Michael K. Willis
INTERVIEW WITH ARTIE ROMERO (Spring, 1997)
Artie Romero is a
publisher, an artist, editor, animation producer and director...a man of many talents and
interests with the drive and vision to pursue them with gusto. He was called to art from
very early on (if you ask him nicely maybe he'll tell you about the time he was suspended
from high school for distributing his "subversive" homemade comic books) and
among his many accomplishments are included the creation of ARG! Cartoon Animation (www.artie.com), an animation studio, and the co-founding of Everyman Studios (www.artie.com/everyman.htm), an
artists co-op. In the late 70's, he was editor and publisher of the alternative comic book
imprint, Everyman Comics and afterwards pursued his burgeoning love of animation (www.artie.com/business/screencredits.htm).
Comfortably ensconced in the fourth decade of his sojourn on our blue-green marble, he has
been a citizen of Colorado Springs for almost three decades (having started life and
received some of his crucial art training in Missouri.) He is the loving newlywed husband
of Sherry Lee and the proud father of two sons, Ricky and Timothy, bright and glorious
progeny of his first marriage.
He is keenly interested in discovering, developing, and working with talented young
artists, hence his passion for teaching.
with Artie Romero
What have you done that many people feel is
ground-breaking? What is your claim to fame?
In the days when underground comix were still popular (1973) I helped found an artists'
co-op called Everyman Studios with Darrel Anderson, Rick Berry, Kirk Kennedy, Thom Haber,
and David Gregory Taylor. I had published small press (alternative) comics since my high
school days in the late Sixties, and in the mid Seventies I started publishing underground
comix under the Everyman Comics imprint. In 1978 I launched an underground comix fanzine,
Cascade Comix Monthly, that put me into the heart of that scene.
What is your favorite story from the times you were riding highest? (You can drop names if
At the San Diego Comics Convention in 1980 I co-hosted a party for the underground
cartoonists with Ron Turner, publisher of Last Gasp Eco-Funnies. Held in my hotel room, it
eventually spilled out the window and onto the roof. We had a little band that included
Dan O'Neill of Air Pirates fame, and the guests included Zap Comix artists S. Clay Wilson,
Spain Rodriguez and Victor Moscoso. Denis Kitchen, Paul Mavrides, Mary Brown (M. K.
Brown), Trina Robbins, Marvel Comics Editor Jim Shooter, Howard Chaykin and many others
were there. Hotel security came up after a while in response to complaints about the
noise, but it was such a great party that they ended up joining us.
Did you find a calling to your art early on? What called you to your art and vision?
My mother says I was quite an artist at the age of three, but then mothers are rarely
objective about such things. I actually decided to become an artist when I was about
twelve years old. By the age of sixteen, I was getting my cartoons, comics and
illustrations published wherever I could. I always had a passion for seeing my work in
print--just the process of publishing was exciting to me. I had dabbled in animation in
high school and college, and by 1980 I decided to jump into it with my usual fervor.
Was this actively encouraged by your family and friends?
My family encouraged me to get into something sensible like teaching, my mother's early
occupation, or soldiering, my adopted father's profession. I got more encouragement from
friends and teachers.
Did the place you were born inflame your desire to be an artist and/or your art?
Hardly. Springfield, Missouri was not noted for high culture at the time.
The places you were raised?
Panama was pretty inspiring. My father was stationed in the Canal Zone in the mid-Sixties.
I spent a lot of time on the beach and in the rain forest. In 1967 we moved to Denver,
then Colorado Springs the next year. Colorado Springs had always been friendly to the
arts. I met Darrel Anderson, Thom Haber, Ron Hueftle and Kirk Kennedy at Mitchell High
School, and had the privilege of studying art under Jack Frost. After graduation and three
years of art studies in Missouri I returned to the Springs to join up with my high school
chums and start Everyman Studios.
Do you feel that the future of the arts is encouraging?
I like what's happening with technology and the arts. I started playing with computer
graphics in 1985, real stone-age stuff, but desktop publishing eliminated much of the
drudgery of being a publisher. I was blown away by the Macintosh, and didn't touch any
other platforms until 1991 when I got my first Amiga. I had been producing animation the
hard way, with cels and film, and was amazed to see that desktop video had become a
I developed a patented touch screen interface for a commericial application in 1992 and
'93. Now I'm producing animated help agents for multimedia CD ROMs, interactive characters
for laser disks, and complete Web sites. Video tape is still useful, but very soon it will
be replaced by more pliable digital media. It all keeps coming down in price and up in
quality. So I'm encouraged!
What inspires you personally?
Animation is my focus, and I'm always amazed when I find something that truly entertains
me. It can be funny, innovative, just eye candy or technically outstanding, but if it
keeps me amused, I'm inspired.
Whom do you admire or strive to emulate in terms of accomplishment and artistic vision?
Tex Avery was the King of Cartoons. His outrageous shorts for MGM and Warner Bros. were
tops. Today's heirs to Avery's legacy are John Kricfalusi, creator of the original Ren
& Stimpy Show, and Mike Judge of Beavis and Butthead (and King of the Hill).
I admire the stories and draftsmanship of Robert Crumb (Zap Comix), George Herriman (Krazy
Kat), Windsor McKay (Little Nemo in Slumberland) and many others.
Do you have "guilty pleasures" that you know you "shouldn't" enjoy but
I'm much too old to be riding an all-terrain board, but I bought one from MBS MountainBoards (http://www.mbs.com) and ride
it with little if any safety gear. It's a snowboard with wheels--because snow melts.
And then there's junk food.
Do you think that cyberspace is a viable medium for the arts? Is it, in your opinion, an
appropriate medium for the arts? Which of the arts, if not all?
Of course it is. First of all, it's the biggest explosion of publishing since the
invention of the printing press. Desktop publishing made pre-press easier and more
flexible. Digital video and animation increased our capabilities and creativity. But the
Internet, since the invention of the Web, has solved the problem of distributing one's
work. What's the use of being able to create artistic works if nobody ever gets to see
We're gradually getting the bandwidth we need to create more immersive works. Some arts,
such as sculpture, dance and origami may not benefit much, but for film, video, animation
and music, the Web will be a primary means of distribution very shortly. The question of
whether or not it's appropriate is moot; the change is inevitable.
Is the concept of a virtual community for creative people something you think has merit?
It's way overdue. ClickMedia can be a hub because of the love and spirit of fun it was
Do you think it will actually work?
It will if the people creating and managing it are devoted. The words "labor of
love" have been used to describe what's coming together here. If we love it enough to
give all the labor it needs, it can't miss.
Everything I've ever done that was worthwhile was done because I had a passion to see the
finished work become reality. This is a project that may not be finished for years, or may
never be finished. But some day, if we do our jobs well, it may become a part of the
history of human creative endeavor. Pretty heavy, isn't it? But that's what I believe.
Anything we haven't asked? Tell us!
You didn't ask me about the best thing I ever did in my life. I have two great sons, Ricky
and Timothy who are carrying on my artistic ambitions. Be sure to check out their work
here on the ClickMedia site.