About the Artist. Calvin and Hobbes, Mad, Maus, Underground Comics, and other influences.

About the Artist:

guy reading comics

Short Bio:

Thunder Khan’s early influences include Calvin & Hobbes, which he grew up reading in the newspaper.  Other early influences include The Simpsons, Life in Hell, Mad Magazine, those cheesy how-to-draw books, books with creepy illustrations, and visits to the young adults section at the public library, where he found many graphic novels and comics.

Thunder Khan also likes to share the titles of graphic novels that he has read and enjoyed, so that more people read them. He is also very interested in graphic novels from all over the world, especially from the Middle East.

He has attended and participated in comic conventions since 2010, where he has sold some of his work.

Long Bio:

Calvin and Hobbes was always number one for me. It’s what got me into comics. I would pretend to be studying and really be reading Calvin and Hobbes books. I always looked forward to the color Sunday edition. Calvin from the comic, and Bart from The Simpsons were the smart, lazy, sassy boys that I molded myself after, whether I knew it or not.

My goal in life was to be a cartoonist and run my own multi-media production company. I worked on my own “Calvin” character, and dreamed of being a syndicated cartoonist. I practiced drawing things that were hard to draw, like mushroom clouds. And I practiced things that were fun to draw, like faces and created my own precocious comics and characters. I was also influenced by Life In Hell, Opus, The Far Side, those cheesy how-to-draw books, and books with creepy illustrations.

Library visits were always amazing. Imagine, a place where you could rent comic anthologies, graphic novels, books and music CDs. Each trip I would come back with a huge pile of books and music. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I still love library visits. I don’t think the library had a dedicated “graphic novels” for adults section yet. They had a “young adults” section and a “comics” section. The comics section contained more anthologies of comic strips and how-to-draw-comics books, rather than graphic novels.

Mad Magazine was an influence, because it had satire from many different artists. I liked Mad a lot, but I almost never read the comics that made fun of TV shows and movies. I made my own version of Mad with my brother and sister, basically an “anything goes” humor and comic anthology. My comics often parodied things from the 90’s that I thought were silly. We would sometimes make books of drawings/stories on road trips; they were hilarious.

In middle school, Maus by Art Spiegelman was the first “serious” graphic novel that I read. I think the teacher recommended it. I was blown away by Maus, and that’s when I first realized that comics could be serious and deeply moving. Spiegelman is still one of my favorite cartoonists.

I remember the day they printed the last Calvin and Hobbes comic. I couldn’t believe it; good things come to an end. I could understand, but it was still surreal. Looking back, I can’t believe how lucky I was to read Calvin and Hobbes when I was a kid.

A few years later, I took some drawing classes and a cartooning class at the Cleveland Institute of Art. In high school, I discovered Underground comics in my school library. I was blown away by cartoonists like Crumb, and his character Mr. Natural. Here was all the humor and rebelliousness that I associated with comics, with the dial turned up to eleven.

I went on to study Fine Art in college. I read the beat poets and studied the Surrealists and Dada. I got into Punk music, Sonic Youth, and many different kinds of music. A friend told me about William Blake, which became a big influence. Blake emphasizes the importance of a strong, clear outline in figure drawing, which is important to comics. The opposite of strong outlines is building a picture/figure from washes of color or shading. I did an independent study with an artist listed in the Dictionary of Avant-Garde Artists. I experimented with different mediums and techniques, yet I wasn’t making the kind of art that I really loved. My sketchbooks were full of cartoons and doodles.

Eventually I started reading graphic novels again, and making my own comics. I discovered comic cons, and graphic novels from all over the world. Drawing comics is a challenge I enjoy. Some of my comics are silly, and others cover more serious topics. I’m also working on turning some of my comics into a graphic novel.

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