Hey nerds! Kit here with another Artist Interview, but this week is unique because it pairs up with a comic review. C-c-combo breaker!
I interviewed Tony Donley, who has written and been the artist for Albert Einstein: Time Mason and Zombie Spotlight. I met Tony at the Amazing Las Vegas Comic-Con and his Time Mason story peaked my interest. The reviews for those issues can be found here.
Nerdlocker (NL): Hey Tony! Please tell us a little bit about yourself for the readers out there.
Tony Donley (TD): Hi everybody. Well, I was a huge fan growing up & I’m pretty sure the comics market crashed because of how many copies of X-Men and X-Force #1 I bought for myself. After high school I studied cartooning at the School of Visual Arts in New York, then moved to L.A. I have been toiling around Hollywood doing storyboards and such but decided it was time to jump into comics with both feet. I have spent the last couple years doing submissions, pitch after pitch. I got a few bites and recently did a few issues of Grimms Fariy Tales: Myths and Legends for Zenescope. After that I decided it was time to do a book myself. And here we are with the first issue of Albert Einstein: Time Mason on the horizon.
NL: With both of your comics, I really admire your unique story lines and how you put a new twist on an old classic. What are your inspirations for doing so?
TD: Well storytellers are always looking for new ways to tell a story, always trying to come up with something that hasn’t been done before. In the case of “Date Night with Delia” it came to me that I had never seen a comic that is told strictly from the point of view of the lead character. It came to me while washing my hands in a bar and I thought, “What if a zombie came crashing in here right now and I had to fight them off”? In the case of Albert Einstein: Time Mason I was just randomly watching a Science Channel show about Einstein’s life and it just came to me that if anyone was to become a time traveler it would’ve been him. With his radical thinking he was really the first to discover space and time and how they work together. Then I did a little bit of research and found that no one had really done an Einstein time traveler story. That blew me away. I was off and running.
NL: What inspired you to become involved in the comic industry?
TD: I have been a comic fan all of my life. It’s such an amazing medium where you can tell any type of story with total control. No budget constraints no time constraints; there is really no where else you can do that. I first realized the magnitude of story you could tell when I first came across Frank Miller’s Daredevil run. I was hooked.
NL: Who do you look up to as an artist and writer?
TD: Well as I mentioned Frank Miller was a huge influence on me. As far as art goes, Walt Simonson blew my mind the first time I saw his work. It was Walt that really showed me you can do absolutely anything in the medium. I was lucky enough to attend SVA in New York City and study under Walt in their illustration and cartooning department. That was an incredible experience. Walt is a true story teller not only is his art fantastic but so is his writing.
NL: What was the first comic book you read?
TD: I think like most everybody I started out with Archie and Uncle Scrooge. I had my tonsils out when I was young and my mom brought me a bunch of Uncle Scrooge comics to read while I was in the hospital. I’m sure she had no idea what she was starting.
NL: Out of all the well-known scientists in our history, what made you choose Albert Einstein?
TD: Well like I said there was really no other choice than Einstein. This series really just making the perfect candidate. As the series moves on we will see other great thinkers as Time Masons but for right now we will be focusing on Albert.
NL: I could see Time Mason becoming an awesome sci-fi TV show. Do you have any dreams of a movie or show someday?
TD: Well of course I would love to see it happen. As soon as I released the first eight pager When in Rome I was contacted by a production company that was interested in talking with me about developing it. That’s what Hollywood is. A lot of talking about developing things. Right now we are focused on the comic book and producing the best product we can.
NL: How many story ideas did you go through before you decided on the three for Zombie Spotlight?
TD: Well “Chores” was all Gerard Morrissette. I was brought on by editor Adam Miller to draw that one. “Shelby” came about because I wanted to tell a story based on a misdirection. I really wanted the reader to be invested in the character’s journey to get back to their baby Shelby. Even if Shelley isn’t exactly what you expect. And like I said “Date Night” was really just an experiment in telling a POV story.
NL: What do you hope to achieve with your stories within the near future?
TD: Right now I’m just shooting to entertain people with fun comics. Of course someday I would really love to “move” someone with my work. The great thing about comics is I can tell any kind of story with my characters. They can be ongoing and even shift genres if you need to. I remember watching Robotech as a child and being blown away when they killed off characters. This was an action sci-fi show for kids I thought. I didn’t know it at the time but they were really getting me invested in the characters and making me feel for them. Thats a big achievement.
NL: Do you have any other big projects coming up?
TD: Right now I mainly focused on AETM. The Kickstarter campaign has been a great success and definitely set us up to do more issues. I just have a little work for hire to finish up before I jump into drawing issue two.
NL: If you could team up with anyone for your next story, who would it be?
TD: Oh man, this could be a huge list. How much room do we have? Obviously Simonson is at the top of the list. I would also love to see John Paul Leon drawn Einstein story. He is hands-down one of the best in the business. We are also huge fans of Stewart Immonen, Sean Murphy, Matt Wagner, Mike Mignola and John Romita Jr. Feel free to call me guys, I have lots of work for you.
NL: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
TD: First off, thanks for having me. I hope you guys jump over to our Kickstarter and pledge for the book. There is exclusive art work from me, Dave Johnson and Stéphane Roux. There are lots of great rewards. Also you can head over to TinyDonkeyStudios.com to keep up-to-date on any AE:TM information. Or check out A. Einstein: Time Mason on Facebook.
It was a pleasure interviewing Tony and being able to review his work. The Time Mason Kickstarter has issue two of Time Mason available as a reward, so don’t miss out on that! There are only a few days left to pledge. I look forward to seeing more from Tony, and I hope you all enjoyed his interview. You can see more of Tony’s work at TinyDonkey Studios.