“Featuring Ted Lody”
"A Comic Artist on the Concept of Existentialism"
By Hope Taylor | DDPROD | A.F.T.A.
Each month we feature one exceptional career artist in Chicago that we find stand out above the rest in their creative fields. We had the luxury to sit down and pick the brain of one of Chicago’s longtime comic artists, Ted Lody. He was kind enough to share his creative journey, inspirations and insider knowledge on the graphic art industry today.
When did you first know you wanted to make comics and what were the first steps you took to make that a reality?
In the summer of 1977, I starting collecting comics books as a young child. Some of my first comic books were Spiderman, X-Men, Batman, and the Marvel Comics adaptation of Star Wars. At the same time, I enjoyed the Spiderman and Super Friends animated series on television. From that point on, comic books and superheroes, in general, became a huge influence on me. Somehow, I always knew comic books were my destiny, either collecting, drawing, or even writing them. Being involved any way I can, just felt right; as if this is where I truly belong.
Years later, I self-published my first comic book in early 1995, called “Vampire Nation: Vampire Subway,” under my own comic book label called “Letterbox Comics.” 3000 print copies were distributed and sold in local comic book stores in the greater Chicago area, including southern Wisconsin, Northwest Indiana, and Central Illinois. I attended several “meet and greets” and book signing in those first few weeks of the book’s release. In 1997, I launched a website and digital copies of the book were made available; I instantly recognized the power of digital publishing and the endless possibilities it created.
I heard you were also a graphic designer, how do you find time to manage your graphic design business and still make digital comic books?
Finding the balance between projects is the key to creative harmony. If you truly believe in a creative endeavor enough, you will find the time and means to make it happen. Since I’m an Indie Publisher, I have greater flexibility with the release schedule and distribution of my product than most traditional comic book publishers. Not having to strictly adhere to the limitations of their production and publishing schedules, it gives me the ability to create comics on my own time and on my own terms. As I got older the old saying “If you want something bad enough, you will eventually find a way to make it happened, by hook or crook..” made the most sense.
Is there a main message or theme behind your comics?
I have several comic books in production at the same time, all with their own unique message. A common story element they all share is the concept of existentialism: a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person and free will; and the “struggles of man versus the system, versus man, and ultimately himself.” Like a young Luke Skywalker, I often looked to the stars and wandered the quintessential question “What is my place in-universe?” or “What is my destiny in the grand scheme of the cosmos?” One thing that learned early on was “Your focus determines your reality.”
Who would you say is the biggest influence in your craft?
The artist and writer team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne would be my earliest and greatest influence for me as a comic book writer and artist. Claremont used classic literary themes with greater complexity that was ever attempted in the comic book hero narrative. One of their most memorable stories included “The Dark Phoenix Saga" and “Days of Future Past.”
Do you have any inspirational advice you’d like to give someone thinking of making their own comics?
Follow your dreams, don’t overthink it. The hardest part of creating comic books, as either a writer or artist, is writing that first paragraph or drawing that first page. So many creative people are worried about their first attempt being perfect, being a hit or being a masterpiece. The creative process is ongoing, and it truly never ends. You have tuned out your own expectations and obsession with perfection before you can move forward or even get started. You will be your own worst critic and the greatest obstacle to your own success; until you clear your mind of self-doubt and second-guessing. Lose yourself in the creative process and JUST CREATE. Most of all, don’t worry about your critics. No matter what you do or how well you do it, someone won’t like it. At the end of the day, their options really don’t matter. DO pay attention to your fans. I have fans, then you are doing something right. Stan Lee said it best: “You will have critics before you have fans…”
Can you tell us where we can follow you and find your work?
My newest comic book “Jack WhoAmI” is available for download on the following platforms:
Drive Thru Comics: https://bit.ly/2qfCvq4
Comix Central: https://bit.ly/2q6BfWh
Gum Road: https://bit.ly/2OPJEw6
Deviant Art: https://bit.ly/2ypPkmb
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