A graduate of Warwood High School and West Liberty University, David Campiti is the adopted son of Charles H. and Rose Campiti. He began writing as a child and sold his first writing to the Wheeling News-Register while still in college and to such magazines as Writer's Digest and Comics Buyer's Guide soon after. He was an on-air news reporter at WKWK radio, where he also wrote, performed, and produced funny radio commercials. He soon moved on to WANJ-FM radio and, in 1982, moved from his hometown of Wheeling, WV to North Attleboro, MA, where he worked as chief copywriter at the L.G. Balfour Company and, later on, as public relations writer for the United Way of New England. As early as 1982, he began selling comicbook writing to Pacific Comics and was first published in comics in 1983. By 1985, David was writing Superman stories in Action Comics for DC and soon went into freelance designing, editing, and book packaging full-time for several years, and helped launch Amazing Comics, Wonder Color Comics, Pied Piper Press, Eternity Comics, New Sirius Productions (both Sirius Comics and Prelude Graphics), Malibu Comics, and other companies. In the process, he discovered and debuted the careers of many talents.
In 1988, he founded Innovative Corp, known publicly as ''Innovation Publishing.'' Under David's control as Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Innovation became #4 in the market share, below only Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and Dark Horse, as it brought to prominence many literary, film, and TV tie-in series and adaptations, such as Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat, Beauty and the Beast, Dark Shadows, Lost in Space, Piers Anthony's On a Pale Horse, Quantum Leap, and many others. He was the first editor to publish an authorized Stephen King short story in comics in 25 years.
Over the years, David was a writer or co-writer for hundreds of comic books, often illustrated by the artists that he discovered. In 1993, David resigned from Innovation to launch Glass House Graphics -- a professional service firm that provides development and organizational services as well as illustrators, writers, painters, and digital designers -- where he holds the position of CEO and Global Talent Supervisor. David has also served as a Consulting Publisher of MAD Magazine in Brazil and has been a columnist for several publications.
Today, in addition to writing, he oversees three offices in Brazil; one in Manila, Philippines; one in New Delhi, India; and two new locations in Indonesia -- coordinating creative services from a roster of nearly 120 talents worldwide to produce animation, art, and digital graphics for scores of clients. In association with Cutting Edge Productions in Asia, he was a consulting producer on Niko: The Journey to Magika, an animated feature film released in 2009.
What's more, through his Academy of ComicBook Arts, David teaches Seminars worldwide on creating comics, graphic novels, manga, and videogame work, and has helped shape comics-centric art curriculums at several colleges, art schools, and universities.
David is married to Meryl "Jinky" Coronado Campiti, who herself is a writer and artist, best known for Banzai Girls and Avalon High. She is also a lingerie/bikini model, twice featured in FHM, as well as in Mirror, Femme Fatales, Play, Wizard, and other publications. They have a child, Jasmine, together. They reside in Wheeling, West Virginia.
How would you describe who David Campiti is?
With some difficulty, because we rarely see ourselves the way others see us. A devoted husband and father, with three kids -- Bill and Kate are grown, Jasmine's in pre-school -- and Meryl is the greatest wife anyone could hope for. I work hard, I enjoy family time, and I'm blessed to have good friends all over the world. I work out several times a week, though it sure doesn't look like it. I love reading, great movies and TV, great food, cooking, bowling -- though it's more on the Wii these days than in lanes.
They say life begins at 40, and for me that's when everything really came together. I've built an international business in the unlikely city of Wheeling, West Virginia and have a home there and another in Iloilo, Philippines. I'm most happy with how my life and work has affected so many talented people all over the world, bringing them opportunities and livelihoods they most likely never would've had otherwise.
Of course, if I were smarter, I'd have done it all a lot sooner.
What kinds of jobs does Glass House Graphics do?
Lots you might not realize, at a glance. You know those race cars and trucks and vans covered with cool, colorful graphics? "Car wraps"...we do those! We broker wild, specialty printing. We do design and production from everything from billboards to television commericals. We not only do flash animation, we do full-scale theatrical animation. I'm proud to say that I'm an investor of, and credited Consulting Producer for, Niko: The Journey to Magika, a completely self-financed animated film from Cutting Edge Productions in the Philippines, for which I hope we can get distribution into the USA next year. Check it out at here.
Beyond that, my teams work on videogames and advertising, design catalogs and books and magazines and websites, create logos and other corporate identity items, handle publicity and other copywriting, and plenty more.
Glass House Graphics is known as a Professional Service Firm, not merely an agency or studio. That means the primary thing we provide is the thinking stuff, the "soft" services. We've helped set up publishing companies, assisted in the physical set-up of offices as well as their hiring, even gotten involved with developing the product lines and the marketing. Just as IBM these days provides big business support services and, "Oh, by the way," tosses in the computers and business systems they manufacture, we aim to provide media business support services and, "Oh, by the way," practically every graphics talent-related service under the sun.
I'm sure quite a few of your clients think of GHG as some sort of graphic novel/comics/manga talent agency.
In that sense, we're probably the biggest and longest-established comics agency on the planet. We provide those creative/talent services, as well -- not only through Studio Sakka, a manga and anime` studio in Asia that I own, but we have many, many comics artists all over the world.
How has the structure of clients' needs changed in the last two to five years?
It's become a digital world. Only a few years ago, Fed Exing everything was the norm. Now we save everybody a ton of money and lots of time by delivering everything by ftp site. Much more is created digitally now, as well -- the 90-minute animated feature Niko: The Journey to Magika has everything, from storyboards to finished animation, all drawn on large Wacom tablets, as a paperless endeavor.
What's more, clients are outsourcing more and more types of jobs for us to do -- as their own production and design centers shrink or are eliminated. We used to provide only artwork or writing or some design work; now, we often do the whole thing, including final prep work, delivering print-ready .pdfs to exact printer specs, whether they're ads or entire books or magazines.
Do you coordinate everything yourself?
Because we offer too many services for one person to supervise it all or even to provide them from one location, my "teams" are run by some incredibly smart people -- Vitor Ishimura and Leonardo Mlk in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Ale Starling in Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Michelle and Rhene Principe`, in Manila, Philippines; and Santosh Rath in New Dehli, India. We're even in the process of establishing a studio arrangement in Indonesia that should be in place by the end of the year. The animation side is run by Jessie Lasaten and by Grace Dimaranan. And the web side by George Tutumi, Marcleo Maiolo, and Mason Johnson. And I do what I do, with my team, and the other managers report to me.
For comics, how has the production changed -- such as digital inks, digital colors, etc?
Sad to say, for financial reasons fewer publishers are using inkers, meaning many more pages are shot from pencils. We've taught most of our artists to pencil tightly and cleanly, and the work is tweaked in Photoshop. Old-style cut color, even blueline and grayline-style coloring, seem to be things of the past. I'd say 95% of our comicbook color is digital, and even the painted magazine and book cover work that LOOKS painted traditionally is, more than half the time, actually done on the computer.
Do you ever foresee a time when paper art is replaced completely by digital art?
"Completely"? Nah -- it won't happen in my lifetime. The appeal of graphite on paper has a lot to do with it. Yeah, the computer is faster and cleaner, but it's not an identical drawing experience. Paper texture, the different tools and leads, even pen or markers or brush and various inks, all bring techniques to the page. It's all about the sensations of the artist, the whole being of the artist bringing skills and experiences and the smells and the feelings at the moment he's drawing. All of it can't quite be duplicated by a pen and tablet and computer monitor.
How much difficulty do the older artists you represent have, in adjusting to the new age medium?
Although most creative types with whom we work entered the 21st Century without much kicking and screaming, there are still a few holdouts who do not own a computer. In those cases, we adapt to them -- they send layouts to us by fax and finished hand-painted or drawn art by Fed Ex, then we do the scanning and cleanup and such here to get the work over to our clients.
What will the next generation of comic book look like?
What WILL it look like? Who knows? What SHOULD it look like? It shouldn't be a 6 5/8" x 10 1/4" pamphlet selling for $4, in my opinion. That's too fleeting and flimsy and expensive. I'm impressed by the physical package of many comics I see in other countries -- 100+ page, full-color, saddle-stitched, digest-size magazines that're about 60% comics, with the rest of the pages catering to each title's specific market, whether it's fashions, dating tips, puzzles, recipes, music, popular culture news, gaming and media reviews, teen stars and starlets, or whatever. I like that format.
Are you being asked to do anything in that format now?
Not for the U.S. market, though we have done more of those "value-added" magazine-type features lately. And, of course, most manga is drawn smaller to accomodate a digest-sized publishing format, but that's not critical to what I was saying.
You may find it interesting that, more and more, we're being asked to take comics that we've already done -- or ones that we're beginning right now -- and to flash-animate them, complete with SFX and music and, increasing, narration and performed dialague. It leads me to think that perhaps we'll eventually make comics more one cog in a narrative wheel. I mean, comics-inspired TV such as Heroes has additional web-based episodes, comicbook extensions of the story, text fiction, etc. And a lot of TV shows and movies are gaining more interactive experiences with that latest Blu-Ray advances...so comics themselves may become more encompassing if some of the owners of the major properties are willing to experiment, and expand.
Why aren't you publishing?
Simply put: I refuse to be a competitor to the many publishers to whom we sell, be they comics, novels, children's books, or other types of magazines. It wouldn't be fair, for example, to expect the publisher of Spider-Man to trust a competitor with its property on a monthly basis. Just as a publisher wouldn't be comfortable flying me in for a big brainstorming retreat if I were his competitor.
Makes sense. At one point some years back, you were editing and publishing alot of well-known titles. Anne Rice's The Vampite Lestat comes to mind.
Sure. I edited a lot of books. Interview With a Vampire, Queen of the Damned, Master of Rampling Gate, also all from Anne Rice. I had a great time working with novelists' properties -- I had Stephen King, Robert McCammon, and a bunch of others in J.N. Williamson's Masques. Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality: On a Pale Horse; and Larry Niven & Jerry Pounelle's Lucifer's Hammer. Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, Gene Wolfe's The Shadow of the Torturer, even Mac Bolan: The Executioner. The TV and movie stuff was a load of fun -- Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Child's Play, Nightmares on Elm Street, Quantum Leap...even a lot of wonderful things for which I got to write: Beauty and the Beast, Dark Shadows, Forbidden Planet, Lost In Space...I'm probably forgetting a bunch of them.
It took a few years, but other companies now seem to be following in your footsteps.
Yeah! Looks like Dynamite and IDW have decided to follow in my footsteps. They're now doing the novel adaptations, and the tie-ins to TV and film and licensed characters, that I did 20 years ago.
Of course, given my track record, it made sense to hand us creative assignments on a lot of them -- we're doing Army of Darkness, Battlestar Galactica, Red Sonja, Terminator, Zorro, Dresden Files, Moon Called, Vampire Hunter, and on and on....
Who are your all-time favorite writers and artists and inkers? No fair listing your own people.
Novelist: Robert A. Heinlein. Comics writer: Stan Lee. Artist: John Romita, Sr. Inker: Joe Sinnott. Humor writer/artist: Carl Barks. T.V. Writer: Joss Whedon.
Are you ever afraid comics will die out?
Nope. At this moment my company's doing well over FIFTY comics projects and over FIFTY non-comics projects -- animation, web design, magazine graphics, advertising, photgraphy, and so on. Comics are half our business and they're pretty good business, for what is for all intents and purposes a niche market.
Here's something to consider: No form of entertainment media has ever died out when new things came along. Think about it: Radio didn't die off when movies and TV came along, it merely adapted. TV didn't kill off movies or newspapers. Videotape and DVD and Blu-Ray didn't kill off TV and film and radio. Pulp magazines adapted into paperbacks, and paperbacks continue serialized characters. Heck, even the the Spider, the Shadow, and Doc Savage, not to mention Mac Bolan and others of his ilk, are still being published. Hardbacks and paperbacks and magazines are still being published even though audiobooks and on-demand reading formats such as Kindle are flourishing. And videogames haven't killed comics or TV or film -- and, in fact, some videogames have crossed over into BEING comics and movies and novels and such. So as our planet holds more and more people, there are more and more opportunities to sell each and every medium of entertainment. The limitation is only the level of genius of our distribution. Get it into the hands of people who discover it, and they'll buy it. And I don't just mean mail-order by internet, I mean actual flip-through-it-in-your-hands tangible.
Let me add a scary observation: Even most kids don't know about comics, it seems. When my daughter Kate was in 6th grade -- she's in college now -- I did Parents Day at her school and talked about part of my business as a comicbook agent and writer. Except for my daughter and two of her friends in that class who had been to our home, NOT ONE OTHER KID there had ever held a comic book in his or her hands.
"Wow! There's an X-Men comic book, too?" They knew X-Men from the [first] movie, from the game, from the cartoon. Other comics were a revelation.
Quite a difference from when I grew up, in this same town, where there were two places in walking distance that carried comics -- one carried practically everything -- and within a 10-minute drive were at least three other places with well-stocked comics racks and shelves. Now there's nothing in my town or even downtown. Someone's got to drive to another STATE to buy some comics (Pennsylvania or Ohio have places within an hour's drive.) Comics are clearly no longer an impulse item or an easy-to-fulfill habit. From what I've experienced, CHILDREN FOR THE MOST PART CAN'T EVEN GET TO THE PLACES THAT SELL COMICS.
Imagine you're 9, or 12, or 14. How easy is it for you to get a full complement of comics in walking distance if you want them? Growing up, I could get Marvel, DC, Archie, Charlton, Gold Key, Tower, Warren, Classics Illustrated, Harvey, and Fawcett (for Dennis the Menace). Where today can the kids walk from grade school or high school in your town to get an equivalent selection?
Heck, for the rest of her 6th grade, my daughter made money selling extra comics, mainly to the boys, out of her locker! It was the only place they knew to get these comic books they'd now been exposed to.
So right now I'm not worried much about whether comics are perceived as children's fare, or adult fare, or both. I just want as many appropriate comics as possible to be AVAILABLE to the kids. They don't even know they might WANT them if they can't even FIND them. No availability = no product knowledge = no desire = no habit = no purchases = no collection = no readers.
With an international talent base, are there any similarities/differences to art because of societal or cultural differences and the artists the respective countries have produced over time?
Of course! For example, I've recognized that in the Philippines, many of its artists tend to want to follow its old-school classic rendering style, and they need reminding that this "look" doesn't currently sell to most editors.
I've run into some odd things in my years, certainly -- we recently had an older international artist who tried drawing a contemporary romance story, set in a singles bar, who drew everyone in 1950s suits and porkpie hats. Clearly he'd never watched MTV or equated today's clothing and hair styles with what he should be putting on the page. So updating him took some coaching from us, but we go through a teaching process with every artist who joins our roster.
Probably the biggest difference is with manga, where the beats of storytelling are SO different from American storytelling. Generally, even when an American publisher wants authentic manga styles, they tell me they prefer Amercanized storytelling.
With this being a global market, though, the differences aren't as many as you'd think. Every country we deal in has American comics available, usually as reprints but also the newly-published comics. That means artists are pretty well versed in the style ranges American publishers are buying.
Being a writer as well, where do you find inspiration?
In a P.O. Box in Poughkeepsie? Secret messages in old Warner Bros. cartoons? Actually, from all around me. Sometimes, for example, an artist's work will inspire something specific. In one case, a writer gave me a title that inspired a completely different project than what he'd imagined, and we ended up collaborating on my concept of his title. One of my approaches to writing is "problem solving." In one story, I developed an origin of vampires that explained WHY the various religious icons affected them, because the rationale was pretty scattered and inconsistent. In another, based on a TV series, the show had some significant logic gaffes, and I created a storyline that fixed the problems. I was once hired to write four fill-in stories, across three comics titles, and I wrote four stand-alone stories that not only interconnected but fixed every gaffe in the 40-odd issues they'd sent me.
I'm not motivated by the credit or the paycheck, necessarily, so it needs to be something I WANT to write -- whether it's a comics character I enjoyed in the past, or a licensed property, or a new concept. If someone decides to do Beauty and the Beast or Dark Shadows or Lost In Space or Quantum Leap again, I hope they'll call me first because I know those territories so well. I'd love to write a Pysch or even a Columbo novel or comic. I'd love to write a few issues of Spider-Man or Fantastic Four or SHAZAM! Of course, I'd enjoy doing another Exposure mini-series with Al Rio, plus I've created several new properties that I'm excited about.
What is your next writing project?
I've proposed a series for Marvel that views their many-storied events from the point of view of a special CSI-type group that deals with super-hero/super-villain-type events. Editors there have told me they love it, but I'm realistic about how these things go.
You might not be aware that I write comics that don't even appear in the USA. For example, I'm writing a project for the Vietnam market called Thundersaurs, which I hope to introduce to the U.S. market next year. I'll be pitching a manga soon that I'm writing and my wife is drawing, called Dangerous Secrets. I've had one project, which David Lawrence and I are co-writing called Warlords of OZ, get accepted by three different publishers! But the way these things work, we'll see if a real offer gets papered from anyone. I've a big company to run in the meantime.
Not to mention take my wife and Jazzy out to dinner in a few minutes, so I better get rolling! Thank you!
PARTIAL CREDITS LIST:
WRITING CREDITS (MAGAZINE/BOOK)
COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE
COMICS CAREER NEWSLETTER
CREATING COMICS: THE SEMINAR GUIDE
ON WRITING HORROR (Chapter)
WRITER'S DIGEST ANNUAL
COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS
(As Writer or Co-Writer)
ACTION COMICS ("Superman")
ANNE RICE'S THE VAMPIRE COMPANION
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
HERO ALLIANCE: END OF THE GOLDEN AGE (Graphic Novel and Mini-Series)
HERO ALLIANCE (Series)
HERO ALLIANCE ANNUAL
HERO ALLIANCE QUARTERLY
HERO ALLIANCE SPECIAL
LEGENDS OF THE STARGRAZERS
LOST IN SPACE
PIERS ANTHONY'S ON A PALE HORSE
THE GROUP LARUE
VANITY ("Avalone" backup)