I ran into veteran creator Howard Chaykin briefly at this years London Super Comic Con and managed to get him talking on a few points as he valiantly sketched various Star Wars characters for a steady stream of fans. Chaykin has a large and impressive back catalogue and is equally memorable for both his art and his writing. In the past he’s revamped stagnant and irrelevant characters and created original books invoking as many of his own passions as possible.
He continues to be as busy as ever within the comic book industry and outside of it
“right now as we speak I am writing a video game which we cannot discuss as although I’m very excited about it as I’ve signed an NDA. I’m about to start the artwork for the sequel to Black Kiss, a genuinely disgusting comic book that I did when I was in my late thirties when I was genuinely disgusting and now that I’m post-disgusting I have decided to re-explore the concept of what it would be like at my age to dabble in my own disgust.
The guy who I’ve asked to edit me responded after reading chapter six ‘does it have to be so dirty’? And that has become my tagline. It’s filthy and disgusting. It’s coming from image and it will be six 20 page issues. Each issue containing two ten page stories, each of which take place in a decade, so the first one starts in 1906 the last episode takes place in 2010 and it involves our characters and introduces the franchise at various stages of American Show business. The first involves the nickelodeon and the last a viral porn video with lots of weird shit in the middle. “
Chaykin’s vital and exuberant personality overflows throughout our conversation. He’s witty and compelling refuses to shy away from any topic that he wants to discuss. In the early stages of his career he had to express himself from within the restrictive Comics Code Authority. He was also part of Alan Moore and Frank Miller’s DC Comics boycott.
“I love Showbusiness and I’m a musical comedy queen from way back. My relationship with athletics was ‘you play sports I’ll fuck your wife’ and I don’t do that anymore because I’m older and don’t care much. I’ve always been into musical comedy, my Indian name is the heterosexual guy who knows nothing about sports but a shit load too much about musical comedy. That’s what I’ve been doing in London the past two days, I saw Matilda last night with my wife, even though she’d rather go to a ball game. So basically black kiss is about the evolution of American show business, with a great deal of fucking.”
In addition to the eagerly awaited sequel to Black Kiss he also teased some information about a book in the works with Matt Fraction.
“I’m waiting to get the schedule going on an Icon book with Matt Fraction which I’m really looking forward to, and this also has its elements and measures in show business. I like working with Matt. We’ve never done a creator owned property together, but we’ve done work for hire work and so this is an opportunity for us to do something where we both participate. Matt and I are brothers, twin sons from different mothers, even though I’m old enough to be his father. We share similar sensibilities.”
In addition to these projects Chaykin is also providing the covers for Dynamite’s new series of The Shadow, written by Garth Ennis. He also goes on to find great comfort in finding out that he is only marginally older that my mother and father. That leaves us with an epic career we’re barely able to touch upon in the short duration of our conversation.
“This may sound odd and strange but I’m really grateful that I have the career that I have because I’m old and used and I’ve been doing this for 41 years. I am incredibly happy, I don’t take anything for granted and have no sense of entitlement. The fact that I woke up one morning was sixty and there was no fucking reset button. I better accept what I got and I’m stuck with it.
The high points of my career started in the 80s and ended in the 90s so I’m well passed my prime and perfectly comfortable with the idea that I’ve been coasting on that but never not doing quality work. Just the audience passes you by, the audience has other ideas and other issues. Since that time I’ve done nothing that I’m ashamed of. I did plenty of work I’m ashamed of before that but nothing since. I did some shit stuff because I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. Inadequacy is often its own reward. I did the Star Wars comic in the 70s and if I’d have know It was going to be as big a hit I would have done a better job.”
Look out for Chaykin’s new comic releases Black Kiss and The Shadow covers in shops soon.
All photos courtesy of Fiona Watson Photography.
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