Ohio Northern Art & Design graduate debuts of “Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities” graphic novel
August—Ohio Northern University graduate Kyle Hotz (BFA/graphic design ’93), who has gained national notoriety as a graphic novel illustrator, along with co-creator Erik Powell, will release all three tales of their series “Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities” from Dark Horse Comics. The publication date is set for September 17.
The 320 page volume was written by Eric Powell, an award winning author in the horror, action/adventure genre. Kyle served as the artist and created the cover for this edition.
The Authentic Accounts of Billy the Kid begins with the world believing the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid was killed by Pat Garrett. But, in reality, Billy is very much alive. He is the hired gun of Fineas Sproule’s traveling spectacle of biological curiosities—or “freaks,” as Billy calls them. It’s a clever mashup of Wild West sensibilities with some of literatures most notable villains and monsters. Doctors Victor Frankenstein and Henry Jekyll as well as Count Dracula all figure into the stories collected here, while Billy’s unrefined personality clashes amusingly with pretty much everyone in Europe.
While still in the final year of earning his fine arts degree at Ohio Northern, Kyle was already working full time as a comic book illustrator on the genre-stretching horror anthology ‘Slash’ where the first writer he ever worked with was Brian Azzarello, and also drew the vampire title ‘Cold Blooded.’ Immediately after finishing school, Kyle was asked to work on the character Nightman for Malibu comics. It was Kyle’s childhood love of superheroes that led him to pursue comics with dreams of drawing Batman or Superman or the X-men. Though Nightman was a costumed hero comic, Kyle’s quirky style, with deep shadows and exaggerated anatomies, helped it to stand out from the usual men in tights books. Soon Kyle was asked to draw Dr. Strange for Marvel Comics and then the futuristic Ghost Rider 2099 which highlighted Kyle’s love for bizarre costumes and dystopian settings.
As his reputation as a horror artist grew, Kyle illustrated various titles for most of the major comic publishers, including Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image and a host of independent press. Some of the characters Kyle has had a chance to put his stamp on include The Hulk, Venom, Spiderman, Green Goblin, the Punisher, Evil Ernie, Cal McDonald, Marvel’s Zombie, Wraith, and Captain America.
Monster Matinee, a collection of Kyle’s illustrations paying homage to classic monster movies of the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s brought Kyle to the attention of the producers of Madison Scare Garden, a Halloween themed event held in the New York arena. Kyle provided key art and character designs for Madison Scare for many years. This led to similar opportunities designing creatures, environments and all manner of weirdness for theme parks at various venues the world over.
In 2009 Kyle created a multitude of key characters for a proposed installation at Tivoli Gardens in Denmark and an ‘Aliens versus Predator’ installation in Australia. Somewhere along the line, Kyle was noticed by tattoo flash distributors, Tattoo Johnny and asked to create original tattoo flash art.
In 2000, Kyle co-created the character ‘The Hood’, for Marvel comics, with Brian Vaughn, and illustrated the character’s first mini-series. The Hood was a sleeper hit and finally broke out in 2009, when the Hood became one of Marvel’s most popular villains and Kyle was asked to return to the character for a 5-issue story arc.
Kyle has also co-created and illustrated the graphic novel ‘Epilogue’ with author Steve Niles (with whom Kyle also got to draw a run on Nile’s great Criminal Macabre series), and co-created and illustrated ‘The Agency’ with Paul Jenkins. Along the way Kyle wrote and illustrated the creator owned graphic novel ‘Mosaic’ and wrote and illustrated ‘The Zombie’ for Marvel. Recently Kyle drew Ghostbusters Infestation for IDW, which made Kyle’s 8 year old son very happy.
The purest version of Kyle’s art was the series he co-created and draws with Eric Powell, ‘Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities.’ This oddball, pseudo-historical storyline has been a critical success (Entertainment Weekly gave it an ‘A’) and fan favorite. It was in this series of books that best showcases Kyle’s love for the endearing and cartoony aspects of his craft. In 2007 at DC Comics, his work for Billy the Kid won a Young Adult Library Services Association Award (Great Graphic Novels for Teens).
Originally designated as the School of Fine Arts and later the College of Fine Arts, the art & design program was first established as an independent academic unit at Ohio Northern in 1878, largely as an outgrowth of course work in engineering and architectural drawing. Today, Ohio Northern offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts with concentrations in two-dimensional, three-dimensional and pre-art therapy. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education, AIGA: The Professional Association for Design, and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2014–15 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.
image: The Authentic Accounts of Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities, Dark Horse publishing, Sept. 2014