Each month we’ll be shining the spotlight on a Silverline creator and sharing their secret origin story, learning what makes them tick, and giving you the scoop on how they came up in the comics world.
Up this time is John Crowther, lawyer and writer of lots of wrestling comics, Rochelle the Teen Cockroach, and the upcoming Teen Beetle for Silverline, which is currently on Kickstarter for issue #1!
Now, without further ado, we present to you…
12 Questions with John Crowther
My name is John Crowther. and I am a dad, husband, son, brother, writer, and reluctant lawyer with somewhat redneck tendencies. I was born just a few blocks from the World’s Most Famous Beach in Daytona Beach, Florida and, after making the usual college and post-college tours, I now make my home in the artsy Central Florida college town of DeLand.
SILVERLINE: What would you say it is you do here at Silverline?
My primary role with Silverline is writer and creative spinster.
SILVERLINE: Where might Silverline readers have seen your work previously?
You can find a few of my earlier series (Rochelle, Horror Comics, Exciting Comics and Turnbuckle Titans, to name a few) with Antarctic Press, as well a collection of biographical professional wrestling comics with Squared Circle Comics. In addition, I have appeared in several anthologies and graphic magazines, most notably for Heavy Metal Magazine, Unlikely Heroes Studios, Oneshi Press and Tin Sky Media.
It’s not what I would consider a hobby, but when I’m not plugging away on a Silverline comic, you’ll most likely find me typing away on the desktop at my law office, where I have been practicing law for nearly 29 years. Away time from the offices will generally find me in my garden, at the beach, or browsing antique malls on one-tank road trips with my better half — my amazing wife, Gigi.
SILVERLINE: Many creators at Silverline have been in the comics industry for years — what’s kept YOU plugging away at comics?
Writing comics has become a passion for me over my relatively short 6-7 year comic writing career, so everything about it still rings fresh to me. I love seeing my words brought to life by the incredible artists I’ve had the honor of working with. I love to see the enjoyment in a fan’s eyes or hear their excitement when they’ve read something that I have created. And I love the comradery that I find in the comic book industry among other creators. It’s the combination of all of these things that drives me to continue with that passion.
For me, it wasn’t a particular comic that convinced me that I could “do this.” I have been a comic book reader for almost as far back as I can remember. I still recall passing the old Rexall drug store near my bus stop after school each day, where I would hit the spinner rack for a handful of $.75 comics — everything from Sgt. Rock to X-Factor, to Conan, to Swamp Thing. I was a huge fan of Mad Magazine and Cracked back then too. If it had a cool cover, I’d grab it. But I never really imagined that I would be a part of the industry in the future — my career was set as soon as I was born — was groomed to be a lawyer. When I hit my 40s, looking for an outlet from the daily office grind, I stumbled across a Facebook group called ICC (Independent Creators Connection.) It was a diverse collection of comic book fans and industry hopefuls, who were really supportive of each other regardless of their skill or knowledge level. I thought, “What the heck,” and went for it — sharing my concepts and scribblings — and was received with open arms by folks I’d never met before. It was that positive encouragement that set me on my way and gave me the gumption to try my hand at comics on a more professional level.
Oh, gosh. I’m about as eclectic as it gets when it comes to music, although my usual fallbacks are country (Clint Black, Waylon Jennings, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams, Jr., Johnny Cash, Chris Stapleton) and classic rock (AC DC, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin.) But I’m not discriminatory when it comes to music, as you can see by my concert list: Milli Vanilli, Smashing Pumpkins, Earth, Wind & Fire, Neil Diamond, Kansas, B52’s, Jefferson Airplane, Yellow Man, and Boy George to name a few. And no — it comes off when I write, as it would be too distracting. I talk through the stories in my head and out loud when I write (if you passed my desk you’d think I was insane).
SILVERLINE: Who were some of your earliest influences on your art ?
Growing up as a kid, I read comics and books equally. My favorite genres being fantasy, horror, and sword and sorcery. Some of the authors who I drew influence from include Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Terry Brooks. In comics, I was drawn to the writing of Marv Wolfman and Robert Kanigher, and to the art of Bernie Wrightson, George Perez and Joe Kubert.
Rochelle: The Teen Cockroach was the first comic I ever worked on professionally, when it appeared as an add-on story for Femforce #170 from AC Comics, before having a successful run with Antarctic Press as simply, Rochelle. Oddly enough, the title character can trace her origin back to a sketch I did as part of an art challenge in the ICC Facebook group. It was the positive reception I received from that post that encouraged me to bring Rochelle to life.
SILVERLINE: Can you still read that comic today without wincing?
Absolutely — I still enjoy reading it and feel that it was a fairly good effort for a first comic. It’s also garnered a bit of a cult following and has very recently stirred some interest in genres outside of comics, so hopefully you’ll be hearing exciting news on the Rochelle front in the months ahead.
SILVERLINE: What are some non-Silverline independent comics you would recommend to readers?
There are definitely some good independent titles out there. I would highly recommend a couple from Inverse Press: Vicious Circus, and Last Ride of the 4 Horsemen. Those folks specialize in horror and these books will not disappoint. For younger readers, I would recommend a new title from writer Rob Andersin and Scoot (Scout Comics imprint) called Cat Dad & Super Mom. I had the privilege of previewing the book and it’ll knock your socks off. I’m generally reluctant to recommend anything I’ve been a part of, but I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend Cthulu Invades Oz, from Travis Gibb and Orange Cone Productions. It’s a really well done anthology from a collection of top-level creators that combines the worlds of L. Frank Baum and H.P. Lovecraft.
SILVERLINE: If you could go back in time and give your younger self one piece of advice that would help them better navigate the comics industry, what would it be?
Start younger and don’t hesitate. There’s nothing that will hold you back more than yourself. I honestly wish that I hadn’t surrendered to my own self-doubt when I was younger.
Strangely enough, this is a tough question. My initial thought was a parking lot, because I would love to leave a space where others could stop, suspend reality for a moment, and absorb themselves in the stories I left behind. But that wouldn’t be me. I don’t want be remembered for sitting still, so I would have go with the overpass, launching above that parking lot. I would want others to remember me for always moving forward — seeking, reaching and surpassing my goals and never stopping to rest on my laurels.
Teen Beetle is currently kickstarting and the first issue is available there now: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rolandmann/teenbeetle1switchblade1