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Comic Book Artist Randy Green

Comic Book Artist Randy Green
By Billy Ingram

One of the comic book industry’s hottest talents, delineator of X-Men, Star Wars, Lara Croft and Teen Titans, might have gone undiscovered had Randy Green not needed a way to avoid attention. “I grew up on a tobacco farm and learned pretty quick that, if you do something quiet and don't draw attention to yourself, then you can be okay for a while. But if you start making a lot of noise, shooting cap guns and stuff, then you're gonna get taken out to the tobacco field and they’ll find something to keep you busy. So I liked drawing. It was something pre-video game era that you could do, you just need a pencil and paper. You can let your imagination loose and draw. I'd draw cowboys and Indians, a lot of cars, I was a big fan of stock car racing and funny cars. I loved drawing monsters and I'd read comics too.”

He was especially captivated by the 1970s wave of Philipino comic artists like Alex Nino and that decade’s young usurpers Bernie Wrightson, Jim Starlin, Walt Simonson and Mark Schultz. “Xenozoic Tales was always my most anticipated comic once every few months. Manhunter was one of my all-time favorite series. I did also really like Will Eisner and The Spirit growing up, alongside my Creepys and Eeries.

“It didn't even register when I was a kid that I liked to draw and I like comics so I’m going to do that one day, it just seemed like people who did comics were in a kingdom somewhere and that’s what they got to do.”

Randy’s uncle George owned Green’s Supper Club, his father Frank took over the fabled eatery after George died. He remembers going as a youngster, “My mom and dad used to take us. It was always fun to watch people dance. It was darkly lit with candles on the tables, everybody dressed up for the most part. They had a big band playing so it was something you didn't get anywhere else when you went out. I think it was one of the last [supper clubs]. I live really close to there now, my wife and I and our kids would go to the Oyster Bar and eat. They had some great Prime Rib.”

After college

After receiving a BFA in art from UNC-Greensboro

Randy began a successful career in advertising knocking out illustrations for Belk ads, “I worked at Trone for a couple of years then I went to work for Kayser-Roth, their in-house advertising, and that was great. That’s where I got to learn to be an art director, do photo shoots and all kinds of fun things. After about five years I had a great job but what I really wanted to do was comics.

“I went out to San Diego Comic Con, which is the biggest comic book convention in the world, there was a studio of comic book artists out of Hillsborough. There were about 8 or 10 of those guys, all working in comic books at the time. This was in the early nineties when comic books really caught on fire. Those guys had given me a few jobs here and there and I was able to pick up a couple issues of Justice League.”

Justice League of America is a coveted title, a real coup for a newbie, but it’s the most daunting with dozens of costumed members each with their own unique abilities. Especially difficult were the issues Randy was assigned, “The Justice League had a handler and he died so most of the first issue was his funeral. Literally every superhero in the DC universe was in there. I did a splash page of a scene at the graveyard with 30 or 40 characters in it. This was while I was still working at my advertising job at Kayser-Roth which was really, really hard because I was expected to do a page at night after my job and stay up until 2:00 in the morning for two months in a row. I got burnt out real quick. ”

Asked to tryout for the Buffy The Vampire Slayer comic book, “I drew some sketches of Sarah Geller and to my surprise they said, 'Sure, yeah we like this guy.' I knew what the TV show was but I didn't know how big Joss Whedon was going to be in the filmmaking industry.” That was followed by Ascension, Witchblade, Star Wars, New X-Men, Teen Titans and Superman - Sole Survivor, “I’m always looking for new things, I get bored real quickly. I did some issues of Tomb Raider, which was great, I love Tomb Raider. At the same time I was doing stuff for Marvel and DC. I did Cable, Legends of the DC Universe Green Lantern, at one time I had more covers than I did interior work. It’s great, a lot of exposure.”

Randy stepped aside from comics around 2011 to engage in another crucial aspect of the industry — merchandising. “It got harder and harder because I’m the stay at home dad. I can't stay up all night doing comics or hang out the studio all day with my friends, I have to pick the kids up at school, take them to athletics, haircuts, doctor appointments.” Providing illustrations for Marvel video games for Activision, Disney and DC Licensing, “was kind of like going back to doing comp art. That’s where my advertising background really helped out, I knew what they were looking for. So it’s an easier thing for me.”

The kids are older now so Randy is back with a renewed intensity drawing comics. In 2015 he returned to Witchblade for a series finale, penciled the final 2 issues of a Conan and Red Sonja team-up before picking up Lara Croft and the Frozen Omen. “This last year reinvigorated my desire to do more comic books. I’m definitely looking to do more creator-owned stuff. After the restraints of my deadlines I'd like to work on my own comic books and let the Disney work pay the bills.”

 

 

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