The adventures of Joe Phillips
From the Man of Steel to gay porn, local artist has had an eclectic comic adventure
Published Thursday, 20-Jul-2006 in issue 969
Joe Phillips’ comic resume is comprehensive and impressive. The San Diego resident has been drawing since right after high school and has worked on projects for countless publishers, including both DC Comics and Marvel Comics. He has drawn for Wildcats, Captain Marvel, X Mutants, Justice League, Mr. Fantastic, The Incredible Hulk and Speed Racer. He has worked on so many comics, he has lost track of them all.
He met his animated match, however, with the Man of Steel. After a few issues with Superboy and then Superman, Phillips ended his full-time mainstream comic career – a life change that has benefited the GLBT community.
“I was working on Superman at the time, oddly enough, and I just wasn’t getting it,” he said. “I just could not get this character at all. Superman to me was just blah. There was nothing in my life that I could identify with this character.”
After a three-month hiatus from drawing, Joe started a new artist venture, one that he can clearly identify with. Now he creates gay illustrations and erotic cartoons. From dress-up magnets to greeting cards, from magazine comic strips to annual calendars, Phillips’ work is quite popular and easily recognized within the GLBT community.
At Comic-Con this year – the largest gathering of comic book, movie, television and pop culture professionals in the United States – he is adding another accomplishment to his resume: filmmaker. Phillips debuts Stonewall & Riot, a full-length animated cartoon that is full of hunky superheroes, nasty villains and a lot of raunchy sex. The artist took time out from his final-editing schedule to give the Gay & Lesbian Times a special preview of his work.
Gay & Lesbian Times: First, give us some background information. This is not your first movie, is it?
Joe Phillips: Yeah – I did the House of Morecock [in 2001].
Back in comics, there used to be this guy that was always an opportunist and good at finding ways to make money. Somehow he had gotten involved in the adult-entertainment community by building Web sites. One of the companies wanted to have some interactive cartoons. He asked me if I can do something. I said: “Yeah, we can do it. How much would you pay?” They threw out such a big number that we said if we couldn’t do it that we would find someone that could.
I came up with House of Morecock. I wanted to do something really simple … because no one would care about the story, they would want to get right to the sex. “Tales from the Crypt” at the time was one of my favorite shows. I thought, what if he was like the Crypt Keeper – but cute – and he tells of these adventures of him hunting monsters?
I thought that would be kind of fun. He, Jonas Morecock, would go out and hunt one of these monsters, find a cute guy and have sex.
GLT: Released five years ago, House of Morecock was really the first recognized gay animated porn. How did people react to it?
JP: I am so glad I did it. Sex is such a taboo subject. Jonas Morecock was a character that could approach it without it being taboo.
I got so many letters from people that said they would have parties and would show the movie, and that was totally different than what I imagined it. It was a way for people to start talking about sex without it being so taboo.
GLT: So why did you want to do a second animated porn DVD?
JP: Money [laughs].
GLT: Seriously. What inspired you to create Stonewall & Riot?
JP: I still do love comics. But in the time it takes to do all the drawings for a comic, I would rather do a film. I have always loved film. It doesn’t just involve drawing and doing the storyboards, but it also involves getting your hands in every aspect of the production. Artistically, it was way more rewarding than just drawing. It does involve drawing, but it involves so much more than that.
GLT: House of Morecock used flash animation. From the previews of Stonewall & Riot, this looks like much more complex technology.
JP: The technology with Morecock was very, very limited. The technology with this is totally different. That was the challenge. My brother, Lex, and I taught ourselves 3-D animation so we could build the characters to look like my drawings. The animation is really rich.
GLT: How would you explain your new show?
JP: As far as I would say it’s an action-adventure sex-comedy.
GLT: A sex comedy?
JP: Exactly. It’s a good, classic superhero story – good versus evil kind of thing. I wanted to make sure the story was solid first because the sex will take care of itself. You know: “Hey, you look hot in that outfit. Let’s go for it.” I am sure there have been pornos where there is a superhero theme and with people wearing masks, but I wanted this one to have a storyline to it.
The main characters are idealized, but at the same time they are approachable. Stonewall and Riot, they are the city’s heroes who protect the community from sex freaks. In this fictional town, instead of having battles and fighting each other, they have sex battles. It should be incredibly fun.
GLT: Who are your superheroes in this show? Who are Stonewall and Riot?
JP: Stonewall is kind of like Batman in a way, but a little bit different. He has a gargoyle theme because the city has a lot of gargoyles in it. He’s very stoic. Riot, on the other hand, is always getting in your face. He’s got red hair and is very crazy.
Those are my main characters, and all my other characters play off of them.
GLT: What’s the storyline – besides the hot sex?
JP: The story starts out with this character, Dr. Von F*ckingcock. He has created a device that will create the ultimate orgasm. If you are having sex, it would be the best sex you ever had and ever felt. Just when he is testing it on himself and his lab assistant, his lab is broken into by a mysterious stranger that kidnaps him. Stonewall and Riot have to figure out who kidnapped him. They have to go through their [range] of usual suspects to find out who it has to be.
GLT: Usual suspects or usual tricks?
JP: Well, they kind of f*ck and suck their way through about 20 people before they figure it out.
GLT: Did you voice any of these characters?
JP: Yes, I voice Stonewall. My good friend voices Riot. He’s a crazy punk kid than runs around and rides a skateboard all day. He brought all that energy to that character.
I brought in friends of mine from the comic industry and even people from around San Diego. There are a few bartenders from Rich’s – like Tug – that do voices for it. Eric Shanower from the comic industry, and from San Diego, does a voice. I called in a lot of favors.
GLT: How do you prep for a dialogue scene compared to the grunting and groaning of a sex scene?
JP: The grunting and groaning of a sex scene is the funniest thing you can imagine. We’re all sitting in the same room working – my brother would be sitting there working, and other people would be on other computers, and I would be working with the voice actor. They would start recording, and we’re just trying not to laugh because it is so funny hearing people make sex sounds.
No one is rubbing on anyone; no one is in the moment. You are just sitting there. You have to make it as real as you can. Sometimes it’s kind of embarrassing. A few of the guys were pretty convincing.
GLT: What is your expectation for this new film? Are you expecting to draw the same audience as with House of Morecock?
JP: It’ll appeal to people in their 40s and 50s. It’ll appeal to people in their 20s. There are all types of guys in it. There are hairy guys, chubby guys, little twinks in it – there are different characters for everyone’s taste. I think the audience is going to be bigger than I imagined because the people that will see this will share it with their friends.
If you like comics, you’ll love it. If you like porn, you will love it.
GLT: And if you like Joe Phillips’ artwork, you’ll like it. You do have a strong following.
JP: Yes. And they are all over the place, too. I’ve got guys in their 70s that love my stuff, and kids that are 18 and 19 that are writing me. It’s a huge age range.
I’m not really sure what it’s going to do when it comes out.
GLT: There are rumors that Stonewall & Riot is going to be premiering at Comic-Con. Can you confirm that?
JP: No, it’s not because we can’t show porn at Comic-Con.
They are having a party at Rich’s on the Saturday night of the convention. They are going to show a scene there. People do not really know what to expect. They don’t know what it’s going to look like and how different it’s going to be. This is a chance for people who have not seen anything to actually see a scene and imagine the rest of the picture. It’s going to be really fun.
You’ll have to wait a few more months before Stonewall & Riot is released. Phillips said they are aiming for an October release date. In the meantime, you can see a preview at www.stonewallandriot.com.
You can also meet Joe Phillips in person at Comic-Con. He has a table in the Artists Alley (#GG-16) and will be participating in several forums throughout the weekend.