b3: First off, lets talk about where you came from. I've heard rumors of you as a small babe, a spaceship from a dying planet, and a small farm in Kansas.... any truth to those rumors?

Vokes: None whatsoever...It was a dimensional rift which threw my still pulsing gelatinous form into your earth's atmosphere-smack dab into the middle of a trailer park in ft. Lauderdale, Florida! -{laughs}- Well...the Florida part is true-

b3: How about the ones about you being able to leap tall soda cans in a single bound or draw a speeding locomotive?

Vokes: It would seem that many a legend has sprung up about my dark and mysterious origins-well-to take a page from john ford: "...print the legend."

b3: What was the first comic that you can remember reading?

Vokes: I recall the place and the book-at least the name of the book anyway-It was in a barber shop (Tony's)-and ironically,the 1st comic i remember reading was (drum roll) "superman" !

b3: What comics did you read as a kid?

Vokes: The aforementioned "Supes"- all the various DC comics-my favorite title being "batman"-but,truth to tell, i was more interested in horror movies {laughs} My favorite mag was "famous monsters of filmland"-it was my bible(no offense-i didn't actually worship editor forry ackerman-lol)

b3: When did you decide that you wanted to draw comics as a living?

Vokes: I think i always felt that drawing comics would be cool-my dad encouraged me to draw-not comics though-he used to destroy my comics on a regular basis-thought that they'd warp my mind-hmm...he may have had a point-lol-But as far as wanting to do them for a living-i never seriously entertained the notion-i was too busy trying to get my screwed up life in shape

b3: It's a hard field to get into, and you certainly have the talent, but how did you "break in"?

Vokes: Well,it's a long and twisted story-so i'll do my best to make it longer and more twisted-lol-I had, for many years,worked in a furniture warehouse as a supervisor-and was very near going postal-when the guiding hand of fate intervened and slapped me silly! They laid me off with the promise of calling me back in the near future-that was 18 years ago...they still haven't called-but i have faith that someday...lol-Anywho,i languished in the crowded halls of the unemployment office for what seemed years(it was about a year and a half actually-that free money thing was very addictive)-Then,my wife,siri,and i had a serious talk about what i was going to do with myself-i had no frikkin' clue!-lol-She suggested trying to break into comics-i told her she was insane!-lol-But,history has proved her quite sane-i bought several anatomy books-including burne hogarth's series -and hunkered down to about a year of serious study-i never really practiced before then-lol-whatever talents i had as an artist were either supernaturally endowed upon me...or i was born with it. I then began to send in various samples to the different companies(this was around '82-'83)-including pacific comics-the home of 'grimjack" and 'starslayer'(i think it was called)-They were the only company to send back a copy of my samples with copious notes on them-and a rejection-lol-i'll always be grateful to the famous joe staton for helping me figure stuff out back then(he's become a pal since )-it was at this time that i met one of my best friends:Rich Rankin-he was running a hero's world-a comic shop-and was an amateur artist like me-we struck up a friendship-he was also sending in samples-we decided to try something different-work together as penciller and inker! However,we didn't know which of us would be which. So,we started with me telling a story and him inking it-it worked well enough that we never tried it the other way around-lol-We sent stuff in-got more rejections-then did a short story("the gauntlet"-an 8 page tale with our own characters and no ending-lol)and sent that out-Nothing...until comico comics,future home of "grendel" and "mage",liked our story and wanted to publish it in their new talent showcase:"comico primer"-and wanted to pay us!-lol-So,we said sure! We went to norristown,pa. to get to know the guys better(they were all freshly out of art college-we were both older than all of them)received a check for our story-and became friends with these guys!-That helped us get in on the bottom floor of several(thankfully unpublished)projects-but this was wonderful on the job training -So,when our 1st "big break" came along-"robotech masters"-we were in the right place at the right time-Whew!I told you it was a long story.

b3: How did you celebrate :) ?

Vokes:We got drunk! Of-frikkin-course!

b3: Looking back, with your long career drawing these funny books, what are you most proud of?

Vokes:I'm most proud of several things-probably the 1st important thing i did as a pro was also a self created project: "eagle"-We did that right after "robotech"-actually while we were still drawing it,much to the chagrin of then editor diana schutz(who,along with the infamous bob schreck,was very helpful to me back then)-"Eagle" was a turning point for me-as a book and as way of exploring things in the form without an editor watching over me,telling me how to do things the "correct" way-(this is not a put down of editors,by the way-lol-i've worked with several very good ones-starting with miss schutz)-But it freed me up to discover "my style" of storytelling-after that,there were several others-"congorilla";"hammer of god";(both inked by that inking god:jay geldhof)"life,the universe,and everything";"tarzan the warrior";"ninjak" and now "superman adventures"-There are different reasons why i'm proud of each of these books-and i'm also very happy with various moments here and there in the other books-

b3: Who were the influences on your art?

Vokes: Artistically i'd have to say the 1st people to make an impression on me as artists(when i grew to be old enough to think beyond "wow-this is cool!")were kirby,steve ditko,gil kane,mike sekowsky(an underrated artist),kubert,nick cardy, and later neal adams,toth, wrightson and a whole slew more- Storytelling wise,i learned from films-movies were always my favorite things-and whatever talents i may have in that area came from films (and those old pros like kirby and ditko)

b3: Is there anyone in the field that you haven't worked with, that you would really like to?

Vokes:Egad!This bio is long enough-lol-I've had the honor to work with some wonderful writers already(busiek,engleheart,baron,wheatley,stern,among others)-but there are a few left i'd love to work with(gaiman,moore,dini, and a whole lot more!)-And i've also enjoyed working with several inkers,letterers,and colorists who made doing my job a heck of a lot of fun!It's a long list!

b3: Do you read any books currently?

Vokes:Basically,no-i've found that my interests went elsewhere-mostly back to movies-lol-(i don't mean to imply that there's nothing to like-there are too many good books out there-i just don't have the same interest anymore)

b3: Are there any "new guys" that you think are doing some good stuff?

Vokes: I'm out of the loop,not reading anything anymore-but,artistwise there's my little bro,mikey oeming(who has recently been getting the attention he deserves),mike mignola is a god,david mack,alex ross is absolutely magical-it's hard to pick "new guys' ,not knowing who's new-lol

b3: You've done some creator owned stuff, care to enlighten any readers who may not know about them?

Vokes: I've already spoken about "eagle",my 1st baby-there was "jonny demon",with kurt busiek; we have to do more of that !There are others; some x rated-naughty nels-lol-and a bunch unpublished-

b3: Any new creator owned projects coming out?

Vokes:Lots being worked on-lol-but coming out?-not for awhile yet-i can safely say that kurt and i are brewing up a new project-for next year-I can't speak about it yet-save to say,it will be lighthearted,probably 'cartoony"(sorry-lol)and may show up in a,for us,unusual place(he says coyly)-

b3: I hear that you have an unnatural fascination with *really* old guys with swords, who like to slice off each others heads.... What's up with that?

Vokes:You must be talking of "highlander"-lol-Yes,i love the concept-when we did "eagle",it was called "richard eagle:psychic detective",until i saw the 1st "highlander" film-after that,my already keen interest in martial arts,swashbucklers,and swordplay was mutated into an obsession-i then proceeded to alter "eagle" into a story of an immortal loner with a sword-lol-But highlander is a cool idea(in spite of the 2nd and 3rd film)-and i proudly have in my growing sword collection,several highlander blades-

b3: What are some of your favorite movies?

Vokes: heheheh...This will be a very long bio-lol-"Highlander"; "horror of dracula"; "the magnificent 7"; "the vikings" ; coppola's "dracula"(it's not bram stoker's dracula;more like dan curtis' dracula,with a bigger budget); "the matrix";"the bride with the white hair"; "burning paradise"; "west side story"; "the searchers"; "rio bravo" and hundreds more westerns,horror films,musicals,comedies, etc.,etc.,etc...

b3: Books? (funny or "real")

Vokes: As i said earlier,i don't read much in the way of funny books anymore-i have enjoyed "marvels"; "astro city";"leave it to chance"; "watchmen"; "peace on earth";"kingdom come";"powers";"the league of gentlemen"(?) and many more-Real books: "red dragon/silence of the lambs/hannibal" by thomas harris;"the exorcist/legion/the 9th configuration" by william peter blattey;"magic/the princess bride" by william goldman, and a lot of film biographies and behind the scenes stories-most recently "burt lancaster"; "with nails" by richard e. grant(hilarious);" adventures in the screen trade/which lie did i tell ?" also by william goldman-many more-

b3: Any words of wisdom for someone trying to break into comics?

Vokes: Don't try!-We're all booked up!-lol-But seriously folks-learn to draw-another "duh", i know-but take a close look at some of the artists working today-yeesh-they skipped the learning to draw part,it seems-look very closely at life-study people ,places and things;learn how a coat wrinkles when you bend your arm or leg;study anatomy(another 'duh",but again look at those aforementioned "artists");learn outside comic books(you can be sure the best ones did);and most of all:BE YOURSELF!-with all this other knowledge inside you,it would be a severe waste to spend your life drawing just like somebody else!(yet another "duh")-

b3: I also hear you managed to snag yourself a wife. I thought that comic geeks couldn't get chicks :) How'd you score that one?

Vokes:I was lucky. I snagged Siri after I was getting away from comics and before I was a pro artist. So there-the true secret to my two major accomplishments in life (my marriage and my career) : TIMING! -{laughs}

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