Welcome to PRO-LIFIC where I interview professional artists, writers, and creators to delve down deep and find out what makes them tick and find out tips-n-tricks for being successful as a creator! Everyone has a different story to tell, and every artist has their own unique style, but what are the common threads that we can find to help us on our own journey? Join me as we glean new insights into becoming the next PROLIFIC writer, artist, or creator!
Today I have the privilege of talking with a gentleman who has an incredible story of going from comic collector, to art collector, to convention runner, to art rep, to beating COVID (barely), to CREATOR and WRITER! At 48 no less! That is Phillip Russertt! Not only does he have an amazing inspiring story but he has a huge heart for people, a love for art and artists, and it really shows in everything he does. Once you hear the line-up of artists he has on his covers, you’ll quickly understand why! He’s a fantastic lovable guy, so without further ado, let’s get to the interview with him!
ERIC: Hey Philip! I was really shocked to hear your story, I had no idea that it took a crazy run-in with COVID to get you to pursue your lifelong longing to create and write! It’s inspiring in so many ways, but tell us about it and what happened.
PHILLIP: Hi Eric. As far as the comic book industry goes, I’ve been an art collector for well over a decade and a comic collector for forty years. Throughout the years I had built relationships with major, well known artists and writers in the industry. In 2017 I started my own comic book convention focused on comic books and their creators. I had three successful shows before the Covid pandemic lock down changed everything. I always try to utilize my time wisely and never waste it, so while stuck at home I started my own livestream interview show with indie and main stream creators. It was getting a lot of attention and without realizing I was connecting with a lot of people on social media. I then decided to become an artist agent. Shortly after I got Covid in January 2021 and to be honest it was almost fatal. I was hospitalized with Covid, Pneumonia and multiple blood clots in both my lungs. I was on Oxygen continuously and lost over 35lbs. I was bed ridden for 6 weeks. During that time I reflected on my life being that I was reminded how precious it is. Upon reflection I thought of the growing, nagging feeling that always haunted me. It was a frustration built out of feeling I wasn’t reaching my potential. That potential was to create. I was a musician in my youth but it wasn’t satiating my passion. I lay there in bed and realized I need to write a comic book. Time is the one commodity we never get back. You can always make more money but you cannot make more time. We don’t now how long we have so I wanted to make the best of it and finally do what I always wanted to do. I had a vision of my protagonist in my head and decided to write and not look back.
ERIC: Please tell us, what motivates you to create/ write, and what fuels your passion? What keeps you going with everything constantly going around you?
PHILLIP: The idea of world building and creating characters was always appealing but yet intimidating. Once I overcame that fear and lack of confidence I wrote a story that is motivated by the human condition and our behaviors. My protagonist is a female and I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a female who realized how strong, beautiful or smart they were and certainly not how capable they were. Being a father of two beautiful little girls and wanting them to grow up loving themselves and never doubting their worth, I wanted to write something that addresses that. Tragedy is based loosely on my wife, but yet also myself. As humans we tend to feel we are different but at the core we all want the same thing. We want to feel relevant; to feel like we matter. I wrote a story that touches on those things. I was always fascinated with human psychology. I observed and studied how and why people react and behave the way they do and my character is grounded in that reality.
ERIC: What where some of the most influential factors or circumstances that brought you to where you are today as a creator/ writer? Then also please tell us some of the most influential people who have inspired you along the way. What creators and writers spoke to you on your journey.
PHILLIP: First and foremost I have always been a driven and motivated man. I always want to be better tomorrow than I am today, whether it be as a person or for what legacy I leave behind. Some of my major influences are Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Dave Cocrum, Peter David, J.R.R Tolkien and of course my wife. Chris Claremont and Peter David, to me were amazing. The way Chris wrote for the long game with his amazing 17 year run on Uncanny X-Men and how Peter David could write characters so real. I remember in X-Factor Peter wrote Quicksilver and explained why he’s such a jerk and it was brilliant! He basically said, paraphrasing of course, imagine living in a world where everyone is slower than you and just getting in your way. His analogy was standing on line as an old woman counted her change at the register for ten minutes. There writing inspired me to meld the fiction of superheroes with the real human element that is people. Reading Tolkien was an education on world building, after all he created an entire Elven language. My wife has been an influence as far as that real human element of self-doubt but yet at times a quiet confidence. It’s the battle we all face at some point.
ERIC: Of all the different mediums out there, what was it about comics that lead you to create your work in that medium?
PHILLIP: I hated reading as a child and I realize now it was because, the thought of a 300 plus page book intimidated me. I also didn’t have the patience to enjoy the journey of reading. At nine years old I picked up Uncanny X-Men #115 & #126 and fell in love with the aesthetics of the characters. I would constantly flip through the books enjoying the art but still wouldn’t read them. I finally said to myself “I don’t even know who these characters are”. I wanted to know so I started reading and never looked back. Comic books are a great gateway for kids to love reading and the art was always beautiful to look at.
ERIC: Why did you choose to write this story? If you’re like me, you have many that you could have told, but why this one. What is it about this one that excites you?
PHILLIP: This story is very close to home as far as the protagonist. I think writers just starting out always write from themselves or those closest to them. It’s the easiest way to understand and portray your character. Once I realized who Grace O’Connor was, I realized she was me and she was my wife. I want to tell our story through her.
ERIC: As a first time creator, just starting out, how hard was It to find the team you are working with? Also, what was It that drew you to them specifically for your project?
PHILLIP: I was already an artist agent with my company Legendary Illustrations and the artists I represent are not just artists but people I invest in. Having said that, I was representing Ricardo Silva first as I loved his art style immediately. I love the art style of the 90’s tight pencils. That’s why I love your art Eric! Ricardo had the tight pencils and the style I felt would best suit my book. I also hired the colorist I represent, Sigmund Torre for the first book. This new book has famous Marvel, DC and Image colorist, Chris Sotomayor on interiors. Jason Meadows is the letterer and I also represent him. The thing about them is there is no ego. We all understand what our roles are and we have the singular focus on making the best book possible.
ERIC: What have been some of the biggest challenges in getting your book(s) done?
PHILLIP: Finances are always a challenge. Other than that I honestly don’t feel any challenges and really enjoy making my book with the team. Marketing and distribution are a huge challenge but not in making the book.
ERIC: What are some words of advice you would give to someone who is looking to get into writing, creating?
PHILLIP: Believe in yourself and don’t be intimidated. Just go find your passion and do it. We can always find reasons not to do something but there is really one most important reason to do something…love for it.
ERIC: One question I love to ask creators is, if you could do it all over again what would you do differently? Or if you could speak with 15 year old you, what would you say to yourself when it comes to pursuing your dreams?
PHILLIP: I’d say start earlier in life but honestly I feel things happen when and how they are meant to happen. I didn’t have my direction until 48 years old but everything I did until now led up to it so I could. I didn’t realize it as it was happening, but here we are!
ERIC: Great stuff man! I’m inspired by your story, and it is a great lesson that it’s really never too late to pursue that dream or do what’s been laid on your heart to do.
Anything else you’d like to add before we call it a wrap!?
PHILLIP: My life has been tough. I had a bad childhood and comic books saved me from that misery and pain that was a daily torment. They also taught me right and wrong, how to be a hero and what real sacrifice meant. Comic books gave so much to me and I want to be a part of that. If my characters can reach and relate with someone who is struggling then I am happy to make that small difference in someone else’s life. I also want to show my amazing little girls that with true sacrifice, hard work, and determination they too can live their dream.
For more from Phillip and Eric check out the live interview with him on YOUTUBE here…
Today is the last day of the campaign for TRAGEDY book 2 (26 pages) on Kickstarter!! If you are interested in any of the amazing covers Phillip has to offer… don’t wait!
Also book 1 is still currently In-Demand on Indiegogo (30 pages) with some awesome covers still available to get your hands on! They won’t be around forever!
If you want to follow Phillip Russertt and his team, check them out
FB: Phillip Russertt
Pencils/Inks: Ricardo Silva IG: @ricardosilvaart
Colors: Chris Sotomayor IG: @Sotocolor
Letters: Jason Meadows IG: @ksscomics