Category Archives: Interviews

‘Drawing the invisible’ My interview with James D. Foster

I am a proud comic book fan.  (Okay, I’m a total nerd)

I am a member of The Mystic Order of Arachnid Vigilance (AKA: The Tick fan club)  True story.  Here I am with the Cypher Matic Decoder Wheel!

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I am also a fan of artists, of finding out what inspires them.  And I am in complete awe of natural talent.

So, it’s only fitting that I asked my long-lost/recently found talented friend if I could interview him.  Because he has natural talent in the art department.

In spades.

I’ll start with sharing what he labeled as his ‘nerdy’ stuff.  *Cough* bullshit *Cough*

For instance, this 'nerdy' drawing.  Because we all know, hands are SO easy to draw.  Not.

For instance, this ‘nerdy’ drawing. Because we all know, hands are SO easy to draw. Not.

This is my favorite - amazing grasp of lighting and shading and ... just everything!

This is my favorite – amazing grasp of lighting and shading and … just everything!

Now a little gratuitous moment – we played around with a short story I wrote, and these were some characters that were going to appear in the comic version.

She's the love child of Vanna White and Pat Sajak (in my story)

She’s the love child of Vanna White and Pat Sajak (in my story)

The main character – and I cannot for the life of me remember his name?? Arnold??  Anyway, the bananas had disappeared, but he’s holding one.

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And I have to assume this guy was the antagonist – that, or Jim got fixated on bananas – notice the one on his lapel.

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Yeah, Jim.  Such ‘nerdy’ stuff.  Early works – and amazing.  Just amazing.  Then he really found his stride.

Let’s chat with Jim shall we?

Me:  So, you’ve handed your mom your first drawing as a child – it goes on the fridge?

Jim:  Yep. That’s remembering pretty far back. But, I drew like any other kid in those days. Family members with pig feet; houses with smoking twirls from crayola chimneys; cavemen riding around saber tooth brontosaurus. I drew like any average kid back then.

Me:  That was my next question (talented AND psychic) when do you first recall drawing something, looking at it – and realizing. Oh … that’s GOOD

Jim:  1981. I was bedridden with pneumonia for two weeks when I was 13. My Father had bought me this amazing book on the art of the ‘Dark Crystal.’ Somehow it all just came together, and I realized I was way better at drawing than I had thought. Plus, I was 13, I’m sure what ever hormones I was dealing with didn’t hurt either.

Me:  So would you say that being exposed to a certain genre of art made something ‘click’ in your head? Like ‘Ah, there’s this other amazing way to have smoke curling out of a chimney’ The hormones I’m sure didn’t hurt, did drawing become an outlet for frustrations and expressing yourself at that time?

Jim:  Like any kid dealing with all of that craziness . . . you gotta have an outlet, an escape. I had whole worlds living in my head, but never could quite express them in any meaningful way. So, that’s when I got my first sketchbook, pen and quill, and started to draw whatever influenced that escape.

Me:  I love that you had whole worlds living in your head – only a few are able to translate them into something they can effectively share with others … what was the response of ‘others’ once you found your groove?

Jim:  It helped that my first art teacher saw something in what I was doing, and at that age, someone seeing potential in what you’re doing is a tremendous push. All the other kids saw it too. But, it no way put an end to getting pushed around. I always had some kid bug the heck out of me, to draw some girl they had a crush on naked. Pretty much, I was just a kid who drew better than most of the other kids. But, it never won me any popularity contests.

Actually, I have to correct myself. I won ‘Most Artistic’ my Senior year. It did actually win me a popularity contest.

Me:  You must realize now as an adult, that ‘pushing around’ stemmed from envy right?

Jim:  The girls always liked it. So that always helped. And they always had me drawing something for them. I played two years of high school football, and two years a pole vaulting and track. So sports was not really my problem. I suppose any kid at that age is envious of everybody else. I think it just helped me more or less break out my shyness. It was kinda my ice breaker.

Me:  Other than grades K-12, did you have any formal instruction with regards to art, or are you self-taught?

Jim:  Mrs. Spann was my first art teacher in High School. She was an incredible influence my first year. Sadly she had a heart attack, and had to retire. The next three years were all subs. So Mrs. Spann was the only formal training I had. In Jr. College I took a painting course and hated it. So that pretty much sums up all my art schooling.

Me:  Natural talent. That’s huge Jim. Seriously. Okay – fast forward. When were you drawn to comics? (No pun intended)

Jim:  Actually I always wanted to be a writer, Lol. So it just kinda made sense one day. Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns,’ was a big eye-opener when I was 18. The art was great, but the story blew me out of the water. Up to that point, I had always figured that comics were just kid stuff.

Me:  They’re definitely not kid stuff – and they’re a lot of work! And, you do it all, Concept, writing – then you’re the penciller, inker, colorist, letterer AND editor. What are your tools of choice?

Jim:  A good pencil, a good pen, and blank piece of paper. That’s pretty much it. I love Photoshop, but it always feels like I’m cheating. But, it works, so I go with it.

Me:  What kind of pen? Doesn’t look like any ink that’s come out of any of my pens lol

Jim:  I used to use Rapidographs. But, i find that they’re too scratchy, and a pain to keep clean. Anything that has a smooth feel to it, and you can just throw away and not feel bad about it.

Me:  Then I guess the key is to be wicked talented – not so much the tool. What medium do you use for the coloring process? You mentioned photo shop – I have no clue how that works, but I know you’ve colored by hand too

Jim:  Photoshop, that’s it. I really need to get away from that too. Nobody wants to buy stuff you’ve Photoshopped. They want something real and original to hang on their walls. I’ve always wanted to check out silk-screening. Printing your own posters and all. But, for a long time it’s just been on the computer.

Me:  Digital inking/coloring. I guess that’s a good thing – if you had spent a lot of time doing it by hand, then screwing up a section – starting over would have to be frustrating as hell. Ever do that? Finish a frame and not like the lettering or something and have to start over?

Jim:  More times than not. That’s why I love the computer. It saved me a lot of good pieces. If I had actually gone to art college, maybe I would have a better grasp at doing it all by hand. Raw talent will only get you so far.

Me:  Speaking of ‘starting over’ – you lost 6 years worth of art and sketch books in a fire. I can’t imagine how that must have felt.

Jim:  Felt like hell. What the fire didn’t get, the fire hose did.

Me:  I’m so sorry. So much work. Almost like losing years worth of diaries and photos …

Jim:  That was right around the time the whole ‘Capzowski’ storyline really began to seed in my head. That was my first attempt at doing real comic pages. 11 x 14 bristol board. It was a real pain trying to figure out what I was doing. There’s more that goes into a page then one tends to think. Like 6-8 separate drawings that all have to flow and mesh like some weird dance on a page. I got about twenty something pages worth out of that year. Left them all on the drawing table. Got home the next day, it was all gone.

Along with the rest of my apartment.
Me:  Once again, you’re psychic – my next question was going to be about ‘Neo Pompeii’. How did you come up with the Capzowskis?
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Jim:  Bit by bit over the years. I like letting things write their own selves in time. I still have no idea what ‘Neo-Pompeii’ actually is. It was just a word that i likes, and used as a working title ever since. Just characters began to pop up in my art time and again, and you start thinking how they’re all related to one another. Then you start asking questions, all the way down to what the like for breakfast, and how do they take their coffee.
Me:  That’s the writer in you. I know your character of Starsky transformed a lot – when do you know you’ve fleshed them out to your satisfaction?
Starsky (on the phone)

Starsky (on the phone)

Jim:  When I stop asking questions at to what they like and hate and what not. That’s something I love to capture when i draw each of these character. I don’t need thought bubbles to explain their ego’s and personalities. You can look at them and see their thought process. That’s my favorite thing about art. Not just drawing cool characters, but drawing what you can’t see. But, it’s there none the less. Like drawing gravity. It’s invisible, but in the manner that you illustrate an individual, you can feel their body weight. That’s what I get a kick out of art. Drawing the invisible.

Me:  One character that has a misleading look would be Francis … he’s so menacing, yet Sissy is the heavy?

Francisco (Francis) Wolfgang Capowski

Francisco (Francis) Wolfgang Capzowski

Francis 'looking' tough

Francis ‘looking’ tough

Jim:  Francis is the ugliest guy in town . . . but he gets all the girls. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass as that he’s kinda apish. He’s a talker. Everybody knows him, everybody likes him. Everybody owes him a little something, and he always comes back to collect. Sissy, his twin, either people hate her or a terrified of her. A bit of sociopath, but not in a cool Hollywood way. Has zero social skills, and no friends. AS if there were a polar opposite to Pippy Longstocking. That would be Sissy.
Meet 'Sissy'

Meet ‘Sissy’

Sissy colored

Sissy colored

Sissy before color

Sissy before color

Sissy after color

Sissy after color

Sweet family table time?

Sweet family table time?

Me:  I love the feel of Neo Pompeii – I might even be convinced to move my Tick comic books over to make room for the first Capzowski issue. Okay, so the big question – I know your life is in transition – but, let’s say the your Art Fairy Godmother floats down from wherever they float down from … what would be your art related wish?

Jim:  Lol. To write a novel.

Me:  A graphic novel?

Jim:  A novel first. Then a graphic novel.  A combo piece let’s say. One would feed into the other.

Me:  Anything you want to say to kids who have found this interview by googling comic art related topics?
Jim:  Just draw your asses off. It’s way cheaper than what they’re charging in art school these days. Plus it’s the best way to discover your own style.
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**Photos, Art and concept are sole property of James D. Foster – printed with permission.  Use of any material above is expressly forbidden.  If you would like to reach the artist – you may contact me utilizing  the ‘Email Amanda’ option on the right hand side.**
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My interview with Rainer Höss. Part I

**In honor of Rainer’s book release in Germany, I am reblogging this interview from May.  Click on the Amazon link within the interview to purchase the book.  There still WILL be a part II to the interview, Rainer has been very busy but things seem to be finding a chaotic rhythm for him lately.  On a personal note, congratulations Rainy on the book – I’m so proud to see you holding it! 🙂 **

 

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It is 3:15 am in Germany as I begin my writing.   My friend ‘Rainy’ is sleeping.  I miss the ‘ding’ of the email as he shares more and more about his journey,  his hopes and his fears. 

He is a book I cannot put down – a person I have come to deeply respect and care for in a short time.  I do not know what time or even what day it will be in Germany when I finish.  Or if I’ll ever be finished.

While it has to be mentioned to make any sense, this post is not going to be about his grandfather, Rudolf Hoess, (Höss, Höß) Commandant of Auschwitz.

It’s not for at least two very good reasons.

1)  I am smart enough to know that I am too ignorant on the topic to have the nerve to offer any opinions or insights.  There are far too many souls who have been personally harmed. I will not rehash only what is available to me on the internet and in history books. That information can’t begin to afford me the experience to decide how it must have felt, how it must have been.  I will not disrespect those who have personally been affected by the holocaust.

2)  My intention from day one was to offer Rainer’s story.  His story, in my voice.

When I first saw him in a documentary I was immediately pulled into his world.

He cried, I cried.  He was nervous standing before a group of students, I was nervous.  He looked around the Villa where his father grew up on the grounds of Auschwitz, I was peering around the corners with him.

Rainer outside of the Villa

Rainer outside of the Villa at Auschwitz, where his father lived

So engrossed was I in that documentary, Hitlers Children, that it affected me profoundly.

We all have family secrets … personal shame about something or another and a lot of us must confess to having at least one ‘monster’.

That in mind, I could not fathom the magnitude of bearing the weight of not only having a most well-known ‘monster’ (I have a problem using that word) in my past, but it not being a secret.

Far from it.

Once Rainer shares his last name – the speculation and judging begins.

It is here that I will offer my ever so humble opinion.

We cannot be great people because our ancestors have done great things, so it stands to reason that we cannot be evil if our ancestors have done evil things.

I believe that those in fear, and still suffering, need something tangible to blame.  Someone in the flesh to hear their story and to turn their anger on.

And that is not fair.  And that is not right.

Rainer has said often he fears he has his grandfathers evil in him, “As if it could be inherited.”

My heart swells and my instinct is to protect – I do not believe for one minute that evil can be inherited.  I believe that we choose our own paths and that we are not defined by our forefathers deeds.  Or, more to the point, we don’t have to be.  Sometimes our circumstances make it harder to take a different route, but it can be done. 

As Rainer said to me, “To come to terms with your past, it takes a lot of strength, but it is also worthwhile to confront his demons.  Rising to the task, and where there is a will there is a way.  Of course, the path is sometimes rocky and hard, and not immediately visible.  Giving up is too easy.”

Let me tell you about Rainer Hoess, who chose not to give up.

His favorite color is blue. “I could paint everything blue around me. The blue color gives me a sense of harmony and security.”

He likes to sit outside on his terrace and look at the stars at night, thinking about nothing. Sometimes with one of his cats in his lap.

He loves diving in the ocean, kickboxing, jogging, cycling. 

He practices Tai Chi and Chi Gong daily for focus. 

He is well-traveled, educated, genuine and loves his family.  He often mentions his 4 beautiful children and his two beloved grandchildren.

And yet, in his words, “Often you stand before the mirror in the morning and look at yourself, similarities, comparing yourself with this monster.  The worst thing is that you being to ask yourself the question, what I have of him that I do not know yet?”

I argued with him – pointed out how very different he is from his grandfather, from his own father even!  But how can I think for one minute I have the right to do that?  I am not walking in his shoes. 

He went on to say, as we discussed his never-ending research, “I am always deeply penetrated into the psyche of my grandfather and have therefore often put myself in danger.”  He was speaking of his health – his obsessive research in an attempt to understand, resulted in 3 heart attacks.  He immersed himself in a desperate quest.  (Which resulted in this book.)

But Rainer is also a thrill seeker – an adrenaline junky.  “It gives me the opportunity to make myself free of these constraints of society.  Myself to determine how far I want to go.  There is also a kind of therapy to overcome boundaries.” 

I think it’s also a vehicle to get out of his own head, if only for a little while – to feel something other than the weight of his ancestry.

Good thing he has a God of his understanding on his side.  

Rainer also studied theology in his ‘free time’, “To cover all eventualities in my research and to get answers of my questions”

He went on to tell me, “But in churches I encountered a lot of misunderstanding after my questions.  Faith as a shield and excuse for such crimes I cannot accept.  And especially the denial of this crime by some churches and their leaders.”

Rainer is not in denial. 

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Rainer in the barracks in Birkenau

“To me it’s important that my generation had the chance to speak.  Because what we have seen and experienced applies to everyone, and not just for descendants of Nazis.”

And speak he does.  To students, to survivors.  Rainer is on a mission to speak out in hope of understanding, healing and prevention for all who care to listen.

“Many believe what they read in the media, whether it’s true or not.  They want to get to know me really the least, because who would gladly look in the mirror of his own soul through me?”

I wanted to look.

And as for the ‘Rainy’ nickname at the beginning.  I know Rainer isn’t pronounced like Rain-er in German.

But when I saw the man who was raised to believe “A Hoess does not cry!” shed tears at Auschwitz – I cried along with him. 

This morning I said to him,

“I’m glad to know the Hoess that DOES cry. 

Tears are cleansing. 

Like Rain.”

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(All photographs copyright of Rainer Hoess.  Used with permission.  All quotes and material is owned by Debauchery Soup/Amanda Hoskins.)

Spinfarm – Interview with Adam. GMO free

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Move over Cameron Crowe – I’m going to interview a rocker.

Before we start, can I just say,  Almost Famous (based on his experiences touring with rock bands) has one of my favorite movie scenes of all times … ah yes, the Tiny Dancer bus scene.

Of course I can say that – because this is my blog.  And having said that – you should know that I don’t make a habit of interviewing bands, but,  like, omg guys, I totally know the drummer.  And singer.  Okay, we were married.  For 10 years, but only together for about 6 months.

The 10 year thing – probably a REALLY good thing, because before I quit drinking, the only reason I didn’t wake up not knowing where I was with a shiny new rock on my left hand was because I was legally married.  Phew!

He is happily married with children now and throughout the years, we’ve managed to drift in and out of each others lives and stay friends.

As pathetic as I am maintaining romantic relationships, I do seem to have a knack of being a great ‘friend who’s an ex.’

Adam (AKA: mOji from the SANE days) who seriously rocks vocals and drums, is joined by Mr. X on guitar and Brendon Ghiringhelli on Bass.

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(“On guitar” What does that mean?  If I had a nice guitar, nobody better be ‘on’ it.  Get off my guitar.  Now I’m on a Spinal Tap tangent in my head and in Nigels guitar room)

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But I digress (as usual)

Spinfarm headed into the recording studio last year and the result was the End Of The World Soundtrack.

You’ll see why on the cover.  Those wacky Mayans – they inspire you know?

I asked Adam if I could interview him, and he graciously penciled me in. (I’m typing this intro while waiting for the diva to IM me to do the actual interview … musicians.  Pfft.  You know how they are.) I jest.  He’s busy being a great dad, husband to his beautiful wife and working hard.

Let’s enjoy the music video for the first track from Spinfarm’s CD while we wait.

Boondox Video

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I responded to my first viewing with ‘”I feel sorry for the dog at the end” 😦 (what every musician wants to hear from someone who just viewed their artistic effort huh?) but was assured that Henry was not left behind and even has his own Facebook page.

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What follows is a back and forth interview between myself and my ‘ex who’s a friend’ about rocking out and about making a CD and other ‘stuff’.

There shall be shenanigans and I’m gonna make him name drop, because he’s not only a very talented musician, but a huge fan himself and has had the rare opportunity to jam with some note worthy people.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Me: My first rock interview, I’m a little nervous.  May I call you mOji or Adam or do you go by Rock God these days?

Adam: Adam. LOL

Me: I recall, a little band called Rooster Stew.  Now you’re in Spinfarm.  I see a rural pattern …

Adam: Interesting … My current guitarist named the band Spinfarm, but I can see your point

Me: When I google Spinfarm, it wants to correct me to ‘spin farming’.  I’m afraid to click.  What’s the skinny on the name?

Adam: I’m actually not 100% sure myself … lol.  My guitarist likes to say Home Grown sounds with No GMO’s

Me: GMO’s?

Adam: Genetically Modified Organisms

Me: :-O I’m glad you have none of those.  They’d make the music odd

Adam: Indeed … Our music is pure and from the soul.  So I’ve been told

Me: Your songs always have been.  We’ll just cut to the chase.  I’ve given my readers some background – we have a brief history lol.  I had the honor of hearing Pantomime Circus live … a lot.  Are you proud of the CD version?

Adam: Yes I am.  I always thought the lyrics were some of my best.  But I thought the music was lacking.  What my guitarist came up with and the way we build the song finally does it justice IMO

Me: I really like it – but I’m partial to the solo version.  You recorded with Charlie McGovern … how amazing was it to be in the studio??

Adam: It was.  Charlie is a long time childhood friend, prior band member and an amazing producer and engineer with an amazing resume.  We were tight and well prepared and turned out all the music for all 10 songs in 5 hours.  I did all the vocals the following day in one take. 

Me: I was so excited for you.  You’ve NEVER given up on your music.  Hey – let’s play a game.  No cheating.  I’m going to throw something random (lol) at you and you give me the first words that come to mind K?

Adam: OK … shoot

Me: Boondox

Adam: China Town

Me: Peacemaker

Adam: 45

Me: lol, I knew I’d left that off.  Electric Chair

Adam: Straight Jacket

Me: Pantomime Circus

Adam: Ghost Town

Me: Sunset Serenade

Adam: Spaghetti Western

Me: Take your Toll

Adam: Hmmm … Don wrote and sang that one.  But I think Vampires

Me: Like Edward Cullen or Vincent Price?

Adam: Vincent Price

Me: K.  Higher Low

Adam: Hmmm … Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Me: Nice!  Loaded

Adam: Dive Bar

Me: and um … Satan Jam

Adam: That’s a song that our guitarist relatives used to play back in the 70’s.  It’s an Ode to …

Me: Okay, phew! Then there’s a bonus track that’s a secret – I’ll be buying my copy and will then know the secret, but can we have a hint?

Adam: Baba O’Reily by The Who … lol

Me: OMG! I LOVE the version you guys do.  Seriously well done.

Adam: Thank you 🙂

Me: I just sounded 14.  Jeez.

Adam: TEEN BEAT flashbacks

Me: LOL.  You know my entire room was plastered in hair band posters

Adam: Indeed my Crue loving friend

Me: Speaking of other artists – I was saying you’re not only a rocker, but a huge fan.  You’ve had the opportunity to jam with some pretty amazing artists.  Name drop please.

Adam: Love/Hate, LA Guns, Junkyard, Rhino Bucket, Blue Oyster Cult, David Lee Roth, Tesla

Me: Did David have his farm bib pant things on?  That would have been apropos

Adam: He was actually wearing a Popeye type sailor suit … but badass as always.

Me: LMAO!  He was my first concert.  I wore a sweater and heels.  Yeah … I didn’t know how to ‘concert’ then.  So, when you’re playing arenas, what’s going to be in your rider?  No brown M & M’s?

Adam: Hmmm … Beef Jerky, Atomic Fire Balls, lotsa Double Bubble gum and Mt Dew

Me: I knew there would be gum. 😉  What happened to fruit stripe??  Have you abandoned the zebra?

Adam: Flavor doesn’t last as long as Double Bubble. lol.  But, not Zebra the band. lol

Me: True, very true.  Okay, serious question.  How DO you keep time on drums and sing??

Adam: As I tell my step daughter (who plays drums) Practice Practice Practice.  Seriously, lots of practicing thru the years

Me: Why do you close your eyes when you sing, but have them open when you’re drumming w/out having to do a vocal?

Adam: Actually, I’ve been told recently that I do the WHITE EYES thing while I’m singing and drumming too.  lol … it’s quite odd.  But I disappear into the music

Me: LOL! I know those eyes.  You do tend to do an early Eddie Vedder when you’re at the mic.

Adam: One of my influences

Me: I know – do you still cover Pearl Jam?

Adam: Not in Spinfarm, But I did do this a few months ago solo

The only cover we do is the Who song in Spinfarm

Me: I was going to ask if you were still doing any solo things as mOji

Adam: Just as Adam.  mOji is my old Santa Cruz moniker from my days with SANE

Me: I still have the lunch box somewhere

Adam: Nice

Me: You have a lot going on this Summer – lots of gigs

Adam: Yes, we’re excited

Me: did you create all the fliers?  They’re really good

Adam: Yes, I create all the fliers – book all the shows … But I really enjoy it.  Connecting the dots.  AND the fliers I do with ancient programs, no photoshop here

Me: Too much talent for one person Atom

Adam: LOL

Me: Dream tour … who’s on it with you?

Adam: Hmmm … lets see.  Pearl Jam, Love/Hate, Janes Addiction and Ace Frehley

Me: Nice!  I’d go.  Can the Gin Blossoms and Dave Matthews come too?

Adam: On my acoustic solo tour lol

Me: Yes!  Hey … Atom?

Adam: Yes

Me: Where’s your gum?

Adam: Right here —->

Me: lol.  Did you want to add anything?  Say something mind blowing?

Adam: Beware the lollipop of mediocrity – lick once and you’ll suck forever

Me: And on that … we have a wrap.

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