It all started with Mr. Fixit.
At a very young age, Brent Schoonover laid his eyes on a copy of Marvel Comics’ “The Incredible Hulk”#349. A brawny Mr. Fixit—aka the Grey Hulk—busting out of his white shirt, swinging a powerful wallop of a smack across the body of the acrobatic Spider-Man, in a dynamic battle on the Las Vegas strip.
And ever since that fateful day with issue #349, a passionate, artistic chord was struck within Schoonover.
“I always loved the Hulk, because even though he was a hero, he had that monster element to him,” Brent reflects. “He was misunderstood. And sometimes when you are the comic kid who loves to draw, but you live in a small town, you kind of relate to that. I don’t always think people knew what to think of me. There weren’t many other people who liked to draw like I did.”
Luckily for The Growler, we understood him as the clear choice for the bright, action-packed, old school ‘80s wrestling-themed cover for our 2016 Kind-of-a-Big-Deal issue.
Thanks to Mr. Fixit, Brent became hooked on the visual design and narration style of comics. In fact, his interest in the art form stayed with him, as Schoonover graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration. Unfortunately, at the time, MCAD didn’t allow double majors, otherwise he would’ve furthered his education by obtaining another degree in the comic program.
But that didn’t stop Schoonover. Brent submersed himself in the works of illustrators he admired. He credits “Batman: The Animated Series,” Work Projects Administration (WPA) posters, Edward Hopper, Jack Kirby, and even vintage horror movie posters, as his biggest inspirations of the “contemporary retro” path that the comic artist journeys on.
To Schoonover, the medium is a visual art that leads a reader’s eye from panel to panel— it’s a story.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a full comic or a single image. I like making those images mean something,” Brent explains. “If someone wants a quick drawing of Batman—sure, it’s cool to see him standing like a badass, but it’s even cooler if you can just add something to give the image a setting, and allude to some story. Like maybe he’s in an alley, and there’s a shadowy figure behind him. It gives the viewer something to ponder, and wonder who that may be. It’s simple, but effective.”
While the full-time freelancer notes that he typically works 12-hour days, it may be due to the fact that he is producing a gamut of visuals, books, and label designs for big-time clients: Target, General Mills, Surly Brewing, DC Comics, Best Buy, and a few small undertakings with Marvel Comics. But his proudest moment so far was when he had the solo privilege of illustrating a Marvel series called “Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Even though the monthly series was short-lived—October 2015 to summer of 2016—it brought a lifelong dream to reality and Schoonover “had a blast drawing it.”
While creating comics and illustrations will forever be his superhuman talent, Brent is just a regular guy who enjoys spending time with his kids and kicking back at a taproom with his wife. As for the new year, Brent foresees taking on a few more gigs from Marvel or other comic companies, but he also has an additional idea in mind: creating his own comics and telling his own stories.
Although Brent’s life is full of freelancing assignments, long hours, and dad duties, in the end, it’s all worth it. “I am happy,” says Brent. “If the work in front of me was filling out boring reports, I don’t know what I would do. But the work I need to do is drawing Wolverine, and that’s pretty cool. So you put on some music or Netflix and you just burn the midnight oil.”