Profile: Peter Murphy
by Lesley E. Sprague
Peter Murphy gets noticed. At well over six feet and 250 pounds it's not hard to make his presence known on Prince Edward Island but, it's not an easy task if you are a cartoonist who is trying to catch the eye of major publishers. He's here to say that it is possible to both live where you want to live and do what you want to do.
Murphy says, "I made a list of things that would make me happy." Number one was drawing and making a living at it. After that came living in P.E.I. and finding a good woman. Pete found that when he took care of number one everything else fell into place.
He is excited about his latest venture, his first full colour comic book "Xeno Force" which is being produced in conjunction with the release of a new role playing game from Dragon Games in the Annapolis Valley. Murph, as he is known around Charlottetown, was hired to design the space monsters, script the book, illustrate, ink (take a pencil sketch and turn it into finished art) and letter, as well as draw the wraparound cover. His work will then be scanned into a computer to be colourized.
He is also inking a book called Dragon Star working with another artist, Dave Cullen, and writer Dr. Maryann Bramstraup. This book is being done on spec and will be shopped around to publishers when completed. Therein lies the uncertainty of the comic book industry. But, not knowing the ending is what Murph thrives on. He sees comic books as a chain of events and a series of punch lines. When creating he sees the scene before he knows the story, frame by frame it unfolds before him becoming exactly what it is called in the industry, Sequential Art.
Murphy's comic chain of events began in 1988 when he started cartooning seriously. He kept at it until he was finally published in 1992 by Malibu Comics of California. He was contracted to do the last four issues of Planet of the Apes but, in keeping with the uncertainty of the industry, after three issues the series ended. Pete kept after Malibu for more work and was sent what he euphemistically calls a "jiggle book" to ink. He finished the first one but the next script he was sent to draw so disgusted him that he just packed it back up and returned it, turning down the money also. "I didn't get a lot of work from them after that." he says with a grin.
Murph's hard lessons continued. A series that he enjoyed drawing lost momentum due to poor writing and another simply didn't bother to pay. Along the way he got to ink the drawings of one of his favorite artists (oops, cartoonists) Lou Manna who has done work for DC Comics. His misadventure led him to believe that perhaps he should self-publish.
He got together with a group of friends and Subterranean By Design was born. "Might as well have shot myself in the foot and nailed my tongue to the ceiling. It takes a crazy person to draw comics but you have to be certifiable to self-publish." A few seconds later he adds sheepishly, "but every time I get a few bucks together, I self-publish."
He is very proud of the work he did with Subterranean especially his series, Subterranean Zero, featuring the "Clean-up Crew, the enigmatic Mr. Skull and the zombie detective K'dahver." One of the characters from this series has been optioned for a video game.
Still, it's tough to eke out a living cartooning while remaining on the Island but Murph is optimistic. Meanwhile, he enjoys doing Christmas windows around town, award winning parade floats and especially his work as a volunteer teacher at St. Jean's Elementary, where he'll be working with the kids to paint murals throughout the school. Just look around. He's the tall kid. You can't miss him.