Joe Phillips has been a busy boy! His artwork is playful and risqué, and he’s blended bawdy and beautiful in a way that is all his own. From his beginnings as a comic book artist to his recent works, Joe has found a way to express himself in a way that just might make your jaw drop.
I’m excited to talk to you! I’ve enjoyed seeing your comics through the years and looking forward to getting to know the man behind the comics! Your work is always popping up in different publications, and I always love your light and playful approach! I know your work mostly through your “Joe Boys”/ Boys will be Boys calendar and your comics (House of Morecock, Stonewall & Riot), what drew you to comics?
It’s so sweet of you to be inspired by my chicken scratch, I’m just pleased anyone likes what I do! I started drawing comics during college to make money for school and after a while I said “Why am I going to school?” and left to do comics full time.
You’ve had your hands in a lot of comics, starting with your work in “Southern Knights” and drawing some of my favorite Marvel/DC titles, too. Working with the different comic book publishers, did you find that they were encouraging of the prospect of putting more gay story lines in it? Did they let you flow freely or try to control how the character acted/behaved?
I’ve had a lot of freedom in the stuff I did for DC, like Superboy and Body Doubles, so I can’t complain much. I hope there will be more opportunities to do fun stuff in the future! I think JoeBoy art is more my mindset and I leave other peoples characters to them.
Speaking of DC, what are your thoughts on Alan Scott (Golden Age Green Lantern) being reintroduced as a gay character?
It’s kind of stupid. They should just do a new character and leave the poor man alone. But hey, if it sells a few books, more power to them. In a way my idealistic view of things has gone. I see the mind behind it all and just shake my head. I do what I do and let all that hype wash right on by. I really don’t read comics much any more past a story line that’s drawn by someone I like.
But you’ve also had a profound effect on comic book fans such as myself. I was drawn to comics for a sense of escape. When I “realized” I was gay, I was fortunate to have a few Darkhorse comics that had a gay character in it. I’d like to thank you for being on the forefront to making that escape inclusive to us. Do you get a lot of people thanking you for making them feel included?
I’ve had many people share their stories of how my art has effected them personally. I remember once I got a letter from a mom who’s son came out to her and gave her a copy of my book. She wrote me to tell me she had never imagined gay men could be so happy and do regular things like everyone else. She thought her kid would wind up a prostitute or drug addict, or even a drag queen, it was nice to know that she could see the world was better than she imagined. She thanked me and became a member of PFlag.
I also had a man come out to his son, after his son came out to him, and showed him my book. They didn’t know each other was gay and it was a great thing they shared over my art. I have stories from a Priest in the Vatican City and Muslims in Arabia, Pakistan, and China. It’s humbling to have been so influential by just drawing what I wanted to see.
You’ve included a lot of your playfulness even in your “adult” work. I caught a few nods to some iconic and classic, like how Stonewall and Riot has a little Adam West era Batman and Robin feel to it; and Flotilla in House of Morecock reminds me of another certain talking fish who’s friend with a mer-person. House of Morecock 2 is coming out soon, any chance that Flotilla will make a cameo?
Hadn’t planned on it, maybe he has her in a fish bowl back at home.
Do you have a release date?
Not yet, we are only 2 segments in on the new film, so we have 3 more to do, I’m hoping [it will be] by late winter next January/February.
Any chance you’ll be able to make it to Atlanta’s Brushstrokes for the release?
I’m not sure I’ll make it to Brushstrokes for the release, but I’ll be in Atlanta for Dragon-Con. It’s been a long time since I was there [in Atlanta], I went back last year after 12 years.
Well, I look forward to seeing you! Thank you so much for putting up with my barrage of questions, I know that there will be a lot of happy people to hear your thoughts and inner workings. Would to care to impart any words of wisdom for aspiring artists?
(Laughter) Don’t do it! And if you do, do it because it keeps you up at night, because it’s a powerful lover that demands to be first. It haunts every minute of your waking and dreaming world, everything you see you want to reflect in your work. Every relationship is just stories for your work. It is your way of communing with something bigger than yourself and yet so intimate that it’s exposing your inner thoughts to the world. Never take it for granted because it is like a can and has a will of it’s own. Always let it lead you and not try too hard to tame it. It will always be with you even if you lose everything else. Practice often, draw constantly on napkins and corners of books. Practice hands and facial expressions, clothing styles, lighting, and how fabric folds. Draw guns and cars and horses, they are hard to capture and a good artist can draw anything.
Joe Phillips work is featured on Joeboys.com, JoePhillips.com and many of his pieces of work are available for purchase locally at Brushstrokes and also on Amazon.com