RIP to a Friend
Last month a friend of mine passed away, Pete Hernandez III. We didn't know each other for too long, or even saw each other that often, but we talked frequently. He was against texting, he always said it felt too impersonal, and if I really think about it, our conversations were hours long, and no amount of texts would have done them justice.
He had many passions, and every phone call would hit every single one of them. They would seem random, but that's the way his brain worked. It's also why he would never work on only one project at a time. We would always bounce ideas off of each other, and wanted to one day completed a project together. He was never about becoming rich and famous, he just wanted to work on things he was passionate about, and it's something we shared.
Unfortunately, we never did get to work on something together, but I did interview him for my old blog back in January of 2014. Below, I present the entire unedited interview, with links to all featured items. I don't know if the links still work, but if you can afford it, let's help Pete reach a level of fame he would have hated during his life. Thank you.
Pete Hernandez III
who else would it be?
AzarRising: There's a large cultural and national diversity in your work, was this something you intentionally pursued, or random happenstance?
Pete Hernandez III: Completely intentional. One of my main goals was to present ethnic heroes in situations normally reserved for white heroes but without being preachy. Most times when a comic tries to present an ethnic character, like a black hero or even rarer, a Latino hero, they take a very clichéd and uninspired approach.
I wanted my heroes to be from different cultural backgrounds but not throw it in the reader’s face like “Hey, respect this guy because he’s Indian or Japanese or I’ll kick your ass!”
I just want to write good stories with characters that aren’t all white. No offense.
AR: For your personal projects you seem to take all the responsibility on yourself (writing, drawing, coloring, marketing, etc) is there any one aspect you enjoy more than the others?
PH3: If I had to choose I’d pick writing and coloring. I’ve learned to respect inking and lettering A LOT and I enjoy penciling but adding the final touches and FX is always the most fun. It brings the flat film together for me.
Marketing is a pain in the ass and can bring on major stress. I do it all because I have no other choice at the moment. I’ve tried working with others in the past but most people talk a good game without knowing how to buckle down and get the work done. Everyone enjoys brainstorming and imagining what it’ll be like at a con and all that shit but I’m focused on getting the work done and partying later.
Way too many guys I’ve met know how to talk a good game but when it comes to hard work they fold like wet paper houses.
star of Company Man
AR: On a similar topic of doing everything yourself, you've also at times collaborated with others. Which do you prefer, creating an idea and seeing it come to fruition with your own two hands, or working with someone else and creating something you wouldn't have been able to do on your own, at least not in the same way?
PH3: I love collaborating when it works more-so than working alone. I work alone out of necessity than desire. The trouble is, as I mentioned before, most people have a garbage work ethic and can’t carry their own weight. I have a house full of electronic distractions and know how to ignore them and dive into Photoshop.
Working with others can be exciting and fulfilling as well as healthier for the mind. My ideas come much faster when bouncing off of someone else.
AR: I think it's fair to say comics are a large part of your life, do you remember the first comics you read, or what comic it was that hooked you?
PH3: It’s hard to say but I think Ghost Rider and Daredevil were some of my first comics. As a kid I was drawn, like all adolescent boys, to the more violent stories. Back then, with the Comics Code of Authority in place, it was rare to find a comic where there was bloodshed or profanity. Blood, in fact, was always in black up until Frank Miller’s Wolverine mini-series where he got around the CCA by having the blood reflect in Wolverines eyes when he killed the master.
I’ve been reading comics for 30 years. Much less now than ever in my life but that’s personal. I just feel I’m seeing the same plots and gimmicks over and over, the same re-hashed storylines and the same cheap death tricks.
Comics look better now than ever before but writing wise, most of the stuff out there is whack. Still, I can’t stay away from the art and the rare well-written book. I’ll always read comics to a greater or lesser degree.
AR: When did you know this was your calling?
PH3: I always knew art was my thing, my reason for being, since I was about five. I drew on anything when I was a kid, from loose leaf paper to toilet paper. Nothing blank was safe from my scribbling. I never really thought of doing my own comics until about ten years ago. Up until then I freelanced all over the place; from Time magazine to Colgate-Palmolive to USA network and more.
At some point around 2003 I just got sick of busting my ass to make other people’s dreams come true and got serious about making my own worlds come alive. Telling my stories my way.
AR: You recently had an advertisement for your comic "Company Man" in a Native American magazine. With the last name Hernandez its not the first venue one would think of. Are you Native American yourself? If not, how did you linking up with them come about.
PH3: I’m Puerto Rican-American, that’s it. The Native mag thing came about because I did some work with a Native American record label a few months back, helping them find new talent and doing some graphics on the side. They offered me some adspace as a thank you.
AR: Personally, I'm still looking for a friend with a finished basement I can mooch off of, because so few of us in the arts are able to support ourselves with what we love. Do you have a 'regular' job to support your art habit?
PH3: I do freelance graphics for a living to compensate for not making a mill off comics. I write on the side for other outlets as well. I’d worked shitty 9 to 5 gigs most of my life until I got serious about freelance and haven’t worked a solid day gig since 1994. Don’t miss the office bullshit or the commute, just the steady bi-weekly pay but you have to lose something to gain something and piece of mind is worth more than any check I ever received in the past. I don’t have to get up at 5 am and spend the day taking shit from an asshole boss or dealing with insecure people looking to advance themselves by throwing me under the bus. Bad lunches, too much stress, bottled anger…nah, I don’t miss any of that. One of the most often expressed sentiments by people on their death bed is; “I wish I’d gone after my dreams and lived my life my way.”
When I die that’s one thing I won’t regret.
AR: Where can people find your comic?
PH3: If you have a Kindle you can go to Amazon via this link and grab a few issues http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00D5TGQ7Yv
Or you can go to my Company Man site and grab the issues for 99 cents each at www.companyman.goofeesnax.com
I’m also on Twitter, though I don’t know why, @companyman01
He certainly did go after his dreams, and I think he accomplished so much more than people realized. He's writing with Jack Kirby now.
As a bonus, I'm one of the featured characters in the cover image of this post. Can you tell which one I am?