Enterprise’s own Jarrod Alberich used his childhood passion for comic books to go from the self-proclaimed “Yard Sale Artist” to creating his own series of successful comic book projects.
Alberich moved around a lot as a child –his father was an Army pilot – but eventually settled in the Wiregrass attending elementary school in Enterprise and high school in Daleville.
“I was an Army brat so I moved around a lot but I’ve always considered Daleville and Enterprise as my adopted home,” Alberich emphasized.
Alberich himself was in the Air Force for eight years and still lives in Enterprise. As a child, Alberich was passionate about comic books and first started sketching his favorite superheroes in middle school.
“I just always liked comic books,” he said. “I grew up on comic books and that’s where my love for art comes from.”
Alberich also loved yard sales and six years ago those two passions came together as he began finding art supplies at yard sales and decided to create artwork based on other items he found at those same yard sales.
“I painted some abstract paintings and also did some superhero pieces,” he said. “So, I signed up for Piney Woods Arts Festival and I noticed that my superhero paintings sold in the first hour there.
“I enjoy drawing and painting superheroes the most and it sold the best, so I just mainly started drawing superheroes on the things I would find at yard sales. I started doing (comic) conventions and it just kept ballooning from there.”
One of Alberich’s unique art styles is using discarded and recycled books to create sketches and drawings of popular superheroes and characters. He uses the pages of novels that are damaged and creates artwork based on the novel itself.
At a comic convention one of Alberich’s friends had his mother with him who sold paper machete art that she had made out of discarded books, which is where the idea was born.
“I thought that was pretty clever and then the most simple idea imaginable smacked me in the face,” Alberich said. “I thought, ‘why don’t you draw on the pages.’
“So, I started sketching on book pages about four or five years ago and it’s just gotten more and more popular for me.”
Alberich said that sketching images on novel pages is extremely difficult to do but has used some of the difficulties to his advantage, as well.
“It’s harder to sketch on book pages because the paper itself is cheap and the ink is generally cheaper,” he said. “The ink starts smearing but I’ve started letting that work for me to add shading.”
Alberich said the most difficult part of it is that creating detailed images is almost impossible because of the words themselves.
“The hardest part is picking the right images because of the words on the paper,” he said. “I can’t do a super detailed drawing. It has to be less detailed but still recognizable. That’s really the toughest thing because you don’t want the words and the ink to wash out the image.”
The “Yard Sale Artist” became a genuine comic book artist as he started inking and penciling for various independent comic books like “Primal Tales” and “Cold Lightning.” Alberich also created the artwork for the cover of a Sci-Fi novel called “Blackthorn: Spires of Mars” and a Role Playing Game adventure book.
Alberich then got the opportunity to create artwork for training cards based on some of the most popular characters in comic books as Upper Deck commissioned 25 pieces of art to use for their Marvel Premier Trading Cards in 2017 based on Marvel heroes like Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, The Punisher and many others.
In 2017, Alberich also decided to write his own story for an original comic book called “Hamilton vs. Burr: A Werewolf Tale.”
Alberich said the unique story was born from boredom at the day job he was holding at the time.
“I had a day job before I was doing art full time and it got real, real quiet over the holidays,” he continued. “So, I got bored and was in the mood to see if could write a story.
“I did what a lot of comic book creators will do in that I wanted a recognizable figure but didn’t want to pay royalties and historical figures are available for that.”
Alberich said that he had always been fascinated with the duel between former American Vice President Aaron Burr and founding father Alexander Hamilton in 1804.
“I wanted to kind of turn the story on its ear and add some layers to it,” Alberich said. “I spent a few days doing historical research, so there is a lot of historical accuracy in the comic other than the werewolf stuff.
“In the span of about three days I did the research and in about two days I wrote the script.”
Alberich said that he approached his friend Van Plexico, who owns White Rocket Entertainment, and asked if he would be interested in publishing the story. That’s when Alberich discovered that he had stumbled onto a popular character.
“He said that he would absolutely love to do it because Hamilton was so popular at the time,” Alberich said. “I was like, ‘why is Hamilton popular’ because I didn’t have a clue about the Broadway play.
“So, it was a case of really good timing and we made the cover similar to the play bill because that made sense.”
“Hamilton vs. Burr” became a successful independent comic book but really became a hit with a demographic that Alberich wasn’t expecting.
“When I wrote the comic I would say the target audience would be young men from high school age into their 30s but I sell more copies of that (comic) to teenage girls than anyone else,” Alberich said. “They’re really into the Hamilton play so they love it. To this day, I have never seen the play or even heard the soundtrack, but (the comic) sold really well. So, it’s been wonderful.”
Alberich said that he was heavily influenced by legendary comic book artists like Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee, but was more explicitly influenced by longtime comic book artist and animator Bruce Timm, who was responsible for the design style of the popular Batman animated series in the 1990s.
Another big influence on Alberich is his friend and popular inker John Beatty. Beatty has worked in the comic industry for more than 20 years and inked popular characters like Captain America, The Punisher, Batman and Venom for DC and Marvel.
“John’s been kind of coaching and helping me, so I really look up to him and his art style,” Alberich said. “He’s one of my biggest heroes because he’s taken the time to help me. I think every artist is kind of a mixture of every other artist they’ve seen.”
Alberich has recently completed a brand new original comic and is working on others. His new comic will be called “Francisco Stein: Gunslinger,” which will see Frankenstein’s Monster heading to Mexico to become a gunslinger.
“The comic picks up where the book left off with the monster being left in the Arctic,” Alberich said. “It’s kind of in the same vein of ‘Hamilton vs. Burr’ as a silly monster story but with historical context, too.”
Alberich has another comic that he wrote called “Shipwrecker,” which will feature a James Bond-style British super spy facing off against hoards of zombies.
“I like to take recognizable figures and interject monsters or something weird into the story,” he said.
Alberich wrote the stories for those comics – as he did “Hamilton vs. Burr” – and the penciler Nathan Niles from “Hamilton vs. Burr” also did the artwork for “Francisco Stein: Gunslinger,” while Bermuda penciler Mark Hatherly did the artwork for “Shipwrecker.”
“If I write the story I tend to not be super interested in doing the art,” Alberich said. “I think things are much better when you do a collaboration because everyone brings something unique to it.”
Another collaboration will see Alberich do the artwork and his brother, Jason, write the story for an original comic book based on the popular “Flash Gordon” character.
Alberich said that he has found great satisfaction in his career and hopes to continue on the path he’s set as a successful independent comic book artist.
“I’m mainly satisfied with what I’ve done,” Alberich said. “If I was in my 20s I would probably say I would love to get a job with Marvel or DC but now that I’m in my mid 40s I really like doing independent stuff.
“I’m my own boss, I have creative freedom, I set my own deadlines and I get to pick who I work with. The only goals I really have are to continue to produce my independently owned stories and continue to collaborate and work with other comic book creators.”