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Meet Roy Richardson of Artcats Studio

Today we’d like to introduce you to Roy Richardson

Roy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born and spent my first twenty-three years in Norcross. In 1983 my then-girl-friend-now-wife and I moved to New York to get into the comic book business. Relocation was pretty much required for the biz back in those pre-Net days. After twenty-plus years in White Plains, NY, we realized we’d never be able to afford a house there, and so moved back to Georgia.

In addition to working freelance in the comic book field, we expanded into illustration, teaching, and writing. We currently illustrate the nationally-syndicated comic strip “Mary Worth.” I am also working on finishing my first book of short stories, entitled “Hillbillies Prefer Blondes,” based on my experiences growing up in the South during the 60s and 70s.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
HA. I’m not sure there is a smooth road for anyone who works freelance/self-employed. There were no schools teaching comic art back in the 80s, so my wife and I are pretty much self-taught, with a little help from established professionals.

My first year in NY I got hired as an assistant to a successful artist and made the grand sum of $3000 dollars that year. My wife was a bit more successful but had trouble with the brutal deadline demands of monthly periodicals. Through trial and error, we both eventually figured out what we were doing.

After a good ten-year run, we (and most of our contemporaries in the business) were declared “too old-fashioned” to get work in the comic book industry. Fortunately, we landed on our feet by getting the “Brenda Starr, Reporter” comic strip, due to a tip from a connection in the biz letting us known that the long-time artist was retiring.

In fact, most of our best assignments were through back channels and friends we had made in the business, rather than going in the front door. I cannot emphasize enough the importance to a freelancer of establishing and maintaining a good network of professional contacts.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Artcats Studio – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Our company, Artcats Studio, has two employees, my wife and myself. When I get extra work, I use an assistant, a former student, to help with backgrounds. For the “Mary Worth” comic strip, we produce the entire art package, with my wife providing the pencil drawings, and myself doing the inking, lettering and coloring.

As for past accomplishments, my wife co-created the “Power Pack” comic book for Marvel Comics, the first to feature children as superheroes. Power Pack has been mentioned as a potential movie/TV show, but nothing has been signed yet, so, fingers crossed!

I co-created with artist Rod Whigham a Sci-fi comic called “Tomorrow Knights” for Marvel’s Epic imprint. It was later adapted into a roleplaying game. We own the rights to the property and hope to relaunch it someday.

My wife and I are currently doing the art for a new series titled “Captain Ginger,” a comic best described as “Cats In Space!” The first issue will be coming out in Sept. from start-up publisher AHOY Comics.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Working as a comic book illustrator is seen as a glamorous career, but the reality is that it involves long hours, numerous ups and downs, and many, many hours alone in the studio. If you’re an extrovert, it’s not the line of work for you.

For Artcats, we hope to do the “Mary Worth” strip for years to come. As a soap opera strip, it’s not the most exciting thing to illustrate, but it is steady, reliable income, very important in the unpredictable world of the freelancer.

On a personal level, I’ve always had the writing bug, but had never been able to pursue it as seriously as I wanted.

That changed when I met writer/teacher Jedwin Smith and enrolled in his writing critique group. With their input, I have produced many short stories for my Hillbillies book, and hope to start shopping it to publishers soon.

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