My good friend, Terry Biddle is just your average DC designer by day (no offense, Biddy): living in the district and working a secure design job in an unsecure economy. Terry is a mild-mannered dude, passionate at heart, giving all the day’s energy to creating knockout pieces. But what’s he like at night?
The verve Terry has couldn’t just go 9 to 5 then turn off. Terry has a secret life as the creator of an online comic, and we met up for happy hour to discuss his hidden side. What follows is an insight to the secret of his superhero energy level.
Terry, remind me, what does your daytime job consist of?
I’m part of an in-house design department at a non-profit. I make a lot of brochures, booklets, postcards and marketing collateral. I also design books and research materials. I use style sheets out the wazoo.
As a design super hero, are you fulfilled creatively there?
Yes and no. I love graphic design, but art is my first love. I studied film/TV production and took lots of art classes as an undergrad. I went back to school to get a Master’s in design so I could have more stable creative profession.
There are aspects of design I truly love: branding, logos, and strategy. But the production side—I have done so much of it over the the past few years—I don’t really enjoy the nitty-gritty production work like I used to. I probably wont be totally satisfied creatively until I’m doing some sort of creative full-time work with the wacky characters I create.
Right, so let’s talk about what you’re passionate about. You are an illustrator as well. What do you “do” after you clock out?
I’m currently working on the first issue of a graphic novel/comic book called The Mighty Monkey-Men. It’s an idea I had about six or so years ago that I’m finally revisiting and fleshing out. I plan to first, release each issue individually as a miniseries of about 4-6 issues and then, as a bound graphic novel later down the road.
Right now, it’s on my website, TerryBiddle.com. It started out as a page a week, but the work is very time consuming. And hey, this thing called “life” sometimes gets in the way.
So how do you balance work, life, and Monkey Men?
It’s not easy. I’m married. I’m on doggie-duty in the evenings. And [after a long day at work,] sometimes all I want to do when I come home is chillout on the couch with the family.
What is your favorite thing about working on your own cartoon?
Total creative freedom. Probably not too surprising of an answer coming from a graphic designer. Whatever comes out of my mind, I get to make. I love it.
Sounds like there’s freedom in this.
Absolutely. Gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day. It also allows me to create something entirely myself, that others can enjoy. I want to create something that provides some escapism.
What would you say your point of view is?
I heard Jim Henson say in an interview that the idea for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is “wonderfully absurd.” I love that, and I’d define my point of view the same way.
Nice. Are you interested in shopping your skills around, or is it a labor of love?
In regards to The Mighty Monkey-Men; it’s a labor of love. It’s important for me to retain creative ownership of the characters. Would I do comics, or work in this sort of capacity for a company? I’d certainly be open to it.
What is your inspiration for this particular project?
I love superhero comics. But I also enjoy fantasy and sci/fi as well as alternative comics. I’m influenced by pop-culture. I’ve thought that most superhero comics never really addressed some of the “real world” ramifications that superheroes would encounter. You know: What would happen if they got sued? Who pays for the property damage caused during battles? And, not all superheroes can be straight, right? It doesn’t really fly in the real world.
But you seem to be tackling it fairly well personally.
I want to tackle all of these kinds of issues in the comic. A lot of the “unanswered questions” associated with comics and superheroes are my inspirations for this project.
So what are your ultimate goals for this comic?
Since I was a kid, I used to make these little story booklets and mini comics that I used to staple together. I kind of want to channel that same kind of energy and eventually start my own company…I want to make comics, toys, and apparel. Sort of a Disney meets Marvel Comics meets Japan.
The Mighty Monkey-Men will sort of be a springboard for that. I have other characters and stories I want to tell further down the road. But in the meantime, a TV series or as a feature film would be nice… [grin]
We ended the hour(s) happy. As the sun had set, Terry walked off to go home to his wife, dog, and a new world of characters awaiting his pen to bring them to life for another night.
If you are a designer who has an artistic alter ego after dark, email me! email@example.com