When you weren’t running for your life from the living dead I hope you took some time this month and checked out our Pick of the Month write up on “The Angry Dead”, if not go ahead click here and check it out then come on back and let’s turn our spotlight on the creator of this fun comic strip Tauhid Bondia as he takes on our “10 Questions for the Pick of the Month”. So let’s turn our focus, like a living dead smelling fresh meat and see what makes Tauhid tick.
Thinking back, what is the first comic you recall reading as a child?
The Amazing Spider-man. I got into comic relatively late (I was around 11 of 12), but not as much because I loved reading about super-heroes. More because I enjoyed drawing them. To be honest I still don’t read that many comics. For me, they have always been the best instructional art guides out there. What actually drew me to the comic was the art of Erik Larsen, a long time favorite of mine. Few artists (even now) can compete with his dynamism. The book was a relatively tame, one-off with Spidey vs The Vulture. I devoured the art and began collecting anything by Larsen that I could get my hands on. This lead to a pretty thorough collection of comics featuring various artists I’d come to admire. My books were always in horrible shape though. No vacuum bags or neat, sleeve boxes, for me. I was constantly flipping through them and copying from them.
Who is your greatest influence(s) as an artist/creator?
I never really know how to answer this question. As a kid it was artists like Erik Larsen and Tod McFarlane. But these days it’s guys you probably don’t know. Seeing some pro quality art from Joe Madureira, while inspiring, I can’t say is that influential to me anymore. That stuff is unattainable. It’s there for creators and fans to enjoy, alike. When I pic up my stylus I’m usually motivate more by my actual peers. Artists who exist online in a substantive capacity usually tend to clump up together. We don’t necessarily link up with our personal art heroes, instead linking up with our artistic peer group. These are the guys that inspire me. I met a bunch of guys and gals years ago in the Penny-Arcade artists forum and we’ve been really tight ever since. There’s no better source for influence and inspiration than seeing the latest thing to fall out of Michael Firman’s brain or getting linked to Nic Carey’s latest painting. I’ve watched these guys grow and mature as artist over the course of years. I can see the influence my art has had on them and you can see the influence they’ve had on my art, in the actual work! And they influence more than just my art, itself. They keep me motivated in my career and open to new kinds of tools and ideas.
What would you consider required drawing equipment or writing necessities?
These day’s (and for a while now) I’ve gone completely digital. If I have to take down a message, on the phone, I’m in trouble because there is not a scrap of paper or an actual pencil anywhere in my home. Everything from concepts to finished art are done using my Cintiq 21UX. Yes, it was a hefty investment but totally worth it, in the long run.
Where did you go to school and what was your major?
I briefly attended Murray State University on a full art scholarship. Unfortunately, school and I have never mixed well. My experience at MSU failed, mostly, due to the sudden and jarring amount of freedom I was afforded. Pretty much the first time someone told me I didn’t HAVE to go to class, college was over for me.
Three adjectives to describe yourself that has NOTHING to do with comics?
We all have favorite places, scenarios we feel more creative in. What is your favorite environment in which to create?
I like to have noise. Some music, a show on Netflix or a podcast running in the background usually gets the juices flowing. I’ll also have a browser window or two open, as well. I let my mind do what it wants. Distraction never takes me far from the task at hand so I don’t worry if my mind wanders a bit. I do need to be alone though. Being interrupted is pretty bad for my process.
Embarrassing childhood memory you wish to reveal? (or Most exciting if you don’t want to reveal embarrassing)
When I was a kid (about 12 or 13) I was pretty much on the cusp of becoming a bully. The kind that your mom told you about, where if you stood up to me I’d totally back down. It was during the advent of gangsta rap and my area was completely saturated in hip-hop culture. Everybody wanted to be a thug. Being one of the few black kids in my class I went from being pretty much invisible to the only person with actual street cred around. I dressed the part and totally cultivated the image that I might pop a cap in someone’s ass at any moment. I was completely full of shit but I was pulling it off.
One day I went a little too far. Hanging with some friends I got the idea into my head to pick on this kid named David Tackett. David was a poor kid with shabby clothes, thick glasses and one eye that just sort of did its own thing. He was an easy target for a fake bully, like me. It was during lunch that I decided to casually grab his brownie off of his tray. I was totally going to eat it, right in front of him without asking or anything. Just cus I could. David disagreed. He said, in a very calm voice, “Put it back.” I looked at him like he’d lost his mind. Did he know who I was? I was the black kid! So, in reply, I dumped it into his salad getting salad dressing all over it and some of his other food. (Man this hurts to relive).
Now, if you’ve ever been in a middle school fight you know that it’s not an impossible thing to get out of even after you’ve squared off with the guy. All you’ve really gotta do is stall until an adult or a brave girl takes notice. So when David got angry and stood up, I wasn’t that worried. I started laughing at him. Was this guy serious? Worse come to worst I was sure I could take him but I didn’t really want to fight because I was not an actual fighter. When an adult didn’t show up right away I stood up ass well. I made myself as big as I could. I had like 4 inches on the guy and much longer arms. Plus I was surrounded by my posse. This was not going to go down the way David wanted.
Then David did this thing. A thing which suddenly snapped me out of my bravado and into the actual situation I’d dug myself into. He took his right foot and put it behind him and turned sideways. Something very primal in me understood instinctively that this kid knew something I didn’t know. I’d seen middle school fights before. It’s just two guys trying to throw Hollywood hay-makers and getting tangled in each other until someone manages to land a headlock. But David knew better. Someone had taught him to put his weight on his back leg, turn sideways so he’s harder to hit and bring his jabbing hand forward. All this hit me in the span of about 1/10 of a second. And then David hit me. And hit me, and hit me, and hit me. In the face. Every time. Hard. The most I could manage was to grab his jacket to stabilize myself, you know… so he could hit me better. He must have landed about 8 or 9 punches without me throwing a single blow before a teacher finally showed up and broke it up.
None of my posse tried to help me, no one in the entire lunch room even attempted to step in. And, to this day, I’m pretty sure the teacher watched for a bit before intervening. Of course after that, my bullying days were completely over. I would love to have gone back to being invisible but after you have had your ass thoroughly stomped by the short kid with the coke bottle glasses and the weird eye, you are awarded a whole new kind of notoriety. Even now, thinking of that story sends a physical shudder through me but I like telling it. It reminds me that we are not always cast as the hero in our own story. Sometimes we are clearly the villain in someone else’s.
If a movie of your life were made who would you pick to play you?
I like Will Smith for the part. He’d have to do something about all that muscle tone, though. Maybe one of his kids after a few years of being sedentary.
What other information would you like share about your comic? Books? Kickstarter?
Pretty much everything relevant about it can be found on the site or in the blog. I guess I just want people to know that it’s straight up story about the end of the world and the zombie apocalypse. No gimmicks or funny spins on the genre. There’ s humor where appropriate but plenty of drama, horror and character development. Zombies have always been, to me, the most terrifying of the monsters. They are a symbol for something far more real and scary than any other monster. The mental image of a solitary zombie ambling up your street in the middle of the night while you’re out having a smoke is far more terrifying and foreboding than a vampire popping out of the shadows to me. The vampire will kill me (or make me into something totally awesome!) The zombie means years of suffering and the end of the world. They represent the unstoppable march toward destruction that we are all confronted with. They are a force of nature. Zombies are global warming. Zombies are cancer. Zombies are an increase in number of children born with birth defects. Zombies are new deadly strains of old viruses. They are, simply put, mortality and the fact that, when it comes to man vs nature, nature ALWAYS eventually wins. Even if she has to use us as the tool of our own destruction.
What is the meaning of life?
I honestly think life is just a thing that the universe is trying. It’s not real interested in definitions, just what works and what doesn’t. The universe tried stars and they worked out pretty well so we’ve got lots of stars. The meaning of life will be determined by whether or not the experiment succeeds. It’s totally up to us. I guess, I think the meaning of life is trying to be worthy of our own existence.
I would like to thank Tauhid Bondia for taking the time to answer our questions and letting us have a little glimpse into who he is. Don’t forget to also check out or Pick of the Month write up on The Angry Dead and make sure to head over and check out the site for yourself.