Project: Get Known! GRUNT1B COMICS
What I love about indie comics is the ability for creators to do whatever they want. I connect this freedom with the benefit of having grown up American and it’s easy to take for granted how I benefit because of those who serve. This fourth of July, I wanted to spotlight a creator who has defended such freedoms. Chad Cavanaugh is an Army veteran and former sentinel of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Since his honorable discharge from military service, he has been creating and self publishing several titles of his own making. I was able to ask him some questions about his life and his work. Get to Know - Chad Cavanaugh and Grunt1B Comics!!
Mikey P: Chad, you’ve published a few titles under your belt. Prior to that, when did you decide to begin this path you are on?
Chad: Hi Mikey! Yeah, I’m currently the owner of five separate comic series! Two of which are completed. It all started at the beginning of 2013 when I hung up my guitar and decided to start making comics. I started down the road of trying to figure out how to make comics in January of 2013. In April of 2014, I put out my first single issue comic- The Map, issue 1.
Mikey P: What is it about doing every aspect of making comics yourself that you find so appealing?
Chad: I really enjoy the process. It definitely takes a lot of time, especially since I’m also a stay at home dad with three daughters, but the entire process of making a comic is therapeutic to me. I also have minor control issues. I don’t wait around for permission when it comes to creating things.
Mikey P: First book I took notice of was Radgød. Quick and easy pitch is it’s a viking tale, but how do you describe it to people?
Chad: Radgød was the third title I put out. It is a Viking era tale but isn’t rooted in anything historic. I created a work of pure fantasy and it was created to pay tribute to an Army brother who passed away. He was a big viking of a man. When Jeff passed away, we were all crushed (by “we” I mean all my Army brothers and myself who served with him) so when they asked me to design an image they could all get tattooed in memorium, I created the image of Radgød and decided I should create a four part series around him.
The character, Radgød, is a half human half Jotnar (a mythical troll/ giant humanoid who eats humans) who vows to avenge his mother’s people. It’s an ungodly violent and brutal world. It was a lot of fun to make but all along, it felt like Jeff was still with me. When I finished it, I cried. It was then I realized Jeff was gone for good. But I did my best to immortalize my Army brother.
Mikey P: You’re pretty open on Instagram about some of the events in your life. Radgød for instance you named in homage of someone you knew from your training days...
Chad: Yes, after Jeff Nilson. We were roommates and sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well as infantrymen. He was a big guy. Swedish by heritage. 6’6” and about 270 pounds. A real giant among giants.
Mikey P: You served in the army for a few years. How much do you think this experience shaped you as an artist and creator?
Chad: My service shaped how I approach everything. The mindset I go in to making comics with. When you’ve been a Tomb Guard, you learn you can accomplish anything you set out to do. You hold yourself to a higher standard because being a Tomb Guard is something that stays with you long after your time in service has ended. So I approach every day trying to be better than I was the day before. I want to do something most people would consider to be difficult or out of reach and go after it.
Mikey P: How did that honor of being a sentry come to be?
Chad: I was recommended to be a Tomb Guard by a platoon Sergeant. He had been a relief commander at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before he had been promoted and took over the platoon I was in before I volunteered and tried out.
Mikey P: With your service concluded, was your first order of business to create comics?
Chad: No. I didn’t start making comics until 18 years later. I spent a lot of years roaming the country. It was really hard for me to adjust to civilian life after being involved in something as intense as being a Tomb Guard.
Mikey P: The Map is another one of your works, I found to be an entertaining survival post-apocalyptic story where humankind behaves with primal instincts due to limited resources from a nuclear fallout. What gave you motive to create this book?
Chad: I was watching The Road- the movie based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel by the same title, and there was the scene where the main character and his son found a fallout shelter. I started to wonder what it would be like if there was a person- who was not a survivalist at all- but for some reason knew where all these different shelters would be located. Then I started to figure out what kind of person would have access to that skins of information so I gave the protagonist a back story of a former geologist for the USGS in the four corners area who had been approached by numerous doomsday preppers to consult on dogg my out their respective shelters. They wanted to make sure the weren’t digging in to gas or oil and since he was an expert on the area, he helped them all out. Without any of them knowing, he created a map of where all the shelters would be located. And he did it solely as a nerd hobby. Soon after, global nuclear war broke out and against all
Odds, he survived. So the story would begin with him and his Map heading to the next location on his list.
Mikey P: Dead Oro Live - a supernatural western. What’s your pitch for this volume of work?
Chad: Dead Oro Live is a fun one. It’s like Deadpool meets the Good, the Bad and the Ugly with some steampunk sprinkled in.
Mikey P: You recently finished up Bedlam in Troubletown and immediately started working on Boxcar Justice. How does these differ from your previous works?
Chad: Bedlam In Troubletown was the first thing I wrote that made me think I’d want to create comics/graphic novels. It’s the comic I first started (attempting) to make in 2013 when I hung until my guitar. I was about 38 completed pages into the comic when the idea of The Map cake to me. So I shelved it. I put out six issues of The Map before I revisited Bedlam In Troubletown. There are currently five issues of BITT in one trade paperback. The story is an ending but it’s quite a ways from being completed. It is a crime noir in the same vein of the Punisher, Sin City, John Wick. A thrilling, blood soaked, action packed vigilante tale.
Boxcar Justice is my newest series. I’m currently on the second issue of it. It is more of a murder mystery where the protagonist, John Justice, is wrongfully accused of a murder he didn’t commit. So in order for him to be mobile and stay off the grid, he has to travel by Boxcar train until he can dole out his brand of Justice and try to clear his name.
Mikey P: That’s a lot of series I ran through there. What keeps giving you drive to creating something new?
Chad: Ideas never stop coming to me. Sometimes it feels like more of a curse than a blessing as I can only work on one at a time. But I keep the ideas written down. If the idea produces a strong enough comprehensive image, I’ll start making the first issue. Plus it’s fun to add to the Grunt 1B Comics Universe.
Mikey P: You often write about keeping yourself busy. What are some of the struggles you face in getting your comics made?
Chad: Time. I try to be as efficient as possible with it. I’m a husband and father first. My girls are my priority and it’s important to me that they know I’m present in their lives. So it boils down to time dedicated to me sitting at my drawing board. When things are important, you find a way to make them happen. I love the Latin phrase “inveniam viam aut facium”. It loosely translates to “I shall find a way or make one”. I learned the phrase while I was a Tomb Guard. It is on the headstone of Admiral Robert Peary in section 8 of Arlington National Cemetery.
Mikey P: When do you find time to hit those pages?
Chad: In between making sure my girls know I love them. They’re all in school now, which gives me more dedicated time during the weekdays of the school year. But I treat each day, before and after school and on weekends, the same.
Mikey P: What are your goals in the comic world?
Chad: Ultimately, I want all of my properties to become tv or movies. That is my goal.
Mikey P: I noticed your desk area is gloriously full of Star Wars figures. Is this a source of creative juices?
Chad: I could spend forever talking about my love of Star Wars and how it has shaped my life. I was 4 when Episode 4 came out. I look up at those action figures all the time and it reminds me how a story which so many executives and studios passed on has become the biggest pop culture phenomenon and icon of all time. Harry Potter is giving it a fun for its money, which I find cool as well. My wife is a massive Harry Potter fan so needing out over a series is something that permeates our household.
Mikey P: Which Star Wars character do you most identify with?
Chad: Oh wow. Great question. I’ve never really thought about that. I’ve always just loved everything about it. Every movie, 1-8, Rogue One and Solo, I absolutely love. I’ve even been getting into the animated Clone Wars series lately. But which character do I most identify with? Man, I cannot answer that.
Mikey P: Which one of your own characters do you most identify with?
Chad: I think as creators, we put a little of ourselves in every aspect of our work. I think I identify with all of them. I’ve been through so many ups and downs in my life that I’m as much a villain as I am the hero in the stories. Like there’s a constant battle between good, evil and indifferent being waged within myself at all times and it all gets spilled out onto comic art boards.
Mikey P: What were some of the comics that inspired you to create your own?
Chad: There really weren’t any when I started. I just knew I wanted to make them. I didn’t really read comics until I started making them. Growing up, I would only read Mad or Cracked magazines, as far as comics are concerned.
Mikey P: What other passions propel you in life? I saw you also taught yourself guitar...
Chad: Music was a lot of fun. It was a great chapter in my life, albeit a short one. I can’t get enough of being around my girls. Their faces have been the lights which have brought me out of some very dark places.
Mikey P: I see you flexing those muscles on that account. What’s that fitness regiment like?
Chad: I really have fun with it. I used to run a blog called The Hardest Lift where I would document all manner of workouts and such. Physical fitness is extremely important to me but lifting is the one thing I do I would consider a hobby- meaning I love to do it but have no desire to pursue any type of career or competitive path with it.
Mikey P: What advice do you have to the unknowns out there?
Chad: You’re only unknown if nobody knows about you. So don’t stay in the shadows. Turn that spotlight on! Never be afraid to talk about your work and don’t give it away for free. Always establish value for your work because nobody else will.
Chad, thank you very much for taking the time in speaking with me.
Be sure to check out Chad’s work through these links below and follow him on social media outlets to see just what he will create next!