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Welcome one and all to our very first creator interview on the Moonstone site!
This first interview, Mr. Doug Klauba, one of our amazing cover artists took time out
of his VERY busy schedule to talk with me a bit about comics and art.

Who IS Doug Klauba, you might be wondering? Read his little bio below to find out!

Bio

Douglas Klauba has been a Chicago based illustrator since the mid 1980’s and relatively new the comic book field. Doug’s work started to appear on Moonstone cover’s a short 4 years ago after showing editor Lori G. a couple of his paintings. Doug has been a life long comic book fan and aside from trying to get work from First Comics many years ago, he never really pursued the comic book industry for work until now. “I thought that there were some pretty exciting thing’s happening in comics and even more excited about the possibilities that I saw that were beginning to happen. Some really expressive artists started to do some truly inspiring sequential work with some incredible writers. But, I really started to see a bridge between illustration and storytelling from creators such as Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean, and Mike Mignola…and when “Marvels” came out I think that started the ball rolling for me. I was hooked again. It’s like I found comic books for the first time all over again. But what really blew me away was the Vertigo series “Sandman Mystery Theatre”. That’s when I finally thought that I wanted to do this!”

Doug balances his comic book work with his illustration projects in his home studio where he’s always up against a deadline and always tripping over his 4 year old son’s action figures and Batmobiles. His lovely wife, Daneen is expecting the arrival of their second baby any day.

What has Doug done for us here at Moonstone?
 I’ve included a check list for all of you, because AFTER you read this interview you will want to run right out and buy them ALL!

Jack Hagee, Private Eye GN (cover)
Jack Hagee, Private Eye TPB (cover)
Kolchak: the Nightstalker TPB Vol. 1 (cover)
Kolchak: The Nightstalker: Devil in the Details OGN (cover)
Kolchak: the Nightstalker: Lambs to the Slaughter OGN (cover)
Kolchak: the Nightstalker: Fever Pitch OGN (cover)
Kolchak: the Nightstalker: Get of Belial OGN (cover)
Kolchak: the Nightstalker: Pain Most Human (cover)

And the SOON to be released Kolchak: the Nightstalker Chronicles prose anthology (cover)

Legacy of the Invisible Man Graphic Novel (cover)
Lone Wolf OGN (cover)
Moonstone Monsters: Ghosts (10 pages interior black and white art)
Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks TPB Vol. 1 (cover)
The Phantom ongoing comic series(covers to #3, #4, #7, #8, #9, #10)
Lori G: So, Doug, how long have you been illustrating professionally?

Doug: Like most art students, I started looking for work while attending the American Academy of Art in Chicago and I started doing b&w line art editorial illustrations for trade magazines around town until I accepted a full time position at an illustration and design studio in Chicago around 1985. I did a little bit of everything at the studio, from key line and paste up, design and layout, storyboards, marker comps and illustration for advertising and magazines in every style that they could think of…I ended up being the only illustrator in the studio so I had a chance to do it all. In the end it burned me out and I lost my focus as an artist and ended up leaving to pursue my real interests which was paperback covers and entertainment projects. I moved to San Francisco to attend the Academy of Art College and readied my portfolio for my new goals. I eventually moved back toChicago and threw myself into my freelance career. 

Lori G: So, what was your first commissioned work ever? Or is just TOO embarrassing to say?

Doug: No, I remember because I bought a one sheet movie poster of A Clockwork Orange with some the money I made from the commission. I did some marker comps for Zenith televisions for some billboards, a neighbor was an Art Director there and wanted to obviously help me out a little in art school. But my first published work was a Molson Golden Beer poster around 1984 and it was rendered in watercolors and black line work, in a very comic book style.

Lori G: What kind of projects have you worked on, besides the wonderful covers you’ve done for us at Moonstone? [FYI: For he did the cover for a number of Phantom issues AND almost ALL of the Kolchak the Nightsalker graphic novel covers.]We here at Moonstone just LOVE Doug, if you can’t tell ,because he’ s just SO damn talented! And we hope you guys have enjoyed his work as much as we have!

Doug: I’m happy that Moonstone has given me the opportunity to work on these great books! As much as you guys love me, I enjoy working with Joe, Dave and you– I only wish that I had more time to do more Moonstone projects. I’ve been able to work on a lot of different projects in my advertising past from product labels, dog food point of purchase, Gatorade posters, Johnny Walker campaigns, etc. I painted Gone With The Wind collector plates as well as other collectible projects for properties like the Beatles, Elvis, Wizard of Oz, Babe Ruth, ice skaters…a lot of stuff! That work lead me into other entertainment work for video packaging for some re-releases of classic films (like A Star Is Born) and Broadway posters for Cinderella and the Sound of Music to name a couple. Whew! I’m going back maybe 10 years ago. I also did a lot of corporate illustration for brochures and IBM type magazines…More recently I have illustrated children’s books and fiction for children’s publications, which I still do day in and day out. I also paint covers for science fiction / fantasy books, my recent cover for Clifford Simak’s CITY has received an incredible response and one of my more popular paintings right now. My sci-fi / fantasy work has been featured in the Spectrum art annuals and my painting, Mercury Jack was selected for the Best of Spectrum exhibit this September in New York at the Society of Illustrators.

Lori G: Doug, you’ve been doing a lot of Phantom covers for us, which have received A LOT of positive fan response. What has it been like illustrating the Phantom?

Doug: Well, I haven’t been doing enough Phantom covers! But Joe’s been trying to leave me some time to work on another Phantom project at Moonstone…. Working on the Phantom has been challenging, I’m trying my best to please and I’m having a blast! There are a lot of Phantom paintings from the characters past and I just want to make sure that he’s represented heroically and true to the Phantom’s long history. The Phantom has a very devoted Phan following, so if their not happy, you’re in trouble! And I want to make sure the book looks like a contemporary comic and fit on the shelves with the other costumed hero books.

Lori G: Have you always been a fan of the Phantom? What was your fist exposure to the Phantom?

Doug: The Phantom is so cool! I’ve always loved the Phantom, since I was a kid. I first noticed the Phantom at the 5 and dime when I saw a small sheet of stickers of King Features characters (Prince Valiant, Mandrake, Popeye…) and there was this purple super hero that really intrigued me. I was really into super heroes at that young age, so I was absorbing anything that I could find! I still have those stickers, still on the sheet, never used them. But, anyway from there I picked up the Gold Keys when I ran into them, which wasn’t very often because most of the stores that I “hit” every Wednesday only carried Marvel title’s and DC’s. I know I read The Phantom on road trips during family vacations.
Lori G: Let’s talk about another one of the projects you have worked on for Moonstone.You’ve been the cover artist for almost ALL of the Kolchak The Nightstalker Graphic Novels that we have produced. What has that experience been like?

Doug: Again, Kolchak has been another challenging project, a little rough start in the beginning because Moonstone wasn’t sure that we could use the likeness of Darren McGavin as Kolchak, so I had to make him resemble him close enough, but not exactly. Joe and I have been on the same page with the covers: make them look like a paperback cover or CD packaging, which I think has helped the book’s appeal with a comic book reader as well as a Kolchak fan that has never read a comic book.

Lori G: When Joe,Mr. Editor-in-Chief himself approached you about doing some Kolchak work, what was your reaction? Were you always a fan? Did you ever watch the tv show/tv movies?

Doug: My first Moonstone cover assigned by Joe was the Legacy of the Invisible Man, which I worked on with Art director Dave. Joe liked it and “stole” me away from Dave for his Kolchak books (and refuses to share me with Dave). Dave has since started another line of Kolchak books, as you know, but Joe makes sure that my Moonstone schedule is filled so that I won’t go over to Dave’s series. And basically Joe throw’s money and gifts at me and Dave hasn’t learned that yet! But, the joke is on them because I am a Kolchak fan! Have been for years…I really wanted to work on Kolchak and my plan worked. I knew if I impressed them with the Invisible Man cover, they would give me the Kolchak covers! It happened something like that….

Lori G: Thanks for reminding me about The Invisible Man, I totally forgot you did the cover for that! And it is a thing of beauty, in fact, if you dear reader are interested, you can buy it right here on this very site, it is on special NOW!

Lori G: Have you always had an interest in illustrating pulp/adventure/comic heroes?

Doug: Yes, I am more into the Shadow, Doc Savage, Conan, Flash Gordon serials, Buck Rogers imagery and the Noir thriller. Before working with Moonstone, my portfolio reflected those interests. I grew up with that stuff. My friends and I used to make our own radio drama’s reading Shadow comics into a tape recorder, I vividly remember seeing the Ron Ely“Doc Savage” film at the Marquette theatre on a Saturday afternoon and watching Flash Gordon Serials every Sunday morning on WGN. It was great time to be a kid and it inspired my creative spirit. We made Doc Savage fanzine’s on a friends mimeograph machine and my school notebooks were filled with drawings of space men, barbarians and wizard’s.

Lori G: How can we here at Moonstone publish this undiscovered gem of your “early years”?

Doug: Now, you’re talking embarrassing moments. I tell you what, if Joe still wants to publish the Doug Klauba Sketchbook, I’ll put some of them in there for chuckles. It’s bad enough that an article in American Artist magazine (way back) published my first Academy “figure drawing” from my Life drawing class…Steranko even emailed me when he came across it recently, just for chuckles (I think).

Lori G:Who are some of your artistic influences?Have you ever met any of your favorites? What was that like?

Doug: My book shelves and walls are filled with my favorites like: Mucha, Waterhouse, Dean Cornwell, Joseph Clement Coll, Barry Windsor- Smith, Wally Wood, Frazetta, Jack Kirby, and the list goes on and on. The artists that I’ve met who’ve been an influence are Steranko, Michael Kaluta, Guy Davis, Will Eisner, Dave Dorman, to name a few and all have been a thrill to meet and talk with. And friend’s of mine who are illustrators and a constant source of inspiration are: Thomas Blackshear, Gary Gianni, John Rush, Scott Gustafson and comic book artist’s Alex Saviuk and EricJ, are some of the greatest guys around….And I’ve had lunch with this pretty good artist Alex Ross a couple of times. On one occasion he had to fight traffic in a snow storm after leaving my house, which he was not amused with. Although, we haven’t spoken since, I’m pretty sure he made it all the way home because once in awhile a small project pops up with his name on it.

Lori G: oh yeah, I THINK I’ve heard of him….he just does LITTLE things here and there.

Lori G: I know you’ve been going to comic book conventions for many years, is there any experience you would like to share? Do you prefer going to a con as a fan or as a professional? In other words, which side of the table is more fun?

Doug: I will always remember meeting Will Eisner and Stan Lee as a kid at the Chicago Comic- Con’s. Thank God, that Warren put out those Spirit magazines in the 70’s, they made me a huge Eisner fan and the Spirit is still on my top five favorite hero list. And since I was the last in a long line to meet Stan the Man, he found the time to hang out and chat with me for about ten minutes. I was probably 12 years old and will always remember how cool he was and I kick myself for not letting him sign my Spider-Man #1. “Are you sure you don’t want me to sign your Spidey?”

I know most people would find me at my table in Artist Alley or the Moonstone booth, but I am a “fan”. Both sides of the table are fun but I like going as a fan. I enjoy meeting all the creators and editors, looking for some comics that I need and getting some sketches or buying some original art - I like to meet the other artists and tell them how much I like their work. And as a “professional” I like to hear what other people have to say about my art, because it’s really about the audience and as an artist we work in a studio, do the work, see it printed and we move on to the next thing, basically in our comfort zone. I really like the interaction.

Lori G:What are some of your favorite pieces you’ve done for us and for other projects you’ve worked on?

Doug: Well, I like certain works for different reasons. Color, design, impact, drama, subject matter, concept….I’m excited that the Spectrum jury has selected Mercury Jack for the exhibit in New York, I’m happy with a new painting that I just completed of Flash Gordon as an homage to the serials, the Phantom trade paperback cover was my first published super hero painting but I do like the cover of Phantom #4 that I call the Mark of the Phantom for concept and design. My “Raja Yah” 10 pager in Moonstone Monsters: Ghosts because it’s my first published story….I feel that way about my work but I really think that the better stuff is still to come.

Lori G: Oh yeah, people! You definitely NEED to check out that issue of Moonstone Monsters with Doug’s story. Again, it is available on special on this here very site, talk about convenience!
Seriously people, Doug’s line work is just amazing! MOONSTONE MONSTERS: GHOSTS is the title, so go order one before they sell out!!! Or even order the TPB which is ALSO on special!

Ok, enough of the serious stuff. I HAVE to ask you some FUN questions too, you know the fan-girl in me just can’t resist!

Lori G: Are you a Marvel or DC boy?

Doug: I always liked how Ringo Starr answered something similar, “Are you a Mod or a Rocker?” with “I’m a Mocker”. I think all the publishers are offering a lot of quality stuff and it’s a great time for a comic book reader, so I pick and choose according to what interests me.<

Lori G: nice NON-answer Doug. I understand, it’s hard to pick, they both put out good books, but REALLY, RIGHT NOW, are you picking up more DC books or Marvel books every month?

Doug:Not fun enough? I don’t know!… Right now,it’s pretty even. I’m reading The Ultimates, the Bendis / Maleev Daredevil, the Whedon / Cassaday X-Men, but also buying Loeb and Sale Catwoman, Planetary, Tom Strong... the best series that I read in years was Darwyn Cook’s New Frontier (it rocked) but I love the Escapist and B.P.R.D. C’mon! There is an enormous amount of quality work out there, and if someone can’t find something to read these days, then they really aren’t looking.

Lori G: Who is your favorite comic book character?

Doug: As a kid: Batman, as a ten year old: Spider-man, as an adult: Golden Age Sandman (Sandman Mystery Theatre)

Lori G: is Daneen aware of your now CONFIRMED gas mask fetish?

Doug: We went to one of Alex’s Halloween parties as Diane and The GA Sandman!

Lori G: What is your dream gig in the industry (besides working on the Phantom, of course)?

Doug: I’d love to do a Golden Age Sandman story or an Escapist story or cover.

Lori G: If you could have one super power what would it be?

Doug: Speed. So that I can get more work done in the day.

Lori G: cool, if you do manage to get that power I will be sure to let Joe know! I think he has a bunch of projects he would love for you to do if you had unlimited time on your hands!

Lori G: Doug, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to talk with me. I think we ALL learned a thing or two about you.(wink, wink) And if you, dear reader, would like to check out MORE of Doug’s art, go to his website:www.douglasklauba.com.

And Doug will be in Artist Alley at Wizard World Chicago in August, stop by and say “hello”!

I hope all of our fans have enjoyed this first interview on the Moonstone site. Don’t forget boys and girls, I will be conducting at least one interview a month with our creators, so be sure to check back often for more insightful discussions.
Until next time, BEHAVE and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!

Lori G.
The Moonstone Gal!

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Friday, April 25, 2014