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Interview
Last Updated March 24, 2001

To see a larger version of any artwork on these pages, click on the picture

T he following interview was published in The Collector #17, a fanzine published in the 1960s and early 1970s by Bill G. Wilson. Issue #17 of "The Collector" was a Don Newton extravaganza, with nearly half the book being taken up with Don Newton artwork, photos and interviews. This interview took place in 1969 and reflects a young Don Newton, seeing his fandom following beginning to bloom, still unsure of himself as artist, but obviously having a great time doing what he loved.

"Interview With Don Newton"

by Bill G. Wilson

T
he following is an interview I conducted, by mail, with one of fandom's newest and finest illustrators, DON NEWTON. As all of you should know, Don introduced himself in the pages of G.B. Love's Rocket's Blast ComiCollector and recently brought his great artistic talents to the pages of ''The Collector" (#16).. I would like to thank Don for taking his time to answer my questions, and I hope that this interview will provide worthwhile, interesting reading for those fortunate enough to read it.

Wilson: When did you first become interested in comics, Don?

Newton: Well, I was getting "Golden Age" comics even before I could read and by the time I was 9 or 10 I had a fabulous collection, I read most all of them; but Captain Marvel was my favorite, with Batman and Daredevil in a tie for second place. I did not care for Superman then...nor do I now. By high school, however, my interests changed and I dumped out a huge collection for the garbage man. Almost complete runs of Captain Marvel, Whiz, Batman, Daredevil, Planet, and All Star! Now about three years ago I had an urge to do a comic strip and decided to try one and send it out for syndication. However a lot of years had passed since I'd really studied the comics, so my first step was to buy some current ones. This led me to wonder if any of the "oldies" were still floating around.. I started looking for them in book stores and before long I was badly bitten by the collection bug. Right now my Golden Age collection runs about 250.

Wilson: When did you first become interested in drawing?

Newton: I've always drawn...my mother has pictures I did at 2 years old!

Wilson: What sparked your interest in drawing? Comics?

Newton: Yes, I think comics were a big influence on my drawing in early life. I drew all the characters as well as many original ones of my own. This is probably why the scope of my art was little more than cartoons until I reached college.

Wilson: Did you ever attend any formal art school?

Newton: Other than college; none.

Wilson: What is your profession?

Newton: I'm an art teacher in grade school and up until recently I also worked part time for the "Master Artist's Painting Course." This is a nationwide correspondence course.

Wilson: What was the first professional work you did?

Newton: Probably in high school. I drew the "Sports Star of the Week" for "The Mesa Tribune." Then too, I've sold oil paintings all through college and since, I'm very interested in painting and do some of my best work in this medium.

Wilson: Are you planning any future strips or projects for fandom?

"I have no long range plans. I want to continue with "The Savage Earth"...

Newton: I have no long range plans. I want to continue with "The Savage Earth," and also contribute covers and spot illustrations to some of the better fanzines. I do have a number of ideas for strips. Five are super-heroes and one other is sort of fantasy. Because of limited time however, I doubt that I'll ever get  around to any of them.

Wilson: When did you first find out about, and then enter, fandom?

Newton: Well I had been scouting for comics for about six months and finding little. Then a collector friend showed me a copy of RBCC and I decided to get a copy. Looking RBCC over I figured here was a logical place to get a start in comic work. I sent Gordon an illo called "The Great Comic in the Sky." He liked it and shortly after I did a Star Trek back cover for him. My next step was to ask him about the possibility of doing a strip. He favored the idea and I've been working with him ever since. This all began about two years ago. I might add that I thoroughly enjoy all the fan work I do.

Wilson: Who are your favorite comic artists?

Newton: From the Golden Age I would select Raymond, Raboy, and Eisner. From the present, I consider Williamson and Frazetta tops. Neal Adams is due to be one of the best in time. Hal Foster is another favorite, who spans both periods,

Wilson: Did you develop your style by studying their work?

Newton: Well I'm not so sure I really have a "style" yet; but I do study their work, There's a lot to be learned by looking at, for example, the work of Alex Raymond. But I wouldn't want my work to come out looking like his...or anyone else's for that matter.

Wilson: Aside from comics and comic strips, who are your favorite artists?

Newton: Two that come to mind are the great illustrator N,C. Wyeth and Gustave Dore who did the famous etchings of the Bible and Dante's Inferno. If Dore were alive today, I believe he'd be a comic artist.

Wilson: Did you study their work?

Newton: Most certainly! I admire Wyeth's use of color and his dramatic compositions. Dore of course works in black and white but is also the master of dramatic story telling through pictures. Every young artist should look at the work of these men. Especially those interested in comic illustration.

Wilson: Getting back to comics, what are your personal reactions to the coming demise of the super-hero and the development of fantasy, sci-fi, and sword & sorcery heroes?

Newton: I'm all for sci-fi and sword & sorcery, but I hope we don't completely lose our superheroes. Actually I think superheroes (the really good ones) will be around as long as we have comics,

Wilson: Do you plan on going into the comic book field?

Newton: Naturally I would like to at some future date. Right now however, I don't consider my work of sufficient merit.

Wilson: What other areas involving comics would you like to go into?

"I'd love to illustrate children's classics... I'd also like to illustrate a version of the Bible."

Newton: I'd love to illustrate children's classics or pocket book covers. I'd also like to illustrate a version of the Bible. I might add that I prefer to work in color over black & white. G.B. Love has quite a bit of my color work. 

Wilson: What are your opinions of today's comics?

Newton: In general they are far superior to those of the 194os both in art and story. I consider Marvel the real leader in the field. DC doesn't turn me on too much; though Batman has improved in the last few issues and I'm buying it again.

Wilson: What inspired you to create "The Savage Earth?"

Newton: My admiration for Flash Gordon and a desire to create a similar strip. Then too, I am a real science fiction fan.

Wilson: What fanzines are you currently contributing to?

Newton: At this time I've worked for "Rocket's Blast ComiCollector," "Titan Comics," and "The Collector." I'd like to do some things for other zines but I just don't have the time. I would rather limit my work and keep up the quality. I want to make an apology to the magazines that have written me and I've had to turn down.

Wilson: In closing, are there any tips you might like to give to prospective artists?

Newton: Yes. There are several things I would say to anyone interested ongoing into art.

First, study anatomy...an inexpensive method is to buy a selection of weight-lifting magazines and practice drawing from these photos. Draw every chance you get...on napkins or the corners of your notebooks, but draw!

Study the effects of light and shadow. Wallace Wood is a master of this; so is Will Eisner. Look at their work.

When you DO original work for publications, don't "lift" from other artists. Better to pose your friends, look in a mirror, or "fake it." I use a mirror a great deal in my works; not only for expression but for lighting. When all else fails I resort to a photo...but I've done this only TWICE in the entire "Savage Earth" series. I wonder if anyone could guess where?



On that note our interview with Don Newton ends. I would personally like to thank Don for all the time he must have put into this interview what with the fabulous cover of the Justice Society of America, his answering the interview questions, his taking the photographs of himself, and the other great pieces of artwork he did to accompany the interview. I think this Interview gives a lot of insight into the real feelings and character of one Mr. Don Newton; not only as a fellow comic fan, but also as an artist and a fellow human being. I sincerely hope that you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed preparing it and receiving the answers from Don.

--Bill G. Wilson

 

This interview is copyright 2013 Bill G. Wilson.

Copyright 1998-2015 The Art of Don Newton
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