November 28, 2009

Talking the Good ‘Stuff’ with Charles Paul Wilson III


About a month ago, I spoke very highly of Th3rd World Studios’ The Stuff of Legend and interviewed the writers of the book, Mike Raicht and Brian Smith. Today we get to sit down with Stuff’s talented artist, Charles Paul Wilson III! The Stuff of Legend’s plot is intriguing enough; a group of toys come to life in order to rescue their owner, a young boy, from the clutches of the evil Boogeyman. The motley crew has to enter the realm of The Dark (via the boy’s closet) to accomplish their mission, and there they battle fierce creatures and visit twisted towns, all for the love of a child. While the story is spectacular, it’s Wilson’s art that gives this comic an identity with it’s unique style and almost too-real delivery. So enjoy this discussion with the man behind the pencils of the indie hit, The Stuff of Legend: Charles Paul Wilson III!

Boogeyman sketchesCOMICATTACK: The Stuff of Legend has two writers in Mike Raicht and Brian Smith. What was it like working with these guys and how did you come to join the creative team of TSoL?

CHARLES PAUL WILSON III: Mike and Brian are a couple of really cool guys. One of these days I’d like to pick their brains on what their collaborative process of writing the book is like. They just seem to put together all of these really cool ideas. I met them through Michael Devito, one of the brains behind Th3rd World Studios. Mike’s brother, Tony, was in my class at The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. I met Mike at our graduation, I think, and we’ve kept in contact since then. He sent me a description of Stuff of Legend one day and asked if I’d be interested in trying out for it. I was blown away by the material, did up some sketches and here we are!

CA: The beginning of Chapter 1, where the toys enter The Dark, was a moment that was so visually shocking and different from the book’s opening, that it fully sucked me into the story; the toys had a real-life look to them and were laying waste to the Boogeyman’s troops. Tell us about this scene and how you went about plotting it.

CPWIII: The second half of the first issue was actually drawn first, and it wasn’t until I had the book in my hands before I was finally able to take in the experience of seeing the transformation of the toys along with the readers. Even though I had been so involved in the process I think I managed to see how cool the concept Mike and Brian put together was after seeing it in print. In our world our group of toys were the good guys, and their role was to defeat the bad guys whenever the boy played with them. So after the transition into the Dark I think it was natural for them to take on Boogeyman’s army as a small group and win. I’m sure a lot of the toys they fought were beaten by them before in the boy’s room before they were tossed away and forgotten, and this carried over into the Dark.

CA: What was it like coming up with designs for these characters as toys, and then their more mature versions in The Dark?

CPWIII: Mike Devito sent over some descriptions of the characters for me to draw up, which was to be my tryout for the book. For characters like Jester, I drew the Dark version first and modeled his toy counterpart off that, giving his costume a distinguishable look so the reader can instantly make the connection between toy and Dark. With ideas just coming at me from left and right as I was reading the stuff Devito sent, Jester and several of the other characters pretty much fell out of my pencil on the first try (well, there was quite a bit of erasing…).

Percy sketches 72dpiCA: Can you tell us if any of the earlier concept designs for the characters changed when compared to the final product?

CPWIII: The Boogeyman and Percy mostly, who we were calling Hammy back then. The Boogeyman had several passes before he was okayed, most early versions contributing something to the next evolution of his look, and Percy originally stood upright and had a scar on his face (a crack in toy form). I’m really happy with the way they’ve both turned out for the book, and I think their final designs are really going to help enhance their roles in the story.

CA: Which characters were your favorite to work on?

CPWIII: At first, Jester. He’s fun to draw and he looks really interesting. Boogeyman too. Lately I’ve been getting a kick out of drawing Quackers the duck, mostly because of how his personality comes across in the story. He can be loud, goofy and obnoxious one minute and kinda quiet and innocent the next, but interesting stuff has been happening with him and I’m kinda anxious to find out what happens to him next. At some point, though, he’s really going to have to learn to duck (pardon the pun!).

CA: An interesting choice made in the book was to have the story in sepia tone as opposed to color or the more traditional black and white. Why this choice?

CPWIII: We experimented with color to get a sense of what we were dealing with, but I think the project itself called for something a little more along the lines of the road not-too-often traveled. From my exposure to comics anyway. I’ve been reading mainstream comics since 1987. I think Mike Devito and Jon Conkling found the perfect middle ground between black & white and color that breathed a real sense of life into the pages and made them ten times more interesting to take in. I doubt the book would be anywhere near as interesting if they hadn’t worked their magic on it.


CA: So Charles, where are you from and what are some of your other sequential works?

CPWIII: I’m from Indianapolis, Indiana. I worked as a concrete finisher for Karns Inc. for several years with my step father, attended The John Herron School of Art as well as Indiana University/Purdue University, moved to New Jersey where I attended The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art and I’m still here in New Jersey working as a security guard and drawing comics! I’ve done short stories for FQP’s Something Wicked and Imperium’s Trailer Park of Terror, worked as a staff artist for Tell-A-Graphics drawing tech art for PS Army Maintenance Magazine and [Mike] Raicht and I have a short story in a DC book coming out in March, 2010 that we’re really excited about.

CA: Tell us how you broke into the comics biz.

CPWIII: Mike Devito and The Stuff of Legend. He introduced me to Mike and Brian, and this project kinda marks the beginning of any career I might have in professional illustration, comics or otherwise.

CA: What advice would you give to other artists trying to make a name in sequential art?

CPWIII: Well, in my opinion (and I’m not an expert) there are at least a few things that factor into it. First is craft. If you’re the artist, it doesn’t hurt to become familiar with every aspect of the craft, from drawing to colors and lettering, especially if you’re working with others and you need to take their roles into consideration when doing your part. If you’re a writer interested in working on comic books or strips, I think you should learn how to write for comics. Make yourself aware of how comic art functions from page to page and as a whole. Second, it’s the project itself. Deadlines and paychecks are fine to take into consideration while you are working, but shouldn’t factor into your immersion into the project itself. It needs love and it needs to shine whether it’s seen by many or just you and you alone. Third, perseverance. It’s easy to visualize yourself as an eighty-year-old man (or woman) working on samples to submit with a pile of rejection letters sitting next to you, and you may want to quit from time to time, but if making comics is what you really want – if it’s a greater part of who you are – don’t quit. You should always be busy with some kind of comic work whether it’s submission samples, stuff you’ve created yourself or collaborating with others who want to make comics. Just don’t sit idle, and always strive to get better. I read an interview with Reilly Brown, an artist for Marvel Comics, and he said something along the lines of he hasn’t met anyone who has broken into comics the same way as anyone else, and the thing I took from that is there are many different avenues a person can take to get a job doing comics. Submissions, meeting people at conventions or online, establishing a decent amount of exposure of your work or projects you’ve worked on, or recommendations from others who work in the business, just to name a few.

paint rough 1 72dpiCA: I notice you’ve recently become engaged- Congratulations! What’s the life of Charles like outside of comics?

CPWIII: Thanks! I have a lovely fiancèe, a dog, two cats and a goldfish we won at a carnival three years ago on one of our first dates (she’ll try to tell you she won the goldfish, but come on!).

CA: Ok, lets jump ahead in time for this one. It’s the middle of the night, and your young child wakes you up, screaming their head off that they saw the Boogeyman in their closet. What do you do?

CPWIII: Hmmm… I suppose I’d help the kid build a trap to catch the guy. We need to be proactive and control the situation. We’re also going to establish which toys are going to be in charge of security detail and we’ll expect a full report in the morning, but in the meantime they’re to do everything in their power to keep us from being disturbed for the rest of the night.

CA: Now, lets go back in time to when you were 10 years old; which of your toys would come to your rescue against the monster living under your bed?

CPWIII: Back then, probably the Transformer, Rodimus Prime, but only because Hot Rod didn’t show up under the Christmas tree. I was really, really into Transformers, and he was my absolute favorite.

CA: All things considered, which toys are better in your opinion; those made in the 1940s, the 1980s, or in 2009?

CPWIII: I’ll always have a fondness for the toys I grew up with in the eighties, but you’ve got to love how articulated a lot of the toys are nowadays. Still, you’ve got to have an appreciation for the toys that were around in the ’40s and the imagination kids put into them.

CA: Do you have any favorite comics of the past and present?

CPWIII: I jump around a bit depending on my mood. A constant would be The Walking Dead, and I’ve always liked Daredevil and Batman. I really liked the Droids comic that came out back in the day. A book I picked up recently that I think is absolutely incredible is Beasts of Burden.

CA: If you were given the opportunity to do the art on any superhero title, which would it be and what would be the style of the piece?

CPWIII: Oh, that’s tough. I wouldn’t know where to start. Maybe Spider-Man or Batman. They have some awesome rogues galleries, and I’d be up for anything campy or serious.

CA: Are there any particular writers you would like to work with in the future?

CPWIII: Aside from the guys I work with now? Mignola’s always seemed to spin a good yarn, and I love Stephen King stories, so it’d be fun to take a crack at some of their stuff, not to mention Bill Willingham or that Kirkman guy and the neat stuff they come up with.

CA: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today Charles! Now for the final question: Besides the sequel to The Stuff of Legend entitled “The Jungle” (due out in Spring 2010), what’s next for you?

CPWIII: Thank you, Andrew! I just finished up a short story with Mike Raicht for DC Comics which is due out in March, 2010, and I’m kinda in the process of putting together one of my own projects that I’ll probably start drawing up once Stuff of Legend comes to a close. Very excited about that one. Working on Stuff of Legend has really inspired me to explore what I can do with comics and has given me a sense of direction, and I hope it shines.

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I hope this interview has inspired you to check out The Stuff of Legend– it’s amazing and well worth the cost and your time! Stay tuned to for upcoming previews of the new Stuff of Legend, and future developments of Charles and Th3rd World Studios!

Andy Liegl



  1. Billy

    A+ interview Andy. It really sounds like a great group of guys working on that series. They should be proud.

  2. the scar on percy was a pretty cool idea wish it was kept. really loved the visuals of the book and that sepia tone was a great decision to help it all stand out.

  3. Thank Billy! Yeah, these guys are all really cool dudes. I agree Speech that the scar looked cool, but I like Percy without it- he’s more subtle.

  4. […] as a reader. I’d say the diamond in the rough from last year was the preview issue of The Stuff of Legend. Here’s a shot of Collector’s Paradise on May 1, 2009: If you look closely, you can see […]

  5. […] What about Indies? I think that these buyouts are bad for the little guys like Dark Horse, Top Cow, and Image. I think at this point all that they can hope is for Marvel or DC to buy them out, or at least pick up some of the rights to the better known characters. I mean, Star Wars, Conan, and other fairly well known franchises could be doing more volume if they were backed by one of the big two for sure. Quite a few of the comic book peeps I talk to love some of the current stuff on the Indy scene. I know Top Cow has a few impressive titles, and also Th3rd World Studios with their critically acclaimed The Stuff of Legend. […]

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