Charles is the illustrator and co-creator of The New York Times Best-Selling Graphic Novel The Stuff of Legend (Th3rd World Studios), and illustrator for WRAITH (IDW Publishing). His drawings can also be found in the pages and on the covers for X-Files, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tales from the Darkside, Goosebumps, Superman, Captain America, The Shadow, and others.
Twitter – @cpwilsoniii
Facebook – /charles.p.wilson.33
Instagram – cpwilsoniii
What got you into comics?
I purchased Superman #23 by Stern, Mignola, and P. Craig Russell in a small convenient store on an air force base in California during my ‘87/’88 school year. I didn’t know comic (specialty) shops existed yet, but the convenient store had a good number of things I could get with a 2-dollar, bi-weekly allowance. Oh, bi-weekly as in once every two weeks. Anyway, the comic was 75 cents, a can of coke was half of a dollar, ice cream or candy bar $.50-$.75, no sales tax, and I could sit outside, drink a soda, eat ice cream or candy and read my brand new comic. I would read it over and over again, at least bi-weekly (that’s twice a week) until I could get another, then another, and I would seek out a comic book stand in whatever store we visited when we were away until I finally discovered a comic shop within walking distance of wherever it was we moved to. Atlantic Collectibles in Woodbridge, Virginia, I think, was my first comic shop maybe, and I would go there and anywhere else I could to get my hands on more: Spider-Man (Amazing, Spectacular, Web of), X-Men (Uncanny, Classic), Batman, Superman, Cap, Silver Surfer, and whatever was in and on shelves. I loved trying new comics, especially if I loved the cover, and I could jump in mid-story if I had to pick up a part 2 of a two-parter.
When I was somewhat indecisive with what I wanted to do with my life, I had an opportunity to go to the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art and took it. It was a good place to meet others with similar interests. After I graduated, I made a few attempts to submit comic samples and eventually found myself working on an independent comic called The Stuff of Legend. That book led to other, interesting work, and now I’m back chipping away towards the end of Stuff.
Music for layouts and rough ideas maybe. Silence. TV or music for stages after, but not always. Drawing is still pretty hard for me, so I’ll tune out anything that requires more attention than what I’m doing. But… I like David Bowie. A friend sent me a record of The Man Who Sold the World recently and I’ve been listening to that album while I work (I own it digitally, I don’t have a record player at the moment). And Talking Heads, and Ghost, and whatever else, but those are most recent. I just ran through Better Call Saul Season 4, and the new Locke & Key series on Netflix just before. Just zoomed right through them, they were a joy. Oh, I like commentaries to movies sometimes. I recently listened to Ryan Johnson talk about Knives Out on its “theatre” track, but some commentaries I love to revisit while I work are on the HOT FUZZ dvd Collector’s Edition set. They’ve included a track featuring two policemen, one from the city, the other from the country, I believe, and a slew of others with actors and all I enjoy. And, depending on whether I can handle some anxiety or not, I’ll sometimes listen to NPR when something important or disastrous is going on in the world.
Was there some back and forth before you start on a book with Joe? Like character sketches, scene settings?
I drew some character sketches for WRAITH, but not much else, I don’t think. There was some back and forth with Joe on STRANGE WEATHER and, while I didn’t do a whole lot, I think that’s my favorite work I’ve done with him. Or the Tales from the Darkside script book, but I had little to no interactions with Joe on that one. For that, I was given snippets of script and descriptions to work from, and while I think it mostly worked fine, some context or detail was missing from the cropped material connected to what I was working on and in one illustration I drew some characters as adults instead of kids. Worked out in the end though, although there’s another where a woman should be wearing a bathing cap and she isn’t. Or maybe she is and shouldn’t be, I can’t remember. Whatever the case, that was a cool book to work on.
I tried to emulate what Gabe did at first, and then I worked some things out on my own. If I had it to do over again, I’ve had different ideas how I’d approach it for a while now. One thing that sometimes bugs me (but not horribly), is that I feel I developed a genuine, twisted sense of humor working on WRAITH, and I think it came across in a lot of the drawings, but I don’t know if it should have.
Are you a Joe Hill fan? If so, any fav books or short stories?
I liked his first story in 20th Century Ghosts a great deal. Can’t remember its name, but reading it for the first time… I think hair stood up on the back of my neck. I like the first story in Strange Weather a lot too. Wolverton Station is another favorite. Hmmm… I didn’t finish The Fireman, but I did throw it at a very large spider, nearly breaking my arm in the process (it’s a heavy book). The spider, being very large, threw the book back at me, hitting me in my shoulder and nearly breaking my arm in the process (it’s a heavy book).
What are your thoughts on the NOS4A2 show?
I think it’s excellent. I’m due for a re-watch because I missed a few things. Stalwart Films hired me to do the title cards, it’s a good feeling to contribute in any kind of way to that show, and I can’t wait for the second season. There’s a fan page on Facebook (NOS4A2 Fans (AMC)) that I liked frequenting when the first season was out and still visit from time to time. Some of the show’s crew occasionally visit and post, and the people are really nice.
If there are, me attached or not, I’d like to see the insides, and I mean guts, of Christmasland. Like, kids crawling through vents and tunnels, shop interiors, an underground narwhal hockey team smoking cigarettes and cussing about each other behind their backs – I will always clamor for that stuff. And I’d like to see a WRAITH Charlie Manx action figure produced by Skelton Crew with candy cane punching action, and an ad for it in said comic. Wait, maybe the action doesn’t punch with a candy cane so much as you squeeze his legs together, his arm raises and he’s offering you a candy cane. And then blood shoots out.
Not only is NOS4A2 being made into a show but also the one-shot By The Silver Water of Lake Champlain is in production as an episode in the Creepshow reboot! What are your thought on that? Are you involved with it getting on the screen?
(Sorry for how late this is!) I’ve had nothing to do with the Creepshow episode, but Jason Ciaramella, the guy who adapted the comic, wrote the script for it, and it looks like he did a damn fine job. Directed by Tom Savini, of all amazing people. And it was fun watching another show adapted from material I was familiar with based on work experience. I hope they fit The Cape short in the next season and bring Jason back, maybe feature some of Zach Howard’s and Nelson Daniel’s work in it. Those two guys drew The Cape series and are amazing.
I dunno! When I’m free, at most, maybe two big projects. Maybe one with a lot of miscellaneous so I won’t go too crazy. Sometimes, if I struggle with one project, I need to work through a second project for a minute and it usually helps me out of a rut. Sometimes it’s a comic book cover, sometimes a commission.
If you could give any advice to a beginning comic artist, what would it be?
As far as breaking into the industry? Commit and it will happen, and practice, practice, practice. Be mindful where your drawing is growing creatively, but also where your storytelling is growing creatively as well. Don’t sit idle waiting for assignments. Find online communities of people who want to draw comics and participate in whatever they’re doing and make friends along the way. Your thoughts on style, story, method, etc. may and should change as you grow as an artist and an individual, and your influences will probably change a great deal too. Get plenty of rest and take good care of your hands.
I did some really cool X-Files Case Files covers somewhat recently that I absolutely loved to do. Yeah, those really worked out. And there was a Shadow cover I did that I really loved too, and a Batman/MAXX variant.
Are there any characters or stories you’re dying to do?
Existing characters? Not creator-owned, I have a cool idea for a Star Wars story that could ride along with a wave of action figures. In my head anyway. If I ever got the go-ahead, I think a lot of the kinks that make it interesting would be straightened out and it would drop back to standard fare, so… I guess I don’t.
I always love Kevin Nowlan’s stuff, and the aforementioned Nelson Daniel. I tried to emulate what I believed Nelson was doing with digital colors in his work but now that I’m a little more familiar with what I’m doing I think I was pretty off. Maybe. Or I hope I am. I like the idea of a little mystery behind how other artists are doing things, and since I still love to look at his work…
What more can we expect from you in the future?
Art-wise, NOS4A2 season 2 is coming out soon, and I have some drawings in that. Our Stuff of Legend board game is finished, I think, and both that and Volume V should be out this year. I’m contributing a cover to Joe Schmalke and Rich Woodall’s Electric Black Kickstarter soon.
Comic book shows I’ll be attending: Bangor Comic and Toy Con in Bangor, Maine April 24-26 and I’ll be at Garden State Comic Fest in Mennen Arena, Morristown NJ June 27-28.