Sunday, June 2, 2013

Pheaturing Phile Alum Michael Banks

Hey, kids, welcome to another entry of the Phile. I can't believe it's June already. How are you?  These White House scandals are not going away any time soon. I’ll tell you how bad it’s looking for President Obama: People in Kenya are now saying he’s 100 percent American. The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, charged that there’s a culture of intimidation throughout the Obama administration. Really, anyone intimidated by Barack Obama? He can’t even keep Joe Biden in line. So they spent the last five years claiming President Obama was weak and ineffective. Suddenly he’s Tony Soprano. President Obama's had a rough couple of weeks with the big Benghazi scandal, the IRS scandal, and the phone tapping scandal. And now he has to replace all four "American Idol" judges.  Did any of you play that Powerball? It turns out the winning ticket for the huge $590 million Powerball drawing was apparently sold in a town called Zephyrhills, Florida not far from here. In a related story, Florida residents are getting an unusual volume of calls from their grandkids today.  During a fundraiser, President Obama said there is a shortage of common sense right now in Washington. At which point the people who paid $5,000 a plate for their dinner applauded in agreement.  There are reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may have another child with a woman who is not his wife. People say the baby looks just like him... though in fairness, pretty much ALL babies look just like him.  The Navy announced that its specially trained dolphins found a rare torpedo off the coast of California. You can tell those dolphins are smart because they just turned the torpedo back at us and said, “How about YOU doing some tricks at Sea World?”  It was announced a few days ago that Larry King is going to be hosting a new talk show in Russia. The guests will be speaking Russian and Larry will be speaking whatever language it is that he speaks.  Last month as you know on the Phile was Star Wars Month, and for some reason the most popular item or whatever you call it on the Phile was the pictures of the different girls dressed up as Slave Leia. This year is the 30th anniversary for Return of the Jedi and I was paying tribute to Lucas' greatest creation. Anyway, I had quite a few requests for more pictures of Slave Leia and I don't want to disappoint my readers, so here's another one, you horny bastards.

What is she looking for? I like to think she is looking for me. So, who likes Pop Tarts? Not young female singers, but the breakfast snack Pop Tarts. I don't, but I'd like to try this...

Actually, come to think of it, I don't like vodka either.  I was at Disney last Sunday and I saw this inspirational poster, and I thought I have to share it with you.

I agree.  I was watching the Stanley Cup play-off's and couldn't believe my eyes. Was it Star Wars Month in the NHL as well?

Alright, now let's see went into the fertilizer business...

Jean Stapleton
Jan 19, 1923 - May 31, 2013
Stifled herself.

If you spot it email me at Alright, so this weekend is Gay Days at Disney, as I am sure most of you know. So, I thought it was a good idea to invite a friend back to the Phile who hasn't been here in awhile to give his opinion on Gay Days. So, please welcome back to the Phile...

Y'all gay people are starting to annoy me... I'm so over gay days.

Today's pheatured guest is one of the very first artists I pheatured on the Phile and is now the 31st artist to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Art Gallery. Please welcome back to the Phile, my good friend... Michael Banks!

Me: Michael, hello! Welcome back to the Phile. How are you?

Michael: Hello, Mr. Phile, I'm doing great!

Me: How's life in Imaginationland?

Michael: Pretty dang perfect. Staying super busy and traveling as much as possible.

Me: Man, since you were last here on the Phile a lot of stuff has happened with you, hasn't it? You've been very busy, my friend. You must be happy about that.

Michael: Yeah, I am extremely happy. I have been trying all kinds of new things. Convention, sketch cards, toys...

Me: Do you know because of you I started the Peverett Phile Art Gallery? That's pretty cool, right?

Michael: That is awesome! You have had some really amazing artists on the Phile. It has been really cool to read a little more into the lives of some of my favorite artists and friends.

Me: Speaking of galleries, Michael, you've been showing your art in a lot of different galleries, am I right?

Michael: Not a whole lot of galleries lately, I kinda took a break from them for a little bit to focus on conventions. I am getting back into it and just put on an amazing show with my good friend Jasmine Becket-Griffith called "What Big Eyes You Have" paying homage to Margaret Keane and all the great big eye artists of the 60's and 70's with works from some of the best known big eye artists from all over the world.

Me: Is there one gallery you would love to have your art shown in?

Michael: I am currently working on my next solo show and would really love to show it up in New York at the Cotton Candy Machine or Last Rights Gallery.

Me: I last saw you at MegaCon this year. Do you do a lot of conventions?

Michael: Oh yes, I do a little over 30 conventions a year all over the United States. We are always traveling and in a different city every weekend.

Me: How do you keep up with everything? You must draw or paint every day. How many hours a day do you paint or draw?

Michael: Very strategically, I have to plan what paintings I am going to do when I am at home in between shows. I paint anywhere from 6 to 12 hours a day when we are not out of town. Thanks to my amazing wife Sarah taking care of printing, sales and shows I have more time to focus on creating.

Me: Speaking of your wife, I have to say you and your wife Sarah are the cutest couple I know. You're a very lucky man to have someone sticking by you with your art life, Michael. How long have you and Sarah been together?

Michael: Thank you! Yes, I am a very lucky guy. Not only is she beautiful and fun, she has been my manager for the last year and things are really starting to look up. Sarah has stuck with me for 9 years now on this roller coaster I call an art career. I think she is starting to enjoy the ride. :)

Me: Recently on the Phile I had Chris Hamer, who you know. Who took part in his comic book, is that something you enjoyed doing?

Michael: Yeah, Chris is one of our good friends that we travel with to all the conventions. He recently put together Urbnpop Comics Group releasing a quarterly comic titled Illustrated comprised of short stories from lots of different artists. I did a short little comic for issue #1 titled "The Ugly Cover" and am about to finish my story for issue #2 titled "Deep In The Skull" today, that should be out in the next month or so. It has been super fun, a great experience and honor to work with Mr. Hamer.

Me: Here's the great cover of the comic you are talking about...

Me: Okay, last time you were here your company or art name was Coallus, but now it seems like Sugar Fueled is the new name. Why the change?

Michael: Well, last year at Megacon Sarah and I had two booths, Coallus selling my art and Sugar Fueled selling art and everything you can imagine having to do with sweets. After the show we quickly realized people were drawn to the name Sugar Fueled but wanted my art more than the goodies so we dropped the old name and other products and combined my art with the name to take over the world. Haha...

Me: I have a picture from last years MegaCon, Michael.

Me: Anyway, where did the name Sugar Fueled come from?

Michael: The name came from my good friend and artist Chris Chillemi of Robots Will Kill. Whenever we would talk, he would open up a conversation with hows my sugar fueled Florida family doing? I thought it was so funny and catchy that I had to share it. People seem to love the name more than the art sometimes, haha... I think we will be starting up the Sugar Fueled clothing line soon. :)

Me: Chris was also on the Phile. I thought it was because your artwork is full of candy and ice cream. Do you enjoy sweet foods, Michael?

Michael: I do really enjoy sweets a lot and they are a main staple in my work as well. I think that is what Chris was referring to when he said we were fueled by sugar.

Me: You still add the star with the lightning bolt in your artwork. That's never gonna change, is it?

Michael: Nope, the star is my trademark and signature. It will be around till the day I die.

Me: I think you told us last time, but what is the meaning of that symbol?

Michael: The star represents perseverance, I came up with the symbol almost 20 years ago representing broken dreams and used it as a reminder to keep moving forward. It was originally a cracked or broken star kinda like the traditional symbol for a broken heart. Apparently I was the only person who saw this, the rest of the world saw a lightning bolt in a star so I thought of the symbolism of those two instead. To me a star represents dreams and a bolt represents power, so combined they become the power of dreams. Pretty much the same thing but a more positive feel. Never give up on your dreams.

Me: You are covered in tattoo's and used to be a tattoo artist. Anymore tattoo's recently and will you ever get back into that again?

Michael: Yes and yes, I am completely covered in tattoos and was a tattoo artist for 13 years. No new tattoos recently, I am just waiting for the right moment to get my back and ribs done since that is all the space I have left. I loved tattooing but my anxiety got the best of me so I pursued my ultimate dream of being an oil painter. I haven't tattooed in over two years now and don't see myself going back since I am so busy painting.

Me: We have to talk about this: your Star Wars project. You drew a bunch of Star Wars trading cards in your style, right? I have a picture of a bunch of them here.

Michael: Oh yeah, it was a blast. I love Star Wars so it was a real surprise and honor to be part of it and get to draw the characters in my world. I just finished drawing 106 new Star Wars sketch cards for Topps this year. :)

Me: What was that series and how the hell did you get that gig?

Michael: I was part of the 2012 Star Wars Galactic files. It all started with a Mars Attacks painting I did years ago, somehow the guys from Topps trading cards found me while looking for artists to do sketch cards for the reissue of the Mars Attacks cards from 1962. I got to make 300 Mars Attacks sketch cards. Once I had the connection with Topps I just let them know how much I would really love to be part of the Star Wars set as well and they took me up on it.

Me: Were the Lucas people very picky about your art? I see they let you keep the big eyes in the drawings.

Michael: Not as far as I know, I was allowed to do my style but couldn't turn Star Wars into a magical candy land.

Me: How many individual cards did you do for them, Michael?

Michael: I did 106 full color sketch cards that were put into random packs and distributed all over the world for lucky fans to find kinda like a Wonka's golden ticket just not as rewarding.

Me: I think they're very rewarding. What did you use as a reference?

Michael: For the most part I just watched all the movies and listened to all of Williams scores on a loop while looking at the Star Wars visual dictionary for reference.

Me: Did they tell you what characters to draw or did you get to choose?

Michael: I got to do whatever I wanted as long as it was part of the 6 films.

Me: What was your favorite one to do?

Michael: I would have to say my favorite was Yoda, He is such a fun little guy to draw and he reminds me of my cat Walter.

Me: I have to ask you what tools you use. Water colors I think, am I right?

Michael: No, sorry... I use oils on canvas for paintings and Prismacolor and Copic markers for my sketch cards.

Me: You don't use computers like a lot of artists do nowadays, do you?

Michael: No, I actually hate using computers. To me doing the computer work after finishing a painting is so boring and time consuming, I just want to keep painting. I don't know why but I like to have something that I can feel and hold while I create.

Me: So, Michael, what's your next big project?

Michael: Hmm... I have so many projects planned but I would have to say the ones I'm most excited about would be my first art book "Dead Men Tell Tall Tales" and starting the Sugar Fueled Clothing line in the next few months.

Me: Then you need to come back and I'll put the book in the Phile's Book Club, and the clothing loine sounds cool. I'll be a model if you need one. I want you sometime to paint a picture of me... with big eyes. What do you think?

Michael: Heck yeah, I'll get on it right now. This is gonna be fun!

Me: Alright, so, this year on the Phile I am asking random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Are you ready? Oh, this is perfect. When you were young what did you want to be when you grew up?

Michael: All I have ever wanted to be since I can remember was a musician and artist. Not much has changed, there is still that little kid inside of me reaching for those stars.

Me: Michael, thanks so much for being back on the Phile, and I am sure I'd see you around Disney and at conventions. Go ahead and plug your Sugar Fueled website. I hope this was fun, and please come back.

Michael: Thank you for having me, it is always great to see and talk with you.

That's about it, kids, for this entry. Thanks to my guests Adrian Bram Giannotta and of course Sugar Fueled himself, Michael Banks. The Phile will be back tomorrow with singer April Kae and then next Saturday with Phile Alum Tish Meeks from 3 Kisses. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!


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