were from the “D”, how much different would his character be?::
Haha, that’s a good question that I’m not sure I have a good answer for. Zach is not a city dude, he is more definitely a suburban cat at heart. I think deep down his morality and decisions would be the same, he just might have a lil more swag if he was from the D.
SPAWN is pretty much the equivalent of GOD to many black comic book fans, movie fans, and just fans of dope sh*t in general. I grew up reading the series, and my sun collects them and takes it overly serious. Do you feel that working on multiple titles of his character kept you culturally in tune to your black fan base?::
I would like to hope that every title I work on keeps me culturally in tune! Since there’s not that many of us out here, I understand that I have to represent with every series or job I do and I take that very seriously. With Spawn specifically, it was like working on something that I grew up reading as a kid, so I was drawing for 13 year old me and making sure I didn’t let that version of myself down! Plus, I mean c’mon, having Todd McFarlane call you up and wanna talk to you about story stuff is one of the dopest phone calls I’ve ever gotten. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Stan Lee’s series, STARBORN, was how I first was introduced to you. I’ve always been drawn to science fiction comics more than heroes. What was it like to work on that project? Will there be more issues in the future?::
Starborn came at a pretty crazy time in my life. I got this and the Charismagic book at the same time so I was drawing both simultaneously. This was pretty foolish on my part but I really wanted to prove myself on a monthly book…and now I had two. It was a learning experience for sure, but I grew a lot as an artist. Sci fi is near and dear to my heart, so I was really happy to be asked to be a part. I wouldn’t hold my breath for more issues of Starborn, but you never know.
What was your first project in the comic book community that excited you to be a part of?::
They’re all exciting to me! I don’t take on a job unless I think I will 1) have a fun time on it and 2) I think I will be able to do a good job on it. But yeah, the first pro comic gig was Spider-Man: Legend of the Spider-Clan #5 from Marvel, and for obvious reasons that was pretty damn exciting.
Drink n Draw has become a bit of an underground culture icon of some sorts. Just about everyone I know it does it, has done it, or is always talking about how they plan to do the next one. How did you start it, and has it benefited your circle of friends as far as networking?::
I started the NYC chapter back in 2009 when it became very clear that I was going to get laid off from my job. I worked at an animation studio and had become used to going to a workplace and working with other artists, something that I knew I was going to miss if I had to go back to freelance. The freelance artist life is a very solitary one and I knew I was going to miss this, so I wanted to at least have one day out of every month where artists would have a place to get together, draw, share ideas, network and just have a good time. Adding alcohol to the mix just seemed natural. I then asked the Drink & Draw LA guys if it was cool if I started one up in NYC, they said yes, and the rest is history.
Above ALL things, I am SEVERELY excited about the upcoming series. WE ARE ROBIN. How did that come into play, and how does it differ from the other Robin series?::
It was as simple as Batman editor Mark Doyle asking if I was interested. As soon as he gave me the pitch, I was onboard. It was just a question of logistics.
What was your favorite cover art/project that you created for a different artist/company?::
Probably Static Shock. I have a big affinity for this character and I saw this cover project as a way to make him the iconic character he’s always needed to be. There’s not many minority characters so I really tried to make every cover as bold and iconic as I could. Hard to say whether I succeeded or failed in that but to this day I’ve still probably signed more Static covers than any other.
How did you get into creating toys? Which were your favorite final projects?::
As with most things, pretty much by accident. The Upper Deck guys hit me through my website asking me to design some sports related vinyl toys for them. They had clearly been doing their homework on me, as the first athlete they asked me to design was David Ortiz of the Red Sox and I’m a Bostonian through and through. Still mad they never let me do Kevin Garnett, though.
Do you find yourself using different styles of art form when it comes to certain titles? What do you love to execute the most?::
I approach every job with the idea that the job dictates what style I draw it in, not the other way around. Whatever is what will help me complete the job to the satisfaction of the client is what I am aiming to do. If the client is happy, then they will keep coming back.
Do you feel that “diversity in comics” is a problem that the Indie community needs to focus on?::
Diversity is an issue not just for the indie community, but for everybody. A more inclusive comic book industry is a healthy comic book industry. Comics is already a niche thing. When you’re only catering to one audience you are leaving everybody else wanting — this is bad business. For comics to grow you have to keep expanding points of view, period. And thankfully, while there is still a lot of room for growth, I can safely say that right now is the most diverse the comic community has ever been.
What do you enjoy working on the most, your very well known independent projects, or the very well known mainstream projects?::
I guess I really don’t think of them separately like that. Every job or series I do, I do with the intent of hitting as wide an audience as possible. It’s the only way I know.
Do you think that sexism exists in comic book industry? (I will ask this every week, America, so deal with it, lol)::
Of course it does. Comics is no different than any other industry in that regard, and for years it has been almost exclusively a boys club. Progress happens, but it moves at a slow pace. With the advent of social media in recent years I think you’ve seen the comics industry held to task for some of it’s less than stellar practices and there are certainly growing pains.
Out of all of your projects you’ve worked on or owned, which was the most difficult and why?::
Easily it was working on both Starborn and Charismagic at the same time. Drawing one regular comic is already very strenuous — drawing two is downright crazy. I’ll never do that again.
Where can we find you online? Links, Handles, Hashtags, Bribes::
I’m all over the net! My home is kharupt.com, but I’m also on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook. Just google my name on any of those sites and you’ll find me pretty quickly. There’s not too many Khary Randolphs around.
Any last thoughts, screams, rants, praises, etc?::
I love you all. Thanx for the opportunity to talk my talk, Maia. You good peeps.
MECCAcon Weekly is a weekly series of features, interviews, and highlights, all focused around comics and art, mainly centered around the AFRIKAAN diaspora community. We focus on the upliftment and advancement of arts thru various mediums. #MECCAconWeekly can also be found on our sister site, DARK MATTERS.
MECCAconWeekly is also a division of Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts – MECCAcon. MECCAcon is an annual convention every SEPTEMBER, located in Detroit, MI.
“BLOOM WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED” …This is my motto. Whatever environment you come from, whatever your surroundings or financial circumstance, there is ALWAYS room to grow, flourish, and BLOOM.
Maia Williams, also known as “Crown”, is executive assistant to many different businesses, artists, and events in the Metro Detroit area. Crown is also CEO and founder of
Amonyet Enterprises, Cooking Ciphers, MECCAcon, and Crown’s Royalties.