Exclusive Pure Fandom Interview: Comic creator and artist Charles C. Dowd

In April, I had a chance to review some comics that Alterna was planning to release in May. One of those comics, Lilith Dark, really stood out to me. This is the perfect introductory comic for children. Lilith is a fearless heroine fighting the big bad beasties after all.

Recently, I had the chance to ask the creator of that series, Charles C. Dowd, a few questions. Find out what goes into his craft and what other work is coming out soon.

BRAD ZIPPRICH OF PURE FANDOM: You are a creator of comics and kids books, notably Lilith Dark, which returned in May to Alterna Comics. Can you tell us a little bit about that series and where the inspiration for it came from?
DOWD: Lilith Dark is about a little girl with a wild imagination who wishes she could be a real-life D&D-esque beastie slayer, but soon finds out that you should be very careful what you wish for.
Charles C Dowd
Artwork – Charles C. Dowd

The inspiration for the story came when I took my daughter, who was seven at the time, to our local comic shop. I quickly realized that there was very little for a seven-year-old on the shelves, and definitely nothing meant for a girl. After we got home, I decided that instead of complaining about it on Twitter, I’d go ahead and just make my own comic. I wanted it to be a fun story for kids, and I wanted the main character to be a girl, but I also didn’t want it to be pink and frilly, so from that Lilith Dark was born.

Was Lilith Dark your first piece of work that was released professionally?
I had a couple other short stories that I’d drawn for others before Lilith Dark, but nothing to really write home about if I’m being honest. Lilith Dark was really the first comic I went all in with, and I think it shows. As a creator, when you’re writing from the heart, and really enjoying your characters and their world, I think it has a tendency to shine through, and that makes it more fun for the readers in my opinion.


What other work have you done that is available to the public?
I’d encourage everyone to check out Kidthulhu, which is a creation of my writing partner, Martin Brandt. Kidthulhu is a silly take on the works of Lovecraft. I get to draw it and do a little co-plotting, and I think the stories we’ve come up with are pretty hilarious.
Charles C Dowd - Penny Power
Artwork – Charles C. Dowd
You can also check out my creation, Penny Powers. She’s a super-powered sixth grader who defends the town of Plainsburg from kaijus and other assorted baddies. If Lilith Dark is Batman, then Penny Powers is my Superman.
Charles C Dowd - The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls
Artwork – Charles C. Dowd
I also worked on a picture book, The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls, which is definitely my biggest selling book to date. It’s an ABC book featuring girls in non-traditional career roles, such as astronaut, firefighter, heavy metal guitarist, and quarterback. The book was featured on Upworthy and spawned a couple of coloring books, and will be spawning more things very soon. Stay tuned!


Who is your favorite character you have created?
Impossible to say. I’ve spent the most time with Lilith Dark, and her character is in a lot of ways an avatar for a young me, so she’s a character that I’m very fond of. Penny Powers is a great character, too. I actually have big, no, huge, no, YUGE plans for Penny going forward. I also love characters you’ve never seen or heard of yet, but they are alive in my mind and in my Google Docs.


What are the tools that you use to bring your work to life? (pen, ink, digital)
All of those things. Most of my characters are conceived in sketchbooks or post-its or napkins or whatever’s around. Penny Powers, for instance, was originally created at a slow convention. Sometimes shows don’t go so well and to keep from falling asleep I’ll pull out my sketchbook and just start drawing. Sometimes I even come up with good stuff.


When it comes time to create the actual comic pages, I tend to work digitally. I use a drawing program and hand-draw everything on my Cintiq monitor. For me, drawing digitally is a huge time saver and cuts out a lot of prep work and scanning and stuff like that. Comics is a laborious activity, so anything that saves time and gets to the end result quicker is a big plus for me.
Do you have any formal education or are you self-taught?
Both. I’ve been drawing since I can remember. It’s always been a thing I’ve done. I was making comics as far back as elementary school, and in middle school, I published my first comic strip in the school paper. So when I got to college I already had a lifetime of experience. School was great for fine-tuning those skills, and it also helped with things you don’t always think about like page layouts, typography, and the concept of creating a finished piece of work.


What advice do you give to up-and-coming artists out there?
Draw every single day. Seriously. You are competing with the Jim Lees of the world. If you’re playing video games for 10 hours a day and only drawing an hour or two a week, you won’t get very far. Being a successful illustrator is just like being a successful athlete. If you want to be the best ball player in your church league, that’s great. Have fun. But if you want to play I the big leagues, you have to get out there and work your butt off. There is no easy way or fast track. You have to put in the work.


What do you think are the most important skills you can have as an artist? 
Be observant. Have a point of view. Draw from life as much as possible. Above all else, to be a successful artist in comics and get jobs and make money, hit deadlines. There are so many amazingly talented artists out there, but so few that can hit a deadline. Don’t believe me? Ask an art director how important deadlines are. Your work might be top shelf, but if it’s late, you’re fired.


Are there any projects that you are currently working on?
My focus at the moment is completing this four-issue Lilith Dark arc, which should wrap up by the end of Summer. Beyond that, I have Penny Powers and Kidthulhu stories that I’m working on, and I’ve also begun a traditional gag-a-day comic strip called Big Fat Charlie. BFC is a sort of a humorous autobiographical comic strip about my personal struggles with being fat and having cats. It’s gotten a very good response so far, and I’d like to push that one to the next level very soon.


Who is the best television cartoon character and why?
He-Man. He has a secret identity, a magic sword, an awesome castle, and the most ridiculous rogues gallery I’ve ever seen. There are none better.


Find out more about Charles C. Dowd by visiting his website, catching him on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Brad Zipprich

Sci-fi and horror are where it’s at for Brad. As a podcaster for over nine years, it is clear that Brad likes to talk. A fan of the Syfy channel since the day it aired he enjoys covering the variety of shows that the channel puts airs. Be sure to check out the Brad & Cort Talk Podcast here on PureFandom where Brad and his longtime co-host Cort, recap shows and interview actors. Brad is also an avid Obstacle Course Runner who enjoys doing things most people think he is crazy for attempting.

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