A seasoned artist and writer, Graig Weich has superpower knowledge in the comic book industry. In fact, he is at the forefront of it. He broke into drawing and creating comic books at the ripe age of 19, becoming one of the youngest and ultimately is on track to possibly become one of the most successful independent comic book creators in the world in the future.
Among some of his accomplishments are, his illustration featured in one of the #1 top selling comic books of all time, SPAWN issue #30 (hired by Todd McFarlane, Image Comics, publisher of the Walking Dead) and next to come is his later success, appearing on multiple TV shows including AMC’s Comic Book Men, Ice Loves Coco on E! and being featured in HUFFPOST (Huffington Post).
Additionally, he works in film, directing and producing. In fact, the first film he directed won “Best live action short” at New York Int’l Independent Film & Video Festival which was one of the first original action superhero-based short films to ever win at any festival. Following that, his CGI Anime film won the HBO/Cinemax sponsored UASE award and was shown in Times Square at the AMC theaters and at HBO.
As a person, he is affable, relatable and empathetic; but still able to create his own fantasy world and put it on paper masterfully.
A philanthropist and humanitarian, with his acclaimed success, he likes to give back; as both teacher and contributor. He was a guest speaker at School of Visual Arts and New York Institute Of Technology Universities, and has donated much of his art to raise funds for charities including NoKidHungry.org where his art sold and fed nearly 2,500 kids, as well as for Beth and Howard Stern’s Rescue Animals charity, The Leukemia Blood Cancer Foundation, Kids with Aids Foundation with Rosie O’Donnell’s Children’s Charity, Wounded Warriors Foundation, Toys for Tots and Blue Horizon Stem Cell Research Group.
Graig continues to be an inspiration to many looking to break into the arts, film and entertainment industry, giving hope that success may be achievable, and giving back is the answer to a life of fulfilment.
We sit down with Graig to shed light on his accomplishments and give us a glimpse into what it takes to be successful in the comic book industry, and what it means to truly be a superhero in real life.
How did you get started writing and drawing comic books, and what compelled you to do so?
I got my start drawing comic books professionally as the double-page featured poster pinup artist for Image Comics’ Spawn issue number 30 (Todd McFarlane, publisher of the Walking Dead). Todd and I talk about it in a video we shot together on my YouTube channel.
As a child I began drawing at 2 years old and couldn’t stop, I really enjoyed the feeling that superheroes gave me and was hoping to one day grow up to contribute to that wonderful world of hope for a better tomorrow.
What does it take to write a comic, and how does someone trying to write their own get started?
I thought I knew how to write comics until I actually came across real professional writer’s work. For anyone who wants to turn an idea into a comic book they need to understand the fundamental structure of screen play script movie writing and then can translate it into a comic. I highly recommend getting books by James Cameron’s teacher Syd Field’s Screenplay the Foundations of Screenwriting which is a wonderful starting point as well as the book How Not to Write a Screenplay by Denny Martin Flinn. Just like the human body has a skeletal structure, so does the screen play and you must fit your idea into that template.
What is your current comic and where can we see it? Also tell us some overarching qualities in a superhero that you try to convey in your upcoming books?
My current comic book Gekido (written by co-creator Brandon Wilson).
I’m honored to have gotten signed by one of Marvel Comics’ distributors Diamond for print and recently by Amazon’s Comixology for digital download and Izneo for International in French, Italian, German and Spanish languages. The signed comic can be gotten at www.BeyondComics.TV.
It’s very important for me to show the individual personal struggles and obstacles that my characters must struggle with and show their journey to find a way to overcome the anguish and suffering they encounter so that hope to defeat darkness will prevail. Remember, light can only shine in the dark. A hero never gives up, a hero gets up no matter how hard they get knocked down. A hero cries, bleeds, feels, loves, but never stops trying to make the world a better place.
What was it like to make films that won the HBO UAS award and how did you learn the craft of filmmaking?
It was such an honor to win the HBO UAS award and have my films shown in Times Square at HBO and AMC’s movie theater. For me drawing comic books is like a story boarded movie so it was a natural progression for me to move from illustrating comic books to directing films and in fact as complex as it is, it came very natural to me and I’ve always had an interest in it, so when the time came I was able to put it all together and had a blast doing some of the special effects which I’ve always dabbled in and editing. I’ve watched behind the scenes making of movies since I was a child and went to SVA & NYIT for my Masters degree. Dealing with student loans are no fun though.
What character traits and qualities does it take to be successful in the arts?
Massive determination and drive plus the ability to overcome obstacles and keep going no matter how many times you’re rejected. You must become your own best editor, understand why your work is good in some places and not in others, and improve those weaknesses. The more fans you get the more haters will come too. Lots of cyberbullies out there these days, so ignore their negativity BUT learn from any honest criticism too, sometimes there are lessons to be learned that can improve your work of you can listen objectively.
When a door closes, kick another open and try again. Don’t stop. Keep going as long as you can. Learn from the best and look to see what level you’re at, do your best and keep learning and growing. A human being is a work in progress like the work we create. Also, learn the business side, contracts, laws, when to compromise, when to work for free, when not to, Google and YouTube can teach you a lot these days. And learn how to promote your work on social media and in person, focus on a goal and stick to reaching it, don’t get distracted by things or people that hold you back. Pick and choose your battles. And only fight to end fighting. That’s a quote I wrote in my upcoming comic book: Code Name: Justice.
Why do you feel the need to give back (donating to charities), and how do you think others can?
To me, that’s what makes my fictional superheroes real, recently I donated the comic book I drew and signed with a sketch to a charity for NoKidHungry.org Which sold in the auction and ended up feeding 2,500 kids they told me so in a way my fictional superheroes did some good in the real world. If you want to be a real superhero also, you can search different charities online to see which ones you feel represent something you would like to help assist in and donate there as a starting point. Kids can help too when they go trick or treating for Halloween with Unicef like I did since I was a kid. I’ve also done Toys For Tots and many others. Great options to pick from.
What does it take to be a superhero?
Anyone can be a superhero, all you have to do is help those in need who can’t help themselves when possible.
And with this pandemic, simply wearing a mask and physical distancing is going to save lives and reduce the spread of infection so that’s another way everybody can be a hero to themselves and to each other.
My father was a medical doctor who would never turn away a patient who needed help even if they could not afford it. That is one way of being a superhero. Every time a firefighter runs into a burning building to save someone, that is a real superhero. My father was inspired by superheroes growing up reading comic books and became a real life one by becoming a doctor to save lives. That’s why I strive to continue creating superheroes in the hopes to inspire others to grow up to one day become real life superheroes.
Tell me about some experiences with celebrities you’ve met in your career.
It was a dream come true when the celebrities sign on with me to officially cast them to be drawn as my characters in my comics. Most recently Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (star of the original Mortal Kombat 11 and The Man In The High Castle) joined my company and starts a the villain in our comic Gekido. It also stars Ice-T’s wife Coco Austin from E! TV’s Ice Loves Coco, Adrianne Curry from Stan Lee’s Superfans and winner of America’s Next Top Model, plus Gary Bababooey Dell’Abate producer of the Howard Stern Show. We also got Donald Faison from S.C.R.U.B.S. in our other comic.
It has been such an amazing adventure to have these amazing celebrities believe in my projects and be a part of them. I’m in talks with some others to come as well.
What are your future aspirations?
It was a dream come true to make my investors a profit in my company after I got signed for distribution and a license deal to turn my heroes into action figures, Cleo and Tricity (by TBLeague Phicen) that sold out worldwide.
I’m working on 9 movie scripts right now and finished half of them so far plus a 96 minute movie motion animatic storyboard with music and voices for Ravedactyl already completed. Lots of new comic books are coming from Justice to Ravedactyl and Tricity. Would love to turn my work into more action figures, movies and video games, etc. I’m also running a promotion where fans can have a chance to be drawn as a character in my comic book, go to www.BeyondComics.TV to enter.
Stay safe out there and never give up turning your dreams into reality!
(Investors of interest can contact Graig’s reps from his website)
Alexa Caroline Modugno is the US Consulting Associate Editor for TheFutureOfPR.com. An NYU graduate, she was a viola performance major with a minor in French studies. She currently also works as an arts journalist and culture editor of Frontrunner Magazine where she has interviewed and featured many prominent figures in the arts, film and music world. She also has an active role in the film scene, working as an actress for several indie films and has been a Q&A moderator, film judge and presenter for Winter Film Awards and Chelsea Film Festival. More about her here.
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