Welcome, brave soul, to Artist’s Alley. Here you can meet the creators of West Street Stories: Brian Dobbins and Al Tudor.
First we’ll answer some general questions: Where did Al and Brian meet? How did they come to partner up and do West Street Stories?
Well it all started in a little place called Norwood, Ohio. They both moved into the neighborhood and started attending the same school within a month of one another. As the two new kids in the fourth grade, they sort of fell in together and have been fast friends ever since. Soon after, the boys started impressing each other with outrageous lies and characters. Before long they were writing and drawing these little epics for their own enjoyment. And from those humble beginnings, etc., etc.
Oh, by the way, their first meeting was in class. Their fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Bissett, suggested that they walk home together, since Brian was new to the area and Al was a veteran of over a month. She had noted that they lived on the same street and thought it would be helpful for the new guy. Brian, for his part, thought it was ridiculous that anyone would assume he needed a chaperone. Al was glad for the company. The street they lived on? West Street, of course.
The question I am most often asked at conventions is probably who my comic book influences are. Invariably the answer is the great writers and artists of the Marvel Silver Age. You all know the guys I’m talking about, and now you know I’m pretty old, too.
As for creative influences in general, I think I pretty evenly steal from classic literature, science fiction, fantasy and adventure stories, with a good dose of various mythologies thrown in. Artistically, I was always a big fan of the Van Gogh/Gauguin/Lautrec crowd, as much for their lifestyle as their work. I was also a devotee of the Al Williamson/Reed Crandall/Angelo Torres type of artist in the 60’s. Of course, I probably don’t need to mention the incredible Frank Frazetta, but I can’t seem not to.
Well, that’s probably more than you wanted to know, and honestly, it’s as much as I feel like sharing right now. If you meet me at a con, I’ll be glad to talk at least one of your arms off. Be well.
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Other influences? The Lone Ranger, Zorro, Tarzan, Superman, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond, The Twilight Zone, Doc Savage, Sherlock Holmes, H. G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, Homer, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dashiell Hammett, Steve Allen, Will Eisner, Maxfield Parrish, Winsor McCay, Hal Foster, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Frazetta, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Mad Magazine, "The Day the Earth Stood Still," " Forbidden Planet." The list could go on for quite a while-- I’m a very impressionable person.
The first comic book I ever remember reading was an issue of "Little Lulu." In it a tiny flying saucer flew through her bedroom window, landed on her bed and deposited little green visitors. I was fascinated by everything about it: The concept, the color, even the smell. Currently I admire Adam Kubert’s work, Bone by Jeff Smith, John Byrne’s stuff and anything I can read by Peter David.
Why do I do comics? Well it sure ain’t the money. I love this medium. For me, it’s the perfect creative outlet. It combines art and literature in a form that the story teller can shape to his or her personal vision. I believe we humans have an almost mystical need for and attraction to stories. Pictures that tell stories have been a part of our history from the beginning. Comics afford more individual creative control over the process of weaving those stories with those pictures than any other medium. If I didn’t do comics, I would probably go bonkers.*
Well enough about me, let’s talk about Brian’s misspent youth...
*The jury is still out on whether this preventive measure is actually working.