Patch recently had a chance to interview comic book creator and Westfield resident Edward Dippolito. The 27-year-old artist shared how his life-long love of storytelling led him to make a career change and pursue his dream. His first comic book 'FRANK N. STEIN' is available now.
How long have you lived in Westfield?
I’ve lived in Westfield for almost two years now. It’s actually a very crazy and somewhat tragic story how I came to live in Westfield. I had lived in Roselle Park ever since I was a teenager. After I graduated high school I moved to Florida to attend college. Once I graduated from Art School I decided to come back home to New Jersey and back into my home in Roselle Park. Unfortunately, one night we had a terrible fire which left my family’s home and all of our belongings either scorched from the flames or drenched from the fire departments hoses. We were very fortunate that my family and our pets made it out safe and sound including myself. It was indeed my most somber moment; I had lost my computer which stored most of my artwork. I had to start from scratch.
After living in a hotel for a month, I came to Westfield where I reside now. From the moment I moved here I knew this was a place I’d really enjoy. Everyone was very welcoming and made me feel comfortable within my new neighborhood. The fact that I’m living right by a park to take my overly-energetic husky for runs is more than ideal. After the night of the fire I wasn’t sure how things were going to work out. I’m happy to say that I believe they’ve turned out the best they could have.
Can you share a bit about how you became interested in comics through the creation of your first comic?
I’ve always loved to tell stories. Even as a child it was impossible to shut me up while I explained my intensely fantastical dreams every morning to my family. I’ve loved comics ever since my father handed me my first one. The ability to convey such grand stories with the use of just images and dialogue bubbles called to me. Comics are absolutely one of my main influences that led me to become an artist.
Eventually I decided I would take up the difficult journey of beginning my own comic. I have tons of notes littered with ideas and concepts for stories. Yet, one day I came up with a brand new concept and instantly fell in love with it. I wanted a story I could take beyond all limits and 'FRANK N. STEIN' was just that. All the while, this comic idea was a side project and queued far back on my busy to-do list.
Realizing that I had to pick one project and see it through or else I’d get nowhere, I decided 'FRANK N. STEIN' was the number one project and all my effort would go forth into putting together this comic. Which sounded perfect, and of course I am an artist, but I really had no clue how to truly create a comic. I began my search for knowledge on the alchemy of comics and what makes them work. I realized that there was much more to this than just the want or desire to create a comic. If I wanted to really do this right then I needed to do my homework. I bought tons of books and read plenty of articles as well as helpful Internet forums. I had immersed myself within the comic creators’ community and questioned myself whether or not I was in over my head.
Not allowing the doubt to sap my ambition I remained focused and dove head first into the creative process. I first wrote out the story synopsis followed by the first issue’s synopsis and script. I began character concept sheets to get them to appear the way I saw them in my head and really develop them into memorable characters. Then I started to draw rough sketches of each page and panel to make sure the story flowed the right way. Once I felt confident everything was prepared correctly I began to render and finalize each page.
Have there been any comics or artists you'd point to as influences?
Absolutely! I think any comic creator will first and foremost point to Stan Lee, the man who created “Spiderman”, “X-Men”, “Iron Man”, and many more! The man paved the shimmering golden road for comic creators. As a teenager I became very interested in Japanese comics, (or more properly) manga. They took storytelling to a whole other level and that captivated me. My absolute all-time favorite comic is 'Berserk' created by Kentaro Miura. The comic began in 1988 and is still going strong. The fact that a comic could achieve such successful longevity was a massive role in my decision to create 'FRANK N. STEIN.'
Have you left your job to pursue this craft full-time? If so, was that a difficult or daunting decision?
Indeed I have and it was certainly one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. I was working in NYC as an Animation Director, a job that took me four years to land. Breaking into the animation industry was quite the difficult task, especially after graduating almost exactly when the recession hit. So when I landed this job it seemed like the dream job I had always hoped for. I was walking along the path to a successful career.
Yet, something just didn’t feel right. Even though I was in the right business I still didn’t exactly feel I was utilizing my chance to show the world my vision and creativity. Of course I had worked on my side projects on my personal time at home, but due to the long hours at work I just didn’t have the time to get anything underway. It was a very difficult time because I knew how happy my family and friends were for me and I didn’t want to let any of them down.
One day I created my own little mantra, “If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?” I knew that if I never gave myself the chance to create this comic, I would forever lie in regret and that’s not something I could live with. I took the leap of faith and I couldn’t be happier.
Would you have any advice for other artists/writers thinking of pursuing this path?
There are a lot of artists and writers out there with so much talent who cripple themselves with self-doubt. My advice to them, wash your hands of that stuff, it’ll just hold you back. What you lack can be strengthened through practice and knowledge. I believe we are all capable of amazing feats as long as we’re willing to put the time in.
How long did it take you to create 'FRANK N. STEIN'?
That’s a complex question. I’ll break it down. It took me about a week to come up with the idea and set a course of plot in motion as far as where I would take the story. Then came the concept sketches for the locations and characters, which took around three weeks or so. The first issue took longer than it should have being that I began it while I was still working in Manhattan. So the first issue ended up taking me around three months to complete. Ideally, I plan to get each issue completed within one month.
Do you have plans to make it a series or are you working on other comics?
'FRANK N. STEIN' is going to be a long series. I have big plans for this story. I have some other ideas I’d love to work on but I’d be stellar if I could work on 'FRANK N. STEIN' for the next twenty years.
Can you provide the link where readers can view or purchase 'FRANK N. STEIN'?
Definitely! Right now 'FRANK N. STEIN' is $0.99 and is entirely a digital comic and can be found on the iBooks app on the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch. As well as on the Kindle Fire ebooks store, the Nook, and Kobo ebooks.
You can also find 'FRANK N. STEIN' at:
Facebook - https://apps.facebook.com/graphicly/issues/14560